Dear Barbara: I have a recipe for carrot cake that is made from scratch. I have made this cake for years, but the last couple of times I have made it, it sinks in the middle after I remove it from the oven to cool. Am I over- beating the batter, or what? Any advice will be appreciated. Thank you. — Jackie from Galt
Dear Jackie: It could be from over-beating, but I don’t think so. You should have an oven thermometer in the oven at all times. You can not rely on a dial to give you accurate temperature. It may be too low.
Be sure to measure any liquids accurately. If there isn’t enough liquid, not only will it sink in the middle, but it will fall apart when you try to slice it. Be sure that the oven door stays closed. If it is being opened to check on the cake, a lot of heat is escaping and that will cause a cake to fall.
Dear Barbara: My husband has high cholesterol and he loves all the holiday baking. I try to cut corners where I can on the cholesterol content. I noticed that Egg Beaters, or liquid eggs, don’t have any cholesterol. Can you bake with Egg Beaters? — Maureen from Lockeford
Dear Maureen: Yes, you can bake with iquid eggs such as Egg Beaters. I have had several people tell me that the liquid works exactly like regular eggs, only without the cholesterol. One quarter cup equals 1 whole egg. If you look on the inside lid of an egg carton, which I am sure you already have, you will see that one egg has 71 percent of the daily value of cholesterol. Heaven forbid if you ate a three-egg omelet! Happy baking; he’ll never know the difference!
Dear Barbara: I really don’t like to bake, but it is nice to have some cookies around when someone comes over during the holidays. I am just fine with the refrigerated cookie dough rolls like Pillsbury, so it probably seems strange that I have a question. Here’s the problem. It says to slice the dough into rounds. Have you tried that? They are smooshed and oval by the time you get them cut. The dough is stuck to my fingers and I just want to throw the whole thing in the garbage! Can you solve this one, or should I just go to a bakery and buy some cookies? — Tini from Lodi
Dear Tini: No, please don’t give up just yet! Unwrap the cookie dough, put it on a paper plate and put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Remove it from the freezer, and using a thin, sharp knife, cut the dough with a sawing motion, turning the tube frequently. Running your hands under very cold water will also help to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.
Holiday baking from scratch or refrigerated cookie dough should be fun, not a frustrating chore! Please try the suggestion and let me know how it worked for you.
Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and city.