Butter Cakes

Ultimate Fresh Strawberry Butter Cake Recipe or UFSBC

We've all made cakes that just did not come out right. They fell apart in trying to get them out of the pan, they were too dry, they were misshapen or the frosting looked like a three year old put it on.  
 
IN GENERAL
Shortened (butter and pound) cakes are an emulsion, or a water-in-oil emulsion. What that means is that a major factor in forming this type of mixture for cake batters is the combining of the fat and water components of the formula. These two constituents are normally incapable of being combined. Emulsifiers, such as found in egg yolks, make it possible to blend the fat and water components. As a result, mixing of a cake batter results in the formation of an oil-in-water emulsion in which the various ingredients are evenly dispersed. Characteristics observed in a cake produced from a broken emulsified batter include low volume, coarse crumb, sugary top crust, and tender structure or questions as: How come my cake didn’t rise like the one in the photo?; Or, why is my cake dry? Or, why does my cake sink in the middle?

Cakelette Pops TutorialBad Recipe
Cake recipes must be in balance. Sugar and fat are tenderizers, making things tender and fall apart. Flour and eggs contain proteins that hold things together. They become the structure of the recipe. For a successful cake, you need a balance between the two components.
Master cake bakers always use these formulas to ensure success. Remember they are done by weighing ingredients on a scale, not by measuring in measuring cups and spoons.

REGULAR CAKES: Weight of sugar equal to or less than weight of flour
Weight of eggs equal to or greater than the weight of fat
Weight of liquid (milk and eggs) equal weight of flour

HIGH-RATIO CAKES: (many cakes fall into this category) Weight of sugar equal to or greater than weight of flour
Weight of eggs equal weight of fat
Weight of liquid equal or greater than weight of sugar

Batter Curdles and Separates
The ingredients were not at room temperature, but will correct itself when the flour is added.
The butter and sugar were not creamed together well enough before adding the eggs.
The eggs and liquids were added too quickly - add gradually

Low Volume
Over or undermeasurement of liquids. See How to Measure.
Undermixing or extreme overmixing
Not enough batter or dough in pans
Oven temperature too low or too high
Not properly alternating the flour and the liquid ingredients during mixing
Cold eggs and/or butter.
Old or too little baking powder
Too much fat
Batter Temperature Too High - Use mix at 68°F-72°F (20°C-22°C).
Insufficient Leavening
Mix Too Stiff - Use more liquid.
Batter Too Soft - Decrease liquid.
Wrong Type of Shortening - Use a quality cake shortening.
Inferior Eggs - Use quality and large eggs.
Flour Too Strong - use a quality cake flour

Raisins and Nuts Sink to the Bottom of the Cake
The pieces of fruit were too large and too heavy; batter was not thick enough to hold them.

Sticky Top
Covering while still warm
Overmeasurement of liquid. See How to Measure.
Underbaking - oven temperature too low and / or too short a baking time
High humidity

Wet Texture
Moving the cake before it is set
Underbaking
Cooling the cake in the pan (unless the recipe specifies)
Undermixed
Use of Lean Formula - Use richer formula.
Flour Too Strong or Weak - Use a quality cake flour.
Batter is Stiff  - Use more liquid.
Too Much Sugar - Decrease amount.
Excess Shortening or Leavening - Decrease amount.
Cold Oven - Preheat oven , Bake at higher temperature.
Egg Content Too High - Decrease eggs; increase milk and leavening.
Sugar Too Coarse - Use finer granulation.
Too Much Acid in Dough - Decrease acid content of batter.
Sugar and Shortening Overcreamed
Mix is Curdled - Add eggs and liquid gradually.

Large Holes and Tunneling
Oven temperature too high. Use an oven thermometer to check.
Undermixing or extreme overmixing (too much gluten)
Too much leavening
Wrong Type of Shortening - Use a quality cake shortening.
Improper Blending of Leavening - Blend leavening thoroughly with flour.
Flour Too Strong - Use a quality cake flour.
Batter Too Stiff - Use more liquid.
Insufficient Sugar
Egg Content Too High
Mixing At High Speed - Use lower speed.
Too Much Sugar
Batter Curdled - Add eggs and liquid gradually.

