Sunday, August 7, 2011

The History of Cake

     At my bakery, cakes are my highest selling product.  There are so many variations and types of cakes that it isn't difficult to see why this is so.  At least 60% of daily sales are in the form of cakes.  Because of this, I'm trying to research fresh, new ideas for cakes and there is so much information!  It is becoming apparent that I need to learn more about cakes and the best place to start is probably the beginning. 

     The history of cakes is a topic that shows the progress from an occassional sweet treat to having dessert every night.  Cake wasn't always known as a light, sugary, frosted snack.  From the discovery of flour to somewhere around the late 18th century, cake was considered merely a version of sweetened bread, often with fruits or nuts.  This was largely due to the fact that baking soda and baking powder didn't exist.  Bakers had to work with yeast or highly beaten eggs to create rise and this can be very difficult.  Once the Industrial Revolution rolled around, baking powder was invented and cake became insanely easier to bake.  If you'd like to learn more about the history of cakes, check this out The History of Cake.
You can also check out this page History of Cake and Kinds of Cake
     As a baker, the date my recipe was created tells me a lot.  If it is dated from the 1800's, it may be difficult to bake or may call for yeast.  I think I need to research more ideas before I make any decision.  Ladyfingers?  Tres Leches? Tarte Tartin?  Any suggestions?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Substitute For Brown Sugar In Baking

Brown sugar is simply white granulated sugar with molasses added.  The molasses is responsible for the brown color, the higher moisture content, and the extra sweetness of brown sugar.
The best alternative is maple syrup.  It has about the same number of calories as white sugar.  It is better, though, because only 65% of it is carbohydrates, whereas other sugars are 100% carbohydrates.  It is also high in calcium and potassium.
In recipes, you can substitute the same amount of maple syrup for brown sugar.  One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the maple taste may come through a little in the baked good in question, so make sure that it will still taste good.  Other substitutes for brown sugar in baking include corn syrup and honey.
If you decide to substitute brown sugar with white sugar, remember that white sugar has no flavor and may make your baked good drier.  To remedy this, add a pinch extra of whatever liquid is called for.  If you do decide to use white sugar in place of brown, try to use raw sugar such as demerara or turbinado sugars.  The raw sugars will provide a much more similar taste to brown sugar than regular white sugar.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Brown Sugar Cookies

Sometimes the average sugar cookie just won't cut it and I want something a little different.  In times like these, brown sugar cookies are a great option!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups packed brown sugar

Cream the brown sugar and butter together in a large bowl.  Beat in the egg, heavy cream, and vanilla extract.  Once blended, slowly stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.  When it is mixed thoroughly cover it with a lid, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and roll out the dough on a lightly floured counter.  You want the dough to be about 1/8th of an inch thick.  Cut with cookie cutters or an upside down cup and place them on a greased cookie sheet at least an inch apart.  Bake about 10 minutes.  They should be lightly brown colored when finished baking.

Yields 4 dozen cookies

Sometimes I add one cup of mini chocolate chips for extra sweetness.  Icing is a great idea, especially when I'm making them for kids.  Half and half can be substituted for the heavy cream.  If the dough seems difficult to work with when rolling it out, add a teaspoon of water or cream to increase the moisture content.

Try these out and let me know what you think!

Monday, May 23, 2011


I use some form of sugar in almost everything I bake.  When I first started baking I would constantly mess up the sugar component of recipes.  I would use brown sugar or confectioner's sugar instead of granulated sugar.  I would only half-heartedly cream the butter and sugar.  Then I would wonder why my cookies were flat and tasted funny! Lol.  Sugar is a vital part of any recipe and if you use it right, your baked goods will have the perfect amount of sweetness! 
To use it properly, you must understand the purpose of sugar in baking processes.
-It helps fats disperse evenly
-It helps browning in the oven
-It helps preserve the shelf life of the baked good
-It sweetens!

While sugar is amazing, do watch your sugar intake.  All too often, customers ask why is sugar bad for you?  Sugar itself isn't!  High sugar intake, however, is unhealthy!