Experimenting is Good! Simple Tips for Making an Existing Cake Recipe More Moist

Every now and then I need to try something new.  Usually, it’s because someone asks me to make something I don’t have a recipe for in my collection.  This time it was Lemon Poppy Seed Cake. Now, I have recipes for Lemon Pound Cake, Lemon Chiffon Cake, Almond Cake with lemon zest, and I have recipes for Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins and Breads, but I did not have a recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Cake.  So, I had to look around for one.  I wanted one made with butter and buttermilk and as luck would have it the first one I found had both. Perfect!

I made this perfect Lemon Poppy Seed Cake and the flavor was good, but it was just a little dry.  So I did some more research on what to do when you want to make a cake more moist.  After much experimenting here are my favorite tips for making a cake more moist.
Tips for Making a Cake More Moist
These first two are both changes to make to the actual recipe before baking and are intended for a recipe which yields an 8″ to 10″ cake.
1)  Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in with the liquids.
2)  Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of sour cream or plain yogurt.  Fold it in at the end or with the wet ingredients.

These last three are done during or after the cake is already prepared per the existing recipe.

3)  Check the cake 5 minutes before its baking time is up.  Do not under bake the cake, instead test it with a long wooden skewer to see if it might be done.  It the skewer comes out wet it is not done.  If it is dry but has crumbs then it is probably done.  Totally dry and it is done for sure, perhaps too far.  You can also test by touching it lightly with the flat part of your finger, to see if it springs back into its shape, if so then it’s done. One more way to tell if it is done or very close is to check the sides of the cake.  If they are pulling away from the cake pan then the cake is probably done. Over baking will dry out the cake, so if you can become an expert at knowing when cakes are done that will help you bake a moister cake.

4)  Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool only 5 minutes on a rack, then put it right into the freezer – still in the pan.  Hopefully, you have a relatively empty area in your freezer for this and can put it on a shelf so that the cold air is all around it.  Leave it there for 30 minutes, then remove it and allow it to cool the rest of the way as needed on a cooling rack before refrigerating it or removing it from the pan. This tip is one is my favorites and took me completely by surprise.  I had seen it on-line but did not believe it could really work.  I was just taking a cake out of the oven when my friend Nico came over and told me that she had tried it.  So I gave it a try and it worked great. Thanks Nico!
5)  Once the cake is fully cooled and while preparing to fill the layers with icing, brush the layers with simple syrup.  This is typically done whenever you are making a genoise style cake and I often recommend it for a chiffon cake as well.  A genoise cake is meant to be dry when finished baking and should always be soaked or brushed with a simple syrup.  It works the best if the layers are being split horizontally as when preparing them for a torte since that opens up the cake and allows the syrup to soak in.  Often the simple syrup can have a small amount of liqueur added to it, such as orange or coffee flavored liqueurs. This is traditionally done when making a trifle.
The recipe for Simple Syrup from Baking Pure and Simple is in last weeks blog.  It is unbelievably simple as are all of these tips.
6)  Here is one last tip – try combining one of the tips for changing the recipe along with one or both of the tips for after the cake is baked.
I hope this is helpful.  Soon I will reveal the revised and perfected Lemon Poppy Seed Cake recipe.  Until then have fun experimenting on your own recipes!

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