Our fruited cakes are fine to eat soon after production but tend to become drier eating after a few days

Fruited cakes are a multicomponent product comprising two phases: the cake crumb and the dried fruit. Even though the two components are in intimate contact from mixing through to baked product, equilibration of moisture does not necessarily occur. In many cases after baking there is a significant difference in cake crumb and fruit particle moisture content with the dried fruit continuing to absorb moisture from the cake crumb. Experimental data (Cauvain and Young, 2000) has shown that up to four days may be required for equilibrium to be achieved. This lack of moisture equilibrium is most likely to be the reason for the dry eating cake crumb that you are observing.

One way to overcome your problem is to raise the moisture content of your fruit by washing and draining it before use (see Fig. 29). However, note that this will raise the overall moisture content of the cake and may decrease its mould-free shelf-life.

There are several ways off preventing crumbling with fruit cakes:

• Use flour of medium strength (10-11% protein) instead of high-ratio cake flour.

• The proportion of fat used should be less than the egg content by approximately 10% (based on flour as 100%).

• Where the ratio of sugar to liquid is high, the cake crumb tends to be more fragile. For a fruit cake this ratio should be lower than 115% flour weight.

Storage time at 21 °C (days) Fig. 29 Effect of fruit on cake moisture during storage.

• When the proportion of egg in the total liquid is low, the cake structure is weak and has a tendency to crumble on cutting. Egg should make up about 50% of the total liquids to prevent this.

• Emulsifier should be kept to a minimum.

• Avoid high levels of raising agents as these can increase crumb fragility.

• Wash fruit and dry well before use. Dusty or unclean fruit may produce a 'drag' effect during cutting.

• Mixing must be controlled to ensure constant batter aeration and emulsification. Under-mixing and also over-aeration of batters can cause a crumbly end-product.

• Batter depositing and baking should not be delayed after mixing.

Reference

CAUVAIN, S.P. and YOUNG, L.S. (2000) Bakery Food Manufacture and Quality: Water control and effects, Blackwell Science Ltd, Oxford, UK.

Continue reading here: Our cake quality varies when we change from one type of oven to another even when the ovens register the same temperature

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