How to Bake a Taller Cake

How to Bake a Taller Cake

I first heard about a technique called cake collaring several years ago, but just couldn't envision what I was supposed to be doing.  I finally saw some pictures and I was like "oh...duh."  So, if you haven't heard of collaring a cake and want to know a way to get your cake layers to rise taller, this post is for you.

This is one of the things I do to get my cake layers to rise taller.  I was already lining my pans with parchment paper anyway, so this is just a little different way to do that.

The pictures I took for this tutorial are my 3-layer, 8" pans that are just 1-1/2 inches tall.  My other cake pans are 2" tall so I get taller layers with them.

Once you have your bottom parchment piece in, cut rectangular strips that are about 1/2 inch higher than your pan.  So, in this case my parchment collar was 2" in height (1/2 inch taller than my pan).

I use homemade "pan grease" to attach my parchment papers to my pan but you can also use shortening, butter,or baker's spray.  The pan grease is just equal amount of vegetable oil, all-purpose flour and vegetable shortening.  I usually make it in 1/4 cup amounts.

Spread the pan grease on the side of the parchment strips that will be attached to the pan.  Be sure and overlap your strips.  I find it is easier to work with shorter strips than try to put one or two long strips around.  This is what it will look like:

Here is what it looks like with the cake batter:
Those things sticking up in the middle are flower nails.  They are metal spikes with a flat top that are used to make roses and other flowers.  I have a few that I use as a heating core in the middle of my cakes for more even heat distribution.  If you do this, be sure and grease up the nail before you pour your batter in.

Here are the cakes just out of the oven:
The chocolate one rose over the height of the pan.  One observation I made was that the thickest batter (chocolate) rose the highest, while the thinnest (strawberry) rose the least.

Here they are leveled and then stacked.  I am happy with the height I got from these 1-1/2 inch pans using the parchment collars.

Finally, here is the finished cake:
Senatobia cake


These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens..." 

Well, I like those things, but this post is about a few of my favorite Kitchen Gadgets.  One of the things my husband says when we go to the hardware store is, "You can't have too many tools."  And I wholeheartedly agree, but my tools are kitchen gadgets.

Some women like jewelry, some like purses, my thing is kitchen utensil and gadgets (and shoes, but that is for another time).  So, here are a few of my favorites:

My stand mixer

This is the workhorse of my kitchen.  I use it for making dough (bread, pizza) and all my icings.  When it finally konks out, I will have a period of mourning.

Digital scale

I really thought I did not need one of these, but it has quickly become one of my favorite things.  I originally got it to accurately measure sugar for making Swiss Meringue Buttercream, but I have found that I like the accuracy of weight measuring over volume measuring for other things, as well. 

Bench Scraper

I have had this tool for a number of years.  It is a great tool for smoothing out icing on the sides of cakes.  I also have a very big icing knife but I have never been that comfortable using it.  It just seems so bulky and uncontrollable.  The bench scraper is supposed to be used to divide dough and scrape it off the counter if it sticks, but a lot of cake decorators use it to smooth icing.

Tupperware Mix and Pour Bowl

Not really sure what this is called or if Tupperware even makes it anymore.  I have had this bowl since the early 80's (no kidding!).  You can see that I placed it too close to something very hot and the top melted a little, but it still works great.  I pull this thing out of the cabinet at least 4 times a week. 

Cupcake Spoon

Another gadget I have that I don't know the "official" name for, but it is perfect for measuring out batter for cupcakes.  I think it hold about 3 tablespoons and it works great for getting even amounts of batter into cupcake tins.

Pringles Can

Really?  A Pringles can is a kitchen gadget.  Well, it is for me.  It works great for holding my pastry bags so I can fill them with icing with less mess.  I learned this little trick from the instructor of the very first cake decorating class I ever took.

And finally, my Recipe Box

I keep this box on top of my microwave in my kitchen.  It holds index cards with my cake, frosting, and filling recipes.  I can easily find what recipe I need and pull the card out to place it where I am working in the kitchen. 

One of my UNfavorite things is these plastic measuring cups.  They came from a big box store and were cheap (real cheap).  Well, you get what you pay for.  I haven't had them for very long and have already broken the handles off of two of them.  Hmmm...sounds like a good excuse (er, reason) to go to the kitchen gadget store to get some good ones!


What Type of Flour Should I Use?

What Type of Flour Should I Use?

Ever wonder why there are so many different kinds of flour on the store shelves?  I used to get confused about what kind of flour I needed and didn't fully understand that one type of flour can't do it all.  Here's a picture of the different flours I have right now in my pantry.

Types of Flour

From left:  bread flour, whole wheat flour, White Lily (all purpose) flour, cake flour, and Pillsbury (all purpose flour).

Why on earth does one person need all these kinds of flour?  Well, I do a lot of baking.  For baking cakes, I like to use a mixture of Cake Flour and the White Lily Flour.  For bread, I use mixture of Bread Flour and Whole Wheat Flour.  The other all purpose flour is what I use to "flour the counter" to roll out biscuits and stuff like that.

honey wheat bread
  Fair warning - I am a fan of Alton Brown, so this will start to get a little scientific.  These flours react differently because of the varying protein content in them.  The higher the protein content, the more the gluten will develop.  If you want a bread that rises nice with a soft texture, use bread flour.  You can use all-purpose, but it will not give you the same results.  I like wheat bread so I mix in some whole wheat flour with the white bread flour.  I have used whole wheat by itself, which will give you a slightly coarser texture.

For cakes, I want a much finer texture (this is called the "crumb").  That's why I use a mixture of cake flour and White Lily flour.  OK...stay with me here.  White Lily is milled from a soft winter wheat (I believe from the south).  It has a protein content of somewhere between a cake flour and regular all-purpose.  It's supposed to be great for biscuits.  I'll have to try that out sometime.  If any of you use it for biscuits, let me know.  I cheat a little and use Bisquick for biscuits.

Then, there is self-rising, which is just regular all-purpose with leavening added in.  That is the one flour I don't have in my kitchen right now.

Hope this little explanation has helped demistify the types of flour you may find on your grocery shelves.