Baking a Cake

  • #1
ProfuselyQuarky
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Baking a cake entirely with the chemical lab equivalents of traditional baking ingredients has always been something I've wanted to try. Now, I have the chance (i.e. the time) to do so or, at the very least, figure out how it would be done. I need some help with what would actually be put inside. The basic ingredients of a cake are flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and baking soda. Then there are usually extracts (like vanilla, almond, or lemon) for flavoring. My thinking thus far:

Flour, could be replaced with a starch, since that's pretty much what flour is.

Sugar, already being pretty pure in of itself, could simply be replaced with Dextrose Monohydrate powder or something similar.

Baking soda (for making the cake soft and full of bubbles), would be Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate. To get the carbon dioxide, an acid of some sort would then have to be added.

Vanilla extract, could be substituted for Ethyl Vanillin. Or, actually, I've always wanted to get some cinnamaldehyde, so perhaps that could be used, too.

So all that was the easy part. How about the eggs and butter? Regarding the eggs (its purpose being for binding and improving structure), I know that over 80% of an egg is nothing but water while the rest is protein and fat. I'm not so sure what could be used exactly. The same goes for the butter. I know that butter is a combination of fatty acids, methyl ketones, and lactones, etc. but I really don't know what to add for all that. I don't know much about organic chemistry, so my purpose for playing with this idea is to learn as I go. Sorry for the vagueness of this post. Any ideas?

P.S. I won't be surprised if this is all rubbish, so please tell me if so.

P.P.S. If I do end up being able to make this cake, for those of you think that I'm going to try to eat the creation afterwards, the answer is definitely no. My only goal is to produce something that smells nice and has the spongy consistency of a "real" cake.
 

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  • #2
Borek
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Flour, could be replaced with a starch, since that's pretty much what flour is.
Nope - starch misses gluten, which is (from my understanding) quite important for baking - it keeps the dough elastic. No gluten, no cake (or at least baking becomes tricky).
 
  • #3
ProfuselyQuarky
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Nope - starch misses gluten, which is (from my understanding) quite important for baking - it keeps the dough elastic. No gluten, no cake (or at least baking becomes tricky).
Isn't gluten unnecessary for cake since that would produce a rough texture (quite different from soft and spongy)? I thought gluten is necessary for bread (which uses yeast as its leavening agent), but not cake. Doesn't cake focus more on creating air bubbles? Cake batter doesn't need to be elastic. Elasticity is only for bread dough.
 
  • #4
256bits
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Isn't gluten unnecessary for cake since that would produce a rough texture (quite different from soft and spongy)? I thought gluten is necessary for bread (which uses yeast as its leavening agent), but not cake. Doesn't cake focus more on creating air bubbles? Cake batter doesn't need to be elastic. Elasticity is only for bread dough.
Cake flour has gluten, but not as much as bread or all purpose flour.
Gluten supports the air pockets, otherwise the cake's middle may drop.
Mix some regular flour with starch, 2 to 1 ratio about.
 
  • #5
ProfuselyQuarky
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Mix some regular flour with starch, 2 to 1 ratio about.
My goal was to not use any normal baking ingredients at all. Any way to get gluten without flour?
 
  • #6
256bits
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My goal was to not use any normal baking ingredients at all. Any way to get gluten without flour?
Speaking of gluten,
Here is what one can do with it.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seitan
Mock Duck?
Are Mock Chicken slices the same stuff - always wondered why it was mock. Wonder if they still sell the stuff for kids lunches.

Jeanne the cook says,
http://www.artofglutenfreebaking.com/2013/02/lets-talk-gluten-replacers-in-gluten-free-baking/
Would Xanthan gum be OK. Its not really an ingredient normally found in most kitchens.

If not, you will have to find some substance, protein or not, that can form an expanded framework for the cake.
Maybe some heat activated expanding resin. Cake would be kind of tough to chew on though.
Eliminate the CO2 production and go with little rounds balls of expanded stryrofoam, or shave/sand off a cup or more of pieces from a slab. That should/could make the cake light and fluffy. - still need a binder substitute though.
 
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  • #7
ProfuselyQuarky
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peaking of gluten,
Here is what one can do with it.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seitan
Mock Duck?
Are Mock Chicken slices the same stuff - always wondered why it was mock. Wonder if they still sell the stuff for kids lunches.
I know someone who has made seitan and she molded it into a turkey like tofurkey.
eanne the cook says,
http://www.artofglutenfreebaking.com/2013/02/lets-talk-gluten-replacers-in-gluten-free-baking/
Would Xanthan gum be OK. Its not really an ingredient normally found in most kitchens.
I think Xanthan gum will be good, never seen it at the grocery store, though.
If not, you will have to find some substance, protein or not, that can form an expanded framework for the cake.
Maybe some heat activated expanding resin. Cake would be kind of tough to chew on though.
Eliminate the CO2 production and go with little rounds balls of expanded stryrofoam, or shave/sand off a cup or more of pieces from a slab. That should/could make the cake light and fluffy. - still need a binder substitute though.
Oh! What is this? I know I said that I wasn't going to eat anything, but this is a bit too far :P
 
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  • #8
ProfuselyQuarky
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What about the eggs and butter?
 
