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May 11, 2005 09:07 PM

a couple of baking questions

  • j

I am making the famous epicurious.com chocolate layer cake for about the fourth time. The recipe calls for non-Dutch processed unsweetened cocoa. Up until now, I have had decent quality unsweetened cocoa, either Ghiradelli or that organic brand that I cannot remember the name of and the cake has turned out perfect. Unfortunately, all I have left is some Nestle unsweetened cocoa. How will Nestle's cocoa affect this cake? Is there a noticeable difference between supermarket brands of unsweetened cocoa and the supposed better quality ones?

My other question involves using tart pans with removable bottoms. Before serving my tart, I like to remove the metal base, but this always come with a struggle, such as trying to slide an icing spatula between the tart and the pan. Is there a trick to this, such as buttering/flouring the base of the tart pan. I know bakeries don't sell the tart with the metal bottom attached, so they must be doing something I'm not doing. Help. Thanks.

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  1. Hi Julie,

    Regular cocoa powder requires an ingredient like baking soda to be added to the recipe to produce leavening.
    Dutch processed cocoa powder specifically treated with an alkali to neutralize the acid that is normally found in cocoa powder and is used in recipes that use baking powder as the leavener.
    Dutch cocoa is darker, sweeter and more mellow so, yes you will get a taste and color difference if you use regular cocoa alone.
    You can, however, replace it with both regular cocoa powder AND baking soda as follows:
    3 tablespoons ordinary cocoa powder plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda for every 3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa. The bicarbonate of soda will bring out the deep chocolate color and some of the mellow flavor.

    In regards to the tart pan: Invest in some parchment paper. You can get it in a roll and use it to line the tart pan bottom.
    I, personally, grease and flour the pan AND then grease and flour the parchment paper and leave about 4 to 6 inches on all sides so that it is easier to put a long spatula between the tart pan and the parchment paper for lifting.


    6 Replies
    1. re: Tzigane

      I second the grease and flour x2 recommendation: much better to be safe. Some bakeries don't use a pan with a removable bottom. If you have a flat sheet pan, you can use metal rings, (check the JB Prince site) set on buttered or sprayed parchment paper. Then the sheet pan with the baked cakes or tarts can be inverted onto a clean parchment-lined pan, old parchment peeled off, the rings slipped off. Then you slip a cardboard round under the cake or tart, and voila.

      1. re: pastrytroll

        Yes, removable bottoms are just a pain in the neck at a bakery - too easy to lose. Rings are the thing.

        But the other thing to consider is that professional bakers flip things over way more often than most home bakers do. You can't flip, say, a pie, but a pear tart is fine. A good stack of cardboard rounds is helpful -or use what I always do, the bottoms from broken springform pans that people keep giving me for some reason. Put the round on the top of the tart, flip in out, put another round on the bottom, flip it back. Voila.

        You'll still want to use the rings for really delicate stuff. And of course blind baked shells should be removed from the tin before filling.

        1. re: curiousbaker

          Thanks for all the great responses. The rings are a great idea. Do they make fluted rings?

          1. re: Julie H.

            Pay very close attention to Tzigane response. The chocolate you need use has little to do with who manufactured it and everything to do with being Dutch processed. Dutch processed chocolate is nutralized to a pH of 7 and will not react with the baking soda in your recipe. That means there's another acid in the recipe to leven it and if you want the cake to come out as Epicurious tested it, you need insure your chocolate is not natural unsweetened but Dutch processed. This will be clearly marked on the packaging.

            1. re: DK

              I know next to nothing about baking, but I'd like to learn, so I hope to straighten something out. The recipe to which Julie H. is referring calls for:
              "unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)" (That's a direct quote from the recipe.)

              So, she needs to get regular unsweetened (the kind Hershey's makes) and needs to avoid the Dutch processed kind. Right?

              Link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

              1. re: Eva and Ziv

                Thank you. I misread her original post. She PROPERLY used the natural unsweetened and not the Dutch processed baking chocolate. I was trying to stress that the two are not interchangable in baking due to a diffence in their acid-base balance.

    2. Julie, you are a person after my own heart...that is my favorite chocolate cake recipe and folks DO swoon over it! I've only ever used either Hershey's or Nestle's cocoa in it the 3 times I've made it and it came out just beautifully BUT I've not tried it with Ghirardelli cocoa, though I've used Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate for the orgasmic ganache frosting...I truly think the cake will be just fine.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Val

        Oops, sorry...I don't know the answer to the tart question but it's a good one and I'm sure someone here will know.

      2. Sounds like a cake recipe I'd like to try. What is the exact name of the cake? I came up with 272 entries on a search for chocolate cake on Epicurious. Thanks in advance!

        2 Replies
        1. re: emmisme

          It's called Double Chocolate Layer cake...link below for you!

          Link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

          1. re: Val

            Can't wait to try it, thanks!