How to prevent cake top from burning (or cracking)

I really don’t know if people face this problem. But I have and hence – this post! šŸ˜€ 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! šŸ˜€

look at the unappealing crust!

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.

my banana cake had a lot of cracks on top!

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? šŸ˜€

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.

love the crust on this! Isn’t it beautiful? šŸ˜€

This is a part of my Baking 101 Series where I share tips and tricks to successful baking.

74 Comment

  1. Saswati says: Reply

    Can I use a microwave safe plastic or glass bowl instead of a baking tin….for making a sponge cake…..will I cover it with a lid or with foil…

  2. Tino panicker says: Reply

    Hai kavitha . Recently i bought the same oven and i tried to bake a vanila cake i put 190c at 45 min but after 45 min when i checked its top potion is burned but the inside is still at the barter atage . Suggest me a temperature setting and time which helps me to make a new one . Also do we need to cover with aluminum foil while baking . Love tino panicker

    1. 190C! Even in a regular oven, you don’t bake a cake at that high a temperature! Its usually 160C. In case of convection oven, I suggest 140 or 150 C, not more. It will take longer than a regular oven. You can refer to my recipes for the exact temperatures.

  3. abhilasha says: Reply

    hi! i use midea convection microwave 4 baking my cake with cake mix.but same problem i face with it,upper side burnt n lower was not baked properly. my oven provide me all button for making different type of food,there is no alternative 4 selection of any temp or time. wat should i do?

    1. pls read your manual , i’m sure there will be an option to set temperature. If there isn’t, then it is a microwave oven, not convection

  4. Hi ur advice was fruitful i baked my cup cakes without burning them, thanks a ton

    1. thanks for the feedback šŸ™‚

  5. mychelle says: Reply

    Can i use the method of putting aluminium foil on the baking dish for sponge cakes?

  6. Jyothsna says: Reply

    Hi ….. I recently picked 28 liter mr …… Now it does not have the nob for which rods to be used …
    But has nob which says bake toast rotisserie broil and keep warm …. And the manual says use bake mode to bake cakes or cupcakes
    It does not have fan mode too ….. Now ever since i got this Otg and tried baking the top of cakes or cupcakes crack and burn ….. Even tried at lower temperatures…… Now when I put the Otg on bake mode only the bottom rods r heated up ….. And top gets heated up occasionally when I open the door to check whether the cake is don’t ….. Getting frustrated….. Kindly help

  7. Yamna says: Reply

    You’ve been a great help, thank you so much!! I found all that was troubling me, in this writing. Thank you so much for that. You’re a life saver!

    1. haha! Glad I could help šŸ™‚

  8. Divya says: Reply

    Hi, I have the same oven like yours shown in the pic. I jus baked a cake and top surface is broken and is brown. Please help. My oven is also onida black beauty šŸ™ I preheated for 5 mins at 180c and baked for 30 mins exactly šŸ™

    1. Hi Divya,

      180C for a cake! That’s such a high temperature! Are you sure the recipe said 180? Ideally 150-60 is the right temp for cakes / brownies… and if you have a convection oven, then a 140C would be a good idea too. Also make sure you cover the pan with aluminum foil for at least the first 20 minutes. You may have to bake the cake longer than 30 minutes though to fully cook it.

    2. Jojo says: Reply

      I have a generic toaster oven with no temp control and 15 min max timer. I’ve learned (through trial and error) to lightly cover my breads/cakes with foil that has toothpick sized holes. This allows the steam to escape. You’re not steaming, your baking.
      Doing this first allows the whole cake to cook without cracks. Remove the foil and brown the top. This way you get a nice smooth cake (because you allowed it to cook via the foil hat), and brown (because you removed the foil hat the and insides are already set).

      This is for toaster ovens but I’m sure the same trick can be applied to full sized ovens.

      1. Seems like a good idea!

  9. eswari says: Reply

    Is it possible to use aluminium foil in microwave

    1. No! It will burn!

      1. Why my cake is not evenly rise and also crack in convection oven please help me

  10. SANDY says: Reply

    HELLO, I DO ALWAYS USED FOIL TO COVER MY CAKE , IT BAKE VERY WELL, BUT IT STLL CRACK IN THE MIDDLE OF MY BLACK CAKE, DO YOU THINK I AM USING TOO MUCH BAKING POWDER, ,,, BUT THERE IS NO BURN ONLY CRACKS

    1. Yes, the baking powder / baking soda proportion must be wrong. Please refer to the recipe again and use correct measurements.

  11. kim R. says: Reply

    why cant you do this with cupcakes? mine always seem to have a hard top but it’s moist and soft at the bottom.

    1. How will you cover a cupcake mold with foil? The only way the batter won’t stick to your foil is if you fill less than half of the mold with the batter. Best option is to just reduce the oven temp.

  12. Irene Pow says: Reply

    Hi

    I have this problem when baking marble cake or anything with chocolate. My chocolate get burned up. Does using the aluminium foil helps?

    1. Yes. It is probably because the oven temperatures are uneven. You should try covering with foil. But make sure the batter doesn’t touch the foil. Just fill upto half or 2/3rd of the baking pan.

