Our small Madeira cakes often shrink excessively during cooling How can we avoid this

All cakes shrink a little on cooling. However, excessive shrinking on cooling occurs because the intact gas cells in the texture contract. During baking the gas cells forming the foam in the batter expand as they are filled with the steam and gas produced by the raising agents. Because of the high quantity of sugars in the batter the gelatinisation temperature of the cell wall material is delayed and the structure does not 'set' until the temperature reaches the high 80s °C. The flexibility of the cell wall material allows the cells to expand until they burst or perforate, converting the foam to a sponge structure and allowing the gases to permeate throughout the cake. This all happens at a microscopic level. If this setting does not take place, even though the cake is considered baked because it has achieved the necessary appearance and colour, then on cooling the pressure inside each cell falls and under the weight of the cake and atmospheric pressure the cells shrink. This causes the whole cake to shrink. This problem can be remedied as follows:

• Give the tins a substantial jolt as they leave the oven, causing the cells to 'burst' and the pressures to equalise. This can be achieved by allowing the pans to drop from one conveyor to another near the start of the cooling process.

• Increase the level of baking powder in the recipe, or change to a slower acting powder. This should help to break down the cell walls as the cake sets during baking, so leaving the minimum number of intact cells in the crumb.

10.15 Why do cake batters made by the sugar-batter method sometimes have a curdled appearance? Does this affect final cake quality?

Curdled batters are usually the fault of carelessness or haste during preparation of the ingredients or mixing. If all the ingredients in the batter are at a similar temperature they will amalgamate to form a thick, smooth cream. However, if the eggs are added too quickly, causing the butter or fat particles to separate from the water in the mixture, breaking down the emulsion, the mixture will become curdled. It will also happen if the butter or margarine, which contain water as well as fat, is used in a hard rather than a soft condition and then well creamed with the sugar to a whitened, smooth cream before any eggs are added. This problem may well be evident in the case of rich recipes, e.g. Madeiras containing a great percentage of eggs, particularly if the eggs are watery or if poor-quality frozen eggs are used.

Care should be taken to get the batter and eggs at a suitable temperature and the eggs should be added slowly. Each portion of egg should be adequately beaten in before the next quantity is added. Batter can be prevented from curdling by:

• ensuring all ingredients are at the correct mixing temperature, typically 2022 °C (70° F);

• adding a small quantity of flour at the first signs of curdling;

• using a high-ratio shortening containing an emulsifier.

If the recipe includes a high ratio of sugar and liquid to flour, it is essential that a high-ratio shortening, or an emulsifier in conjunction with plain shortening, is used.

Generally curdling will not significantly affect the final cake quality, provided the recipe is properly balanced. This is because any water that separates out during curdling is later reabsorbed when the flour is added.

10.16 We are experiencing seepage of jam in our frozen fresh cream gateaux when they are thawed. Can we avoid this?

Seepage of this nature is caused by the formation of surface water through syneresis within the cream and jam as a result of the crystallisation or aggregation of polymers. It is commonly found with products that undergo freezing and then thawing. Surface water forms because of the breakdown of the cream foam and subsequent release of water. In the case of jam seepage, the jam is basically a coloured sugar solution containing fruit and the colour is unlikely to be held fast. Once a coloured solution has formed it can diffuse into the cream.

The problem is sometimes encountered where frozen products are partially thawed and then refrozen as might be experienced with refrigerated transport. This temperature cycling impairs cream stability and as a consequence the jam spreads out. If the temperature cycling in transport reaches above —5 °C (23 °F) then seepage is more likely to occur. We would not expect to see such temperature changes in a well-managed and monitored distribution chain, except for some boxes on the outside of stacks or pallets. The cardboard sealed box and the air between it and the gateau does present a reasonable barrier to heat transfer. Also a stack of frozen gateaux should behave as a reasonable cold sink.

The solution to the problem is to avoid periods of intermediate defrosting. Where such periods do occur, the temperature the gateaux reach should be kept as low as possible.

Further reading

CAUVAIN, S. and YOUNG, L. (2000) Bakery Food Manufacture and Quality: Water control and effects, Blackwell Science Ltd, Oxford, UK, pp. 136-138. ROBB, J. (1986) Control of seepage from non-dairy confectionery fillings. FMBRA Bulletin No. 5, CCFRA, Chipping Campden, UK, pp. 187-199.

10.17 What are the causes of the small, white speckles we sometimes see on the crust of our cakes?

White speckles on the crust of cakes are most commonly due to sugar that has recrystallised. They are sometimes referred to as 'sugar spots' . Sugar spotting on the crust of cakes is caused by the recrystallisation of sugars that were previously in solution in the batter. During the baking process, the reduction of moisture content particularly near the surface of the cake can result in the sugar coming out of solution and forming the spots on the surface.

Any changes in recipe resulting in a reduction of moisture content or excessive sugar, thereby increasing the ratio of sugar to water, may give rise to sugar spot formation. For example, the change from butter or other fat containing a proportion of water to a white fat containing no water can be enough to precipitate the problem. Similar results may occur if any water-containing ingredients are replaced by forms containing no water.

Other factors that might cause sugar spotting on cakes include the following:

• Increased granularity of sugar, which may prevent it dissolving properly at the batter stage. As a precaution, the sugar can be dissolved in the water added to the batch before mixing. This is easily done when using a flour batter or blending mixing method. When a sugar-batter mixing method is employed, sugar in excess of the weight of fat may be dissolved in the liquid portion before addition. With all-in mixing methods pre-dissolution of coarse sugar is essential to avoid this problem.

• Baking at a lower than normal temperature or baking in an oven with too low humidity may prove detrimental.

• Allowing the deposited batter to stand for too long a period in the bakery atmosphere before baking may cause surface drying and subsequent sugar spotting. If using a travelling oven, a much shorter standing time is required because of the hot air passing over the cakes at the entrance to the oven. In such ovens the problem can be overcome by applying, by hand or automatically an 'atomised' spray of water over the cakes while they are on the oven sole and as they pass into the oven.

• In Madeira cakes where a ring of batter (a sugar ring) may have overflowed the wrapper and become loose, a slight reduction in scaling weight or increasing the height of the paper band used would help to prevent overflowing and hence the localised sugar spotting.

10.18 Why are we getting an orange discoloration of the crumb of our fruit cakes?

Fruits, for example cherries, used in cakes may contain permitted colouring dyes. Many such colours are soluble at different pHs (usually above pH 4.0). When the discoloration occurs in the crumb surrounding the cherries it is caused by the colour from the fruit 'bleeding' into the crumb.

If the cherries are added at a later stage in mixing, the discoloration will be far less pronounced. If they are washed and drained before use and introduced at a late stage then the bleeding should cease. In summary:

• Use good quality fruit in your products. Preferably use whole, unbroken fruit.

• Where the problem occurs wash the fruit with water slightly acidified by citric acid and drain thoroughly.

• Check with your supplier which dyes (and their solubility level) are used in the fruit so that the problem can be avoided.

See also 10.5

Continue reading here: Our sultana cakes are collapsing What can we do to remedy this problem

Was this article helpful?

0 0