Some people were able to use her advice and came up with some happy little slabs. I didn't see the note until it was too late, so I wound up with very dense, thin cakes, not really high enough to bisect to make a quadruple layer cake. Partly because I wasn't thrilled with the result, partly because I was surprised to find a recipe in Dorie's Baking tome that didn't work, and partly because I was worried that the key to this recipe was a very specific brand, I wanted to try this cake again.
Last week I made three half-recipes--one using my usual Five Roses AP Flour, one using my usual Robin Hood Cake and Pastry Flour and the last using Swans Down. All were made the same day, with each cake baking away on its own in my mum's oven. The only changes I made from the first go-round were switching to vanilla from lemon and using milk instead of buttermilk. I also timed all the beatings so they were all made in the same way. I'd not tried anything like this before, so I was curious as to how the cakes would differ.
Here they are with heights
Top: Cake and Pastry Flour - 1.25" high
Left: AP - 1" high
Right: Swans Down - 1" high
Um...the dimples on the surface of the C&P Flour cake are not the result of a cat stepping on it--those are MY finger prints (yes, my initial doneness test is to touch the top of the cake).
Wow...look at that AP cake. All pockmarked and lumpy. In fact, by the time it totally cooled, it sank...I wound up with a bit of a crater.
Even though the C&P flour cake was the tallest, if I decided to slice off the dome, it would have been about 1" tall, the same height as the AP cake; the Swans Down domed slightly, but not enough to lose much height.
Well, there you go...none of my cakes were tall enough to slice through the middle as they were supposed to.
But this dawdle is about more than height..it's also about taste and texture....
I didn't actually get to try the C&P slab as I gave it to Dear Friend, iced with some cream cheese icing, coconut and gold dragees. Here's a picture of the original cake It tasted quite nice and the crumb was a bit denser than many other cakes, but wasn't really heavy.
The other two flours told a different story. The layer on the left is the Swans Down and the one on the right is the AP. Hands down, the Swans Down had the best texture of all three--almost velvety in its yielding crumb.
The AP Flour was much heavier and even though my cake tester came out clean it was obvious it should have been in the oven a wee bit longer, which contributed to its heavier nature.
At the end of this experiment I'm still not sure what's wrong--maybe I'm not making the cake correctly and that's why the slabs didn't rise all that much. I will say that I'm glad I tried the Swans Down Flour. My "everyday" cakes will still be made with my usual flours, but when I have a special cake on the menu, I know which flour I'll reach for...
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