Arrrrgh! Major Baking Problems, Please Help!

Decorating By BakingGirl Updated 5 Dec 2008 , 1:58pm by Deb_

BakingGirl Posted 3 Dec 2008 , 1:33am
post #1 of 13

I am completely losing my mind. I have 2 sculpted cakes due this weekend. My son who is clingy at the best of times is sick and off school so I have really struggled to get any time to prepare the parts which need time to dry, basically I have been up until the wee hours. Just for good measure my husband is away all week on business.

And to top it all of it seems I don't know how to bake anymore. I baked my scratch butter cake recipe this afternoon, a recipe I have baked many many times without problems. I normally bake it in two 9" pans. Today I needed a bigger cake so prepared a double batch of batter, filled two 10" pans 2/3 way up, and put the remainder of the batter in a 6" pan. I check the cake at the time I would normally take out the 9". It needed a bit longer. Check again after 5 minutes, the top is getting quite dark, it smells like cake and it is pulling away from the sides. Cake tester comes out clean. Take out the cake, let it cool for 10 minutes before turning out on a cooling rack.

The first thing I noticed was the bottom of the cake when I peeled off the parchment circle. It was mottled, sort of a giraffe pattern. Light with darker patches, but overall quite light. I have never had that before. Then as the cake cools I notice it is quite flat, and the bottom of the cake feels the texture of a kitchen sponge. When the cake had cooled down I torted it, and the top half of the cake is cooked while the bottom does not seem to have risen or baked properly. It just seems to have solidified.

So, I go to it again, I beat the eggs a bit longer to make sure I get maximum levening from the eggs. I open a new tub of baking powder. I reduce the oven temp by a touch, my oven thermometers showed it was baking about 5 degrees over 350 on the first batch. And what do I get? Exactly the same result!

Anybody have any idea what is going on? The only thing I am wondering about is if the bottom of the oven is not heating properly. But should that not mean the oven temp would not reach proper temperature, which it did.

Right now I really feel like calling my friends and telling there will be no cake this weekend. I feel like putting my feet up and forgetting about the stupid cake!!

12 replies
Sweetcakes23 Posted 3 Dec 2008 , 1:52am
post #2 of 13

The only suggestions I can make is: I'd maybe move my oven rack up one notch, and lower my temp. to 325 and let them cook a bit slower.

Are you using a heating core or nail in the 10" pans? It might need that with so much cake in the oven. It might help even out the heat.

I'm sorry you're so tired, what a week you're having....It's times like this I tell myself, "Well, I'd be this tired if I had a shop...." and couldn't stop. That's when I'm glad I don't! I know I can rest when it's over!

BakingGirl Posted 3 Dec 2008 , 2:02am
post #3 of 13

After I hit send I did a mental head slap. Since I have two oven thermometers it is easy enough to check if the oven is heating evenly. I popped one on the bottom and one in the middle. The temperature is even, so there goes that theory.

Sweetcakes23, I forgot to mention in my original post that I did not use a nail in the cakes for the first attempt, but did the second time around. It seemed to make no difference. But your point about having a lot of cake in the oven is true, maybe it was a case of overload. You are right about the part about being glad I don't have a shop. I have been planning turning my hobby into a business but I don't think I can do it. There is not enough time and too much stress.

Tomorrow I am going out to buy some cake mixes. I may have lost my cake mojo but surely I can't screw up a mix?

indydebi Posted 3 Dec 2008 , 2:16am
post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweetcakes23

....It's times like this I tell myself, "Well, I'd be this tired if I had a shop...."




Not necessarily. I get a lot more done in way less time in a comm'l kitchen than I ever could in a home kitchen. A few weeks ago I baked 14 single layer cakes (I had 2 or 3 wedding cakes that week) and had them mixed, baked, saraned and in the freezer inside of 3 hours. I rarely get to my shop before 10:00 a.m. and I leave prompty at 5:00 every night. I can only think of 2 or 3 times in the past year that I worked late and that was only because I wasn't as organized as I should have been.

You cant' measure how busy you'd be in a comm'l shop, compared to how busy you are in a home kitchen. It's just not the same! thumbs_up.gif

Karema Posted 3 Dec 2008 , 2:24am
post #5 of 13

Have you ever doubled this recipe before? Some recipes cant be doubled. Maybe make each recipe once then pour each recipe in each pan and save the left over from each batch and put it in a 6 ". Good luck

FullHouse Posted 3 Dec 2008 , 2:49am
post #6 of 13

I don't have any advice to add, but I can commiserate. I had that happen when I was making a gourmet choc. cake for a close friend (completely free of charge) and had to make 5 layers to get 2 to come out right. All b/c I was tired. 1st batch needed more time first time I checked and the baby woke up, but the time I got him I had forgetten the cake, couldn't hear the timer and it was WAY overcooked. Next batch: 1 was fine, other broke unmolding, b/c I had to wait until after 10 pm to work on it and I was so tired I forgot to line w/parchment, 5th layer the next morning worked. It killed me to waste all of the ingredients, it figures it happened when I was using my most expensive and time consuming recipe to make. That's what I get when I try to make cake late or with a toddler to tend to icon_smile.gif. Lesson learned, too bad I can't always avoid those working conditions. Good luck with your cake, I try to look at everything as a learning experience and my 3 kids loved eating the broken layer and I froze the overcooked one to use when I want to practice a new decorating technique.

