A recipe details: the type and amounts of ingredients used; the sequence and manipulation of the ingredients and the baking preparation: how the pan was prepared; the rack positioned in the oven and the baking temperature and time. Both recipes, in this example, use the same baking preparation, ingredients and their amounts; except, the sponge cake uses a bit of cream of tartar to ensure the stability of the egg whites.

The sequence and manipulation of the ingredients in the two recipes, however, differ and produce two slightly different cake textures. The sponge cake recipe is damp, dense, rubbery and spongy textured cake, whereas the Génoise cake, in comparison, is more delicate, drier, airy, yet spongy textured cake. Why?

Looking at the pictures, you can’t tell much of a difference; however, you can with the actual cakes in front of you.

Sponge Cake

 

Génoise Cake

Cake Recipe Formulation, without trying to sound too technical, is a science. Every ingredient going into a cake has its own properties or characteristics. When all of the ingredients are combined, they form one element: batter. When heat is applied to the element, during baking, they share (blend) and/or take away properties from one another and their characteristics and properties change to produce a new element with a distinct structure: a cake. One, therefore, needs to know or understand the properties of specific ingredients, especially eggs and flour, which contain high amounts of protein. The amounts of sugar, type of fat and leavening agents, milk, salt and water, as well as baking temperature, must also be taken into consideration when formulating a cake recipe, because they too have specific functions in the texture of the cake; otherwise, the recipe will go off balance.

Protein is one of the most important compound chemicals in cakes. It’s present in every cake in the form of eggs or flour. Protein provides the structure (foundation) of the cake; otherwise, the cake would collapse, because nothing would bind the ingredients together. You can have a cake made without eggs or flour, or both eggs and flour, which is most typical. In any case, when the proteins in the batter are being baked (heated in the oven) to a specific temperature, they coagulate around, encapsulating and trapping the air (created through aeration or formed by a leavening agent) within the bubbles of the batter and create the protein strands of the “web” to form the structure and texture of the cake.

Looking at the two recipes, we can see that the ingredients and their amounts, and preparation were constant. If, however, we look at the equation below, the only variables were: how the ingredients were sequenced and how they were manipulated, with specific reference how the eggs and sugar were sequenced and manipulated:

The sponge recipe:

[(eggs + sugar 75% + lemon zest + vanilla + salt) <-- mixed in (milk + flour)] <– folded into (egg whites + sugar 25% + tartar)

all ingredients are mixed at room temperature

The Génoise recipe:

(eggs + sugar 93.75% + lemon zest + vanilla + salt) <– folded into (flour+sugar 6.25%mixture + milk)


Mixed while heated to 110′F.
then mixed and being cooled to room temperature
room temperature

We can say that one can change the texture of a cake, depending on the how the ingredients are sequenced and manipulated.

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You can determine when a cake is baked:

  • When the cake’s side pulls away from the pan
  • And, when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean; if traces of batter are seen, then continue baking and testing again (after 5 minutes) making sure that knife comes out clean with no traces of batter

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Preventing Soggy Bottoms

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When cake has finished baking, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool in its pan, on a cooling rack for about ten minutes. This allows cake to keep its shape as it cools off. To remove cake from pan, run a butter knife around the pan, between the cake and the side. [...]

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Even Texture and Tops

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Lightly grease the side of the pan according to methods. If you grease the side entirely, the batter will have a hard time clinging onto the pan while baking and will not rise well. Your cake will develop a lip around its edge, with a deep small indentation, and a centre hump with cracks in [...]

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Preventing Sticking

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The “Wax Paper” Method: This is a great method for greasing pans that are flat and that do not have decorative edges: 9″ x 2″ round cake pan for baking layer cakes, or 9″ x 9″ square pan for baking brownies (wax paper adheres well on greased flat surfaces). Measure and cut wax paper to [...]

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Uniform Colour & Crust

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Position your oven’s rack in the middle level of your oven. Baking on the lowest rack might overbake the bottom and scorch it Baking on the highest (near the brolier) rack might overbake the top and scorch it If you are planning to bake two pans at once, then approximate two centres on the middle [...]

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Muffins

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Muffins are not the same as cupcakes. Cupcakes are miniature versions of basic cakes and are made using the same preparation technique that is used when making basic cakes. Muffins, on the other hand, are dense baked goods that require a different preparation technique. Technique: Measure out and mix together all dry ingredients in a [...]

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Sponge

February 7, 2012

This technique is somewhat tricky and quite different from the Basic Cake Technique. This technique involves separating eggs and omitting the fat. No leavening agents are required here since the egg yolks and egg whites make up the volume of the cake. These cakes are great for jelly rolls since they can withstand being compressed [...]

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Genoise

February 6, 2012

The technique makes a unique type of cake with the best qualities of both basic and sponge cakes. Its texture is more delicate than a Sponge or Basic cake, yet it can maintain a syrup as well as a frosting. This technique is a little more intimidating, however, it is not as difficult as one [...]

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Basic Cake and Cupcakes

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These cakes are strong in texture and can be decorated with heavy frostings. When making layered cakes, use thick icing sugar frostings; don’t use whipped cream, because it’s too light to support the weight of another layer. These cakes do not accept syrup well; they become soggy. These cakes are not suitable for jelly rolls; [...]

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