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Busy cooks on the go may not always have time to complement dinner with a dessert. Even instant cakes typically take at least an hour to prepare, bake, and cool. Crock-Pot® cake offers a solution to these dilemmas. These cakes bake over several hours in a slow cooker, often resulting in a moist, delicious cake. Those short on time can prepare one of these cakes before sitting down to dinner, or even early in the day, and not think about them again until it is time for dessert.
A Crock-Pot® cake requires plenty of wet ingredients to help it retain moisture. Long cooking times can yield a dry, unappetizing cake if the batter isn’t moist enough. For this reason, cakes made from scratch usually turn out better than boxed cake mixes when baked in a Crock-Pot®. Most boxed cake mixes have all of the ingredients perfectly measured in the package and only require the addition of an egg and a small amount of oil or water. This amount of moisture generally won’t stand up to prolonged heating.
Butter, oils, milk, yogurt, pudding, and sour cream all provide extra moisture to a cake batter. When baking a Crock-Pot® cake, thicker ingredients — such as yogurt and sour cream — infuse a cake with moisture without making the batter too runny to set. These ingredients can also make the batter heavier however. Therefore, the more of these ingredients added to a cake batter, the more the cake will tilt away from the light and fluffy end of the pastry spectrum.
Chocolate cakes lend themselves especially well to Crock-Pot® baking. Melted chocolate and chocolate pudding both add a significant amount of moisture to the cake batter, creating the perfect mix for long baking times. A little extra oil in the batter can even take the recipe from chocolate cake to dense, moist chocolate brownies. Peanut butter, white chocolate, and fruit also give a Crock-Pot® cake flavor and essential moisture. Bakers can successfully create apple-honey cake, blueberry buckle, and coffee cakes in a Crock-Pot® by adding those ingredients.
Moisture can create a few problems when it comes to Crock-Pot® cake, however. Steam from the cake can collect on the underside of the vessel's lid. Condensation that rains down on the cake could ruin the consistency. Paper towels, layered about 0.12 inch (about 3mm) thick under the lid, should absorb this condensation. If the paper towels ruin the seal around the lip of the slow-cooker, plastic wrap draped on top of the lid can help keep too much heat from escaping.
Never tried a crock pot cake, although I've seen many recipes for them -- more than usual lately, it seems.
I can see where this would be a good dessert, as long as you had a recipe where all the elements worked correctly and the food science was good. I can also see where this would be a spectacular failure if you didn't use a tried and true recipe. I'd have to make sure the recipe had good reviews from people who actually used it before I tried it. The concept seems so alien, I think I'd want to know exactly how it was going to work before I started on it. When it comes to baking, I am not a risk taker.
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