Using a scale to weigh your ingredients makes life So Much Easier.
Using a scale to weigh your ingredients makes life So Much Easier.
I think I may have discovered a new and easy mixing method, friends. As Spelled Out in the title up there, I’m calling it Dead Easy PMAT Method. You could call it DEPMAT, I guess, although that sounds kind of like some Governmental Agency that is headquartered Deep Underground in Nevada. Credit where credit is due:  it is based on the Two-Stage Mixing Method, popularized by Queen Rose Levy Beranbaum. If you’ve not been to her blog, go there. She is, arguably, one of the most accessible of the Big Dog Bakers out there. Anyway, this came about during the Wedding Cake Extravaganza. I had to bake a billion (ten) cake layers and just couldn’t be bothered with all the mix-the-eggs-with-1/4-of-the-milk goings on, so here’s what I did:
  1. In the bowl of your trusty stand mixer, whisk all the dry ingredients (flour, leaveners, salt, sugar, cocoa [if making chocolate cake], any dry spices) together Very Very Well.
  2. Whisk all of the wet ingredients (eggs, milk/water/coffee/whatever, vanilla, other liquid flavorings) together in a large pitcher. Whisk them really well so the eggs don’t just hang out down at the bottom of the pitcher.
  3. Make sure your butter is coolish and soft-but-not-greasy.
  4. Throw the butter in with the dry ingredients and mix until Somewhat Crumbly. This gives you the tender portion of your cake–coating a lot of the flour with straight-up fat will prohibit Undue Gluten Formation. You actually have a little room to play here. More mixing at the stage will give you a Very Tender Cake. If you want to maintain structural integrity, mix until butter is well incorporated but the mixture hasn’t gotten clumpy and cookie dough-looking.
  5. Pour in 1/3 of the wet ingredients. Start on low, and then mix and mix on medium for about 1 minute. Scrape bowl as necessary. The addition of the liquid (milk/water/whatever) in addition to the water in the egg whites and Serious Agitation allows for some gluten to form, making sure your cake doesn’t Fall Apart from Too Much Tenderness.
  6. Add the next 1/3 on low and mix until just blended. Ditto with the last 1/3. Scrape the bowl, then crank the mixer up to medium for about 3 seconds to make sure everything is Homogeneous.
Although it looks like six steps, I don’t count the measuring part, so it’s really just three steps, like this:
  1. Mix in the butter.
  2. Mix in 1/3 of the wet and beat for a minute or so.
  3. Mix in the rest of the wet in two additions.
Oh, I measured all the dry ingredients into my mixer bowl by standing the bowl on my trusty scale and hitting tare (zeroing out) in between each measurement. I did the same for the wet ingredients. Seriously, if you aren’t weighing your ingredients, just do it. It’s so much easier than all that spooning and scraping and rustling-about-in-the-gadget-drawer-to-find-the-2/3-cup-measure Nonsense. I’m just saying… By the way, Rose’s chocolate cake mixing method has you boiling water and stirring in cocoa and cooling it and Futzing About. I’ve done it that way, and I’ve done it my easy way. Results? Pretty much identical. So, if you’re wondering if you really have to Boil Water and Stir and Wait when really all you want to do is to put cake in your face, the answer is No, you don’t. You’re welcome. Should I have experimented with an Unknown (to me, anyway) mixing method while making a wedding cake? I say Yes, since I had Science to back me up. I wasn’t just shooting in the dark, so I felt confident that I would get the results I was aiming for. And I did, so yay me. And now I’m telling you guys, so Yay Everyone!

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  1. How does this method work when making a cake that uses oil instead of butter or solid shortening?

    1. Hi, Elizabeth. I haven’t tried this method with liquid fat. If you added it instead of the butter and kept the rest of the steps the same, I’m afraid the cake would end up being so tender it would fall apart. You could potentially give it a shot by adding the oil and a portion of the liquid together and then continue with the method. That way, at least you’d get some gluten formation from the agitation of the flour and water/milk/coffee or whatever you’re using as your liquid. Hope this helps some. If you do give it a try, please let me know how it turns out!

  2. I just found your website….I love it! Will your tips for cake making work for cupcakes? I’m really trying to get moist but light cupcakes. What method would you use to produce really moist and light cupcakes. My cupcakes are coming out some what moist but very dense. HEEELP! LOL!

    Thanks a bunch!

    1. These tips can absolutely help w/making your cupcakes light and moist. The only differences between a regular cake and a cup cake are size and amount of baking time. I would recommend playing with a cake recipe that calls for oil as the fat since oil-based fats are liquid rather than solid at room temp, they “read” as much more moist. It’s hard to tell what the problem is w/your cupcakes coming out dense w/o seeing the recipe, but I would bet that, if you’re using the creaming method, you’re not spending enough time on the creaming process or that your ingredients are too cold. Hope this helps:)

  3. Just found your blog…love it! Had to comment about DEPMAT. I have this little cookbook from a yatch club (published sometime in the 70’s) and in it is a chocolate cake put together just like your DEPMAT. I thought to myself, this strange (to me) method is just because it’s easier with a boat’s limited galley space and equipment. Probably won’t taste all that good. WRONG! It is a fantastic cake and I renamed it Easy Peasy Chocolate Cake. It always gets raves. So, on to a comment and a question: I don’t “bloom” chocolate either, but I do add instant espresso powder to all my chocolate recipes. It really lifts the flavor, as if blooming, AND you do not taste the coffee. The question: the recipe calls for water and vinegar in the wet ingredients. Is the vinegar for tenderness? If I use buttermilk in place of water, should I leave the vinegar out? Thanks so much. I have already learned a lot from your blog…Yay for me!!!

