Julie says: I have my husband’s family recipe for an Irish potato cake. My husband’s sister makes one every year for him. I can’t eat it; it’s just too dry. What makes a cake moist? It’s a good cake, just too dry!
Baking S.O.S. says: Thanks for this very intriguing question, Julie, and just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, too!
I have never heard of Irish potato cake. So before I could attempt to answer your question, I had to do a little bit of research to figure out just what we are talking about!
Unfortunately, Google comes up with a WIDE variety of results and various recipes for Irish potato cakes–from potato pancakes (called “Boxty”?) to flat breads to sweet dessert cakes. So I’m afraid I’m not much closer to an answer than I was when I started my research.
The best I can do is answer your general question: “What makes a cake moist?”
The answer is: fat and liquid. Fat–in the form of butter, shortening, vegetable oil, heavy cream, etc.–lends moisture and flavor to baked goods. It gives desserts a tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture. The more fat in the recipe, the more tender it will be. It sounds like the family recipe could benefit from a little extra fat, whatever type the original recipe calls for.
Some type of liquid would also lend tenderness to a recipe, as well. In several recipes I found on-line, I saw milk used as the liquid in the recipe. You could possibly substitute half and half or even heavy cream to add a little more fat to the recipe without changing the proportion of dry-to-liquid ingredients. OR you could try increasing the quantity of the liquid by a small amount.
Whenever making adjustments to a recipe, it is a good idea to make small changes as first, or even adjust just one ingredient at a time so that you know which alterations have what effect on the final product.
I hope you find some adjustments that will help improve the texture of the Irish potato cake so that YOU can enjoy it, too–along with your husband!