Shrinks
Too little batter in pan
Pans greased too heavily
Pans too close together in oven
Extreme overmixing
Too much liquid
Overbaking - too long or at too high a temperature
Improper mixing procedure.
Oven Temperature Too High or Low
Flour Too Strong - Use all-purpose or cake flour.
Lean Formula - Use more sugar or shortening.
Wrong Type of Shortening - Use a quality cake shortening.
Excess Leavening

Cake Falls
Over- or under-creaming and mixing - too much or too little air is incorporated into batter.
Underbaking - oven temperature too low and / or too short a baking time.
Probably not thoroughly baked - Bake longer or reduce the heat by 25 degrees F and bake longer.
Over or under measurement of liquid 
Excess Sugar, Shortening or Leavening
Too small a pan
Excessive jarring or moving of the cake during baking.
Opening the oven door before cake sets
Too much baking powder or baking soda Keep recipe close to 1 teaspoon baking powder or 1/4 teaspoon baking soda per cup of flour.
Insufficient eggs
Flour too weak or wrong kind

Coarse Grain and Sunken Center
Oven too cold (baked too slowly). Preheat oven for about 20 minutes.
Sugar and fat under-creamed. Follow How to Mixing Methods - Creaming
Batter over- or under-mixed
Too much baking powder (leavening).
Batter too stiff - Not enough liquid or Too much flour
Wrong type of flour - Used all-purpose flour instead of cake flour.
Careless or poor depositing in the pans.
Finished Batter Temperature Too High
Old Batter - Do not let batter stand for more than 20 minutes.
Excess Sugar
Poor Grade of Shortening - Use a quality high-ratio cake shortening when baking  high-ratio cakes

Dry Cake / Tough Crust
Overmixing the batter.
Overbaking. Check cake for doneness at lower end of baking time range.
Overbeating egg whites and too many of them 
Excessive egg content and eggs overbeaten
Pan is Extra Deep. Use the size called for in the recipe or substitute it.
Baked Too Long in Cool Oven and the cake dried out as it baked. Use an oven thermometer to help you check.
Oven Temperature Too High 
Cool cakes in a draft free area. They will dry out quickly in a draft.
Added more flour than the recipe called for. See How to Measuring Techniques - Flour 
Added less shortening or liquid than the recipe called for. See How to Measure.
Insufficient Sugar or Shortening / Excessive Amount of Sugar in Dough
Flour Too Weak or Too Strong

Peaked / Cracked Tops 
Overmixing
Oven temperature too high, causing the outside of the cake to bake and form a crust too quickly. As the mixture in the center of the cake continued to cook and rise, it burst up through the top of the cake.
Not using magi-cake strips which prevent the edges from baking and setting faster than the middle
Stiff Batter - Too much flour or too little liquid
Pan placed too high in oven. Before preheating the oven, adjust oven shelf to the middle.
Too Much Bottom Heat - Double-pan the cakes.
Insufficient Sugar, Shortening or Leavening
Flour Too Strong - Use a quality cake flour.
Not Enough Batter in Pans
Egg Content Too High
Lean Formula - Increase sugar and shortening.

Uneven Cake Layers 
Oven shelf not level / Oven not level
Uneven pans
Uneven depositing of batter
Batter Improperly Mixed
The temperature inside the oven was uneven.
Too Much Bottom Heat - Decrease bottom heat, move oven shelf up a rung, or use double-pan.
Hot Spots in Oven
Too Much Top Heat - Decrease top heat (Move oven shelf down a rung) or cover cakes with paper.
Uneven Distribution of Leavening - Blend leavening thoroughly with flour.
Uneven Distribution of Sugar - Distribute sugar thoroughly.

Uneven Browning / Burned on One Side
Uneven heat circulation. Make sure the pan has at least 1-to 2-inches space between the sides of the oven and another pan, if using.
Pans too close together in oven. Improper placement in the oven will cause cakes to bake faster on one side.
Gently rotate the cake pans (don't pick up the pans, spin them) about 2/3 into the baking time for an even bake.

Burnt Bottom / Undercooked Batter
Inadequate air circulation in oven. Make sure the pan has at least 1- to 2-inches space between the sides of the oven and another pan, if using.
If you have to bake two pans in the oven at once and they won't fit on one shelf, stagger them between the two shelves.

Heavy Layer on Bottom
Not enough mixing
Too much liquid
Too many eggs

Thick / Heavy Layer
The butter, sugar and eggs were not beaten together long enough.
The flour was beaten at too high a speed.
Too much flour was added to the creamed mixture.
The oven temperature was not hot / or too hot enough.
Excessive baking time. Check cake at the beginning of the time range for doneness or 10 minutes before the stated time.

Grayish Color 
Low-grade flour

Sticky Wet Layer
Not had the batter folded with beaten egg whites sufficiently

Cake Sticks to Baking Pan
Not greased and floured the pan enough. See How to Prepare Pans.
The cake cooled too long in the pan before trying to remove it.
Not baked long enough.

