In home baking it is a detail that can go unnoticed, but the most perfectionists will want to obtain a perfectly homogeneous crumb in their cakes and cakes. However, it is common to find sweets whose interior reveals small blemishes, holes of different sizes or even tunnels that do not look as pretty as we would like.
These irregularities do not usually affect the flavor, nor do they have to reflect a dough that has not grown well or has not been cooked long enough. Unless the result is a complete disaster, they are, in reality, tiny very common defects in the candy store even more professional but of traditional elaboration, and it denotes precisely that artisan character that differentiates it from industrial sweets.
But if you want to aspire to the maximum perfection In your baking projects you will have to understand why these cavities appear and how they can be avoided.
The science of sponge cake
Roughly, the sweet doughs that are not bakery, in general, are based on the combination of dry and wet ingredients that, when heat is applied, are transformed into a more or less fluffy cooked crumb, which “grows” by means of a lifting agent. That is to say, it gasifies and gets volume.
Either by beating the eggs or the action of chemical boosters, what happens inside the dough is that air is released that forms the structure of the crumb. It is important that the recipe is balanced so that the ratio of ingredients and impeller is correct, and also to choose the most suitable blending technique. The type of pan or oven temperature can also affect how the dough grows and forms.
A fluffy crumb can – or should – have small holes, but we don’t want them to be large “eyes” of different sizes, spread out without rhyme or reason, or even creating tunnels and caves inside.
Why do irregular holes appear
There are many reasons that can cause that uneven crumb:
Wrong flour. In baking, with few exceptions, you must use pastry or “all-purpose” flour. That is, a medium, standard flour that adapts to almost all the most common preparations, with little protein. You also have to pay attention to whether or not it has yeast incorporated, the so-called sponge cake.
Gluten excess. Precisely using a flour rich in protein, such as bakery or strength flour, will cause an excess of gluten that we do not look for at all in our sponge-type sweets. Too much gluten causes heavier and denser doughs and makes it easier for larger cavities to appear.
Over-beaten doughs. Even with a suitable flour, gluten can do its thing if we beat the dough in excess. In recipes, instructions such as “mix at low speed just enough, without overbeating” are usually indicated, because too much movement at the end develops the gluten. And we already know that a lot of gluten causes excess air or gas inside, creating holes and tunnels through which these air bubbles are expelled to the outside.
Excess yeast or propellant. Not by adding more baking powder – Royal yeast, soft drinks, bicarbonate … – will get better cakes. If we go too far, there will be too much gas, it could even saturate the dough and cause the opposite effect of the desired one.
Poor impeller distribution. Sifting the flour with the other dry ingredients guarantees a homogeneous distribution of the raising agent in the dough, avoiding large bubbles that are poorly distributed.
Tips to avoid holes in the crumb
Taking into account the above, we can minimize those undesirable holes in the crumb of our cakes by following these tips:
- Use the right and good quality flour. Even within the most generic wheat or flour there are varieties with different percentages of protein. The less you have, in this case, the better.
Use the correct impeller in the correct quantity. It is best to use the same one indicated in the recipe, but if we want to replace it with the one we have at home, we must check the measurements indicated by the manufacturer, and never overdo it “just in case”.
Mix the dough properly. If the recipe calls for separating yolks and whites to mount these at the end, you have to pay attention to it. Other cakes, the four-quarters or bundt cakes, usually ask to beat the butter first with the sugar; This gives different, denser results, but also takes time to avoid uneven crumbs.
Working with tempered ingredients. Adding milk or very cold eggs to a buttercream and sugar can load the emulsion or cut the mixture. It is also not a good idea to add almost boiling melted butter or chocolate that burns to the touch.
Sift the dry ingredients. Even two or three times, because in addition to distributing the impeller well in the flour, you will avoid lumps by combining them with the wet dough, which could force you to beat too much.
Never overbeat. Unless otherwise specified, the pastry dough should not be overworked, especially in the final mix.
Hit the filled mold. Once the dough is in the mold, hitting it against the table, with dry and firm movements, but with care, will help to remove the largest bubbles to the outside and also to distribute the dough well.
Photos | iStock – Unsplash – Pixabay – Marco Verch
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