Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chocolate Cake Experiments - Smallest Cake Possible

Over the next three days, I want to learn something about cake.  In fact I have some specific questions about cake that I want answered.  Sure it's easy enough to search online and read about the answers, but I've always liked to experiment for myself as well.  So over these three days I'm going to answer 3 questions that I've had about cake.  I won't be looking at icings, fillings, or any other cake additions, these questions will focus on the cake itself.  I've decided to use chocolate cake for these experiments because it's my favorite, and I have a great recipe for chocolate cake (from my Mother in law) that's almost fool proof.  
 My first cake question is about size.  I've seen some pretty big cakes in my day, in fact I was witness to the making of the worlds largest Chinese Moon Cake a few years back.  What I want to know is, how small can one make a cake, while still keeping it's cake like consistency and taste.  For this experiment I decided to start with a standard ramekin (about the same size and a muffin or cup cake) and work my way down.  Since I didn't have any kind of baking trays smaller, I made my own out of tin foil.

Making the baking trays was actually very easy.  For the middle size I used a small container and placed it on a square of tin foil.  I wrapped the tin foil around the container leaver the top uncovered.  I pulled out the container and it seemed to hold up.  For the smallest baking tray I used the same technique only instead of a container I used a 1 euro (about 2 cm across) coin.  This seem like a good sample of a small cake range.  I figured that the ramekin had a very good shot of working, but anything smaller was a bit of a guess.
I was very careful about keeping an eye on these cakes, because over cooking them would certainly make them hard.  The smallest cake took only 5 minutes to bake, I made sure it was baked by using the age old toothpick test.  After another 5 minutes the middle cake's toothpick came clean, and about 5 minutes after that the ramekin cake's toothpick came clean.  I had buttered and floured the containers so the cakes came out effortlessly.  I let them cool for a few minutes, but I wasn't too worried about them cooling completely, since I had no plans of icing them.

What I discovered shocked me a little.  Each one of these cakes were pretty similar.  All of them were moist, light, and tasty.  The only difference had to do with the ratio of crunchy top, that cakes often have, to soft interior.  As you would expect the small cake had slightly less soft interior, but about the same depth of crunchy top as the other two.  It made for a slightly crunchy cake, but for the most part it was soft and light.  I'm guessing that there would be a finite size of cake one could bake while still keeping it's soft texture, but I'm thinking you could still go much smaller than a 1 Euro coin before you achieve it.  I couldn't imagine why anyone would ever need a cake any smaller in the real world anyways.

Tomorrow I'll answer another cake question that's been burning up in my mind for a while, can you make pancakes out of cake batter?


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