sharebear213 Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 3:41am
post #1 of

I'm new so I'm not real sure if this in the right area. I baked cakes when I was younger and had no problems getting a cake that had little to no dome to it and a nice moist consistency but it seams that every cake I make now has air pockets/channels that run through it and domes. I got the dome under control but I can't get rid of the channels/air pockets that are running through my cakes. I have no idea what I am doing wrong icon_sad.gif I bought a new mixer, changed pans, different cake recipes and always channels. Sometimes HUGE! The only thing I can think of is my stove since I moved. It doesn't seal shut firmly but could this cause my cakes to bake so well... GROSS?

Any help would be appreciated. My boyfriend's family would like a cake for their 4th of July celebration and well......... I would like it to look at least edible icon_biggrin.gif

61 replies
yummy Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 3:57am
post #2 of

Welcome to cc Sharebear213! Are you picking the pan of batter up and dropping it on the counter a few times? This will pop the bubbles that are on the surface. I think that's where they come from. I get them from time to time if I don't drop my pans. Maybe someone else here has another explanation.

retaunton Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 4:17am
post #3 of

You could be overmixing your cake batter and/or over baking. Follow the mixing times for a mix and for your recipe if they are included. You can try reducing your oven temp, set timer for original baking time, test and if not done bake a few extra minutes. I had this same experience when I started baking again after a long spell of no baking. At first I set my timer when mixing and reduced the oven temp until I perfected my recipe and mixing/baking method. I did some research on line and found several articles on this topic before I discovered cakecentral. I also know that the Wilton website has an article and tips about troublshooting when you are having problems baking. HTH and welcome to cakecentral.

Reg

mamawrobin Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 4:31am
post #4 of

I agree with yummy thumbs_up.gif after you fill your pans drop them on the counter a few times and the bubbles will come to the surface.

step0nmi Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 4:33am
post #5 of

I believe the dropping of the pans also reduce the dome on top...but I always have a dome so I don't know icon_lol.gif

metria Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 4:47am
post #6 of

do you sift your dry ingredients?

indydebi Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 7:35am
post #7 of

Definitely agree with the dropping the pans on the counter. I refer to it as "bang the sh*t out of 'em!! icon_biggrin.gif

Also try the push-down method when the come out of the oven. This reduces your dome and makes the cake more dense looking .... a very pretty look!

Take a clean kitchen towel and lay it over the top of the freshly baked cake. Push down. Sometimes, on the larger cakes, I'll use a square cake plate or a square cake pan to push down on top of the towel just for even pressure. It's like it pushes out the air and compresses the cake in all the right places.

I'd never heard of this until CC, but like many of the tips I've gathered on here .... it works just like they say it will! thumbs_up.gif

Edited to add: Don't know if you're a scratch or mix baker, but if using a mix, sift it. Makes a WORLD of difference in the cake texture!

Cake4ever Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 8:17am
post #8 of

I find the Wilton Bake Even strips help tremendously with the rising issue. I will not bake a cake without them! When I fill my pans, I also lay a towel down on the counter and drop the pan on it at least 40 times to get all the bubbles out. Noisy as heck, but the results are worth it! I also sift, as Indydebi says, as well as adding 1 tsp. of baking powder because I use a doctored cake mix...

Doug Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 11:55am
post #9 of

if scratch are you sifting at least 2x or better yet 3x to fully mix baking powder/soda very evenly throughout?

ditto to all the above:
don't over mix
slam the pan
baking strips
squash the dome

poohsmomma Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 12:29pm

Doug,
sounds like a new hip hop song....

don't over mix
slam the pan
baking strips
squash the dome

LindaF144a Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 12:40pm

To answer the question about the channels and airpockets, it is definitely a result of overmixing, as the other posters have said.

This happens in a scratch recipe, and probably a doctored mix, becaue too much gluten has formed and as a result the gases will build up until there is enough pressure for them to release. As they release their way to the top, they will create the passage they took before the pressure is released. It is called tunneling.

I just read in the book How Baking Works that they way to prevent this is to not overmix, or use a softer flour. But my guess is that it is being overmixed.

You say you bought a new mixer. Could it be you are inadvertently using it at a higher speed than you did with your old mixer. That would contribute to overmixing. As for the dome, you can try bake even strips. I haven't tried those yet. I just bought them and I'm going to give it a go. In the meantime, I've just been leveling off the top and saving it for cake balls. But I'm going to give the push down trick a try too.

