I'm brand new here so I don't know if this is the right forum for this question.
I'm definitely in the "beginner" cake making category. I am planning to make 6 small cakes that look like ABC blocks for my son's first birthday so I bought a fat daddio's 4 x 4 x 4" pan.
The first cake I tried (carrot cake) baked with a big hole in the middle and the outside was crisp but the area right around the hole was raw and gooey.
2nd recipe I tried (chocolate) was a bit better - I turned the oven down from 350 to 300 and kept a close eye on it. The outside is definitely more cooked than the inside but the inside is not raw. But there's still a big hole down the middle.
Can anyone help me figure out what I can do to have success with this 4x4x4 pan?
And since I'm here, any other tips for pulling off this cake? I was planning to frost with a sturdy cream cheese buttercream, make the letters out of modeling chocolate, and then just pipe around the edges with coloured buttercream. Don't even know if I'm on the right track!!
Thanks so much for reading!!
Hi Deb and welcome!
Do you mean to say the pan is 4 inches high? I've never seen a pan higher than 3 inches.
Anyway, it sounds like a classic case of overfilling the pan and undercooking. Just be grateful it didn't rise and spill out over the sides!
Rather than trying to bake a 4 inch tall cake (which still has me mind-boggled), bake two 2-inch tall cakes. You'll use less batter and it should bake more evenly.
As for icing the blocks, be prepared to discover it's A LOT harder than you think! My advice would be to chill the blocks until they're pretty hard on the outside before icing them. No need to freeze them solid. Ice the sides first, because you're going to have to hold the block still from the top.
Thank you for the quick reply Diane!
Yes, it's a 4 x 4 x 4 pan - it looks pretty peculiar. I was trying to avoid doing two layers per letter because it would be 12 cakes to bake! I only filled them just over halfway full and they rose perfectly to the top of the pan. I think these chocolate ones are salvageable, it will just be that the person cutting and serving the cakes (prob my husband) will have to be aware that there isn't much cake in the middle of the cake!
I was planning to freeze them anyway - party isn't until Feb 14 but I go back to work after my maternity leave next Monday, so I knew I wouldn't have time to bake all 6 cakes the weekend of the party (or 12 cakes as the case may turn out). I was the least worried about icing them - planning to do a crumb coat as that's what I've had most success with. The tip about icing the sides first is fantastic!
Will let you know how it pans out!
You need to get more heat in the middle of the cake batter so that it cooks at the same rate as the rest of the cake. Go to the hardware store and get a STAINLESS STEEL (and ONLY stainless steel) rod that is 1/4-1/2 inch in diameter and about 5" long (you may have to buy a longer rod and cut it down using a hack saw with a metal-cutting blade). Sterilize it before using in cake by boiling a pot of water, stick the rod in there and boil for 10 minutes. To use in the cake, spray the rod with PAM, then fill the pan and then insert the rod into the middle. If your batter is thick enough, it should stay in place. You'll have a small hole in the middle of the cake where the rod was, but the cake will bake evenly through.
Why not just bake a sheet cake and cut out your squares? That's how I would tackle this project.
Bake 1 layer in say a 12 x 18" rectangular pan and cut out your 4" squares, fill, stack and ice.
It would be less of a headache for you. If you want different flavors then bake in a smaller pan and cut out the squares.
When I do the baby blocks cakes, I use an 8" square pan. 1 layer, 1" tall, gives me a baby block (cut into four squares.) Since it's thin, it bakes fast and even.
I'd bake a bigger and thinner cake. Your cakes have the hole because they did't set up enough in the middle. Your first sounded like it was still raw, and the second maybe less so, but still underdone. If they are going to be different flavors, do like Leah said and bake the whole thing in one swoop in a thinner pan. You could even bake a 2" layer and cut that in 1/2 (so you have 2 8x8x1" layers) and then cut it into your 4x4x1" pieces and stack and fill.
I don't even like 3" pans... nevermind a 4" pan. Good luck!
Ah shucks, I've already spent $14.99 on this darn pan, lol!!
Thank you for the tips everyone - the reason I didn't go with a sheet cake cut into squares is because I always find icing the "real" edges of a cake much easier than icing cut edges - even with a crumb coat I have a hard time keeping crumbs out of my icing.
Like I said, I'm a total beginner, so all this is really new to me!!! But I have to figure someone somewhere must have success with this size pan or they wouldn't make it. My 2nd chocolate cake turned out much better today - because I had a better idea of how long it would take to cook (about 40 mins in the end) I didn't have to keep opening the oven which I think contributed to the problem in the middle. This one is a little sunken in the middle but no hole and I think it's cooked fairly evenly throughout.
Hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew! I'm going to look into the steel rod if it isn't too much trouble, and try to make it work with this pan since the money is spent anyway. 3 more cakes to make, we'll see...
If you can't use the large rod or heating core, you can at least use a large flower nail turned upside down in the middle of the pan to help cook the center.