Cake Baking Hints and Trouble Shooting

Conversion Chart

unit-conversions-for-cooking-and-baking1

Cake Baking Hints

  • Preheat oven at 325 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes before placing cake pans in oven, check temperature with oven thermometer.  Baking cake at a lower temperature will help the cake to bake more evenly.
  • When preparing cake pans for baking, grease only “Bottom” of cake pans, never grease the sides, unless unusual shaped pan is being used; this will allow finished cake layers to rise much higher when baked.  Make sure to cut around edges of cake pan immediately after removing from oven, to release baked cake layer from pan.
  • To prepare cake pans for baking, you may line cake pan with parchment paper cut to the size of your cake pans (or) Bakers Joy spray (or) a homemade recipe of Pan Grease;  1 cup shortening, 1 cup flour, 3/4 cup vegetable oil; Combine ingredients, mix well with electric mixer and store in airtight container. You may keep a supply of the pan grease mixture in a covered container, use when needed. (Refrigeration is required in hot weather)
  • When using a cake mix, follow mixing time exactly for that particular brand and kind of mix.  Always measure accurately for any recipe using wet and dry measuring cups and LEVEL measurements.  For best results, use extra large eggs in recipes.
  • Fill cake pans no more than 1/2 -2/3 full with cake batter;  tap cake pan several times on counter to eliminate air bubbles from cake batter.
  • Weighing out the batter if you have a kitchen scale will assure you have divided batter equally between cake pans; to make sure the cakes layers are the same size when baked.
  • Unless you have an exceptionally wide oven rack, never place two layer cake pans on the same rack while baking;  allow at least 2″ between cake pans layers and the oven wall, this prevents uneven rising in finished cake layers.
  • When baking cakes on separate oven racks, reverse the layers on racks 20-25 minutes into the baking time, or as soon as cake batter is “set.”  The top oven rack usually bakes hotter than the bottom in most ovens, unless you have a convection oven that circulates the air while baking. This technique allows for more level and evenly baking of cake layers.
  • Baked cake layers are usually done when they start to pull away from cake pan sides; cake layers spring back when lightly touched with finger or a toothpick is inserted in the center of cake and comes out clean.
  • To release cake layers, simply cut around the edges of pan, to loosen the cake, this will prevent cake from sticking to pan sides.  Place cake pans on cooling rack; allow to cool in cake pans for 15 to 30 minutes, for 8” to 12” layers, slightly longer for larger cakes. Cooling cake layers on a cake rack, allows air to circulate and prevents the layers from being “wet” on the bottom.
  • Turning a warm or hot cake out of a baking pan too quickly, will crack and fall apart. Cake layers that cool in the pan too long will stick unless lined with parchment paper.
  • If your cake has cooled in pan and was greased with shortening & flour, this will cause the cake layers to stick in cake pans.  If this occurs, simply heat the bottom of cake pan over a low flame on stove until cake releases from pan.
  • When ready to turn cake layers out of pans, loosen edges with a knife or cake spatula, invert rack on top of cake pan and flip over. If cake layer has a hump in the middle, immediately flip over onto another cake rack so cake is resting on flat bottom and not on hump. This will prevent the cake from cracking in half.
  • Cakes that are to be split, filled or frosted should be fully cooled or baked one day ahead, for ease in handling.
  • Cakes can be frozen for up to three months in heavy-duty foil. Cake must be thawed completely before frosting or decorating; this prevents frosted cakes from developing air bubbles when completely thawed and decorated.
  • Iced cakes may be frozen six months to one year, if placed in air tight container (or) cake box wrapped with freezer wrap or heavy duty foil, then place in plastic bag. When defrosting, keep cake wrapped until completely thawed.
  • Un-iced cakes should be stored at room temperature no longer than 24 hrs.
  • All cakes should be refrigerated to keep their freshness.  When serving buttercream cakes, they are best at room temperature, whip cream cakes are best when served cold.