  • #9
jim mcnamara
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This project is not too dissimilar from what Food Science tries to do - replace complex natural sources with known controllable chemicals.
egg - albumen powder, soy protein powder plus fake (vegan) egg flavoring
sugar - dextrose, glucose, maltose
vanilla - ethyl vanillin
flour - potato starch plus guar gum or xanthan gum
butter - stearic acid and lactone sprinkles (Molly McButter)

See: http://whatscookingamerica.net/Information/IngredientSubstitution.htm

If you survive eating this mess please let us know. Or consider a career at Archer Daniels Midland's product development kitchen. ConAgra (Banquet frozen dinners) also has a similar facility.
 
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  • #10
phinds
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If you survive eating this mess please let us know.
Yes, Quarky, let us know. If we don't hear from you, we'll assume the worst :smile:
 
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  • #11
ProfuselyQuarky
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egg - albumen powder, soy protein powder plus fake (vegan) egg flavoring
sugar - dextrose, glucose, maltose
vanilla - ethyl vanillin
flour - potato starch plus guar gum or xanthan gum
butter - stearic acid and lactone sprinkles (Molly McButter)
Wow, thanks. Albumen powder isn't exactly as "pure" as I was hoping for, but that'll be good for the first try. Now let's see how much of this will cost....
If you survive eating this mess please let us know. Or consider a career at Archer Daniels Midland's product development kitchen. ConAgra (Banquet frozen dinners) also has a similar facility.
Yes, Quarky, let us know. If we don't hear from you, we'll assume the worst :smile:
Yeah, well, it was nice knowing you all. (If you think about it, though, it'd be a spectacular way to get sick.)
 
  • #12
ProfuselyQuarky
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Hey, I just wanted to chime in and say that the end result was great. It rose nicely and had a very cake-like sponginess and texture. Ended up using xanthan gum instead of guar gum and the cinnamaldehyde smelled incredible.

Thanks!
 
  • #13
phinds
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Hey, I just wanted to chime in and say that the end result was great. It rose nicely and had a very cake-like sponginess and texture. Ended up using xanthan gum instead of guar gum and the cinnamaldehyde smelled incredible.

Thanks!
So did you actually EAT any of it or are you just describing how it looked? :smile:
 
  • #14
ProfuselyQuarky
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So did you actually EAT any of it or are you just describing how it looked? :smile:
No, I didn't eat anything. I just cut it in half to see the the way the sponge looked.

Should've taken a picture of it :oldfrown:. Instead, I took it outside and destroyed it.
 
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  • #15
phinds
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No, I didn't eat anything. I just cut it in half to see the the way the sponge looked.

Should've taken a picture of it :oldfrown:. Instead, I took it outside and destroyed it.
Probably the best idea but now I'm puzzled as to the point of the exercise if you didn't want to see if it was edible.
 
  • #16
ProfuselyQuarky
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Probably the best idea but now I'm puzzled as to the point of the exercise if you didn't want to see if it was edible.
I'm sure it's edible, as none of the ingredients used were inedible. The point was to make something with the same consistency and texture of real cake without traditional ingredient.
 
  • #18
jim mcnamara
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Edible as a definition includes no gag reflex on consuming a bite... no subsequent vomiting, nausea, disorientation, death. Or attempting to live fast, die young and leave a beautiful corpse (Preraphaelite description of Icarus). :nb)
 
  • #19
Fervent Freyja
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Probably the best idea but now I'm puzzled as to the point of the exercise if you didn't want to see if it was edible.
I think Ms. ProfuselyQuarky may have had some rebellious notion in mind about it. :biggrin:

Historically, a woman's value has been placed on things like cooking, even now, my Husband believes cooking for him is in our marriage contract. I think she had a good idea, but wish she would have had a picture taken with it alongside her chemistry equipment! My daughter calls herself a chemist when I let her have free roam of my safe lab and art supplies at the bathroom sink. I find evidence that she tinkers with my microscope often, I secretly do love it but don't want any optic components scratched. When I get upset about something, she tries to distract me and say we need to look at such-and-such under the microscope, because she knows it melts my heart for her to have scientific interests.

One day, you can bake real tasty cakes and be a leading chemist, even if you choose to do one for a living then you have still have value ProfuselyQuarky. All women have value regardless if they are a homemaker (which I find has been a great opportunity to be creative) or have a career(I feel lost when not in school learning), I admire both and understand that both can be equally rewarding. Time though, isn't on a mother's side. I do like the cake idea very much, maybe you could redo it with a cupcake and take a pic with the ingredients stored in lab containers? That would be awesome.
 
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