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Cake pans, straight sided vs. Slant sided..

I had bought straight sided cake pans (that were preferred by all the food network bakers ) a couple of years ago and I haven't had a straight sided cake since. Yesterday, I dug out my old slant sided pans that slope up to being just slightly larger at the top, and produced a perfectly straight sided cake, (I think they were engineered to allow for the top of the cake to shrink) What is the trick to using straight sided pans to get that ideal straight sided cake?

asked by Soozll over 3 years ago
9 answers 6640 views
Dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 3 years ago

If you cakes are shrinking, you are overbaking them.

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added over 3 years ago

I've looked at hundreds of bloggers pictures of cut layer cakes, and almost all of them are not straight sided unless they've been trimmed. Most recipes tell you the cake will pull away from the sides of the pan while cooling, so I don't feel my cakes are over baked according to the moist crumbs clinging to the toothpick when tested.. They are usually always moist and tender, too. So, what else?

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added over 3 years ago

Have you tried Magi-Cake strips - silver ribbon strips that you soak in water then fasten round the pan? They give a straight side and a flat top and totally eliminate the need to bake cheesecakes in a water bath.

Scplogoblog
added over 3 years ago

I use a 9- or 10-inch round that is 4 inches deep and cut each layer by hand (usually 3 layers, but it depends). I consider myself much more of a cook than a baker, but perhaps this is your solution? (I always found individual cake pans to yield wonky cakes). Also, the cakes that I have seen that are perfectly uniform are always chilled or frozen overnight, then thawed and cut, then given a crumb coat, then chilled then icing'ed--with this method there many opportunities to ensure uniformity. Perhaps it is this process that would help you achieve the look you are seeking?

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added over 3 years ago

Thanks, everyone.
I've always wanted to try those silver ribbon strips, but haven't taken the time to hunt them down. I hear they really work to keep the cake top level so you don't have to cut off the dome.
I don't have a deep enough cake pan to cut layers instead of using single layer pans. I suppose I could try my springform, but there again, the shrink that happens when the cake cools would still be visible. I'll just have to pay more attention to see if I really am over baking my cakes.

Dsc03010
added over 3 years ago

Don't buy those strips! They cost an arm and a leg, especially if you want to make large-diameter cakes. As with most everything here on food52, do it homemade.

If your pan is round, multiply its diameter by pi (3.14) to get the circumference. If your pan is square or heart-shaped or hexagonal or the shape of a t-shirt, use a tape measure to find the circumference. Add 2" to that measurement.

On your table or an ironing board, tear off a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil to match the length of your measurement.

Unroll a length of paper toweling on top of the foil.

Fold the top and bottom edges of the foil over the paper toweling to hold it in place.

Fold the bottom edge up to the middle. Fold the top edge down to the middle.

Now fold it so that the strip matches the depth of your pan.

Staple or use straight pins or paper clips to fit the strip snugly around the pan. Prepare, fill and bake the cake according to recipe directions.

I have reused my strips for up to two years at a time, and I bake at the very least three cakes a month. My round pans range from 4" to 20" and I have all kinds of other shapes and sizes. It would have cost me a small fortune to purchase enough of those strips to accommodate my baking. These homemade strips work every bit as well as the commercial ones, and they don't need to be soaked in water beforehand.

Just so you know, the trick will also work if you use several layers of wet cheesecloth or terrycloth. You can use anything you can think of to keep the outside of the cake from getting cooked through while the inside of the cake is still rising--that's what makes the dome.

My homemade strip has references: ask mrslarkin. Just last week, she sent me a picture to show how well it worked. She said it was "magical." With that in mind, let me ask her to attach it here. . .Mecca lecca hi, mecca hiney ho, mrslarkin please attach a photo, this is my wish, please make it so.

I've got hundreds of cake decorating tips (literally and figuratively). Here's another one: You know that steam you see rising from hot stuff as it cools? That's moisture, and you want to keep as much of it in the cake as possible. The minute your cake comes out of the oven, cover it tightly with foil or plastic wrap (yes, plastic wrap) and put it in your freezer (if you have room to do so without the hot pan touching anything else) or the refrigerator. Bonus: frozen cakes are much easier to fill and frost than thawed cakes.

