Q: I would love to know about cookies, cupcakes, and making ice cream without an ice cream maker with accurate measurements.
A: Hi. What specifically about cookies and cupcakes? Not sure about making ice cream without an ice cream maker but here’s a link I found you might consider. http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-ice-cream-without-124210
Q: Please what is the accurate measurement for a plain sponge cake! All the cakes I bake just never seem to rise!
A: A basic sponge cake formula is equal parts flour, sugar and eggs i.e. 1:1:1 with some formulas including salt, baking powder and flavorings/spices. Some variations of the formula have up to 1: 1.7:1.7
Unless you’re planning to develop your own recipe, the above information may not be of much use to you. If your sponge cakes consistently fall, the issue may well be your technique vs the recipe. Since the bulk of the leavening (rise) of a sponge cake is tied to how much air you can get into your eggs. The bigger question becomes: Are you properly getting the air into your eggs and from the eggs to the batter?
What does your recipe call for as far as preparing the eggs? And what’s your technique? Does it call for BEATING yolks with part of the sugar first to RIBBON STAGE and then making a meringue by WHIPPING the whites and the rest of the sugar which is then FOLDED in? These words are emphasized for a reason. Beating, whipping, and folding are not the same thing and if you’re not doing these correctly, you’re not going to get good results even with the best, most balanced sponge cake recipe on earth.
How do you handle your cake after it’s baked? Hopefully you’re NOT greasing the pan before you bake. Do you invert immediately you get it out of the oven to prevent your cake from falling?
Do a search for videos on the internet showing these mixing methods, and also for stages of a meringue. If your recipe calls for stiff peaks and you’re only whipping to soft peaks, your cake is going to reflect that difference.
3a. Q: What are the best kinds of chocolate not the ShopRite packaged chocolates for home use baking? The dairy milk ones don’t turn out well.
3b. Q: What is a chocolate and/or red velvet cake recipe that you will recommend? I never seem to get those right.
A: Your choice of cocoa is going to depend on your recipe. Natural cocoa vs Dutch process cocoa (common in Europe); cocoa and chocolate are not the same thing. Natural cocoa and Dutch process cocoa are not the same thing. What does your recipe call for? While the brand of cocoa you choose will depend on personal preference, the type of cocoa you use will depend on your recipe and what you’re going for. Natural cocoa is acidic, with a bitter edge compared to Dutch process which is neutral and produces a much darker cake.
Why is this acid/neutral thing important info? It ties to the leavening in your cake. While some recipes can handle switching between these types of cocoa, many recipes do not. Natural cocoa recipes will call for baking soda (which is alkaline). Acid + Base gives off CO2 along with the corresponding salts. That CO2 affects the rise of your cake. Dutch process is neutral and is used in recipes with baking powder (which contains the acid and base that react to form the CO2. If you use neutral Dutch cocoa in a recipe that calls for natural cocoa, what’s your baking soda going to react with? Enter weird tasting cake with crappy texture and probably zero rise.
With regards to chocolate, again, what does your recipe call for? Dark? Semi-Sweet? Milk? White? Each of these has specific amounts of cocoa solids to fat to sugar that can throw off a recipe. So when substituting, you’re going to consider how your choice affects the balance of the recipe. Dark chocolate has much less sugar and fat compared to milk chocolate. So when you decide to use dark chocolate for a recipe that calls for milk chocolate, there’s a good chance you’re going to have to increase the sugar and fat to mimic the effect of milk chocolate (you’re probably also going to introduce milk solids if the recipe doesn’t already have that). If a recipe calls for baking chocolate and you want to use cocoa, you’re going to have to increase the sugar and fat to mimic the effect of chocolate because a straight cocoa substitution will yield a super dry cake.
I often don’t recommend one recipe over another because almost always I’ve found the issue is not the recipe but inappropriate substitutions (often because the individual does not understand the role of each ingredient) or poor technique (inaccurate measurements of ingredients, off temperature of ingredients or oven, wrong mixing method, stuff like that). Martha Stewart’s red velvet recipe that has gotten good reviews. You might try that.