  13. Shibani says: Reply

    Hi, I wanted to know All d recipes have the temperature for baking in an oven. If its 160 degree Celsius in an oven how long do I bake in a microwave.
    Also what are the ingredients that can replace eggs.
    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi… You can reduce the temp to 150 or even 140 C and bake for a longer time in a microwave convection. You’ll have to play with the temperatures the first few times, but you’ll figure out soon enough! šŸ™‚
      Condensed milk, yogurt, flaxseeds powder mixed in warm water, potatoes etc.. depends on what purpose the eggs serve in the recipe. ere is a comprehensive list of egg substitutes I put together a while ago – http://foodomania.com/egg-substitutes/

  14. Diana says: Reply

    Hi, I always use baking powder and my cakes are perfect except slight crack on top. But in many recipes they mention baking soda. Is it very necessary to use it or only baking powder will do?

    1. Hi Diana,

      I’m not sure what recipes you use for your cakes. Since I don’t use eggs in my recipes, I always add both baking powder & soda! It has always worked well for me. I’ve never tried a cake with JUST baking powder. I may have to try one to find out what happens. šŸ™‚ If it works for you, don’t fix it!

  15. Julia says: Reply

    Have a convection oven..whenever I bake cake only the upper portion gets browned..but I see in recipes or in videos that the sides gets browned too.i like crust..please can u tell me how to brown my cake in the sides

    1. Hi Julia… I think it is more to do with how you grease your pan. Next time, try greasing it with melted butter and baking your cakes.

      Moreover, I think most cheesecakes brown on the side too. It is okay if your cakes do not brown on the sides, as long as they are cooked!

  16. Pintu says: Reply

    Hello dear,
    I am using a Morphy Richards OTG 36RCSS oven n I bought this just to bake my cakes, but I dun understand why the upper part of my cake would not brown instead it’s always not browned…
    The oven has both the rods up n down.
    Plz help

    1. Hey, it’s a good thing that the cake doesn’t brown! Because if the cake top starts browning too much, the next step is the cake getting burnt!

  17. Nikita shinde says: Reply

    When i set my micowave to preheat, it started smelling funny. Like its burning or something, but only while i pre heat, not any other time. Is that normal?

    1. No, it is not. The same thing happened with mine too. It probably means some filament has zapped inside. Please do not use it without getting it repaired!

  18. Deedee says: Reply

    Is the foil put on the shiny side down or shiny side up? Thank you.

    1. shiny side up

  19. monalisha goswami says: Reply

    Can we use glassware to bake Fish or cake or we have to use some other product . please advice.

    1. you can use borosil or other such heat proof glass dishes for baking. You can also use aluminum baking pans and other non stick baking pans.. I prefer aluminum pans

  20. SHIYAMA says: Reply

    Hi kavitha, you are a genius. In a very young age, you have a lot of talent. Congrats for all your achievements. May God always bless you with love and protection. I’m 50 years old but still I cannot bake a tasty cake in the microwave. All my cakes in microwave have burnt and I had to throw them.Please can you help me ?? My butter cake recipe is : 150g flour, 150g sugar, 150g butter, 2 eggs and vanilla essence. Now MY QUESTION is : After blending the batter, how long to bake this butter cake. Please tell the exact TIME and TEMPERATURE to bake in microwave convection mode. WAITING for your REPLY……………

    1. Thank you Shiyama aunty. šŸ™‚ I’ll need some more information before I can help you.
      1) First of all, which oven do you have?
      2) Which recipe are you using? Are you referring from a cookbook or any website? Your recipe does not have any baking powder / baking soda which seems very strange. Both these are necessary to get the soft cake texture. If you could show me the recipe source (link), I can maybe understand it better.
      3) In microwave convection, heating is uneven. So you have to make sure you bake at a lower temperature than what the recipe specifies. If the recipe says bake at 160C, it will be a good idea to bake your cake at 150 or even 140C for longer time. Also, if the top is getting burned, cover your baking pan with aluminum foil and continue baking. But in this case, you have to make sure your batter is only upto half of the baking pan. Otherwise the cake will rise and touch the aluminum foil.

      1. Shiyama says: Reply

        Thank you kavitha, for replying me. I will give you the informations you need to help me…
        1) I’m using “TRIMAX” Combi – Grill with Convection microwave oven. 25L , 900 w
        2) I’m using the recipe which I normally do in my normal electric oven. It is not from a website or cook book.This cake recipe has become successful many times in my normal oven but it does not work in microwave. I always add baking powder for my cakes but I forgot to include it on your comment box. SORRY dear.
        3) ok forget about my Recipe… Please can you tell me a normal cake recipe which you have experimented on microwave. I will TRY it. I have prepared all other food items on my microwave and success but unfortunately only my cakes are getting spoilt and I had to throw away. I somehow want to make a successful cake on my microwave at least once in my life time . So my dear daughter please HELP ME.