Here's another one: For easier frosting and serving, make sure your cake plate is flat. Don't use a dinner plate with a raised rim.

And another one: The bottom layer goes bottom-side down on the cake plate. Put a half-cup of frosting on it. Spread it so that it's thinner in the middle and thicker around the edge. Place the top layer on top-side down. Use frosting and an offset spatula or butter knife to "caulk" any gaps between the layers.

Mrs._larkin_370
mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

added over 3 years ago

Tardis_003 behold, the magical cake strips that betteirene told me how to make.

I will never buy any baking gizmos ever again - I will always ask betteirene first. She's like a freakin' shaman - yes, the Cake Shaman - she will mend your cake baking soul. There should be a separate foodpickle tab called "Ask The Cake Shaman."

Wait, so Soozll, what do the sides of your cakes come out looking like when you bake them in the straight sided pans?

Dsc03010
added over 3 years ago

Yow, mrslarkin. Can I use you as a reference? Wow. I like you, too!

Soozll, pans with flared or slanted sides were designed for ease of serving--you can get a utensil down the sides and underneath the cake and lift out a nice, neat slice with sharp corners. Straight-sided pans are designed for layer cakes, especially if you'll be stacking them more than four layers tall.

With either pan, there comes a point where the capacity of the pans comes into play. Putting too much batter into a pan will cause the batter to pull away from the sides to form a taller dome. An 8" x 1.5" round pan optimally should be filled with no more than 1 3/4 cups of batter; a 9" x 1.5" pan should be filled with 2 1/4 cups of batter. Doing so will give you cakes an eye-pleasing height-to-width ratio. It also gives you, bite-for-bite, a forkful of cake with exactly the right amount of icing on it.

mrslarkin's cake is made from Dorie Greenspan's recipe for Perfect Party Cake, baked in one 10" square pan at 325 degrees, instead of two 9" round pans at 350 degrees. If your pans are darker than mrslarkin's shiny pan, lower the baking temperature to 325 degrees regardless of the size of the pan.

If this is too much information for you, don't worry about memorizing all of it. A cake is a cake. It should be fun! Unless they are a bride or her mother, the people you are serving will not notice if the cake has straight sides. They will only remember the taste of the cake and your love, the warm vibe that you dish out with every slice.

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added over 3 years ago

You guys are a force of two! I love it! I also love your creative idea of using foil collars around the pans instead of buying those moist strips. I'm going to do that next time I bake this one cake that I make that usually always domes and see if it makes a difference.
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I have Fat Daddio cake pans, Three each of the 8inch and the 9 inch. No problems with the cakes coming out of the pans and only occasionally do I get a dome large enough that I have to trim the cake tops. My problem has been when the cakes come out of the oven and sit on the cooling racks. They pull away slightly from the sides of the pans as they cool, the recipes all state that they will do that! The top of the cakes end up more shrunken (is that even a word?) than the bottom of the cake. The bottom of the cake in the pan is insulated by the rest of the cake above it so it loses moisture and heat less rapidly than the top of the cake. So, it makes sense (to me) that the bottom isn't going to shrink as much when it's cooling in the pan or when it's finally inverted out onto the cooling rack then reinverted. The cake bottom on the rack is held by the rack, so it won't shrink there, either. The top of the cake, however, gets the most exposure to cooler air as soon as it comes out of the oven, so it pulls away from the pan more quickly and it has no support from a pan bottom or from the cooling rack...at least that's what I think is going on.
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I guess I didn't word my question well. I was really looking for an opinion from others about their experience with the straight sided pans. Wondering if others have had the same problem with their cakes. I swear, my cakes do not test, look, feel or taste like they are overdone, they are just fine. They are tall, moist, tender, the crumb and crust are exactly as they should be. It's the dog-gone sides that I hate. I have to either trim them to make the sides straight or fill the sides in with frosting to even out the finished cake. Don't either of you have (or notice) any shrinkage at all? Do your cakes cling to the sides of the pan or do they shrink evenly or what? Or am I just being overly anal about this? lol!