It doesn't matter whether a recipe gives you a cooking time down to the millisecond, or you bought the best, most accurate oven on the market just yesterday - you can just never quite be sure how to tell if the cake is done. A recipe can give you an oven temperature, but it doesn't give you a cake's internal temperature.
Read on for our top tips that answer the million dollar (or pound!) question: how do you know when a cake is done?
Leeanne: "Cake should be moist and light in texture and never dry! Sometimes it can be hard to tell if your cake will be a little under done or over done, as recipes may state a cooking time, but every oven is different!"
How to tell if the cake is done
All ingredients should be room temperature
Start as you mean to go on: when baking, all ingredients should be at room temperature when you mix your cake batter (unless specified in the recipe). This will ensure the cooking time doesn’t also have to contend with warming freezing cold mix.
Stick to the recipe
Be careful when setting the temperature of your oven, preheat to the temperature specified before you start the recipe and remembering that baking is chemistry, do try to set a timer for two minutes before the time is up to ensure you don’t over baker.
Do not open the oven door during the cooking process as your cakes structure won’t yet be set so will collapse. Only open a few minutes before the time is up if you cannot look through a glass door.
Signs your cake is baked to perfection:
1 The top should be deliciously golden
2 The sides will be coming away from the edge of the tin
3 A skewer when inserted into the middle comes away clean
4 If you have a food thermometer, the centre of a cooked cake should be 210°F
What to do if your cake is underdone
If the cake doesn’t spring back up when pressed, a skewer when inserted has come away with cake batter on it or the internal temperature isn’t yet 210°F, gently put the cake back in the oven for five minutes and check again. Do not bang the tray, this could cause it to sink if the structure isn’t set yet.
What to do if your cake is overdone
If the cake is black, it isn’t savable, but if it has only dark edges, simply cut them off with a bread knife and cover with buttercream. If you have to cut a lot of cake away and the sponge is dry, change your baking plans and turn the best bits into cake pops by combining the crumbs with buttercream, rolling into balls and dipping into melted chocolate – yum! If the cake is useable but dry, make a restorative syrup to drench your sponges with moisture and extra flavour!
100g granulated or golden caster sugar
Optional flavouring: vanilla, lemon zest, almond etc.
1 Heat the water, sugar and flavour if used until boiling and all sugar granules are dissolved.
2 Remove from heat and leave to cool.
3 Pour into an airtight container or cake drenching bottle.
4 Prick your cake with a skewer or cocktail stick and spoon a few tablespoons of syrup on top of the cake, moving the syrup around with the back of the spoon to help it sink in.
If you follow these tips and tricks, you'll never find yourself floundering and unable to tell if the cake is done again! Plus, if you have a cakey friend who comes to you in sheer frustration, pulling their hair out and screaming to the sky: "but how DO you know when a cake is done?!", you can now take them to a nice comfy sofa, remove any dangerous objects from their reach and calmly tell them that their worries are all over. Need to know the best cake internal temperature? 210°F - ta da!
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