What Can Go Wrong When Baking?
Sugar Flower Shop Explains the Causes of Common Cake Problems
Even when baking a cake using a balanced recipe with ingredients in the proper proportion, there are still a number of things that can go wrong once the batter is placed into the oven. In the following paragraphs, Sugar Flower Shopâ€¦a cake boutique’s owner, Amy DeGiulio, will address some of the common problems home bakers may experience.
When trying to resolve baking issues, the very first thing to look at is the oven temperature. Sufficient time should be allowed for the oven to come to the proper temperature as dictated by the recipe. A cold oven results in a cake with a sunken center. Alternatively, if your oven is too hot, it can cause the top crust to be too dark or to form a high center peak. The latter occurs because the outer cake surface baked too quickly, forming a crust at the edges and forcing the remaining batter to continue to rise with nowhere to go, except to burst through the middle. Note that a sunken center can also occur if the batter has been undermixed and a peaked center can result from overmixing as too little or too much air has been incorporated. Should you find that your oven temperature is precise, you may need to review the mixing process.
The next oven issue to consider is allowing for proper air circulation. Cakes should be baked in the very center of the oven, with at least a couple of inches all around between each pan and from the sides of the oven. If you notice uneven browning, rotate the pan about 2/3 into the baking time (there is no need to pick up the pan, just give it a half spin). The biggest proof of improper air circulation is a cake with an overcooked bottom, but undercooked batter.
Finally, should you experience a dry cake with a thick, tough crust, the most common cause is overbaking, however overmixing the batter or using a pan that is too big for the recipe are even contributors to the same problem. To combat overbaking, you will want to check for doneness at the lower end of the baking time range provided. To be sure that the cake is done, it should be slightly springy to the touch, the sides will have shrunk slightly from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
Note that some of the issues described above can also be attributed to improper use of baking powder. This mysterious ingredient is probably another topic all to itself as too much or too little can cause a myriad of problems. Until then, sweet regards from Sugar Flower Shop!
Sugar Flower Shop creates unique special occasion and wedding cakes made from the finest and freshest ingredients (local and sustainable whenever possible) featuring beautiful realistic-looking flowers handmade from sugar. Samples of their work can be found at: http://sugarflowershop.com. You can contact owner Amy DeGiulio by phone at 917/639-3901 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.