Good luck.

sharebear213 Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 4:45pm

Thank you for all the great suggestions! I'm definitely going to try these out. I also never even thought that my new mixer may be a bit too powerful resulting in continued over mixing. Sounds like a perfect reason to make a "practice" cake icon_biggrin.gif

I tried banging the sh*t out of my pans (that was my grandmother's suggestion well not exactly like that icon_smile.gif ) got a little over zealous once and knocked some of the mortar right out of my back-splash when I thought I wasn't doing it hard enough..... ooopppps

Melvira Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 5:01pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by poohsmomma

Doug,
sounds like a new hip hop song....

don't over mix
slam the pan
baking strips
squash the dome




Aren't those the lyrics to Justin Biebers new song? Hehehe.

yummy Posted 25 Jun 2010 , 2:07pm

You guys are hilarious!

Indydebi, are you a LEO? I am and we feel and sound just alike on alot of things.

Sharebear213, Wel damn, how hard were you banging the sh*t out of those pans?

indydebi Posted 25 Jun 2010 , 2:09pm

[quote="yummy]Indydebi, are you a LEO? I am and we feel and sound just alike on alot of things.[/quote]

Capricorn with Scorpio ascending. Which means when I'm shopping, my Capricorn is telling me, "You dn't need it, it's not practical, it's not on sale, and it's NOT a name brand."

But the Scorpio in me is going, "OH COME ONNNNNNNNNN! GET ITTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!"

icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

KathysCC Posted 25 Jun 2010 , 2:11pm

According to Alton Brown, channeling and large air pockets are caused by overmixing after the flour has been added to the mixture. If you are using a cake mix, it should be mixed no more than 2 minutes. Kitchen Aid mixers beat better than regular mixers so you should always use a low speed when mixing cake batter with a Kitchen Aid.

cblupe Posted 25 Jun 2010 , 2:29pm

Great topic; learned from it. thumbs_up.gif

Melvira Posted 25 Jun 2010 , 2:50pm

Debi, that is NOT the Scorpio in you... that's ME swinging from your purse strap! "Come on, come on, let's get it, just one, ok two, one for you and one for me. Ok, the black one, no, the red. One of each. Ok, two of each, one in each color, wait, the tan one too!" I'm not proud of it, but that's me. icon_lol.gif

mamawrobin Posted 25 Jun 2010 , 2:52pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

[quote="yummy]Indydebi, are you a LEO? I am and we feel and sound just alike on alot of things.




Capricorn with Scorpio ascending. Which means when I'm shopping, my Capricorn is telling me, "You dn't need it, it's not practical, it's not on sale, and it's NOT a name brand."

But the Scorpio in me is going, "OH COME ONNNNNNNNNN! GET ITTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!"

icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif[/quote]

I a Capricorn as well... thumbs_up.gif

indydebi Posted 25 Jun 2010 , 2:53pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamawrobin

I a Capricorn as well... thumbs_up.gif


So THAT'S why we always seem to be on the same page! We're both just a couple of old goats! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

mamawrobin Posted 25 Jun 2010 , 3:03pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamawrobin

I a Capricorn as well... thumbs_up.gif

So THAT'S why we always seem to be on the same page! We're both just a couple of old goats! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif




icon_lol.gifthumbs_up.gif Yep.

yummy Posted 26 Jun 2010 , 4:28am

You guys need to stop it!

catlharper Posted 26 Jun 2010 , 5:12pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

[quote="yummy]Indydebi, are you a LEO? I am and we feel and sound just alike on alot of things.




Capricorn with Scorpio ascending. Which means when I'm shopping, my Capricorn is telling me, "You dn't need it, it's not practical, it's not on sale, and it's NOT a name brand."

But the Scorpio in me is going, "OH COME ONNNNNNNNNN! GET ITTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!"

icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif[/quote]

LOL...see now, I say that's the Irish in me...the practical side (in the old days this would be the one afraid of starving) is saying don't get it but the impulsive side (the one in the old days says Sure, One more Pint!) is saying GET IT! LOL!


And I'm a Libra with Scorpio ascending...LOL!

Cat

Pinkest Posted 28 Jun 2010 , 6:49am

The cause of these tunnels can attributed to two possibilities:

Cake batters that have a very thin texture prior to baking are classed as "high ratio" cake batters in that they posess a high ratio of liquid to the amount of flour and fat used.

These batters are more dependant upon heat for their success than other cake batters, as the amount of energy required to set the proteins in the batter is greater, due to the additional liquid that must evaporate prior to the setting occurrng.

Therefore, your oven temperature must be spot-on for perfect baking of thin batters, as when the oven temperature is too low, the cake will not set as fast as it needs to, as the liquid takes longer to evaporate.

