View Full Version : What makes a cake "heavy"?

03-24-2002, 11:35 AM
My wife and I received the April issue of Cooking Light a few days ago and she tried the Luscious Lemon Cake recipe on page 126. Although the cake has a rich lemon flavor, it came out heavy and gummy. The icing was fine and very tastety.

Could someone share any info they may have on ways to make cakes and breads lighter? What factors affect how light and moist a cake is: quality of ingredients, baking time, mixing technique, etc?

Thanks for any help you can provide and sharing your expertise!

03-24-2002, 12:23 PM
I don't have the April issue yet :( so I can't read over the ingredients and baking technique and see if there's anything that catches my eye. So I'll just write generally about my experiences baking cakes.

To be honest, I don't often bake "light" cakes for this very reason: they tend to be heavy and gummier than regular, full-fat cakes. I assume this is because the proportion of fats is decreased, although the amount of flour stays the same. Cakes with too much flour will turn out heavy and gummy, as will cakes without enough eggs.

But the other things you point to could also be factors. Did your wife use lighter ingredients than the recipe called for (nonfat cream cheese instead of light or some kind of margerine type spread instead of butter or margerine)? That can definitely make a difference. I would imagine that in a low-fat cake, even something like using small eggs when the recipe calls for large would make a difference.

As far as mixing techniques, overmixing towards the end of the mixing process (after the flour is added) creates a tough cake, but it's also a problem if you undermix at the beginning of the process (usually the creaming of the butter and sugar stage--they need to be incorporated thoroughly together).

It may just be that this recipe is a dud--it occasionally happens. Keep watching the boards because I'm sure some reviews will be posted once we all receive our April issues! Has anyone else tried this cake yet?

03-24-2002, 01:55 PM
I make light cakes all the time (made a nice one last night-not this one, though). You must., must, must not overbeat a light cake after the flour is added IMHO. If I remember correctly, beating a cake too long develops the gluten in the flour, resulting in a somewhat gummy texture, and I have experienced this in the past, so I'm always careful to just mix the flour "enough." I think there have been some reviews on this cake--do a search for Lemonade Layer Cake.


03-24-2002, 01:57 PM

Here you go. Seemed like everone thought it was light and airy. Were the ingredients at room temp? Did you cream the sugar and butter long enough??

03-24-2002, 02:00 PM
OK, that's the wrong thread, but do a search and it will come up.


03-24-2002, 04:34 PM
The book "Cookwise" has a whole chapter on this topic and more. I was reading it in the bookstore and WOW! I've already finished my "America's Test Kitchen" book so "Cookwise" will be my next big Cookbook purchase.

03-24-2002, 06:10 PM
I don't have the answer. I just wanted to say WELCOME to the BB. We are happy to have you here.


03-24-2002, 08:01 PM
I must agree with Elisabeth. I basically have the same opinion. I usually shy away from light desserts for these reasons. If I'm going to splurg and eat dessert I want the full fat version. I also prefer cakes with a light texture. I have found recipes that call for adding in sour cream or mayonaise makes delicious light, moist, tender cakes. Definitely not light or fat free but yummy. Most of my favorite cake recipes have either of these ingredients in them. Hope this helps.


03-24-2002, 09:31 PM
Is it possible that the cakes weren't cooked well enough? Maybe an undercooked cake would result in a gummy texture. (I've made this Lemonade Cake -- twice, already! -- and I haven't had a problem with it being gummy at all!) Check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer. I finally did on mine -- it was 50 degrees too low! -- and it's made all the difference in baking. :)

03-25-2002, 03:24 PM
I just read this as a tip out of Home living (I am having serious name problems today!)whatever it is.

this reader wrote in that she beats her eggs first, then adds dry and then at the last min. mixes in the oil until just moist. She says her cakes are great...

03-25-2002, 03:36 PM
I've made several light cakes and found them to be comparable in taste and texture to full-fat ones. In fact, our favorite cakes are light ones.

Not knowing more than your description, I would guess that too much flour was used. If the recipe calls for flour that's not sifted, be sure to stir the flour in the container then lightly spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level with a knife.

03-25-2002, 05:29 PM
I'm new at posting on this board, but I love to lurk.

Re: your cake problem, are you using cake flour or regular flour? That can sometimes make a difference.

03-26-2002, 10:42 AM

Okay, I made the Lemonade Cake for the THIRD time this week. (Yes, I love it.) This third attempt was the first one that turned out gummy at all. I did only one thing differently: I sifted the dry ingredients together. The flour was sifted, was finer, and I think it really affected the final product poorly.

Don't sift flour if the recipe doesn't tell you to! :)