    1. How cool is that? I guess there’s very little in the world of baking that’s actually new. It must all be old stuff waiting to be rediscovered!

      Yay, you for learning a bunch already! That is fantastic–it feels Rather Empowering, doesn’t it?! Anyway, I sometimes add just a bit of espresso powder to chocolate batters. Just made brownies the other day and did that Very Thing. It does act as a supporting player and seems to deepen the chocolatiness of stuff.

      As to your vinegar question, I would assume that, since it is an older recipe, the vinegar works in conjunction with some baking soda to supply the bulk of the leavening. Using buttermilk in place of the vinegar will actually make the cake more acidic, which will cause it to set up more quickly and be less gooey than you might otherwise want. If you’d like to leave out the vinegar, switch your leavener to baking powder, figuring about 1 teaspoon per cup of flour. Soda usually requires only 1/4 teaspoon per cup of flour.

      I’m not sure what kind of chocolate you’re using–I’m guessing standard cocoa powder, again mostly because of the age of the recipe. Anyway, that regular cocoa powder is pretty acidic stuff. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you might need to make Allowances for it. For example, if you decide to use buttermilk in place of the water (which sounds like a pretty reasonable idea to me), you might want to add back in a bit of soda, along with the baking powder, to neutralize the acidity of the buttermilk. (Soda works as a neutralizer before it acts as a leavener, so if you just use a bit, your cake won’t overinflate and you should be just fine. Maybe 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of soda, depending on the amount of buttermilk.

      Also, cocoa-based cakes tend to be more chocolatey when made with water–something about the dairy tends to mute chocolatiness, so just be aware of that. What you add in tangy goodness by using buttermilk might end up making the cake be a little less chocolatey. Of course, you could always do half water and half buttermilk. In that case, I’d mix the cocoa powder into the water to make a paste and then add the buttermilk in separately as the rest of the liquid.

      Good luck with it–thanks for sharing with me a pre-PMAT DEPMAT method! Have fun in the kitchen, Barbara! ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. First, the wedding cake is beautiful.

    Next, I want a scale so bad I can taste it. Someday soon.

    Last, I love what you said at the end… you had science to back you up. Now THAT channeled Alton Brown.


    Great job all around, Jenny.


  5. I just got a scale a couple days ago and I’m already in love. SO MUCH EASIER than having to constantly wash my measuring cups and wait for them to dry (and they’re never dry enough and you lose half the flour because it’s stuck to the inside). I almost feel like a real baker now!

  6. Ah, the beauty and sense of weighing ingredients. That’s what we do over on this side of the Atlantic anyway and (even though I own a set of US cup measures), for me, using a recipe that involves cup measurements is always fraught – I really never know *exactly* how much of what they mean or, at least, I always seem to end up tweaking the amounts, muttering to myself that “they must have meant less of this and more of that”. So yay for your weighing scales and yay for the PMAT method!

    1. The problem with the conversion is that everyone measures dry ingredients differently–a cup of flour can weigh anywhere from 3.5-5+ ounces, for example. For myself, I always weigh a cup of flour at 4 ounces. I think I’ve weighed sugar out at 6.6 ounces per cup (I can’t find my notes right now). What I suggest you do is measure your dry ingredients the way you normally do, and then weigh that amount. Record the conversion for your own use. As far as liquid ingredients go, you can more or less go with “a pint is a pound, the world around,” although that is not exact–there might be a difference of as much as +/- .5 ounces. Here’s a good conversion calculator you might try:

  7. Queen Rose claims that you should always, always add hot water to cocoa. It brings out the flavor. And you know what? She’s right. I never let it cool though. Fastest and best chocolate frosting – hot, melted butter mixed in the KA with cocoa, add some vanilla, start adding 10x and milk alternately until it looks like chocolate frosting. So fast, So good, Never fails! Personally, I have taken a heavy black marker to all recipes that require the separation of eggs. Unless I have to make a white cake and then what else can you do?

    1. I usually follow Rose’s advace, and I always choose to use water over milk when using cocoa in cakes, because dairy can blunt the flavor of the chocolate. But I truly can’t tell a difference between “blooming” the cocoa in hot water and just mixing in the cocoa with the dry. If it had made a discernible difference in taste, I would always defer to Queen Rose. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Awww, Jenn. You are now my HERO! Now, maybe, I won’t be so quick to shy away from homemade cakes.

    However, I’m assuming you use the eggs whole and don’t do the beat-the-eggwhites-and-fold-in-so-your-cake-is-fluffy-but-nastily-dry step.

    1. You got it–that whole “nastily dry” thing is Quite the Turnoff, groovy! The only time I fold in white separately is for waffles or a sponge cake-type deal that I know will be doused with syrup of some sort.

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