Bakery Problem Solving Guide

Did you know that variables such as not setting proper oven temperature, not measuring the correct amount of ingredients, and not mixing the ingredients in a proper order can affect how your cake is baked? Well, there is almost always a simple solution to such problems. Here, we will help you address such concerns and discuss the importance of following the directions on the bakery mixes and scratch formulas boxes.

You must read the directions on the box or the packaging and follow them carefully as they are tried and tested methods to obtain perfect results. These directions include information on mix times, temperatures for batter or dough, bake time for the batter or dough, and quantity of each ingredient to be added.

Pillsbury pre-mixes are high-quality cake mixes perfected over the years with formulation expertise, consistent performance, and superior operational tolerance. However, you might find that sometimes the mix can give inconsistent results. At General Mills, we look into factors that are key for baking consistent and high quality cakes; mixing time, batter temperature, batter specific gravity, ingredient weight and baking temperatures and times. Below is a brief summary of the importance of each factor.

Mixing Time

One of the main steps in baking is to properly mix and aerate the batter while hydrating the ingredients. The batter starts out by being stiff as the ingredients get mixed and then becomes smooth and free flowing once hydrating and aerating process is complete. Aerating the batter increases its volume. This can be used as an indication that the batter is perfectly mixed and ready to bake. Make sure that the batter is not under-mixed or over-mixed. Under-mixed batter is often less in volume and makes the cake dense. While over-mixed batter results in a weakened structure and can cause a cake to collapse.

Batter temperature

Baking temperature should always be set as per the instructions given on box or packaging. Baking temperature helps to obtain proper leavening activity during mixing and baking batter. Changes in the temperature can affect the leavening activity and rising of the cake. If the temperature is higher than prescribed, the batter can leaven too early and cause the cakes to be grainy and fragile. If the temperature is lower, it can lengthen the leaven process and cause the cake tops to be peaked and broken.

Specific gravity

The specific gravity of a batter is measured by finding the ratio of the weight of a cake batter in a container compared to the weight of water in the same container. This ratio helps to measure the amount of air added to the batter. Bakers must adhere to correct mixing times and temperatures as given on the box or the packaging to ensure that the batter has proper specific gravity. The proper specific gravity should fall between the range specified on the box or packaging. Low specific gravity means the cake is over-aerated and can collapse during baking. High specific gravity means the cake is under-aerated and can be dense.

Ingredient weight

Everyone has different utensils or ways that they measure ingredients. Some might measure by filling the utensil to the top or by filling it to the level. This can cause inaccuracies in measurements and affect the baking process. This process can be even more difficult while measuring liquids as they must be measured at eye level.

To be consistent, it is recommended to weigh all the ingredients including liquids. Always make sure to follow a common measuring unit and be accurate while weighing all the ingredients to obtain perfect results.

Baking temperatures and times

Make sure to always keep the oven temperatures as prescribed on the box or the packaging and perform oven calibration at least once a year. Over-heating of the oven can cause the outside of the cake to be burnt while the inside being under-cooked. It can collapse the cake or cause gumminess. Under heating the oven can cause the cake to be dry and grainy and can affect the cake’s shelf life. By following the recommended bake times and temperatures, you can obtain a perfect and tasty cake and have a recurring customer base.