Toothpicks, cake testers, our nose – we all rely on these things to let us know when a cake is “done”. However, there’s a better way to test to ensure your cake is done every single time!
“Baking Is Science”
We’ve all heard that baking is science and that there’s really no wiggle room to measuring ingredients. We can’t just toss a little bit of this in or a dash of that and expect perfect results every time.
Cooking is where you have more creative liberty in real-time. Meaning you can toss in a few more glugs of liquid, and add a few more teaspoons of spice. Heck, you can even swap out proteins. But in baking, it’s not that simple.
Baking is all about chemistry, and how ingredients react with one another. You can’t just add extra leavening agent thinking your baked good will rise higher and still taste amazing.
Take Your Cake’s Temperature
Just like we are schooled to temp our chicken at 165F, pork at 140/145, and so forth, cakes (actually all baked goods) have an internal temp you can test. Rely on a thermometer for this!
Most cakes’ internal temperatures for doneness are when they reach between 200-210F
Yes, most cakes’ internal temps will reach between 200-210F when they are done, not overbaked, and still moist.
- Traditional like chocolate or vanilla – 201-210F
- Dense cakes like flourless, carrot, and so forth – 200-205F
- Lighter cakes like angel food or a sponge – 205-210F
- Pound Cake – 210F due to the super high fat and sugar in them
- Molten Lava – 160F as the cake itself has reached an acceptable safe temp to eat while the middle still stays gooey
There’s Still More To Check
The temperature is key, yes but there’s still more you need to check!
- Edges – check the edges of your cake in the pan. A properly prepared pan will produce a cake whose batter will pull away from the edges as it’s nearing the end of baking. Granted the only thing this won’t work is a cake where you do not grease the pans (think Angel Food Cake
- The nose knows– your room will smell AMAZING! Just like how freshly baked bread is like heaven on earth, a warm cake has the same type of amazing smell.
- Spring back – Press your cake in the center, gently for a second then remove. If the cake immediately springs back, it’s done. If it’s not, pop it back into the oven for a few minutes more.
- Color – vanilla cakes will have a light golden brown and delicious edges. Chocolate cakes tend to look matte.
- Toothpick/cake tester – I’m not against this as it can tell you a few things about your oven. If one side of your cake has no crumbs and the other has batter then you know your oven has hot spots. When you insert it, it should come out clean, with no crumbs.