        1. Every cake I post here works on Microwave convection. You can check out the recipe index.. I’m not sure why it didn’t work for you except that either you kept the wrong settings or the oven provides uneven heating

  21. Rana says: Reply

    hi .. I’m using a microwave with convection mode. i tried baking around 5 times but all my cakes got burned..
    I first preheated at 200 c in convection mode. Then baked 600g butter cake batter for 25 minutes at 150 c. But my cake burnt on the top and inside uncooked. Please help me……….. I want to know the accurate temperature and time for each quantity.

    1. Depends on the recipe you are using.. And you never bake cakes at such high temperature.. preheat upto 150 C only.. cover the baking pan with foil to avoid burning

  22. susan winn says: Reply

    I have the same problem of overcooked on the outside under on the inside with bread and cakes. However, I did not have this problem until I started cooking without wheat. The paleo recipe I found calls for almond flour. Most recipes I use now call for almond flour. Suggestions? Someone said I need to bake for high altitude.

    1. Honestly, I’m not familiar with paleo recipes. I think its more about figuring out the settings rather than the right kind of flour. If you trust the recipe, its more about adjusting temperatures and getting it to bake correctly

  23. akansha says: Reply

    hey my cake rises in a very different way.Half of it rises and the other half does not rise.why is it so

    1. My cake can not rises properly upper part is rise but middle part can not rise it was very sticky and also crack in microwave convection oven temp is 150 to 160c

  24. Jazz says: Reply

    great tip!!! thank you so much…

  25. jenifer says: Reply

    hi .. i tried baking around 5 times but all my cakes got burned..i kept it for 10 minutes and soon fumes came out. i set the temperature to 160 but my cakes got hard as a toast.. please help

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      I need some extra information to help you out…
      1) Which recipe did you use?
      2) Did you follow steps I’ve written in this post?
      3) Are you SURE you baked it or microwaved it? Because fumes come out if you use Aluminum foil in Microwave mode, not the Oven mode.
      4) When you say you baked at 160, how long did you bake it for?

  26. alankrita says: Reply

    Hi
    I tried to bake a simple vanilla cake but it got burnt at top and also got stuck below. i will try ot agaon by using a foil. Can i also apply foil for lining the baking tin

    1. Kavitha Ramaswamy says: Reply

      Never tried lining cake pan with aluminium foil. I think it will get messy

  27. Anna says: Reply

    Hi I’ve tried twice to make a date & walnut loaf, both times I have left it in oven for 1hr 15mins, on 170 (fan) both times the cake has turned out perfect but the top has been slightly burnt. Any ideas where I’m going wrong please.

    1. Hi, do try covering the loaf pan with foil for 1 hour and leave it open for the remaining 15-20 minutes.

  28. zara says: Reply

    my cakes cook fine in the middle but have a doughy ring round the edge when i cut them open. why is this happening??? plz help

    1. can you be a bit more specific? Maybe you’re using a lot of flour to grease & line the baking pan?

  29. Jyoti says: Reply

    Hello kavita
    I make the cake it is same cake as your cake’s picture yellow in colour its taste amazing
    but i did not understand that i made the cake in double quantity it is not fluffy and outside is dark brown not tasty at that time what is the reason of my mistake i fill the cake material in tin 3\4 part pls clarify my mistake thanks

    1. I need to know what recipe you used… If you doubled quantity, did you increase amount of baking soda, baking powder etc. also?

      1. Jyoti says: Reply

        I make butterscotch cake when i fill half of the tin cake makes better but i fill less than full of tin cake do not fluffy pls suggest filling the cake in tin half or full can we use tight mouth tin for making cake

  30. Jyoti says: Reply

    Hy kavita
    i make cake the 160 degree tempreture with silver foil 45 minutes but after 45 min cake completly raw pls suggest me i want make the cake for my children pls suggest me

    1. Hello, bake at 150, not 160 for a longer time. Cover with foil for 25 minutes & remove cover & bake for another 20-25 minutes till cooked

      1. Jyoti says: Reply

        Hy kavita
        i try it yet
        thanks for reply

  31. Wonderful tip! Thank you! šŸ™‚

  32. Lovely tip.
    Thanks.

  33. chitra says: Reply

    hi kavi,
    it is really very useful tips.

  34. I faced this situation when I started baking…and luckily some good hearts taught me through and these are the tips they shared. Thanks for rejuvenating my mind again dear…hehe. Sharing is caring..you are doing that!!!

  35. Nice post šŸ™‚ Baking tips are so useful, as there are so many different variables to adjust. I also find not using too deep a cake tin/ mould makes a more even bake, and since changing from metal to silicone the sides no longer tend to get crispy and stay soft. Some of my cake recipes work perfectly in a certain mould but not in others!

  36. Priya says: Reply

    This is one problem I often face. I usually cover the cake with the foil after 20 minutes. But I believe by then the damage is already done. I end up with under-cooked insides and crisp, cracking and crusty outside.

  37. good tip

  38. Sangeetha says: Reply

    Thanks for the tip, i tried baking at low temp than in the recipe will try covering with foil too…

    1. geetha marath says: Reply

      Thankyou kavitha for giving us valuable tips

      1. You’re welcome! šŸ™‚

Leave a Reply