I made several cakes in my life. I know the difference between different leavening agents. I know that low temperature tends to make flatter cakes, but I never could get this kind of shape. If I use a super hot oven I burn the surface and I don't get this shape, there must be something else. Does anyone have experience doing this? Does anyone have a recipe from any modern pastry chef showing this kind of cake? Maybe gluten content in the flour could help?
Pierre Herme's "Cake Ispahan" is basically a pound cake flavoured with rose, raspberry and litchi, then glazed.
Let's look at the ingredients as reported on PH's own online shop:
- wheat flour (GLUTEN)
- cream (MILK)
- butter (MILK)
- freeze-dried raspberries (2,6%),
- freeze-dried litchis (2,6%),
- hydrogenated vegetal fats (coconut and palm kernel oils)
- whole MILK powder
- cocoa butter
- natural rose flavor (0,6%)
- chopped ALMONDS
- baking powder (E450I, E500II and corn starch)
- emulsifier : GMO-free SOYA lecithin
- potato starch
- Guérande salt
- natural vanilla extract
- dyes : cochineal carmine, E129 and E171.
Emphasis mine on the ingredients that are functional to the cake texture and leavening.
The above looks like the product of some serious food engineering. It's a recipe highly tuned to keep cost down, be highly reproducible, keep well for long periods of time, and of course still be delicious.
Now, how do you get a good tasting pound cake with a huge, cartoon looking dome like Herme does, but without the resources (or just the time) to tinker until you find that 0,3% of potato starch is the right amount? luckily you don't have many of the constraints that lead to that recipe: you can increase food cost (since you don't want to make a profit on it), you can tolerate some variability in the product, and it doesn't have to keep as long (we all know it will be gone in two days after baking)
So, here's the key elements to obtain a big dome:
- Cream the butter in a stand mixer, and don't stop until it's very fluffy
- Keep creaming while you add eggs (adding them slowly and at room temperature helps the stability of the emulsion
- Whip eggs in a stand mixer, and don't stop until they're very fluffy
- Add oil or melted butters, keep whipping
- Use the weakest flour you can find
- You can make your flour even weaker by swapping 10% of it with potato starch
- Don't skimp on chemical leavening. Don't even think of skipping it entirely.
- Either just before putting it in the oven, or as the crust is beginning to form (5-10 minutes), make a cut on the surface lengthwise, to make sure the crust will split there and not make different splits in undesired places
- A smaller pan size seems to work better
You don't want a 'super hot' oven. 50°F/25°C can make a big difference in how fast the cake rises. It's likely he's also using a fan-assist oven.
You can reduce how quickly the top browns by either making the batter slightly more acidic or putting a sheet pan above it to reduce the radiant heat so that you can get more lift before the top sets.
You'll also get a more dramatic curve if you use a dark metal pan, as the sides will set faster.
I'd also suggest looking How do you make a cake lift equally and minimize doming? , and doing the opposite of whatever is recommended.
Have you baked it in the right pan shape?
This is pretty normal rising for cakes baked in a pan with a narrow shape, so either the loaf pan your picture uses, or a bundt (guggelhupf) pan. When you have a standard chemically leavened cake in it (the closer to a pound cake, the better, as opposed to some more demanding batters), it will almost automatically do this. Or you could use a mufin recipe, technically there won't be much of a difference and they obviously tend to create muffin tops when baked in small cups.
Make sure that the pan is also quite full, so the rising has no space to go but up. Cakes in round pans have a much gentler rising behavior.