Tough Crust or Crumb
Too little fat
Too little sugar
Excessive mixing.
Batter too stiff (insufficient water).
Batter too thin (excessive water).
Can be a meringue-like crust: is created by egg whites when the batter is beaten too much after eggs are added. To avoid it, blend in the eggs, one at a time, on low speed until just blended.

Hanging Over Sides of Pan / Batter Overflows Pan
Too much baking powder
Too small a pan - Make sure you used the right size pan. The uncooked mixture should fill the pan by no more than two-thirds.Bitter or Poor Flavor

Bitter or Poor Flavor
Excess baking soda
Either the oven was set very low or you put too much batter in the pan.
Check your oven setting and never fill the baking pan more than 1/2 full of cake batter.
Improper mixing procedure.
Improper cleaning and greasing of the pans.
Faulty baking conditions.
Improper cleaning of the equipment. 

Too Dry, Cracks and Crumbles
Too much shortening, baking powder, or sugar.
Taken the cake from the pan before it had cooled enough.
The layers may have needed a little extra baking time.
Overbaked
Use of Lean Formula
Flour Too Strong or Weak - Use a quality cake flour.
Batter Stiff
Excess Sugar, Shortening or Leavening
Cold Oven - Bake at higher temperature.
Improper Mixing
Egg Content Too High
Sugar Too Coarse - Use finer granulation.
Sugar and Shortening Overcreamed - Cream sugar and shortening properly.
Mix is Curdled - Add eggs and liquid gradually.
Wrong Type of Shortening - Use a quality cake shortening.
Old Batter - Do not let batter stand for more th​an 20 minutes

Crust Too Dark
Oven too hot.
Excessive top heat
Dark pan

Crust is Shiny and Sticky
Oven temperature too cool.
Removed the layers from the oven too soon.
Too much sugar
Too Much Steam in Oven
Flour Too Weak - Use a quality cake flour.
Excessive Shortening
Improper Cooling
Cool appropriately. 

Top Layer on Crust Collapses When Taken from Oven
Improper blending of the flour and baking powder/soda which can cause holes in the finished cake.
Overmixed flour when added to the cake, causing too much gluten. Too much gluten causes a cracked and domed top. 
Improperly emulsified eggs: Eggs should be added ONE AT A TIME, with the mixer speed on low. Make sure it's fully incorporated before adding the next egg. This step helps to incorporate more air in the batter and adds emulsifiers from the egg yolks, the most important step when making a pound cake. It results in a creamy mixture that holds in the air bubbles in, previously created through creaming. A cake baked with poorly emulsified batter will be grainy in texture, will look uneven and/or may even sink when baked.

Dense and Heavy Grain 
Excessive liquid in the batter.
Stiff batter.
Improper mixing procedure.
The eggs were too small. Always use large eggs when baking.
Insufficient air was whisked into the egg and sugar mixture.
The flour was not folded in gently. Always mix in the flour at the lowest speed.
The melted butter was too hot when added, causing it to sink down through the whisked foam.
The oven temperature was too low.
Insufficient Leavening
Wrong Type of Flour or Leavening - Use cake flour or double acting leavening.
Too Much Invert Syrup - Decrease amount.
Insufficient Sugar or Shortening (Lean Formula)
Batter Too Warm

Burnt on Top
Oven temperature too hot.
Incorrect amount of water.

Lack of Body
Excessive mixing.
Insufficient liquid.

Off Color
Improper mixing procedure.
Oven too cool, (baked too slowly).
Unclean equipment.
Improper leaveners or too much

Poor Keeping Qualities
Excessive baking time.
Insufficient Liquid.
Improper mixing procedures.
Cooled in a drafty location.

Brown Patches / Light Spots
Especially true in yellow cakes. Due to the high sugar and fat content in yellow cakes, they tend to brown unevenly. A anodized aluminum pan will help with even browning. 
A perfectly measured and mixed batter will fail if your oven temperature is incorrect. An oven that is too hot during the early baking stage can cause premature release of the leavening, producing small blisters which collapse and form light spots on the crust. Therefore, invest in a good freestanding oven thermometer to accurately measure your oven. It is readily available from the grocery store.

Too Tender
Too Much Oil/Shortening
Undermixed
Not Enough Eggs
Too Much Sugar or Leavening
Flour Too Weak - Use a quality cake flour 

Cupping
Stiff Batter - Use more liquid.
Air Trapped Under Liner - Place liner in pan firmly.
Too Much Bottom Heat - Decrease bottom heat, pan too close to heat source, or use double-pan.
Moisture in Pan - Dry pans thoroughly before use.
Pan Overgreased
Egg Content Too High

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