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'dry' cake

The Miette thread on the SF board reminded me that I've been meaning to rant about this.

It seems like no matter how fresh a cake is, how soaked in simple syrup, how fat and egg and sour cream laden a cake is, there will be someone out there who will say,'well it was OK, but it was a bit dry.' Now I realize that sometimes there are cakes that immediately suck the moisture out of your entire mouth. Sometimes cake has been frozen or overbaked or is a few days old and is in fact drier than is optimal. Yes, it should be delicious and pleasing to eat.

My rant is, how moist do people expect cake to be? It doesn't all have pudding in the mix, it's not all supposed to be liquid centered or soaked in three kinds of cream. It's not custard, it's not juicy pie, it's not a lovely fruit soup, it's cake. You eat it with a fork, not a spoon. But then personally, I cannot tolerate sogginess or mush. Tiramisu, bread pudding, tres leches, oatmeal, no way. I don't even dunk my biscotti. A nice fresh cake with a thin layer of buttercream or glaze is a lovely thing. A cup of coffee, and I'm good to go. "Dry" complaints about perfectly good cake drive me freakin' nutso.

Bakers? Pastry chefs? Anyone with me?

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  1. Brava on your rant! I could actually feel your blood pressure rising.:) But what you say is true, and the evidence is in the ever-present "molten chocolate" cake that seems to be on every restaurant menu these days.

    1. I agree with the molten chocolate cake idea. Ever since I made individual molten chocolate cakes for a family birthday, they've been requested at every family gathering. Sure, they were good, but there are so many other desserts; so many other sorts of cakes. Oooh, this is sending me off on my own oft-repeated rant about ubiquitous chocolate desserts!

      I think Americans are so accustomed to having cake with ice cream that they expect something to moisturize their dessert. It's the dessert equivalent of adding cheese to everything.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jillp

        Cake should be moist enough to eat, and not suck the moisture out of your mouth if eaten plain, without a frosting...it should be able to stand on its' own..without the "Sauce" if need be..(as should good BBQ)

        1. re: jillp

          Oh, don't get me started on molten chocolate cakes. I mean, they generally taste good if they are made with good quality chocolate, but do they have to be everywhere? 1998 had is moments, but can we move on? There IS more out there. But the molten cakes are easy to make in quantity and they do tend to sell well, maybe just because everyone has to try each restaurants version for comparison, so I think a lot of pastry chefs feel they can't take it off the menu - or the chef won't let them because they make $$. I like chocolate, but I'd rather not eat the same chocolate dessert for nine years straight!

        2. I like classical ( to distinguish from molten etc...) cakes where each crumb is moist and stands by itself.

          1. Dry cake...When a cake is dense, it better be semi-moist, in my opinion. And by that I mean that I shouldn't feel like I need to take a sip of milk or bit of ice cream to feel like I can swallow it. On the other hand, if a cake is light then I want a dry cake. I've heard lots of complaints about dry cupcakes on the aforementioned board and, frankly, cupcakes should, generally, be on the dry side or they are just too messy to eat as the lovely hand cakes that they are.

            1. I can agree with the previous poster, albeit for a different reason. Moistness or dryness is one thing, but there seem to be a lot of cakes around here (a lot of grocery store cakes, but Costco cakes in particular) that get covered in thick layers of sicky-sweet frosting with the texture of library paste. It doesn't matter how dry the cake is if you can't find it anywhere in the mass of frosting... Good cake can be enjoyed without frosting at all, but I'm pretty sure this stuff isn't it.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Vexorg

                Oh, don't get me started on people and their reliance on frosting. I watched recently as my future in-laws and their daughter argued over who got the frosting on a mediocre slice of cake, and saw that they couldn't eat a bite of cake without frosting. They wouldn't touch the carrot cake because it didn't have frosting layered between every inch.

                I don't really understand how a person can stand eating those frosting flowers.

                1. re: mrsry

                  Great points about too much thick, sickly sweet frosting. My fav cake growing up was my mom's simple chocolate cake with a very lightly sweetened whipped cream frosting. It simply accented the cake, instead of overwhelming it.

                  1. re: mrsry

                    I hardly ever bother frosting a cake. A little syrup glaze...occasionally a ganache, but really, a good cake can stand on its own.