Flour, sugar, eggs, milk, baking powder, flavorings, some other odds and ends. Mix it together, bake it as prescribed and then ice or decorate it as is your custom. That’s what a cake really is, right?
Well, at its most basic, sure, that’s what a cake is. But each and every bakery out there owes its success to differentiation and unique processes. Bakers are as proud of their craft as any, and many of them owe their success to traditions and unique processes they have refined, perfected and kept for generations - sometimes for over a century.
That being said, processes aren’t the only thing that can differentiate a bakery or a cake itself. There are also some pretty unique cake supplies out there, with which you wouldn’t be familiar if you hadn’t spent some quality time refining your craft as a baker, a cake decorator or even a pastry chef.
Here are some of the most interesting cake supplies online that you’ll find represented in our shop, along with a little bit of a backstory behind each. If you’re just learning about one of them for the first time, maybe you can make it your new secret ingredient!
1. Cake flour
As you are well aware, flour is not just flour. Take for example bread flour, which is distinct from all-purpose (AP) flour in that it contains a higher protein content. This additional protein content allows the dough to form the gluten strands necessary to create light, airy bread dough that will rise appropriately.
Cake flour is equally unique, but very different from both bread flour and all-purpose flour. You want your cakes to be light, moist and airy, but to be more spongy and soft, and less springy than bread. The way this is accomplished is through the production of cake flour, which is a very finely milled flour that is lower in protein than both bread flour and all-purpose flour.
Sometimes cake flour is called superfine flour because it is extremely finely-milled, which creates a larger surface area that enables the flour to absorb more liquid. The result: delectable, light cakes that are moist and have a velvety smooth texture. You can’t make a good loaf of bread from cake flour, but then again, you wouldn’t want to. If a recipe calls for cake flour, or you’re really trying to make a satin-smooth cake recipe, cake flour is what you need.
2. Dough conditioner
So you’ve come to the realization that not all flours are created equal, and that cake flour is produced from low-protein grain and then finely milled so that the cakes it produces can yield amazingly silky smooth textures. Cake flour is not the only specialty ingredient that you can use to take your cakes and other baked goods to the next level. There are also dough conditioners - the difference here is that dough conditioner can be applied as a catch-all to a wide variety of different ingredients.
Basically, a dough conditioner is any ingredient that you add to the batter in order to improve its consistency or texture, other than flour, yeast and water. Since you’re making a cake, you probably won’t be adding in yeast, and since all cakes have some type of flour, dough conditioners can be seen as anything else.
Typically, dough conditioner is a term that is applied to bread doughs, but there are some specialty conditioners that can be added to cake batters to improve the formula. Consider, for example, cake enhancer, which can be added to some cake batters to improve the texture and consistency of the batter.
Whatever you use to improve your consistency so you can achieve the same desirable results over and over again, can potentially be called a dough conditioner or cake enhancer, and it can be the vital secret ingredient to help you streamline your workflow and produce customer-pleasing cakes time and time again.
3. Cake bases
Some bakers might use a pre-made cake base instead of a set of conditioners or enhancers to ensure that they are able to produce the same results in their baked goods every time. A cake base is a set of pre-measured and pre-mixed ingredients that save time, money and ensure consistent results, all of which are pretty big bonuses for bakers.
Not all bakers use them, but many do, and many swear by the results. Some of the most popular cake bases that we offer here are Pillsbury’s Bakers’ Plus Cake Mixes, which produce batters that are consistent and produce cakes that stand up admirably to handling and decoration.
These cake mixes are ideal for producing cakes that are resistant to cracking and crumbling and can be elaborately decorated. They’re also cost-effective, which enables bakers to scale their operations and save money doing so. For those that don’t create their batters from scratch every time, pre-measured blends can be of great value.
4. Shortening: Specifically hi-ratio shortening
Many cakes contain oil or butter in them, as do many cookies, but shortening is a secret ingredient for many, although some reserve it for use in the recipes they use to create frosting or icing. Whether you use it in cake batter or in icing or frosting, it might just be a powerful secret ingredient.
Shortening stands in contrast to butter because shortening is produced from a variety of vegetable oils to produce a fat similar to butter that is solid at room temperature. However, shortenings, especially high-ratio shortening, contain no moisture whatsoever. The cakes and cookies that are produced from them, as a result, are moister, lighter, and fluffier. But that is not the only reason that bakers love high-ratio shortening.
Since shortening is produced, it can also be made in a pure white color, which some cake decorators will appreciate because it can then be used to produce brilliant white decorations, icing and frosting. Since butter is never pure white, some of the best white buttercream icings are actually produced using high ratio shortening.
