I was asked this question by a friend of mine, a while ago. My response was another question. What kind of cake? So she explained that she had baked a cake from a mix, but the center had still been a bit gooey and uncooked. The cake had already been consumed, but she wanted to get it right the next time round.
Hmmm!!! This got me thinking. I gave her a few pointers, but was not really satsified by the answer I gave her.
I am no expert when it comes to baking especially, but over time have improved my cake baking skills atleast. I have had my share of burnt or not well done cakes.
Aditya had been asking me for some chocolate cake for a while and I had a mix for chocolate cake in my pantry. Well, no time like the present to observe what I do and document the process.
For the batter I mixed it according to the instructions on the box. I gave Aditya the choice between a 9 x 13 sheet cake or cupcakes. He chose the sheet cake.
I sprayed the bottom of the pan with cooking spray and poured in the batter. Then we spread it out evenly. The instructions called for the cake to be baked in a 350 degree Farenheight preheated oven for 31- 36 minutes.
Knowing that my oven tends to be on the slightly hotter side I set my timer to 26 minutes.
We checked on it after 22 minutes and it was done. I had inserted a knife in the center and it had come out clean. The other indicator were the smell. That had actually been the first indicator that the cake was nearly done. A wonderful smell of yummy chocolate cake.
The next two indicators are on the cake itself.
- The edges of the cake were slightly darker and had pulled away from the pan.
- The top of the cake had some cracks on it when it had expanded.
So out came the cake from the oven. To transfer it onto a cooling rack, I put the rack updise down on the cake pan and turned them over together. Next tap the cake pan all over to release the cake and remove the pan.
If you had oiled the base of the pan well the cake will come of clean. I obviously had missed a patch ( when I had sprayed the pan I did notice a patch not covered but being lazy left it as it. ), so a part of the cake stayed on the pan.
Always remove the cake from the pan immediately. It is easier to remove it when hot, than after it’s cooled down as it will stick to the pan when it cools down.
If you don’t have a cooling rack, you can use a large plate or tray also.
If you look at the cross section photograph of the cake you can see that the cake is moist and has almost even holes all over.
The photograph of half the sheet of cake is slightly sunken in the middle because a piece of the cake on the under side is missing , but you can see the darker edges and the cracks on the top.
Professional bakers usually remove the edges and this top layer as it is cracked and uneven, because usually a cake puffs up in the center. They like flat even surface to work on.