Baking the perfect cake

  1. Hello all,

    I know this is a slightly unusual post but I'm trying to help my wife, Anna, bake the perfect cake.

    I suspect like many would be bakers, Anna has been thwarted by inconsistent temperature within her cakes so that either the outside is perfectly cooked and the inside a touch raw or vice versa. Result, a very frustrated baker.

    Anna recently watched a cooking series that demonstrated baking the perfect potato by inserting metal skewers into the potato and therefore cooking the inside from the conductive nature of metal.

    What we're now wondering is if we could apply the same idea to baking a cake by inserting skewers at specific points to allow a even internal temperature. However, without lots of trial and error what we don't know right the position to place the skewers in the cake. Our rough assumptions is that closer to the center of the cake the more concentrated the skewers need to be.

    We thought that there may be a more precise way to judge the position of the skewers using physics. Random I know but any help will be most appreciated!

    Thanks in advance,

    David and Anna
     
  2. jcsd
  3. jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

  4. The physical size of a cake is much larger than the physical size of a potato. Maybe the skewers will be able to conduct enough heat into the middle of the potato, but they will be problematic with a cake. Most of the heat that is being conducted along the skewers will be released closer to the surface of the cake because of its larger size. So they might help a little, but probably not much. But there are ways of analyzing the unsteady state heat conduction problem involved in heating a food item from the outside to the inside in an oven. See Bird, Stewart, and Lightfoot for a discussion of heating turkeys of various sizes. Of course, the simple answer is to bake the cake at a lower temperature for a longer amount of time.
     
  5. Nugatory

    Staff: Mentor

    How about using a ring pan? They solve exactly the problem that you've described, by opening up the entire center for heat transfer.
     
  6. turbo

    turbo 7,366
    Gold Member

    DS, here is what I would try first. Set the oven temperature about 25 deg higher that the recipe calls for, and every 25% of the cooking time, open the oven and turn the cake pan 90 degrees. Most ovens are not really trustworthy in back-to-front or side-to-side temperatures. Then as the cake starts to look like it is ready, test it with a wooden toothpick. If the toothpick comes out looking wet, the cake needs some more time. If the toothpick comes out looking slightly damp, take out the cake and cover it with foil. If the toothpick comes out dry, you have overcooked and may have to deal with dry cake.
     
  7. Let's start by first assuming that the perfect cake is spherical and frictionless...
    Edit:
    ... and with uniform density...
     
  8. The skewers that you are describing are called "flower nails" in the cake baking business.
     
  9. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    And with perfectly delicious frosting!! (Which is also frictionless, so it slides down my throat better during swallowing. Don't ask about how you are supposed to apply it to the cake.)
     
  10. jtbell

    Staff: Mentor

    Moo! :biggrin:
     
  11. The first thing to do is make sure your oven temperature is correct buy an oven thermometer
     
  12. Microwaves get into a cake a lot faster than conducted heat. Any way of precooking on the defrost microwave cycle or cooking on combined microwave-convection?
     
  13. NascentOxygen

    Staff: Mentor

    I'm really intrigued to learn how a cake could be perfectly cooked on the inside but a little raw on the outside. I think even a microwave oven cannot manage such a feat!

    A more common problem is that by the time the cake is cooked throughout, its base has burnt. In any case, it is more a problem of oven temperature than anything. You could try using a wider baking tin, so the mixture is wider and thinner, making it easier to get good overall results. Once you can get your immediate problem sorted out, if perfection continues to elude, you might experiment with a sheet of wire mesh placed on the shelf above/below the cake, to shield that side of the cake from excessive heat due to poor oven design concentrating the heat at the top/bottom of the oven.

    Some cake mixtures would be more difficult to cook evenly. Maybe divide the mixture among paper cups and always make cup cakes? They can't help but turn out well. :smile:
     
  14. DrDu

    DrDu 4,415
    Science Advisor

    Do you know the tale of the king who couldn't play the jaw's harp and the queen who couldn't bake spice nuts?
     
  15. never heard of it.:confused:
     
  16. DrDu

    DrDu 4,415
    Science Advisor

  17. zeez,thanks.
     
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