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Totally perplexed by my cakes

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I readily admit baking is not my forte when it comes to cooking but a simple cake stumps me. Could someone tell my why every time I bake a cake it comes out dome shaped on top and not flat. Sure I invert after baking so I have a flat surface to ice but then there is a gap around the bottom of the cake. I also drop the pan lightly on the counter a few times after putting the mix in to let the air bubbles escape. I would love to bake a proper cake that is suitable to serve for company without it looking like a chocolate baseball stadium with the roof closed.

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  1. Cakes rise more in the center than on the edges because there is a temperature difference from edge to center. There are several things you can do to make a level cake.

    1. Use "Bake even" strips or wet strips of towels around the edge of the pans.

    http://www.amazon.com/Wilton-Small-Ba...

    http://www.amazon.com/Wilton-Large-Ba...

    These lower the temperature of the cake at the edge and allow it to rise with the rest of the cake.

    2. You can literally push down on the center of the cake a little when you remove it from the oven. Some people believe this technique changes the density of the cake.

    3. You can use a cake levelor/slicer to literally cut off the crown. These devices are handy for slicing layers in half. By cutting 2 layers in half, you can make a 4 layer cake albeit with thinner layers. This makes the cake look fancier and if you are a filling fan, gives you more layers to add filling. Sometimes people have to use 1 or 2 skewers through all the layers to prevent layers sliding.

    http://www.amazon.com/Wilton-415-815-...

    Professional bakers don't need levelers. They simply develop the skill to hold their bread knife level and cut the crown off or slice layers.