Ok, so i tried the wet towel strip wrapped round the tins and had a flower nail in one of the tins.
15 minutes in and they were perfectly flat and i thought i had it solved but then when i switched round the tins in the over to ensure even cooking after that point they all rose and cracked pretty badly which meant that again I lost probably at least one quarter of each cake which was slightly less than last time but still i hate throwing that out when i could have lovely tall cakes.
Any ideas? The recipes call for half as much self raising as plain flour and a little bicarb. Could I leave the self raising out altogether? Is my oven too hot? Should I use two or three strips of towel instead of just one? More flower nails??
What is your recipe? It might be time for a new one. Have you ever made them without opening the oven to rotate them? That could be part of the problem too. At what point are you rotating them?
With some details we might be able to help figure out what's going on.
I used to get the same problem. I found by switching my oven right down to about 100c and cooking the cake for longer I stopped it doming and cracking so much.
I also decrease the temp ie: 350 to 325 wrapped in wet towels and flower pic in the center.
I know this sounds dorky but seriously, I spin my pans. A pastry chef taught me this trick and since then I haven't had any cake mountains. After I put the batter in my pan I give it a spin and the batter climbs the edges (esp. the corners of square pans) HTH
No the spinning thing is a legitimate technique. But really, cakes will have at least a slight bump in the middle that will need to be leveled. It's just part of cake making. Not a mountian, but a bump.
...and cracked pretty badly....
Normally when cakes crack, it means that the oven is too hot. The exterior of the cake bakes too quickly and forms a solid crust on the top which then cracks when the interior of the cake starts to rise as it cooks. Get an oven thermometer and check you temperature; your oven is more than likely out of calibration.
(Also lowering the temperature slightly from the recipe guide usually helps with doming.)
thanks! il try lowering the oven with my next batch. that makes sense actually since they are really hard and crustly on top have a HUGE volcanic crack in the middle where the points of the crack raise up vertically! so il lower my over down from 180 to 150 and hopefully that might make a difference.
Il keep you posted. i really love the recipe it tastes amazing and is lovely and moist inside so i really just want to get them more level so im not wasting as much lovely cake!
Call me odd, but I like to level my cakes. To take the top crust off so that there is just nice moist cake in there. The top crust of the cake has a different texture than the inside that I like to remove before assembling my cakes. Especially for non chocolate cakes.
I'm with Leah though.. most all of my recipes will have a slight bump in the center.. it cooks last on the inside and it can and will rise more. The only one that doesn't do that is my chocolate cake.
Don't open the oven door to rotate the cakes, you shouldn't need to. Also have a bump to trim is a part of baking.