5. Meringue mixes
Everyone knows meringue, and maybe not everyone loves it, but it sure has a strong fan base. The thing about meringue is that it is both difficult and time-consuming to produce it the old-fashioned way. Skilled bakers can whip up egg whites and sugar into meringue in only a few minutes, but it can be a course in frustration for those that are not used to it. Also, even with a power mixer, it takes a bit of time to beat the eggs to peaks in order to really produce a quality meringue.
For the rest of us, there are meringue mixes that are made from powdered egg whites and sugar and can substantially reduce the amount of time and preparation needed in order to produce a high quality product that includes meringue. Plus, since some of them are powdered, they can be stored so much more easily than fresh eggs.
Meringue mixes can save you time, effort and maybe even money, especially when you’re looking to produce light, fluffy meringue for your cakes or pies.
6. Compound chocolates
If you include chocolate in your batter, or just decorate your cakes with chocolate niceties after you’ve already baked the cake, you’ll need some secret weapons. You might use cocoa butter or cocoa solids in the baking of the cake, but there are some out there who would justifiably like to do it the old fashioned way.
The thing is, the old fashioned way more or less involves the use of couverture chocolate, which is difficult to melt, form and temper without blooming. It requires skill and a good amount of time to do it right, but the good news is that there’s a more approachable alternative, and it comes in the form of an ingredient known as compound chocolate.
In compound chocolate, the cocoa butter has been replaced with some other vegetable oils like palm oil. Because the formulation of these types of chocolates is different from the cocoa butter found in couverture chocolate, they can be melted and re-melted easily without the need for tempering and they will not bloom.
They also have a velvety smooth texture and delicious flavor, and can be easily used in the decoration and flavoring of cakes - quicker and more easily than couverture chocolate can be used.
Fondant is a coating that can be used to cover cakes to add color and a base for decoration. It’s somewhat similar in flavor to icing, but has a drier, stiffer texture and consistency. It adds color and flavor to a cake, but the great thing about fondant is that it provides a lot more than this!
Fondant is a remarkable material because it helps to insulate the cake from loss of moisture, which means that all things being equal, a cake treated with fondant can be kept at room temperature for several days without getting stale. The same cake could also potentially be stored in a fridge without concern that it would dry out! There’s also the fact that fondant adds a delicious coating to the cake that some people absolutely love.
8. Honey powder
What is honey powder that isn’t evident from the name? Well, at its most, basically it is what it sounds like - powderized and stabilized honey. First, honey is dehydrated to remove the moisture, then the solids are finely ground and it is treated with stabilizers to keep it fluffy and powdered - but why does this matter?
Well, it’s easier to store than regular honey and you don’t need to be worried about it developing crystals or losing its consistency since it’s more stable in powdered form. You can use it as a versatile sweetener in a wide variety of baked goods - basically anywhere you would use regular honey.
9. Sanding sugar
You’re familiar with sugar as a baker, but are you familiar with sanding sugar? Whereas sugar is added to create a batter that is both sweet and retains moisture, sanding sugar is rarely used as an ingredient in a recipe, but rather as a visual garnish, or as an addition to provide some additional texture or color.
Sanding sugar is a coarse grade of texture that is often sprinkled over the tops of cookies to add a little extra sweetness and a bit of crunch. As it relates to cake baking and decoration, sanding sugar can be used to coat the outside of a cake once it has been iced. This will add extra sweetness and texture to the cake, but since sugar also absorbs moisture it will also produce an interesting visual effect! As such, it is a staple among the cake decorating supplies of some bakers.
10. Cream of tartar
Cream of tartar is an amazing and versatile material that is produced as a by-product of winemaking. Its proper name is potassium bitartrate, and it is a residue that is left on the inside of wine barrels and then harvested from them.
This doesn’t make it sound particularly appetizing, but cream of tartar can be used to create light, fluffy cookies and cakes and as a stiffener in meringues and icing recipes. If you’re wondering how a cake recipe became so light and fluffy, or how an icing seems to hold its form perfectly, you might just be looking at a scenario in which the baker put cream of tartar to good use!
If you’ve never used it, it’s definitely one of the most interesting cake supplies online (or in stores for what it’s worth) and can be used to produce amazing results. If you need inspiration or you’re looking for something to improve your cake, meringue or icing recipes, look for one with cream of tartar - it won’t be hard to find!
More Interesting Cake Supplies Online Where That Came from!
This list of interesting cake supplies online is far from complete, although we have definitely included some of the most interesting entries here. If you want to learn more about some of these ingredients, or you’re just looking for great prices on wholesale baking tools and other bakery supplies, get in touch with us!
You can reach us at 724-274-6314 to learn more about the baking supplies we offer, or just to get some expert tips and tricks. You don’t succeed in this business without learning a thing or two from your customers, and we certainly have. Call us up to see what we think. We’d love to help!