In case you've ever had trouble making chocolate cake or chocolate ganache, or if you want to know the common issues to avoid, this post is for you. The following are the frequently asked questions about my chocolate shard cake recipe.
A moist cake depends on a few things. Find a good recipe with the right proportions of ingredients and follow it to the letter.
For better results, use oil instead of butter, and buttermilk (or other cultured dairy products) instead of milk or plain water. Most importantly, do not overmix or overbake the cake.
I prefer Dutch-process cocoa powder for chocolate cakes. This cocoa powder has been alkalized to reduce its natural acidity, making it less bitter.
It produces a cake that’s fudgier and darker. Regular unsweetened cocoa powder is fine with subtle differences in color and taste.
There are a few reasons why I prefer oil for cakes or baked goods in general. With oil, there is no creaming or melting involved. It keeps cakes moist because it is liquid at room temperature, whereas butter is solid.
Gluten is less likely to develop because oil does not contain water. Water activates gluten, making cakes hard when overmixed. Cakes made with oil also have a longer shelf life.
It is always best to use a neutral oil like canola or other vegetable oils in baking. I also like mild-tasting oils like avocado oil, olive oil, and coconut oil.
I like adding coffee to baked goods with chocolate, such as chocolate crinkle cookies or Oreo brownies from brownie mix.
It won't make them taste like coffee. Instead, it will enhance the chocolate flavor and tone down the sweetness.
Most cakes can be kept at room temperature for two days. Cakes and frosting containing fresh fruit, cream cheese like carrot sheet cake, or whipped cream should be refrigerated.
When in doubt, always refrigerate. They stay fresh longer, especially when the weather is warm or if your kitchen gets too hot.
Yes. I always make the cake layers several days in advance then freeze them. They stay moist and are easier to frost. When wrapped properly, they can last 2 to 3 months in the freezer.
To thaw, place them in the fridge overnight or let them sit out on the counter while still wrapped for about an hour.
You have to make sure the cake has completely cooled before frosting. A better way to prevent crumbling is to freeze the cake layers before frosting.
Crumb coating or covering the cake with a thin layer of icing traps loose crumbs and keeps the cake moist.
There isn't much you can do with a cake that turned out crumbly. Let the frosting compensate for it by keeping it together.
To prevent it, accurately measure the ingredients (especially the flour), use large or extra-large eggs to provide enough structure (if the recipe doesn't specify), and allow the cake and frosting to set in the fridge before slicing.
Here are the things you should check: Did you use the right ingredients and measured them correctly? Is your oven temperature correct? Have you overbaked the cake?
Simple syrup can help add moisture and compensate for the dryness of the cake. Boil equal parts of sugar and water, let them cool, then brush them onto the cake layers.
Underbaking is the first thing that comes to mind. Inaccurate oven temperature could also be a reason.
Overmixing and using too much leavener (baking soda or baking powder) can cause them to rise too much then suddenly collapse. Choosing the right pan size also matters.
Overmixing the batter causes large holes or tunneling (tunnels of air pockets). Gluten develops and toughens the cake, so the leavener gets trapped and forms tunnels.
Another reason could be that there is too much chemical leavener or that it hasn't been mixed properly. There isn't much you can do if this happens, but you can cover the holes and tunnels with frosting.
Ganache is a smooth mixture of chocolate and hot cream. It has a variety of textures depending on the ratio of chocolate to cream and how it is used.
Butter and flavoring extracts are sometimes added. It can be used as a filling, topping, or frosting for cakes and pastries. It is also used to make confections like truffles.
Ganache turns grainy or lumpy because there isn't enough cream or the cream isn't hot enough. The chocolate pieces must be small enough to melt fast and create a smooth texture.
Ganache turns grainy or curdled because there is not enough liquid (cream) to melt the chocolate.
To fix it, place the chocolate ganache in a heatproof bowl and warm it over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until smooth and add more cream as needed.
Did not use enough chocolate? If the proportions are off, it won't set properly. It may need more time to reach your desired consistency.
If your kitchen is too warm, the chocolate will melt and will not set properly. Lastly, mix the ganache well until smooth.
I hope this post has answered some or all of your questions on ingredients, substitutions, and troubleshooting. Knowing these can help you get the cake right the first time or avoid mistakes in the future. I hope you'll give it a try!