BAKING - TROUBLESHOOTING
The cakes that I am baking have developed tall domes in the oven - what should I do?
I’m not usually fussed about domes developing on the top of my cakes as usually I just trim them off when I am torting (cutting the cake into layers).
But if you are concerned about this, I understand this happens to cakes for a few reasons:
Your oven is too hot - It’s for this reason you should have an oven thermometer to make sure you are using a tool that is independent from your oven to check the real temperature that your oven is giving off. You should adjust the oven temperature in tandem with your thermometer.
You have overmixed your batter - You should only mix your cake batter until you can see that the flour has been adequately combined with the rest of the mixture and stop mixing once this has happened.
Your cake needs some insulation - As cakes start the cooking process from the outside and bake inwards, the centre of the cake is the last part to cook. Baking strips can assist with even baking as they create a layer of insulation between the heat of the oven and the sides of the cakes. I suggest utilising Wilton Bake Even Strips and applying these to the outside of your cake tins before you place them in the oven. You can do this between steps 8 and 9 in the recipe above.
My cake is burnt - Is there anyway to save it?
Let’s face it - nobody wants to eat charcoal. If your cake has genuinely turned black and stiff and your kitchen smells like a bonfire, your cake is probably beyond repair and should be thrown away. Trying to salvage it would be a waste of time and trying to decorate and disguise the burnt colour won’t fix the taste. (Anybody who might actually eat a burnt cake would also probably feel a bit sick afterwards)
Burning a cake is a common occurrence when you are just getting to know your oven or using a new one. All you can do from here is start again and pay close attention to the temperature you bake at and the temperature you set the oven to (and don’t skip measuring the temperature with an oven thermometer!)
If just a few areas have become a bit darker than you would like, it’s likely that the cake can be saved by just trimming the sides with a serrated knife (bread knife) and removing the burnt edges.
My cake is really dry and crumbly - Is this normal?
Cakes should be moist and fluffy to touch, so if you have a dry cake something has gone wrong.
Check your measurements of dry ingredients. Too much flour will overpower the wet ingredients and leave your cake dry. On the flipside, this can also happen if you didn’t add enough butter or eggs, so make sure you keep a close eye on the recipe and follow it precisely.
Always whip out your oven thermometer to use it to measure the temperature of your oven prior to placing your cake batter in.
Over-baking your cake (keeping it in the oven too long) will also result in a dry cake, so make sure you are testing the centre of the cake with a skewer at the suggested time and taking the cake out of the oven as soon as the skewer comes out clean.