Cake baking & castor sugar

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Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby hickybank » November 28th, 2019, 3:14 pm

You can probably guess where this is going.
When you bake a cake, sponge or otherwise, recipes always state Castor Sugar.
I never bother & just use Granulated as I assume it all dissolves during cooking anyway, but how about you.
What are your thoughts on this?
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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby Suelle » November 28th, 2019, 3:35 pm

I think you're probably right for cakes that are beaten well - the sugar has time to dissolve into the cake batter during mixing, as well as cooking. Enough not to notice the difference, anyway, unless you're Mary Berry or Prue Leith.

Possibly also OK for cakes that cook a long time, such as fruit cakes - some recipes use brown sugar anyway. Certainly things like gingerbread cakes, where you're dissolving the sugar anyway don't need caster sugar either.

I think caster sugar is useful for things that are mixed quickly and have little moisture - eg scones and biscuits. I go further than this and use icing sugar to sweeten pastry.

My mother always used granulated sugar and no-one complained, but we knew nothing different.

It probably boils down to how much of a perfectionist you are. The difference might be noticeable to some, but is it enough to matter? (Having said that, I do use caster sugar)
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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby hickybank » November 28th, 2019, 6:47 pm

It seems to be the norm in most cook books, I find it amusing that the "Hairy Dieters" set of books all state Castor Sugar even in such things as Currys, quite ridiculous
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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby PatsyMFagan » November 28th, 2019, 8:47 pm

If I think I need something finer than granulated, I just whizz some up in my bamix ....
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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby hickybank » November 28th, 2019, 8:48 pm

PatsyMFagan wrote:If I think I need something finer than granulated, I just whizz some up in my bamix ....

I iuse the rollihg pin method & it makes a lovely crunching sound :lol:
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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby StokeySue » November 28th, 2019, 10:29 pm

My suspicion is that caster sugar is a lot easier to mix into a cake with a wooden spoon and it makes much less difference when you have electric appliances

I remember trying to cream some fairly rough brown sugar into butter with a wooden spoon, and it was hard work
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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby scullion » November 29th, 2019, 2:06 am

i think i can probably count the number of bags of caster sugar, that i've bought in my whole life, on one hand - and i can't remember the last, must be a couple of decades ago. i've never noticed any difference in the outcome.
i ground some granulated in a liquidiser a long time ago to make shortbread or biscuits but never bothered for subsequent iterations.
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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby hickybank » November 29th, 2019, 8:46 am

I tried the liquidizer method once but got over enthusiastic & finished up with icing sugar :lol:
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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby hickybank » November 29th, 2019, 2:41 pm

While we are one sponge cakes I notice with modern recipes inc Delia & Mary Berry, their instructions are to chuck everything into a mixing bowl & beat the hell out of it for a couple of minutes.
Not the way I was taught or would use.
I was taught
Beat Butter & Sugar till pale & fluffy, stir in the eggs till it looks like scrambled eggs but do not overmix.
Now fold in the Flour till just combined then into tin to bake.
How about you?
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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby Suelle » November 29th, 2019, 3:19 pm

When I was working in the Food Technology Department of a secondary school the two teachers made sponge cakes by each method to see what the difference was. The all-in-one cakes rose more. Perhaps because all-in-one recipes often add extra baking powder, or possibly the traditional butter/sugar mix wasn't beaten for long enough.

I think the original method was developed before electric or even mechanical rotary whisks, when the butter and sugar would need a lot of beating with a spoon or hand whisk to get the mixture light and fluffy, before the other ingredients were carefully added to avoid losing the air. That just isn't necessary with electric mixers, which can incorporate air into the mixture quickly. Many older (but classified as modern for this discussion (Delia and Mary)) cooks also use baking margarines which are softer to start with, again making mixing easier.

I use the all-in-one method where it doesn't seem to detract from the original recipe.
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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby KC2 » November 29th, 2019, 7:43 pm

Suelle wrote: Many older (but classified as modern for this discussion (Delia and Mary)) cooks also use baking margarines which are softer to start with, again making mixing easier.



What's your opinion of the various baking blocks, baking marge, soft marge etc? I tend to use non-butter in cakes that have a lot of spice or boiled fruit cake but butter for sponges.
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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby Suelle » November 29th, 2019, 10:37 pm

KC2 wrote:
Suelle wrote: Many older (but classified as modern for this discussion (Delia and Mary)) cooks also use baking margarines which are softer to start with, again making mixing easier.



What's your opinion of the various baking blocks, baking marge, soft marge etc? I tend to use non-butter in cakes that have a lot of spice or boiled fruit cake but butter for sponges.


Unless I'm baking a dairy free recipe, when I will use soft or block non-butter products (I can't remember what the technical name is, but I know margarine doesn't exist anymore) I stick to butter or oils.
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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby Herbidacious » November 29th, 2019, 11:00 pm

That’s very interesting, Suelle. I always agonise about the mixture curdling when I add eggs to the sugar butter mixture. So all in one and this wont’t happen...? Never sure if it matters anyway. Not an experienced cake maker.
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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby hickybank » November 29th, 2019, 11:26 pm

Herbidacious wrote:That’s very interesting, Suelle. I always agonise about the mixture curdling when I add eggs to the sugar butter mixture. So all in one and this wont’t happen...? Never sure if it matters anyway. Not an experienced cake maker.
]
As I said in my earlier post, I wait for the mixture to just start to curdle before adding flour
I think this is normal & has no detrimental effect on the cake & the way I have done it for years
Always finish up with a good result.
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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby Suelle » November 30th, 2019, 8:03 am

Herbidacious wrote:That’s very interesting, Suelle. I always agonise about the mixture curdling when I add eggs to the sugar butter mixture. So all in one and this wont’t happen...? Never sure if it matters anyway. Not an experienced cake maker.


I'm not sure if curdling matters, but it's not even on the agenda with the all-in-one method. Adding a spoonful of flour with each egg often prevents curdling and enables you to beat the cake mixture a bit more. I used to think it was a sign that you were losing the air that you'd just beaten into the butter and sugar, but I'm not sure about that now.
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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby Seatallan » November 30th, 2019, 11:19 am

KC2 wrote:What's your opinion of the various baking blocks, baking marge, soft marge etc? I tend to use non-butter in cakes that have a lot of spice or boiled fruit cake but butter for sponges.


I find like you that sometimes a baking block gives a better result. It really depends on the recipe. I agree about baking blocks for fruit cake.
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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby hickybank » November 30th, 2019, 12:13 pm

As we are on about cakes I thought I would show off a cake I made a few years ago for my neighbour, he was my drinking buddy
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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby scullion » November 30th, 2019, 12:35 pm

Suelle wrote:I'm not sure if curdling matters, but it's not even on the agenda with the all-in-one method.

a friend once threw out five cake mixes because they had 'curdled' before getting the sixth to work ok.
i was horrified - even as a fifteen year old i knew that wasn't necessary (they were not short of a bob or two). the all in one method was the one we/i used at home - as was promoted by the 'stork' adverts.

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Re: Cake baking & castor sugar

Postby hickybank » November 30th, 2019, 10:25 pm

scullion wrote:
Suelle wrote:I'm not sure if curdling matters, but it's not even on the agenda with the all-in-one method.

a friend once threw out five cake mixes because they had 'curdled' before getting the sixth to work ok.
i was horrified - even as a fifteen year old i knew that wasn't necessary (they were not short of a bob or two). the all in one method was the one we/i used at home - as was promoted by the 'stork' adverts.

which one is you, hickybank?[/quote]
Look at my avatar, you choose :lol:
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