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Any ideas as to why my cakes don't rise?

(20 Posts)
CalamityKate Wed 22-May-13 10:24:02

My cakes never rise like my mums did sad

Her vicky sponges were legendary. Inches thick and so moist that they sort of made a faint squishy noise when you squeezed them. Sigh.

dearcathyandclare Tue 21-May-13 23:15:36

I love a baking thread like this!
These are my top tips:
Make sure your eggs and butter are room temperature before you start, then weigh your eggs and use exactly the same quantities for butter, sugar and flour
I prefer an all in one recipe where you measure all the ingredients, with half a teaspoon of baking powder but be sure to add the eggs last as the liquid will activate the baking powder, then mix with an electric mixer until combined and smooth, but not for more than 2 mins max otherwise the protein in the flour will start to 'stretch' too much and the final result will be less spongey.
If you want to be traditional cream the butter and sugar together with a electric mixer or wooden spoon until incredibly pale, then add beaten eggs a spoonful at a time until very fluffy and sieve the flour in and with a large metal spoon fold in the flour, making a figure of 8 shape as you go.
Get the mixture into a pre heated oven asap.
When the cake is ready you should be able to touch the surface swiftly with your finger tip and it should spring back. Watch youdont burn yourself though!

LadyDamerel Tue 21-May-13 23:13:03

I have, Steppemum, but my oven is a bit fierce so the outside tends to be a bit charred by the time the centre is cooked if I do it in one tin.

WestYorkshireGirl, sorry for the slight hijack, let us know how you get on!

K8Middleton Tue 21-May-13 23:04:40

Nigella recipes can be a bit unreliable. A Mary Berry or a Delia is pretty foolproof.

Have you checked your oven temp is accurate? Mine was between 10-20 degrees over what the dial said shock I got an in oven thermometer and now I rarely never have a baking flop.

steppemum Netherlands Tue 21-May-13 22:59:22

Just looked at your recipe LadyD and it is very like a cake I used to make called a wacky cake, you also mixed it all in one bowl, great for kids to do.

Have you tried cooking it in one tin? I have one large tin, which I cook it in and then cut it into layers, rather than 2 tins

steppemum Netherlands Tue 21-May-13 22:56:24

I think a hand mixer is fine, I use one.

will try your link LadyD

Thanks everyone. I have been using fresh ingredients and according to Nigella and the right size tin, but never more than 4 eggs so might try scaling up a bit! I also use a hand mixer - do you think this makes a difference?

LadyDamerel Mon 20-May-13 23:39:12

Steppemum, this is a great chocolate cake recipe, much much nicer than the cocoa version of vic sponge, imo. It's dead easy too, one bowl, no beating and ready to go in the oven in less than 5 minutes. It's also very easy to scale up and down; I've adjusted it to bake anything from 4" up to 12" and it works every time.

LadyDamerel Mon 20-May-13 23:35:18

I do a 10 egg mix for 10" too, but usually in 2 layers which I then cut in half and fill with jam then sandwich the 2 layers together with buttercream for a vic sponge.

For an 8" I use 6 eggs - 3 in each layer so the finished cake is about 3.5 − 4" tall (or more, if you use large eggs).

steppemum Netherlands Mon 20-May-13 23:20:18

actually ladyD, we have a large cake tin, about 10'' across and I have been known to do a 10 egg cake - fills the tin to the brim, cut the cake in 3 layers and fill with butter icing.
works best with chocolate cake - yum.

(chocolate viccy sponge - replace 1 oz of flour (for 4 egg cake) with cocoa powder)

LadyDamerel Mon 20-May-13 23:14:25

I'm not either, steppemum!

I stick the butter and sugar in the bowl, turn the mixer on full speed and leave it for 5 minutes. Then I beat the eggs in one at a time with a spoonful of flour, using the mixer at half speed. At the end I just sieve the remaining flour in, give it a 30 second mix at half speed so it's all mixed in then bung it in the tin.

Not enough mixture is most likely to be the cause though. For an 8" cake you need at least 4 eggs but 5 is much better.

steppemum Netherlands Mon 20-May-13 23:03:16

blimey stuntnun, I am not that fancy.

I use an electric hand mixer, butter and sugar first and then flour and eggs. Bunged in a bit at a time and mixed.

comes out luverly, my cakes is requested at parties!

K8Middleton Mon 20-May-13 22:57:39

How old is your self raising flour and your baking powder? If they are old they won't work properly.

StuntNun Mon 20-May-13 22:54:42

You may be knocking the air out of the cake mixture. I cream the butter and sugar together vigorously with a wooden spoon then beat in the eggs. Then I sieve the flour and baking powder in from as high above as possible to get lots of air in. Then gently fold the flour with a metal spoon by drawing the spoon across the middle of the mixture and around the outside back to my starting point before making a quarter turn of the bowl and repeating. As soon as the flour goes in you need to be gentle with the mixture - no vigorous mixing, dropping the bowl down heavily etc.

EugenesAxe Mon 20-May-13 22:47:25

What Calamity said. Almost always the reason, unless you didn't put in baking powder or use SRF. Possibly overbeating will thrash out the air; make sure you fold nicely and lift the mixture high as you do so.

Without sounding really bloody condescending, remember if you scale up you need volume of the tin not just the diameter. So going from a 7" tin to a 9" tin you wouldn't just do 9/7 x quantity of ingredient. You'd need to do Pi r-squared x depth for both tins and divide those results by each other, to get the multiplier to apply to the list of ingredients. Often I'll just apply a basic multiplier though, such as 1.5x or 2x, just to be sure.

steppemum Netherlands Mon 20-May-13 22:44:06

the wet mixture in the tin needs to be 3 ish cm thick really, so if not the tin is too small.

if you use food processor, the cakes are dense and flat.

victoria sponge - 2 eggs = 4 oz self raising flour, 4oz sugar, 4oz butter/marg
(multiply up for the number of eggs you use - 3 eggs = 6 oz; 4 eggs = 8 oz)

I usually use 6-8 eggs and make bigger cake.
I add a teaspoon of baking powder, to make it fluffier

beat the sugar and butter till creamy (not just mixed, longer than that)
add 1-2 eggs and some of the flour, mix, then more eggs and flour etc

hope that helps

barleysugar Mon 20-May-13 22:38:58

Are you using butter or marg? I find that recipes that use butter need a really long beating to get the air in, whereas the margarine creates it own air as the water droplets in it create steam when they bake.

You might want to try buying new flour or new raising agents as these can go off in the cupboard over time.

Patchouli Mon 20-May-13 22:37:25

How many eggs are you using?
Is the mix getting well mixed by hand?

CalamityKate Mon 20-May-13 22:35:57

Do you use the right size tin?

Whenever I make a Victoria sponge type cake (the Nigella ones from Domestic Goddess are the only ones I've tried), the two halves never seem to rise much and are only about 1 or 2 cms high each so when assembled the whole thing looks uninspiring? Any ideas on what I am doing wrong?

Also any choc cake recipes I can try which are good?

Thanks!

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