Why did my crust separate/break from my pound cake?

I baked a strawberry swirl pound cake http://bit.ly/mEceoi and it tastes really great, but the crust separated from the cake. I did not use the tube pan that it called for and instead used 2 loaf pans. I don't think that would have caused it, but maybe it did. What happened? Is there a way to prevent that from happening again?

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mcd2 May 1, 2011
what a great website! i just checked on the butter cookies i make that always soften too much to get out of the cookie cutters & found several things to try next time i make them. they are way too good to discard the recipe but such a process to make that i dread each xmas ordeal. thank you so much drbabs!
goldenblind221 May 1, 2011
betteirene - those cake insulating strips are really interesting, I am going to try that when I bake my next cake. There's a lot of really good information in that post. I felt like I had a few a-ha moments when reading it. :-)

And I ate that crust. I sure did. I peeled that sucker right off and I ate it. The top of the cake was perfectly, evenly flat (which was kind of surprising but in a good way) so I whipped up some cream and garnished with fresh sliced strawberries (what a great suggestion!)
betteirene May 1, 2011
Pound cake is supposed to have a crack on its top: it's an inherent characteristic that allows you to tell immediately that you have an actual pound cake and not any other kind of cake. A pound cake is more dense than other shortening/butter-type cakes. Because of its density, the batter on the outside bakes first and becomes firm and brown first. As the center begins to heat up and expand, the batter pushes up and out, which forms the crack. Think volcano. Had you overmixed the batter, the gluten would have allowed the formation of a cracked dome, and your cake would not have a sunken middle.

You can minimize that effect by doing one or two or all three of these tricks: baking the batter in a tube pan--you might still see some cracking, but guests won't notice once the cake is turned upside-down for serving (in the SouthernLiving photo of your cake baked in a tube pan, you can see the cracks); lowering the oven heat by 25 degrees; or by wrapping your loaf pans with homemade cake strips, which slow down the transfer of heat from the outside in, which results in a more evenly-baked cake.

For the how-to, go to

You could also fill the depression with something luscious, such as whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

That website that drbabs sent the link to is a wonderful resource. You would be wise to add it to your favorites.
goldenblind221 May 1, 2011
drbabs - what a fantastic resource! Some of these problems sound familiar, haha. I tried not to overmix - guess I have to make more cake to work on my technique :-) The sacrifices we make....

boulangere - I was afraid that not having a tube pan would cause a problem in this recipe. I used all purpose flour, which I measured by spooning it into a measuring cup. I also spooned the flour into the batter as it was mixing so I didn't end up dumping too much in at a time.

Gluten - 1, Jackie - 0
boulangere May 1, 2011
The photo helps a lot, thanks. I think there may be a couple of things going on. First, speaking from a few experiences far, far more disastrous than yours, I've learned that when a tube pan is called for, it's a pretty good idea to use one. They work very well with dense batters because of the heat that is able to pass up the center. If you don't have one and don't want to spend a lot for a fancy one, check second-hand stores; they're great places to find angel food cake pans with the legs attached for turning them upside down to cool. Second, I'm wondering if you might have overmixed your batter, causing the gluten in the flour (and what kind of flour did you use?) to tighten up and break apart as it attempts to rise in the oven, except for the crust that forms first in the heat of the oven. Those would be my two guesses.
drbabs May 1, 2011
Here's a great site that explains the causes of problems with cakes:

It sounds like you overmixed the flour when you added it to the cake, which cause it to develop too much gluten. I'm glad it tastes good! This is what whipped cream is for!
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