BakingGirl Posted 3 Dec 2008 , 2:54am
post #7 of 13

Karema, I have doubled it before without problem. I am wondering if I perhaps overfilled the pans? I just realised that for the first batch of cakes I baked the two 10" separately, then the 6", so I overcrowding is maybe not the problem either. That sort of whittles down the possible problem being overfilling or something wrong with the mixing. I really don't think it is the mixing, I have done this cake so many times without problem.

Indy, I appreciate the input. Yes, I think you are right about having a place of work. I am trying to do it while tripping over kids, a husband, and doing it between being a full time mum, and all the other things you have to do to keep the household running. Sometimes I really wish I have a place to go to, to do my cakes. Somewhere where all my stuff is one place, somewhere with peace and quiet and no kids.

Mike1394 Posted 3 Dec 2008 , 9:15am
post #8 of 13

I know with myself after a recipe becomes commonplace I go through the motions, instead of being attentive if it's a new recipe. The only thing I can think of to cause lighter, and darker patches is the flour, maybe the sugar. Did you sift it? Mix it in by hand, or mixer? If sifted did you sift the dry together? That would be my guess.

Mike

sarahpierce Posted 3 Dec 2008 , 1:47pm
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweetcakes23

....It's times like this I tell myself, "Well, I'd be this tired if I had a shop...."



Not necessarily. I get a lot more done in way less time in a comm'l kitchen than I ever could in a home kitchen. A few weeks ago I baked 14 single layer cakes (I had 2 or 3 wedding cakes that week) and had them mixed, baked, saraned and in the freezer inside of 3 hours. I rarely get to my shop before 10:00 a.m. and I leave prompty at 5:00 every night. I can only think of 2 or 3 times in the past year that I worked late and that was only because I wasn't as organized as I should have been.

You cant' measure how busy you'd be in a comm'l shop, compared to how busy you are in a home kitchen. It's just not the same! thumbs_up.gif




Thank you Indy! I have often wondered if I could handle a shop, because at home it is such a cluster (bleep). Besides working 50 hours a week at my regular job, I dreed doing even 1 cake a week (not the decorating, but the baking). Thanks for the vote of confidence. thumbs_up.gif

BakingGirl Posted 4 Dec 2008 , 2:53am
post #10 of 13

Thank you all for your suggestions and ideas. I just wanted to let you all know that I still don't know what went wrong, but I got there in the end. Could not face trying the recipe again so I went out and got some cake mix. After a bit of doctoring I had two beautifully risen cakes. So all is well in the end.

Deb_ Posted 4 Dec 2008 , 3:13am
post #11 of 13

bakinggirl I was really starting to feel sorry for your hard day until I noticed that your location is "the Caribbean"......I mean you only live in one of the most beautiful areas of the entire world in my opinion, how bad can it be? icon_razz.gificon_wink.gif Walk outside and look at the beautiful turquoise ocean and the swaying palm trees and all will feel right in the world. icon_lol.gif Than think of us poor souls in the Northeastern part of the US with winter fast approaching and our bare winter-ready trees looming above. icon_cry.gif

Just kidding......I had this happen to me with a wedding cake a couple of weeks ago. My oven temp seemed o.k., I had baked the recipe countless times in the past without a problem and I couldn't figure out what the problem was. Well, the very next week the bottom heating element in my oven stopped working altogether. I figure it must have been heating unevenly the week before when I tried to bake the Wedding cake layers, because it was the bottom of the layers that were "wet" and not completely baked.
Is your oven an older model or have you had it a while? Since the butter recipe is probably a more dense cake that could be why it didn't bake properly, but the mix (which is lighter) that you baked today was o.k.

BakingGirl Posted 4 Dec 2008 , 5:21pm
post #12 of 13

dkelly27, I know, I know - it is hard to be sympathetic towards people who live in paradise. icon_lol.gif And it is nice, I am the first to admit that. I am originally from Norway so I know everything there is to know about winter, and I don't miss it one bit. But it is not all sunshine living in this part of the world either. Living with the threat of hurricanes for half the year is so stressful, our house was completely trashed 4 years ago by Hurricane Ivan. We were homeless for 6 months and then moved back in and lived without a kitchen for another few months. I love this time of year though, winter is beautiful here and no hurricanes - it makes up for the stress of the summer.

I hope my oven is not on the blink, but it is possible. I have just taken another cake out of the oven, took forever to bake - and I am not entirely convinced it has baked properly either. But it was starting to smell burned from the top so I could not leave it in there any longer. Another drawback to living on an island is that parts take forever to get here so if my oven is dead it is going to be forever for it to be fixed. icon_cry.gif

Deb_ Posted 5 Dec 2008 , 1:58pm
post #13 of 13

I hope your oven isn't on the blink either, it always seems to go at the worst possible time.

That's awful about the hurricane and the loss of your home, my God I can't even imagine losing everything like you did. I'm glad you're back in your home now and hopefully you'll never have to experience that again. Wow, Norway to the Caribbean. Two very beautiful yet so different places. Do you miss the snow? Probably a dumb question icon_rolleyes.gif

Good luck with the oven, the one good thing about the heating element breaking is, it's a pretty easy fix. I replaced mine by myself, just a few screws. You can order them on-line too.

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