Kitchen Nightmares: Moisture

Through my journey of learning Gluten-Free and Vegan baking, I came to realize a few key points: Gluten Free cake recipes are a dime a dozen and there are less than a handful that boasted to be vegan as well.

So inspiring off of another recipe with a few tweaks of my own was out of the realm of possibilities. The majority of recipes out there relied heavily on eggs. Egg whites for the fluffiness and egg yolks for the moisture. Being plant based, this was out of the question and the kitchen, so to speak. I do have to note though that one cake wanted over five eggs to be used…five. Yeah. No. 

Nevertheless, kitchen experimentations were under way. As you read in my first blog post, I attacked the gritty and gummy dilemma as well as a few situations that may arise with leavening being your culprit. I didn’t go TOO in depth as there is a lot of information in this realm of baking so if you ever have a question or need me to elaborate, reach out to me or comment on the post. I would be more than happy to help if I can.

In this blog post, I am going to attack moisture. Why? Because education is power and wisdom is meant to be shared. I may not know everything but what I do know, I am more than happy to share it with you all.

THE GREAT FLOOD!

Too much liquid…

Adding too much non-dairy milk to your cake batter will cause a scene from a botched science experiment. The leavening will try to do its job and you will see bubbles coming to the surface as they should. Then a few minutes later, you start to see this weird gelatinous creature rising over the wells of your muffin tray. Growing and spewing up more bubbles. Let the baking continue and eventually the part of the batter that reached the top of the tray will harden and brown and the contents within the liner will sink and look more like a custard creme brûlée (on a severe end of the spectrum). It’s a big mess to deal with nevertheless.

So what do you do? Depending on the severity of the mess and the degree of sinkage, I would start with the first retry to be two good tablespoons less of liquid. I would also check the amount of leavening you are using. If you have a liquid mess all over the entire pan, it may be a liquid – leavening combo issue. As an important rule of thumb and because I have seen MANY food bloggers boldly contradict this in their recipes… 

DO NOT USE MORE THAN 1 TO 1.5 tsp (max!) OF LEAVENING PER CUP OF FLOUR! 

Anyways, with that being said, take a look at your amount of leavening and adjust by 1/4 tsp increments. But only do that after you lessen the liquid. One step at a time. 

THE MOJAVE DESERT

Too little liquid…

So we attacked what happens when you flood the gates of cake-dom with too much non-dairy milk, so what happens when you go too far left? A dessert of desert proportions (haha). Pointy tops that mimic volcanos or dry cracks that resemble the dried up grounds of a desert floor. 

It looks awful and don’t think you can just simply hide it with a mound of frosting pal….it will come back to haunt you and your guests by way of dried out, crumbly, mouth suicide. It will be memorable but not in a good way. Add more liquid, by the tablespoons, to your batter next time and if your cupcakes looked like the point volcanos (pictured right), again, your leavening may be too much. Nice mounds but cracks mean more liquid, pointy volcanos mean more liquid and less leavening. From experience, baking soda tends to be the first culprit of the pointy top. Baking powder will cause a point, but usually not as violently as baking soda. 

THE TRUTH ABOUT MOISTURE…

SIMPLY SAD

If you have a slight, sad little dip in the center, lessen the liquid ever so slightly. Also take a look at too much fat/oil. That can sometimes cause a rise to fail. 

WHAT’S THE BATTER WIT’ YOU?

In some of our cake mixes, you will notice the batter is super runny. It will almost look as if you did something wrong. That’s because gluten-free cake batter tends to be a bit more runny than what you may be used to seeing. Our cakes at Love & Cake are light and fluffy thanks to this runny batter. When I first started, I kept thinking of traditional cake batter and kept ending up with hockey pucks. Bleh.

GREASE (not the movie)

There is nothing to sing about with a greasy cupcake. Adding too much oil can cause the bottom of the cake liner to be wet and the top of your cake too look shiny. Open her up and you will have a dense crumb that is a bit too pound cakey and heavy. Great for maybe the day after as gluten free cake tends to dry faster than its gluten filled counterparts but it will still be unsatisfactory. 

If you lessen the oil/fat and the cake seems dry, add more nondairy milk. Nondairy milk will give it moisture and not weigh it down. 

AVOID H2O

Avoid the water as if you were on a trip in Mexico. Water dries a cake out. It doesn’t contain any fat at all and the fat is what keeps your cake crumb moist. The only time you want to use water, and that would be in addition to your nondairy milk, is when you are dealing with fruit and cocoa powders. 

Boiling water is what we require in our chocoholic cake mix, in addition to the nondairy milk. Why? Because boiling water helps bloom the cocoa powder giving it a more robust chocolate flavor. As for fruit powders, it is because fruit powder holds moisture within the cupcake and helps reconstitute the powder. 

Until next week…

Next week, I will blog about egg replacers in baking and I have a couple of solutions that may surprise you so stay tuned!

If you haven’t read our previous post talking about grit and gummy cakes or the leavening issues attached to baking, you can view it here!

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