How can I test to see if my cake is done?
Stick a toothpick or cake tester in the center, pull it out -- if it looks clean or just a bit crumb-y, it's probably done! If it has a bit of gooey batter on it, it needs more time.
I like to use a wooden skewer I have lying around to make kebabs with...they're long enough to touch the bottom of even your deepest cake pan.
Push it down a bit with your finger if it springs back up its done
I do both technique's mentioned here. I first check with a tootpick. If it seems done by using the toothpick method I then check for a little spring in the center. If no spring in the center yet I'll let it go a few more minute until it has spring.
In addition to those two methods, I rely heavily on my nose. When what I'm baking starts to smell wonderful, I know it's nearly done.
In a pinch, you can also use a piece of dried spaghetti for the cake tester, if you can't lay your hands on a toothpick or wooden skewer.
Kristen, I have that same cake tester! But I have to admit I have not used it in a while.
Over time, I have developed a habit of "listening" to my baked goods. I will take a cake out of the oven, put it up to my ear, and listen to the crackling going on inside, as the steam from liquid ingredients is being cooked out. The faster/louder the crackling, the "raw-er" the cake.
It is kind of like taking microwave popcorn out when it slows to a certain number of seconds between pops.
Generally, I wait for a soft, slow crackle. That means it is mostly done but still has a little way to go as it continues to cook via residual heat outside the oven. If the crackling is sporatic, or worse yet, I hear silence, I know I have overdone it and will have to soak the cake with booze to compensate.
I know this is not a super helpful/specific answer but I thought you'd get a kick out of it.
I watch the edges for some pulling away; jiggle the pan a bit for any remaining liquid motion; some variation of the fork /skewer test (have broom bristles gone out of favor?); wonderful wafting smells. Now it's time to train my ear to the soft, slow crackle.
Love the soft, slow crackle and the spaghetti tip (never would have thought of that). Thanks all for your helpful answers! I asked this when I was demo-ing the site to a group today, and it was great to be able to show everyone your answers streaming in!
We used to (a lot of years ago) take a straw from a broom and use it as the tester. What were we thinking??! Doesn't that seem filthy to today's sensibilities?