Even though your batter is already thin, when it heats, it thins out further, allowing for the expansion of gases (leavening). When your oven temperature is too low, the batter thins, but does not set, allowing gases to expand, and then rise to the surface of the cake, creating tunnels (the path of least resistance).

In a high-ratio cake baked in a too-cool oven, you may also find that you have a "sad streak" near the bottom of the cake as well as your tunnels. This is caused by the accumulation of starch from your flour, which sinks when the batter thins out. (It is also common to just have large air tunnels without the sad streak.)

The second cause of air pocket tunnels is overmixing.

Traditional butter cake recipes have a fairly even ratio of fats and sugars to the amount of flour used, resulting in a "low ratio" batter. These batters are easily identified by their thick texture (when comapred to a high ratio batter).

Due to their lower amount of fats (which make cakes tender), gluten development occurs much sooner than in high-ratio batters, and over-mixing becomes a real possibility.

Low ratio cake betters should be mixed enough to just combine all the ingredients together without clumps of flour (why presifting is important - to remove clumping). When you stir cake batter, you activate the gluten strands in the flour. Once gluten strands are "activated", they lengthen and become doughy, resulting in tough finished cakes that will have a chewy consistency (much like bread).

When an overbeaten cake batter is baked, the activated gluten strands harden quickly, making it very difficult for the expanidn gases to escape. The gases will eventually build up to such an extent that they litterally burst to the surface of the cake, and this upwardly mobile escape route leaves tunnels in its wake.

The easy way to prevent tunnels in low ratio cakes is to avoid overmixing.

You can make this easier on yourself by using cake flour (which has a lot of protein removed, making a "soft" flour), and using recipes that have a higher amount of tenderisers (fats and oils) than you current recipe.

Melvira Posted 28 Jun 2010 , 1:06pm

Oh my gosh, I was totally just about to say that exact same thing Pinkest! You must've read my mind! icon_lol.gif Seriously, great information, thank you for sharing all of that. I'll be tucking that into my hat!

LindaF144a Posted 28 Jun 2010 , 1:16pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinkest

The cause of these tunnels can attributed to two possibilities:

Cake batters that have a very thin texture prior to baking are classed as "high ratio" cake batters in that they posess a high ratio of liquid to the amount of flour and fat used.




Hi-ratio cakes are called that because the ratio of flour to sugar is higher. The sugar is higher than the flour. Also because they specifically call for hi-ratio shortening. Hi-ratio shortening can absorb and higher amount of liquid which is needed for the higher amount of sugar. The total liquid in the batter should equal the sugar so that the sugar can totally dissolve.

For reference you can see this in the books "How Baking Works", "Bakewise", "Professional Baking" and "Perfect Cakes".

Quote:
Quote:

These batters are more dependant upon heat for their success than other cake batters, as the amount of energy required to set the proteins in the batter is greater, due to the additional liquid that must evaporate prior to the setting occurrng.




This is interesting. I have not seen this in any of my research. I'll have to explore this further. Unless you are talking about a cake other than butter cakes. I have a tendency to favor this kind of cake and therefore all my research to date has been on this type of cake.

Quote:
Quote:

Therefore, your oven temperature must be spot-on for perfect baking of thin batters, as when the oven temperature is too low, the cake will not set as fast as it needs to, as the liquid takes longer to evaporate.

Even though your batter is already thin, when it heats, it thins out further, allowing for the expansion of gases (leavening). When your oven temperature is too low, the batter thins, but does not set, allowing gases to expand, and then rise to the surface of the cake, creating tunnels (the path of least resistance).

In a high-ratio cake baked in a too-cool oven, you may also find that you have a "sad streak" near the bottom of the cake as well as your tunnels. This is caused by the accumulation of starch from your flour, which sinks when the batter thins out. (It is also common to just have large air tunnels without the sad streak.)




I respectively disagree. Thin cakes baked at too low an oven sink. I can't remember if my few cake disasters have results in tunnels. But once you get that sunken bottom, I didn't bother to check the middle for tunnels. So again, I could be wrong. I hope to never have another cake disaster. But if I do, I'll double check for this and see if it really does happen this way.

Quote:
Quote:

The second cause of air pocket tunnels is overmixing.

Traditional butter cake recipes have a fairly even ratio of fats and sugars to the amount of flour used, resulting in a "low ratio" batter. These batters are easily identified by their thick texture (when comapred to a high ratio batter).

Due to their lower amount of fats (which make cakes tender), gluten development occurs much sooner than in high-ratio batters, and over-mixing becomes a real possibility.




