Friday, January 27, 2023 Jan 27, 2023
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Food and Drink

The Perfect Cake Every Time

Pastry chef Tsuki Caspary-Brooks teaches us how to bake the perfect cake.
By Jessica Shapard |

Mexican Chocolate Cake with Kentucky Glaze


Cake Walk

A local pastry chef shares tried-and-true tips for baking the perfect cake every time.

TSUKI’S BAKING MUST-HAVES

 A standing mixer. The nicest present I ever received was a 5-quart standing mixer, she says. The gold standard is a KitchenAid mixer, which is available at Williams-Sonoma in fun colors such as tangerine and glacier blue.
 Hand-held scrapers. A scraper is essential for getting all of the batter out of a mixing bowl. A good one comes without a handle and fits right in the palm of your hand. Available at Ace Mart Restaurant Supply.
 A baker’s scale. Key for accurate measurement of ingredients. Tsuki says a $40-$60 scale is adequate for home baking. Look at Viking Culinary Arts Center or Sur La Table.
 A good cookbook library. Tsuki’s favorites are The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum; Chocolate Cake: From the Simple to the Sublime, by Michele Urvater; Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library’s Cakes, Cupcakes, and Cheesecakes, which is an older book and no longer available at their stores; and 365 Great Cakes and Pies, by Carol Prager. All available at
www.amazon.com.

Appropriately enough, Tsuki Caspary-Brooks very first cookbook was Imperial Sugar. Now she’s a full-time pastry chef and the owner of Dolci, a specialty cake business, and her confections are the darlings of local restaurants, such as Greenville Bar and Grille. Other restaurants, including York Street, bring in her cakes for patrons special occasions.

We asked Tsuki to teach us how to bake the perfect cake without resorting to Betty Crocker or the local grocery store. Most important, she says, is accurately measuring ingredients. Baking is essentially chemistry, and you have to be exact about the basic ingredients, Tsuki says. Spoon the flour into the cup measure or onto the scale lightly and carefully. Don’t pack anything that’s measured, except for brown sugar!

Another common mistake is overcooking, which robs cakes of their light and fluffy texture. “Test the cake about five minutes before the recipe says it will be ready, Tsuki says. Remember that ovens are not always correctly calibrated. Until you know how your oven bakes, you should be careful. Recipes say 20 or 25 minutes or until done, but the baking times are always approximate. Until done is the key.

Tsuki assures us that, with a little practice, baking the perfect cake is not only simple but also a lot of fun.


Devil’s Food Cake
(serves 8-10)

 2        cups sugar
 1 3/4  cups all purpose flour
 1        cup cocoa
 2        teaspoons baking soda
 1        teaspoon baking powder
 1/4     teaspoon salt
 1        cup brewed coffee
 1        cup buttermilk
 4        ounces butter, melted
 3        eggs, beaten
 2        teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pans, using spray or butter and flour.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly.

In large pitcher, mix coffee, buttermilk, and melted butter. Temper in the butter if it is still warm. Slowly add the liquids to the dry ingredients, while the stationary mixer is on low. When the liquids have been incorporated, add eggs and vanilla. Mix the batter at medium speed for eight minutes.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

Baking time depends on the size pans used. Mini Bundt cakes will be done in 25-28 minutes, an 8-inch cake in about 30 minutes, and a 10-inch cake in 50 to 60 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans for 30 minutes, then turn out. 

Devil’s Food Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Sour Cream Filling/Frosting
 
 6    ounces semisweet chocolate
       Pinch of salt
 1/2 cup sour cream
 
Mix the chocolate, salt, and sour cream together in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each heating. Let stand until spreadable.


Swiss Meringue Buttercream
 
 1     cup sugar
 7-8  large egg whites
 6     ounces semisweet chocolate
 2     ounces unsweetened chocolate
 1     pound butter, at room temperature
 
Combine sugar and egg whites in a large bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, and stir constantly with a whisk until mixture reaches 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

Place the mixture in the bowl of a stationary mixer. Mix on low for a minute, then increase the speed to high, and whip the mixture until bowl is cool to touch and mixture has doubled in volume.

Decrease the speed, and add butter in small increments while continuing to beat. Batter will deflate and look like cottage cheese but will look smooth by the time you add all of the butter.

Fold in the two chocolates, if desired, and then mix again until the mixture is smooth and a uniform color.

Refrigerate up to three days, or freeze for two months. Bring back to room temperature when ready to use.


Mexican Chocolate Cake
(serves 8-10)
 
 2       cups sugar
 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
 2       teaspoons cinnamon
 1       teaspoon baking soda
 1/4    teaspoon salt
 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
 1       cup butter
 3/4    cup unsweetened cocoa powder
 2       large eggs, beaten to blend

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan, two 8-inch pans, or one Bundt pan.

Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, soda, and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk buttermilk, butter, and cocoa powder in a large saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts. Let cool if necessary. Pour over flour mixture, and stir to combine.

Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until just incorporated. Pour into pan.

Bake until tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes for one large pan or 25-30 minutes for the smaller pans. Transfer to rack to cool completely.

Loosen cake from sides of pans and turn onto platter.


Kentucky Glaze
 
 1    pound semisweet chocolate
 8    ounces butter
 1/2 cup Karo syrup
 
Mix chocolate, butter, and Karo syrup together in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave in 30-second bursts, mixing well between heatings. Pour over cake.

Tsuki Caspary-Brooks began Dolci, her specialty cake business, in 1994 and has been creating beautiful cakes and desserts for restaurants and small events ever since. A graduate of El Centro College’s culinary school in pastry, Tsuki belongs to the American Institute of Wine and Food and is a proud member of the Dallas chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a charitable association of professional women in the fields of food, fine beverage, and hospitality. Since its founding in 1984, the Dallas chapter has raised more than $600,000 in endowments, scholarships, and grants with its annual Raiser Grazer event. For more information, visit www.ldedallas.org.

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