 Trouble Shooting Cake Baking Problems

  • Cake Did Not Rise
  • Pans too large
  • Oven temperature too low- under-baking
  • Older cake mix or baking powder
  • Under-beating batter
  • Added too much liquid
  • Batter sat too long before baking

Cake Fell or Dipped / Was Soggy, Compact or Heavy

  • Oven too cool – under-baking
  • Cake removed from oven before completely baked
  • Too much liquid
  • Extra ingredients added to batter
  • Excessive over-beating
  • Used too much batter per pan
  • Didn’t use cool water/cold eggs during hot weather

Cake Overflows Pan

  • Oven temperature too low
  • Pans too small-too much batter per pan
  • Batter unevenly divided between pans
  • Too much liquid
  • Oven racks not level
  • Pans not place in center of oven

Cakes Stick to Pan / Difficult To Remove

  • Pans not greased properly
  • Used vegetable oil spray – Use only bakers spray with flour & grease combo
  • Cooled improper length of time (if cake is still hot and tender, it will break easily.  If too cool the shortening begins to harden and will cause cake to stick to pan; heat bottom slightly to help remove
  • Cake not loosened from pan with knife or spatula, prior to removal

Cake Wet / Moist / Weeps When Stored

  • Under-bake
  • Not completely cooled before frosted or store
  • Frosted a frozen cake
  • Freeze a frosted cake
  • Stored in too warm/humid area

 Sheet Cakes Split/Cracked – Egg White Cakes

  • Not enough batter in pan
  • Stored at too warm of a temperature
  • Turned cake out of pan onto top hump/cause cake to split on bottom; trim top of cake layer, before turning upside down onto rack or cake board
  • Cake Split, Humped, Peaked Too Much, Shrank, Had Holes and
  • Tunnels, Dry, Crumbly or Burned
  • All of these problems can indicate over-baking which results from too hot an oven or too long a bake time
  • Holes and tunnels can also be caused by failure to scrap bottom/sides of bowl when mixing batter
  • Excessively lumpy mix (blend dry mix at low speed for about 30 seconds to break up lumps, before adding liquid

Custard-Like Streak Across Cake

  • Streak across bottom of cake – too much liquid
  • Streak across top crust of cake – under-baking
  • Extra ingredients added to the batter
  • Excessive over-beating
  • Failure to scrape or improperly scraping bottom /sides of bowl

Layers Uneven

  • Range or oven racks not level
  • Pans not centered in over
  • Too much liquid
  • Under-beating
  • Oven temperature too high

Uneven Browning

  • Oven not preheated
  • Used dark, dented or warped pans
  • Range or oven racks not even

Cake Difficult To Frost

  • Cake not removed from pan properly
  • Cake cooled in wrong position – cakes should be cooled right side up on a cooling rack (or) left in the cake pan and cooled on rack; cut around cake and heat bottom of pan, before removing cake
  • Cake not completely cool before frosting; refrigerate to make easier to frost
  • Excess crumbs not brushed away
  • Frosting not a good spreading consistency; should be thin enough to spread without pulling or tearing at cake
  • Apply a thin frosting crumb coat; allow setting, or refrigerating; applying final coat of frosting

 Cake Broke/Crumbled When Assembling

  • Cake Stored in too warm or humid area
  • Cake not supported with rack when turning cake over
  • Cakes not stacked with adequate supports
  • Cake UN-level

Cake Storage Hints

  • Cakes can be frozen for up to three months in heavy-duty foil. Cake must be thawed completely before frosting or decorating; this prevents frosted cakes from developing air bubbles when completely thawed and decorated.
  • Iced cakes may be frozen six months to one year, if placed in air tight container (or) cake box wrapped with freezer wrap or heavy duty foil, then place in plastic bag. When defrosting, keep cake wrapped until completely thawed.
  • UN-iced cakes should be stored at room temperature no longer than 24 hrs.
  • All cakes should be refrigerated to keep their freshness.  When serving buttercream cakes, they are best at room temperature;  whip cream cakes are best when served cold.