I made a yellow cake from scratch, and it turned out more like a pound cake. What could I have done wrong? I’m thinking ofย  three possibilities: I had Country Crock butter vs stick butter, used 1% milk, and maybe mixed some of the items too long. The cake tastes good but it’s very dense vs fluffy. Could any of these be the reason or could there be others? Thanks for your help. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’d say you hit the nail on the head with your trouble shooting. Not having your recipe in front of me, I’m doing some guessing, but I’ve had a similar issue before, so here are my thoughts:

-Regarding the butter, in baking you have to be a bit more exact with ratios than with other cooking. Tub-style margarine has more water than stick butter. It also has air whipped into it, so although the volume is the same, there was less actually product used. (Think about a cup of cream that you whip. The same amount of cream gets much more volumonous with the addition of air.) This led to having less fat in the mix as well. Fat, when creamed with sugar, adds fluffiness to baked goods. Butter is also a harder fat than the vegetable oil that is often in margarine, so it adds more structure.

-The milk also would have added a little less fat, but I don’t think this substitution was a huge problem.

-Over-mixing can be a problem. It can “wear out” your leavening ingredients before they even get into the oven. Baking powder and soda react with liquid to form gas bubbles and lead to a fluffy end product. Beaten egg whites trap air for the same end result. Over-beating either will make the cake more dense.

That said, homemade cakes lack the chemicals of a boxed mix and do tend to be more dense and moist. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just different than what has been your norm when baking. Some of the best cake decorators I know still use mixes when fluffiness is essential, but there is just something special about a homemade cake. Did you sift your ingredients? Try that next time. Also, make sure your baking powder or soda is in date, if that is what you are using. I’ve had good luck with cakes leavened with egg whites as well.

Now I’m craving cake.

(Have your own question or want to add to my answer? Please leave a comment!)