I Follow the Recipe Exactly . . . But My Cake Is Always Dry

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​I have one parlor trick. Actually, it's more like having a good read on someone in a poker game. Whether it's about an old family recipe or a new one discovered online, most of the baking questions I get fall into two categories:

1. My cake is never moist (the vast majority) and

2. My dough is too wet.

My trick? I always know why. 

Andy shares his tricks after the jump.

When I hear "too dry" I say, "I'll bet that when you get the flour you scoop it into the measuring cup and then shake it to level it off."  Almost everyone says "yes" - wondering how I could know that.   I know because the dry-cake people all jiggle the cup

Knowing how to measure ingredients is essential for baking success.

With regard to the "too wet" recipes my intuition is less accurate, but I take my best shot and lead with an egg question. 

"Tell me about your eggs ... do you get the nice extra large or jumbo eggs?" 

If so, that's your problem. Like so many things on the market, eggs just keep getting bigger. Standards for recipe writing (there are lots) dictate the use of large eggs, which contain 2 fluid ounces each. A jumbo egg has 2.5 ounces. 4 large eggs = 8 ounces and 4 jumbos = 10 ounces. If you're a smallish batch of cookies those extra two ounces might very well make you a bit soft around the middle.

There are three good things about downsizing your eggs. First, large cost less than jumbo. Second, your recipes will come out better. Third, you'll be getting a little less cholesterol. That means you can justify the butter in the cookie.

Now, if you're in the mood for Almond Scones with Chocolate Butter you're ready to bake.

Andy Broder is the chef/owner of AndyFood, A Culinary Studio.

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