Cooking Question? Ask Karen! 🙂
I love it when people ask questions, because it lets me know how I can help. A recent cooking school attendee asked me, “How can I keep my cakes from puffing up in the center as they bake?”
I have a few suggestions to help prevent this issue, and I baked a couple of cake layers (using a basic cake mix) to illustrate the differences.
·I beat the cake batter as directed on the cake mix box using the flat beater attachment on my mixer.
· I tapped the filled cake pan lightly on the counter several times before putting the cake in the oven.
· I baked the cake on a rack in the upper third of the oven cavity.
·I beat the cake batter as directed on the cake mix box using the wire whip attachment on my mixer.
· I did not tap the filled cake pan on the counter.
· I baked the cake on a rack in the bottom portion of the oven.
Here are the results. As I suspected, there are differences. The winner is … Cake #1.
This is the cake mixed with the flat beater, tapped on the counter, and then baked in the upper third of the oven. It came out with a much less rounded top. So, if I was baking two cake layers, I would place them both on the same rack in the upper third of the oven and allow 2 inches of space between the pans for air flow.
This cake also had fewer tunnels when cut open. Having an even cake makes it easier to frost once it is cooled.
Cake #1 Cake #2
Keep these tips in mind while baking cakes:
⇒Bake cakes in light colored baking pans. They reflect heat in the oven and produce evenly textured, tender cakes.
⇒Use your flat beater to mix cakes rather than the whisk attachment. Save the whisk attachment for times when your main goal is to whip air into an ingredient (such as whipping cream or egg whites).
⇒Once the cake batter is in the pans, tap them on your counter top a few times to release any air bubbles.
⇒Bake the cakes on a rack in the upper portion of your oven rather than the bottom. It will keep the cake away from the heating element and allow it to bake up gradually, rather than puffing up in the center.
⇒ If you have parchment paper on hand, here is a handy tutorial for making a collar inside the pans to prevent “doming”. Wilton also sells “Bake-Even Strips” that are designed to insulate the edges of the pan so the cake bakes evenly and therefore with a smooth top.
When things don’t go according to plan!
If your cake is already baked and it has a rounded top, don’t worry! Simply use a serrated knife to carefully cut off the dome of the cake. Then, turn the cake over and the bottom will be flat because it is in the shape of the cake pan.
To make frosting the cake easier to manage, freeze the cake layers first. They will be less crumbly and a bit easier to handle.