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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Breads & Baking / My "Warren Brown" butter cake didn't rise...
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    My "Warren Brown" butter cake didn't rise...

    Mama Wendy
    Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:56 am
    Semi-Experienced "Sous Chef" Poster
    Hi there,
    I am a die hard box-cake maker. I think they're tasty and reliable.. then my husband (who doesn't bake) suggested I try a scratch cake for my daughter's birthday. Well, I figured I'd try so I searched out cake recipes and came across a recipe AND a you tube video from this Warren Brown guy. His cake sounded so delicious and not to difficult. I followed the directions - which included creaming the butter and the sugar SLOWLY for 4 or so minutes in my stand mixer, and then adding the eggs one at a time and SLOWLY incorporating them into the creamed butter and sugar. I baked cupcakes and they came out like cake-pucks. I checked my baking powder and it's not due to expire until Sept of 2012, but it's been in my pantry awhile. My oven is old, but, I get good results on box cakes - so I am thinking it is at least CLOSE to the correct temperature. I am so disappointed - thank GOODNESS I did this a couple of days early and I have a box cake in the cabinet as backup - but - still, what do you think I could have done wrong? Thanks for your opinions.. is anyone familiar with Warren Browns low and slow philosophy for combining butter and sugar? I've usually beaten them on medium to medium high speed in all the other baking I've done (Admittedly, I mainly make bread and cookies, not cake). And as an aside, can you REALLY tell that a cake is a box cake? I'm a little embarassed now since my hubbie swears he can tell.... thanks!!!
    Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:13 pm
    Forum Host
    I don't rely on the expiration dates on baking powder. September is a long time away, and I normally start questioning baking powder after about 4 months after it's opened.

    Here's how to test it:

    Pour a teaspoonful of baking powder into a bowl or small glass.
    Fill the bowl with hot water to cover the baking powder (about 1/4 cup should do it).

    If the baking powder begins to bubble happily, it’s fine to use in your recipes.

    Tip: For best results, do not dip a wet spoon into the can of baking powder when measuring what you need. The moisture will activate the baking powder left behind in the can and it won’t be as good to use next time. If you see lumps in your baking powder, that’s usually a sign moisture has found its way in.

    I don't really have an opinion on the method of beating, but I don't think that should have been the problem.

    The other thing to consider is whether you measured the flour correctly. It's important not to dip the measuring cup into the bin. Rather, spoon the flour lightly into the cup - do not shake or tap the cup to level - but overfill it and scrape off the excess with a straight edge. When you dip the cup or shake it, you can add up to 25% more flour than you think you have. That can also lead to a heavy result.

    Last edited by duonyte on Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:07 pm, edited 1 time in total
    Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:45 pm Groupie
    Low and slow is fine as long as you ultimately have beaten enough air into the fat/sugar mix. It's fine explaining the science of sugar crystals cutting air pockets into the fat - but you have to make sure that it has actually been done.

    WB uses fine-crystal sugar [superfine or caster sugar]. This type of sugar produces more air-pockets when cut into fat during creaming, and it dissolves faster, than granulated table sugar.

    To begin with, beat the butter at medium speed for 1 minute to "loosen" it up. Slowly add the sugar to the fat. The creaming process takes 3-5 minutes .. the colour should change ["light"], the volume should increase slightly ["fluffy"], and there should be no gritty-feel when a dab is rubbed between your fingers.

    Add the eggs, one by one: only adding the next when the first is totally incorporated. Sometimes it curdles [environment, water content of eggs, moisture level of flour etc] - just add 1 tablespoon flour mix, and keep going.

    Divide your flour mix into 3 or 5 parts: divide the liquid mix into 2 or 4 parts. It's easier to do this by hand: fold [don't beat] in flour/liquid/flour/liquid/flour.

    Divide into tins and bake.

    You can lose volume at the creaming, when adding the eggs or when folding.

    This recipe has
    1. reduced gluten [add potato flour] which soften the crumb, fines the texture, and makes a delicate structure
    2. lots of liquid which softens the texture but also makes a delicate structure
    Mama Wendy
    Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:53 pm
    Semi-Experienced "Sous Chef" Poster
    Hi everyone,
    Thanks for your replies. I took some of the suggestions and re-baked the cake - full recipe this time, and the results were exactly the same. Rubbery, heavy, cake pucks. The texture, rather than delicate, is dense, spongy (chewy), rubbery and greasy. I would not serve these! Here is what I tried differently:
    1) bought new baking powder
    2) made a full recipe
    3) gave the butter a head start - as suggested
    4) creamed the butter and sugar until I could see the light fluffy texture
    5) made double-dog sure that the flour was spooned, not packed, and sifted

    I am including a couple of images - I can't believe they came out exactly the same!! Maybe someone else could try this recipe, for fun, at some time, and see what results they get.

    My last thought is, could it be that half and half is just too dang heavy? Maybe 2 percent milk would work fine! Maybe that's why its so heavy and greasy....because other than that I can't imagine what the problem is! Thank goodness for Duncan Hines!!

    Sat Mar 31, 2012 2:57 am Groupie
    Too much fat - too much liquid:

    Try this one:

    Nana's Cream Cakes
    Sift 1 cup all purpose flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
    Crack 2 eggs into a 1-cup measuring jug.
    Fill to the top with whipping cream.
    Pour into a small bowl and whisk together for 1 minute.
    Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
    Add 3/4 cup granulated sugar.
    Beat 3 minutes
    To this, fold in the flour mixturecarefully.
    Distribute between 12 cupcake pans
    Bake 350oFuntil light golden and cakes spring back when lightly touched in the centre.
    Sat Mar 31, 2012 12:15 pm Groupie
    I think you should try a different recipe--I think the trouble is with Warren Brown, not you.

    There are plenty of good cake recipes here.

    You can do a quick, easy check on your oven temperature this way:
    How to Test Your Oven Temperature Without a Thermometer

    Incidentally, I don't think I've ever used half-and-half in a cake.
    Mama Wendy
    Sat Mar 31, 2012 4:15 pm
    Semi-Experienced "Sous Chef" Poster
    I tried the oven test (which was great by the way) and my oven IS too hot - the sugar melted and burned at 350 - 15 minutes. That helped on one front - I reduced the temp to 340 for the cupcakes (the box mix) and they cooked perfectly. Thank you for that tip. I have decided to use a box cake, for now, and take the cake battle on another time. On another note - I did make a batch of Warren Brown's Italian Meringue Buttercream icing and WOW is that something. For someone who is used to powdered sugar icing this is sure different. I am thinking of adding a little melted white chocolate and some salt to offset the sweetness - but this is good stuff. THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to reply and for all the help! You all at FOOD.COM are the best...
    "Mr. Brown's Italian Meringue Buttercream"
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