I know I’m not the only one who has the habit of reading up on a new pursuit or of attempting to find the meaning of a word in the context in which it is used. So, one of the first things I did after rekindling my love for baking was to read tons of baking articles. In my efforts to update my knowledge, I noticed that ‘dense’ was a reoccurring word in most of those articles. I knew the word meant thick. But it was often used in the same sentence as heavy and I couldn’t figure out why the word, heavy would be used to describe the texture of a cake. When I finally decided to research further, I realized that dense in baking referred to a cake that contains too much liquid, too much sugar or too little leavening.
In today’s article, I’ll review the reasons highlighted in the definition as well as several other reasons that make for dense cakes. Thus, for your information, you’ll end up with a dense cake if your cake:
1. Contains too Much Liquid:
The liquid in this context refers to the water, oil, milk, and juices used in baking a cake. Now, I’m pretty sure that you are familiar with the saying, that baking is science. What it means in essence is that the ingredients used in baking will have to add up. So, if you add too much liquid to the batter, it will affect the wet ingredients to dry ingredients ratio. The result of this imbalance is that the coagulation of protein cannot happen naturally because the batter will be weak and thin. Moreover, the excess liquid ingredients weighing down the batter will make it heavy and prevent it from rising during heating. The result is a dense cake.
2. Contains too Much Sugar:
Sugar is a sweetener but too much of it can be bad for your cake. It’ll make your cake excessively sweet. The excess sugar will also interfere with the coagulation process of the protein. This will make the cake dense.
3. Contains too Much Flour: Recipes are there to guide you. I’ll advise you to follow them blindly especially if you’re new to baking. Measure the flour accurately. If you add too much flour to the batter, the cake will be dense. That’s because flour is loaded with gluten. So, it can weigh down your cake if you add more than required.
4. Contains a Bad Leavener:
I once added an expired baking soda to my batter. People of God, my cake was dense. I discovered the expired Leavener when I started checking for what went wrong. After that experience, I check the expiry date of all my ingredients before I start baking. Do you know what they say? Once beaten, twice shy. Anyways, good leavening agents help your cake to rise. They will lock in the air during the baking process; this is what helps your cake to rise.
Another very important thing to note about Leaveners is that you must endeavour to use the exact measurement dictated by the recipe. Using less or more may make for a dense cake.
5. Is Overbaked: When you leave the cake in the oven longer than necessary, it’ll lose that texture that we all love. It’ll become dense and you won’t enjoy eating it.
6. Has Ingredient(s) that are not at Room Temperature:
Most baking recipes ask you to ensure that your ingredients are at room temperature before baking. That’s because ingredients that are too cold are difficult to mix. If you finally succeed in mixing them, the batter will have a weird texture, one that can make for a heavy cake.
In conclusion, a dense cake tells a story of what the baker did or didn’t do well. So, if you don’t want a dense cake, then follow the recipe blindly.
Richard PantryFeatured Image Source:
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