Please Explain: Cake Baking

Friday, June 04, 2010

We’ll look into the science of baking the perfect cake on today’s Please Explain! We'll be joined by  John Barricelli , owner of the SoNo Baking Company and author of the SoNo Baking Company Cookbook . We'll also talk with  Nick Malgieri the author of many books including,Perfect Cakes , he also teaches at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York.



John Barracelli and Nick Malgieri

Comments [24]

nancycadet from fort greene bklyn

re Vegan bakeries: In the LES there's a shop called "Babycakes" and on St Marks Place near Ave A is "Whole Earth Bakery," which sells pizza, empanadas, sandwiches, cookies, buns, tofu 'cheesecake' etc. Restaurants in the E Village like Angelika's and Organic Kitchen often feature cakes for dessert. And "dboy" I respectfully disagree with your word choice of "normal" to describe a certain type of food. As I wrote before, "chacun son gout" which I'll translate for you in case a bit of French isn't "normal" either: "to each his/her own" or "there's no single taste for everyone."

Jun. 04 2010 02:05 PM
Ann from Forest Hills

The last comment from the guest on the phone was not exactly accurate when he said that AllPurpose Enriched flour is "enriched" so that it works better or words to that effect...

well, the word "enriched" on All Purpose flour really means that the producer has returned (enriched) the nutrients that were destroyed in the processing of the white flour - here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:
"Enriched flour is flour with specific nutrients returned to it that have been lost while it was prepared. According to the FDA, a pound of enriched flour must have the following quantities of nutrients to qualify: 2.9 milligrams of thiamin, 1.8 milligrams of riboflavin, 24 milligrams of niacin, 0.7 milligrams of folic acid, and 20 milligrams of iron. The first four nutrients are B vitamins. Calcium also may be added at a minimum of 960 milligrams per pound.

Enriching is necessary because the processing used to make white flour destroys some of these nutrients that originally were present in the whole grain"

Jun. 04 2010 02:05 PM
dboy from nyc

The "science" here, was a little sketchy.

Jun. 04 2010 02:00 PM
amy from Bay Shore, NY

Understand butter is a traditional cake ingredient, but the UN just came out advising people to avoid dairy to cut down on environmental damage from animal husbandry. Plus so many people now have diabetic needs, dairy intollerances and gluten allergies, so it was a shame the guests so quickly dismissed discussing alternative ingredients.

Jun. 04 2010 02:00 PM
Adrienne from East Village

I'm no fan of shortening either, but how else can you get a ginger snap with the cracked top with crunch and softness? Is there a technique that could replicate that--maybe adjusting some ratio of butter to leaveners?

Jun. 04 2010 01:57 PM
Joe from Kensington, Brooklyn

Marie Antoinette never said "gateau." In the French account, which is apocryphal, the word is "brioche," which has been translated to English as "cake."

Jun. 04 2010 01:56 PM
Linda from westcher, ny

Many american cake recipes are way too sweet, how much sugar can you reduce in a recipe, what does sugar do chemically in a cake recipe?

Jun. 04 2010 01:55 PM
nancycadet from fort greene bklyn

About vegan baking: I appreciate the guests' diplomatic, not condescending, answers, but yes, there are lots of vegan cake (cookie, cupcake, scone, etc.) recipes. Just check out "Post Punk Kitchen com" website or any of the numerous books by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Romero (New Yorkers, both!). Leonard, have them on your show, please. Basically, substitutes for dairy products in baking are: soy milk, canola oil, ground flaxseeds--those are the ones I use while others recommend vegan margerine, prune butter, etc for thickeners.
Sure, these cakes taste different and not all recipes are transferable (ie. croissants), but to me, vegan is better! no sickening buttercream or oozy egg-butter mouth feel.
Chacun son gout! Here's the site with recipes I mentioned:

Jun. 04 2010 01:55 PM
don kmetz from west new york, nj

the guests have mentioned often the importance of air as an ingredient in cake, but what about those cakes -- like gateau and galette -- which have no leavening at all. are they not cake?

Jun. 04 2010 01:54 PM
dboy from nyc

Sorry vegans, if you want to eat normal foods like cakes and bacon don't adopt rigid alienating diets.

Why try to mimic the food products you abhor with super-processed substitutes???

Jun. 04 2010 01:53 PM
Sandra from Astoria

I'm not vegan, by the way! But I have vegan friends who swear by vegan goodies, and I'm skeptical :)

Jun. 04 2010 01:53 PM
dboy from nyc

Let's talk heat; Convection or conventional?

Jun. 04 2010 01:50 PM
Doug from New York

Can you substitute sugar with natural sweeteners like Trivia, Xylitol or Erythritol. My local bakery uses nutrasweet that causes gastric problems.

Jun. 04 2010 01:46 PM
Dark Symbolist from NYC

yes, I've read about cakes in Ancient Rome before. The guest is 100% incorrect.

Jun. 04 2010 01:46 PM
danielle from upper west side

A chef on the food channel always says not to beat a cake too much because the gluten in the flour will be released and toughen the batter and make it more breadlike. Also most cake recpes I come across just call for allpurpose flour.

Jun. 04 2010 01:37 PM
Fred from NJ

Your guests are interesting but wrong. Cake baking dates bake centuries. For example, an example of a recipe from ancient Rome can be found at

Jun. 04 2010 01:37 PM
Craig from Park Slope

Thanks for mentioning Betty in Brooklyn. They bake the best Red Velvet Cake (among other varieties). It is a great shop and the staff is friendly and helpful! I live in Park Slope and walk to Betty at least once a month to get my fix. Delicious!

Jun. 04 2010 01:36 PM
dark Symbolist from NYC

From Wikipedia:

In ancient Rome, basic bread dough was sometimes enriched with butter, eggs, and honey, which produced a sweet and cake-like baked good. Latin poet Ovid refers to the birthday of him and his brother with party and cake in his first book of exile, Tristia.

Early cakes in England were also essentially bread: the most obvious differences between a "cake" and "bread" were the round, flat shape of the cakes, and the cooking method, which turned cakes over once while cooking, while bread was left upright throughout the baking process

Jun. 04 2010 01:36 PM
Sandra from Astoria

What about vegan recipes? Is there really a substitute for eggs, butter, millk?

My friend swears there's a vegan bakery on the LES that makes amazing stuff (can't remember the name).

Jun. 04 2010 01:36 PM
Raymmmondo from NYC, and now in West Orange, NJ

Any cake is good (cake)!

Jun. 04 2010 01:36 PM
Nichelle from Brooklyn

What should you change in a cake recipe to make into a good cupcake recipe?

Jun. 04 2010 01:32 PM
If I knew you were coming...

Do bakeries have a higher failure rate than other types of food businesses?

Also, it seems like baking is about repetition while in a restaurant a chef can experiment more. Is that the case?

Jun. 04 2010 01:28 PM
Alden from Soho

A cute comic from yesterday, relevant to the topic. :)

Jun. 04 2010 12:20 PM
Mark Conrad from Fairfield, CT

Could you explain the different types of flour that can be used in baking a cake? Should you use cake flour, pastry flour, or all purpose flour, and are their differences just in their gluten content?

Jun. 04 2010 10:35 AM

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