Another week with Baking with Aanu. She has answered some of your questions. If you still haven’t sent in your baking questions, here’s your chance to do so.
Q: I want to make a cake out of cake pops. What can I use to stick them together?
A: You can use a number of different liquids or semi-liquids as binders for your cake pops, the most popular being icing, jams or, believe it or not, non-dairy liquid coffee creamer. Some people use whipping cream. I’ve never tried this but I believe ganache or chocolate syrup would work as well.
One reason I advocate weighing ingredients rather than using “cups” is increased accuracy. All carrots are not the same; some are juicier than others, so 1 cup of juicy carrots will have more liquid than 1 cup of drier carrots. So carrot cake on juicy day may mean soggy cake. But 8 oz of carrots is 8 oz is 8 oz is 8 oz. I think you get my point. By the way, 1 cup of grated carrots is approximately 3.5 oz, so if you’re packing the cup with 5 oz for example, you have too much liquid in the batter, too much liquid = soggy cake. For cakes like carrot cake, the bulk of the liquid comes from the carrots. So next time weigh your ingredients and see if that helps.
If you cake is moist enough you may not even need to use any binder—I prefer no binder in my cake pops. This is just one of those things you have to try out to figure out your preference. What kind of chocolate are you going to cover the pops in? “If dark or bittersweet chocolate then, having something sweet like icing sugar frosting as a binder can be offset by the less sweet chocolate. For red velvet cake pops you could bind them with cream cheese icing and cover with white chocolate. Really, have fun with it, start slow with small amounts and work your way up. PLEASE NOTE: Pay attention to the shelf stability of your binder—meaning does it need to be refrigerated? Binders like cream cheese, heavy cream, fresh fruit pastes must be kept refrigerated to prevent food poisoning, so your cake pops would need to be kept cool/refrigerated till they are served.
Q: How do you make carrot cake that is not chewy? Mine is always chewy or soggy
A: Most carrot cake recipes I’ve seen have all-purpose flour. It’s very easy to end up with a chewy cake when batter containing all-purpose flour is over-mixed. Over-mixing all-purpose flour in the presence of liquid develops the protein strands (gluten) in the flour. Gluten = Chewy. Gluten is why bread is chewy– all that mixing and kneading develops the gluten in the flour. Developing gluten is great in bread, not so much for cake. Your best bet would be to follow the recipe and mix in the flour just until incorporated and STOP. I often get tempted to keep mixing. No. Back away from the batter. LOL. Once you can’t see obvious unmixed flour in the batter, stop mixing.
Q: Must I buy a mixer?
A: It depends. How much baking do you do? How often? Do you bake for 5 people or 50? Do you make heavy-duty stuff regularly like breads, cookies and fondant?
For small scale, light duty baking a hand mixer might work, but if you bake often and in medium to large scale quantities, a good quality stand mixer might be in order. Your arms and your schedule will thank you.