Why do our Genoese cake sheets tend to lack volume and have cores in the crumb

Poor volume seen with very close grain and the development of seams or cores in the crumb suggests inadequate chemical aeration in the batter. It may be that the sodium bicarbonate was omitted or the wrong balance of raising agents was used. Check that sodium bicarbonate is included when weighing the other ingredients. Often preparing a composite baking powder for general use or purchasing a ready-made baking powder will avoid any errors in preparation. To improve the general quality of the Genoese sheet we suggest, as a trial, you increase the proportion of aerating agents to determine the level best suited to your recipe.

Genoese sheets sometimes have an uneven surface giving problems with uniform volume. This unevenness can be the result of poor mixing and scraping down of the batter. We suggest the following procedure on adding the eggs should be followed:

1. Add half of the eggs over 1 minute. Scrape down.

2. Add remaining eggs over 1 minute. Scrape down.

3. Mix for a further 3 minutes.

All mixing should be done on slow speed. Make sure that, on scraping down, that the job is done properly.

Have a look at your mixer and examine the gap between the beater and the bottom of the bowl. This should be as small as possible to avoid areas of undermixed batter that may then find their way into the sheet when deposited. If you think that the gap is too large you may need to replace your beater or even your mixing bowl.

10.13 Sometimes our Madeira cake has a poor (coarse) texture. How can we improve it?

Madeira cakes are characterised by their uniform and fine texture (cell structure). If the texture is coarse, the addition of a suitable emulsifier can help rectify the problem. The emulsifier will help to reduce the overall size of the gas bubbles incorporated into the batter and improve their stability during baking. A number of emulsifier preparations are available. They come in gel and powdered forms; we suggest that you consult your ingredients' supplier.

The powdered form is used in the formulation of dry cake mixes. A proportion of such emulsifiers consists of a carrier, usually skimmed milk powder. If this is the case then you should make allowance by reducing the level of milk powder in the recipe otherwise the cake may be too brown because of the Maillard reaction and the lactose in the milk powder. You should have no such problems if you use a gel emulsifier but you will need to adjust the recipe water addition to compensate for the inclusion of some water in the gel.

A suitable usage level for powdered emulsifier would be between 5 and 10% of flour weight; you should reduce the milk powder level by about half of your normal level of addition in your recipe to avoid the potential for darkening. In the case of a gel emulsifier around 2.5% flour weight should be suitable.

Continue reading here: Our small Madeira cakes often shrink excessively during cooling How can we avoid this

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