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Undercooked Cakes - Ways I Can Fix It?

I have a small counter top oven, which is fickle and unreliable. I can make small batch stuff like brownies and muffins with no problem. Anything big like cakes generally turn out hard and dry on the top, raw to under cook in the middle and dense/looks like it didn't rise properly on the bottom.

It is so that I have avoided baking cakes. A thought came along that I can just scale the recipe while keeping the baking time the same. I was thinking that I could reduce the recipe by 20-25% while using the original baking time. That way I don't have to worry about raw middles as much. Think this idea is viable? The cake I would like to try is a carrot cake, which should be more forgiving by nature.
I would also be baking hopefully just 1 tester cake (Planning to give to someone), so properly cling wrapped and refrigerated (No freezer space) how long do I have to finish it myself?

asked by JohnTing 2 months ago

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6 answers 441 views
23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added 2 months ago

My idea would be to try putting pizza stone before you start the oven, let it heat with the oven, and then either put the cake pan right over it or just above it with another grill (this is something to experiment on). The pizza stone would help dissipate heat from bottom, and keep temperature more stable. I put the pizza on the bottom/below the pan because it seems you don't have good bottom burner, hence the undercook on the bottom of the cake.
Also, rather than scaling the cake down, I'd put aluminum foil either halfway, 2/3, or 3/4 time after baking (need to experiment when is the ideal time). I usually put aluminum foil if the top of anything i put on the oven is cooked through and the bottom is still wet to prevent burning/drying.

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23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added 2 months ago

I hope you achieve your goal of no more underbaked cakes. But just in case: A few days ago I found myself with a perfect, delicious, expensive chocolate springform cake that, tragically, turned out to be a puddle of half-baked goo in the middle. I took my largest metal biscuit cutter, excised the gooey middle, and voila -- I had a perfectly baked tube cake. No one knew the difference.

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23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added 2 months ago

foofaraw:
I don't have a pizza stone but that did make me think of something else. Cakes like Japanese cotton cheesecake use a water bath, which I guess helps add some moisture to the air and stabilize the bottom heat. I think that's similar in function to the pizza stone right?
I'll remember about the aluminum foil too.

This is quite the random thought, but what if you just took the cake out and flipped it to its underside (Peeling away the baking paper) then continued to bake it?

Cynthia Dooley:
^_^. I actually laughed at that one. I guess that is one way to salvage a mess.

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23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added 2 months ago

If you don't have a pizza stone, some people buy a clay/travertine tile from Lowes/HD for makeshift pizza stone - should be The reason why I said (pizza) stone is that it holds more heat than water, and can hold higher temperature than water. Water, after 100C, will evaporate, unlike stone that stay hotter until several thousand degree. If I guess right, japanese cheesecake need moisture and lower temperature so that it does not break because it expand too much - hence the water bath. The carrot cake *may* need to be less moisture and need higher temperature - other poster might be able to fix/affirm this for me. I think there is reason why you bake cake at 325/350 and not lower. You'll need to try with water bath if you are curious, though I'd recommend the $5 tile because it can be cheaper than the cake material.
Many cakes need time to cool down after baking and if you take it out from the pan directly after baking, the structure will collapse. Unless you are very sure that the cake is finish baking before you took it out and flip it, I'd be careful to do that.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added 2 months ago

*I don't know why previous answer shown up weirdly.

If you don't have a pizza stone, some people buy a clay/travertine tile from Lowes/HD for makeshift pizza stone - should be
The reason why I said (pizza) stone is that it holds more heat than water, and can hold higher temperature than water. Water, after 100C, will evaporate, unlike stone that stay hotter until several thousand degree. If I guess right, japanese cheesecake need moisture and lower temperature so that it does not break because it expand too much - hence the water bath. The carrot cake *may* need to be less moisture and need higher temperature - other poster might be able to fix/affirm this for me. I think there is reason why you bake cake at 325/350 and not lower. You'll need to try with water bath if you are curious, though I'd recommend the $5 tile because it can be cheaper than the cake material.

Many cakes need time to cool down after baking and if you take it out from the pan directly after baking, the structure will collapse. Unless you are very sure that the cake is finish baking before you took it out and flip it, I'd be careful to do that.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added 2 months ago

Well, I got one a cheapo one and tried it. If following recipe with no alterations the middle/bottom still has some issues. I went ahead and scaled the recipe back by ~15% off of memory, and besides appearing thinner it is looking better. The oven is just bad for baking I think, not much to do about it.

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