I really don’t know if people face this problem. But I have and hence – this post! I remember how every cake I tried in my new convection oven turned up burnt on top and cracked in so many places. Even if I followed the recipe exactly, the outsides would crisp & brown too quickly while the inside would still be uncooked. Obviously, we couldn’t eat uncooked cakes so I had to let it bake inspite of the top browning too much. The crust was burnt and tasted bad. It took me a while to tweak a few things and find the right thing to do!
The temperature - when the temperature is set too high, the outside of your cake bakes fast while insides are still baking. And there are higher chances of the cake burning. And it is also one of the reasons while there are splits on the cake.
Even if it is given in the recipe, you’re oven settings may be different. So try baking at a lower temperature than the recipe . I always bake my cakes & brownies at 150 or 160 degree C. I find that by doing this, the cake bakes evenly while leaving a beautiful crust. Agreed it takes slightly longer than the usual time given in a recipe, but I’d rather bake longer & get a perfect cake than something like this huh?
So in my experience (and I do believe I’m right) cakes & brownies (muffins, cupcakes etc.) should be baked at a lower temperature while bread dishes can be baked at higher temperatures.
How to prevent the cake top from burning -
Even after lowering the temperature, your cakes still seem to have a thick brown crust, then most likely there’s a problem with the settings and the heat waves are uneven. What you can then do is cover your baking dish with aluminum foil. This way, the top is protected from excessive heat! Here’s how you do it -
I. Pour your batter in the baking dish and keep your aluminum foil ready.
II. Tear off a sheet long enough to cover the mouth of the baking dish.
III. Place the foil exactly on top of the baking dish (foil shouldn’t be touching the batter) and trace the outline of the baking dish along the foil.
IV. Using your hands, tuck the foil in every place to perfectly cover the baking dish.
V. Bake as usual. In the last 5 or 6 minutes, you can stop the oven, remove the foil & let it bake so that you get that lovely crust.
PLEASE REMEMBER: If the baking dish has batter upto 3/4th or whole of the dish, you cannot use the foil trick as it will just prevent the cake from rising. Use this only if the batter reaches half of slightly less than 3/4th of the baking dish. This way, even as the cake rises while baking, the batter won’t stick to the foil.
Also, you can’t do this for cupcakes.
This is a part of my Baking 101 Series where I share tips and tricks to successful baking.