Actually fat is not the only tenderizer in a cake. Fat, sugar and your leavening are all tenderizers. Eggs tenderize to a degree also, but they are also tougheners and structure builders, so it is a fine line with eggs.

And they are not called low ratio cake batters, at least not in what I read. They are called "shortening cakes". I just want to mention that in case someone else is doing their own research and can't find "low ratio" as a description. Or perhaps you are not from the states, in that case you may call them "low ratio" in your neck of the woods. icon_wink.gif


Quote:
Quote:

When an overbeaten cake batter is baked, the activated gluten strands harden quickly, making it very difficult for the expanidn gases to escape. The gases will eventually build up to such an extent that they litterally burst to the surface of the cake, and this upwardly mobile escape route leaves tunnels in its wake.

The easy way to prevent tunnels in low ratio cakes is to avoid overmixing.




Just like I said on page one. icon_biggrin.gif

Quote:
Quote:

You can make this easier on yourself by using cake flour (which has a lot of protein removed, making a "soft" flour), and using recipes that have a higher amount of tenderisers (fats and oils) than you current recipe.




No matter what the flour, you will get tunnels if you overmix. You can chalk that up to another one of my own experiences.

In a scratch mix recipe, if it takes you more than 1 minute to mix in the flour and liquid (creaming method), than you have taken too long. I usually alternate and keep going not waiting for each stage to be fully incorporated. Then I take the bowl off the stand and give it two gentle but good fold in mixes with a spatula and making sure I scrap the bottom of the bowl.

If you want to avoid this and want to do further research you can try a cake from the Cake Bible or Rose's Heavenly Cakes. I suggest the cupcake recipe on page 295 to start. It is done using the two-stage method. But be warned, the cakes are picky and you may not like the outcome. I made these cupcakes. They were okay. The crumb was fantastic though. I intend on revisiting it again and adding some more flavor. The vanilla extract alone was not enough.

I remember when my Mother or Aunts would bake a cake when I was little. They would bang the sh*t out of it like you describe. Then they would spend the next 30 minutes shushing us kids and not letting us make any pounding on the floor (like running as kids do!) cause that would make the cake fall. I often wondered if that was true that my running could make a cake fall!

Have you tried another cake yet? Let us know.

LindaF144a Posted 28 Jun 2010 , 1:21pm

One other thing I forgot to mention is that if you bake a scratch recipe that is thick, you don't need to bang the pan. At least I don't bother to anymore.

You will get a thick batter with the Cake Bible and RHC recipes. The batter was so good raw that my daughter told me I should find a pasteurize it and sell it as is. Um, I don't think so. Raw anything bothers me. My kids love raw cookie dough that comes in the ice cream and stuff. I bake when they are not around so that I can bake in peace and not have to keep an eye on my stuff. icon_wink.gif

I have also gotten a thick batter from Whimsical Bakehouse recipes. Basically any recipe where the flour and sugar are equal in weight will give a thick batter. Cakelove cakes are not thick as the flour is 200% to flour. The cake is dense, rich and good. But the batter is on the thin side. Somewhere in between a cake mix and a equal ratio scratch mix.

HTH

Melvira Posted 28 Jun 2010 , 1:22pm

LindaF144, I've heard it said that people would tell little kids that little fable to get them out of the kitchen, or to hold still for one tootin' minute! icon_lol.gif Sure, there are some things that are touchy, but I think you'd have to bang into the oven to make the cake fall, wouldn't you?

Melvira Posted 28 Jun 2010 , 1:28pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by LindaF144

The batter was so good raw that my daughter told me I should find a pasteurize it and sell it as is.




I have a dessert on my menu that I call 'raw cake batter'. It tastes like Devil's Food cake batter, but no raw ingredients. People usually trip on it!! It's not something that everyone thinks to order, but once they've had it, you can't get them away from it. I have to be adamant about the fact that there are no actual 'raw' ingredients.

LindaF144a Posted 28 Jun 2010 , 1:29pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melvira

LindaF144, I've heard it said that people would tell little kids that little fable to get them out of the kitchen, or to hold still for one tootin' minute! icon_lol.gif Sure, there are some things that are touchy, but I think you'd have to bang into the oven to make the cake fall, wouldn't you?




LOL! They probably did that to keep us quiet. After all, there were five of us! It was probably something they learned from their Mother and my Grandmother. She had 5 girls and that was probably her way of keeping the kids out of the kitchen too.

It's like the story Indydeb told on another post about cutting off the ends of the roast before putting into the oven. I used to use that story all the time when I taught quilting lessons. It was my classic example of it's okay to break the "rules". icon_wink.gif

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