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Help! A Cranberry Cake Turned Out Dry

Ask the Chef

Question:

I made a cranberry cake that I saw in a magazine, and it called for some rolled oats to be added. I had the regular oatmeal in box, so I used that. It did not say to let the oats sit with water over them for a period of time, so I just added them & mixed the cake. It was good, but when you sliced it, it crumbled badly. Should I have soaked the oats first?

—Nancy

Answer:

It sounds as though you did the right thing – it would not be normal to soak oatmeal before adding it to a recipe. You might just want to adjust the amount of moisture you add to the recipe if you make it again. Sometimes a few tablespoons of applesauce in a fruit bread add some nice moisture, for example. Adding a little more moisture to the batter would be our recommendation, assuming, that is, that the cake crumbled because it was dry.

The other consideration is the ‘regular oatmeal in a box’ that was the substitute. This is a vague description, so it’s a little hard to correctly diagnose the problem without more specific information – there are so many different types of oatmeal. If you substituted ‘oat groats,’ which take a long time to cook and have a chewy texture, the substitution may never work, regardless of the amount of the additional liquid added. The best substitute for ‘rolled oats’ would be ‘quick oats.’ Note that ‘quick oats’ are different than ‘instant oats’ – ‘instant oats’ would not be recommended because, depending on the amount of oats called for in the recipe, the substitution could yield a gummy texture.

For more about rolled oats see our link, What are rolled oats?

And, click here for a nice Cranberry Upside Down Cake recipe!