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Jan 26, 2011 04:30 PM

Carry over cooking = Carry over baking?

I have resolved to hone my baking and dessert skills in 2011. An earlier (and relatively recent) discovery of carry over cooking opened the door to great success with some meat and vegetable preparations.

Which led me to contemplation of the possibility (likelihood, actually) of the same phenomenon in baking...Does it in fact exist and how is it taken into consideration in obtaining a moist cake or bread and properly done cookies?

I have traditionally used the toothpick method of testing for doneness--maybe a completely clean pick is not what I would be looking for if carry over baking is at play?

Any thoughts and information would be appreciated. Thank you!


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  1. My thought is you aren't going to get much "carry over" cooking from baked goods because they lack the density that meat has. Although if you're baking in a glass baking type dish you might get some carry over or they tell you not to bake as long. For example the heavier a roast the more "carry over" cooking you'll get.

    1 Reply
    1. re: monku

      It's about density, surface to area volume, moisture content, heat capacity and shorter baking times for most baked goods than, say, a 6# beef roast. Most baked goods don't have the density, volume or heat capacity (they cool off relatively quickly) which leads to low or no carry over cooking time, but cheesecakes and denser baked custard type desserts do experience carry over. Generally speaking, carry over is not an issue when baking. Overbaking, not taking that cake out of the oven when it's done, is more the problem.

      As far as knowing when baked goods are done, I generally give my cakes a few minutes less time than the recipe calls for; when the less than completely clean toothpick or instant read thermometer test shows they're getting very close to done, I pull them; that's a matter of trial and error, though. An instant read thermometer is helpful for knowing when bread is ready, aside from tapping on the bottom of the loaf. Touching a cake layer can tell you pretty much how close it is, it should spring back and have shrunk away from the sides of the pan. Really the best way to know is through experience, lots of it. A good oven and an instant read thermometer, if you don't have already, should be on your next "to purchase" list.

    2. 100% yes - there is carry over baking.
      Just try a recipe a couple times with different times and whichever one you like best is the right one.

      Its so tempting not to eat bread or cookies right out of the oven, but it really is a must if you want it to be as good as possible.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tldmatrix

        Carry-over baking is the reason so many cookies that were tender when pulled from the oven wind up hard and dry if allowed to cool on the pan. Judge baked goods by color, and in the case of cakes, by pulling from the sides of the pan. But also, use your nose. I find that most cookies and brownies should be pulled from the oven when their aroma fills the room.

      2. can't speak to the carry-over, but I would say in many cases a completely clean pick is NOT what you want. Things that should be fudgey and moist, like brownies and devil's food cakes, should still have some moist crumbs. OTOH, a pound cake would want a clean toothpick.

        1. Yes, there is carry over, especially from all the sugar. As danna said, you can't just go by a clean toothpick because baked goods vary. For regular cakes, I press lightly on the cake, about the center 1/3, and it pops back. That's harder to do w/ crustier breads or pound cake so I press a little harder. Cookies need to be pulled out before they're done or you'll end up w/ hard cookies after they cool. For most cookies, you can pull up one side, gently--if it lifts but is soft, then it's ready. I'd much rather have a cookie pulled too early than one pulled too late.

          This looks like a good article for testing doneness: