Why Did My Cakes Bake Narrower At The Top Than The Bottom?

Baking By PartyCupcakes Updated 14 Jul 2010 , 9:03am by auzzi

PartyCupcakes Posted 11 Jul 2010 , 11:44pm
post #1 of 23

Hi everyone,

I baked a white chocolate mudcake in a cake tin with straight sides, I wrapped wet paper towels in foil around the tin and put a circle of non-stick paper on top of the batter (all tips I learnt from this site!).

The cake baked evenly and I didn't need to level it but it tapered in at the top, so the top was narrower in width than the bottom of the cake. This made it trickier to ganache because I had to build up the extra thickness with ganache to make the cake sides straight.

Ive posted some photos (but it's a bit hard to see). It was more obvious with the 6 inch cake than the 8 inch cake. The photo with ganache shows it a little more also because the cake on top is upside down and you can see it goes in at the middle.

Can you please help me prevent this from happening next time?

22 replies
mamawrobin Posted 11 Jul 2010 , 11:46pm
post #2 of 23

I don't know..I've never had this happen with my straight sided pans. icon_confused.gif

sweet_honesty Posted 11 Jul 2010 , 11:52pm
post #3 of 23

This used to happen to me too. And only with my vanilla cakes....choc was always fine. I don't have a clue what the cause is but it stopped when I started using homemade pan grease instead of cooking spray. Go figure.

LindaF144a Posted 11 Jul 2010 , 11:53pm
post #4 of 23

I'm just going to throw this out there. So they don't stack into each other? If they stack into each other, they are not straight sides pans. Otherwise I have no idea either.

sweet_honesty Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 12:00am
post #5 of 23

It happens with straight sided pans.. If they were nested pans then they should bake wider at the top...believe me I fought with this for a while now and I have no plausible explanation.

drakegore Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 12:01am
post #6 of 23

i had this happen to me yesterday. it was a new recipe and i did use baker's joy. but it doesn't happen to me on other recipes i use with baker's joy. so it must be something about the new recipe i think....


JaeRodriguez Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 2:18am
post #7 of 23

What recipe are you using? Mine do this sometimes with Sylvia Weinstock's Yellow Cake but it's better now that I use the bake even strips!

BuncoHappens Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 4:40am
post #8 of 23

Are they Wilton pans?

PartyCupcakes Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 4:56am
post #9 of 23

Thanks for the replies!

I don't think the pans stack (I only have one of each size) so I'm pretty sure they are straight sided.

I used a white chocolate mudcake recipe from the Planet Cake book (Australian):

300g butter
300g white chocolate
300g plain flour
150g self raising flour
400g caster sugar
3 eggs
1.5 teaspoons vanilla essence

I greased the tins with margarine and then lined with non-stick paper.

I also forgot to mention that I covered the cakes with foil straight after I took them out of the oven (to keep the moisture in) so maybe the condensation caused some kind of shrinking effect to the top? Very strange but glad to hear I'm not the only one that had this happen...

mom2twogrlz Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 4:57am
post #10 of 23

I have had this problem too. I just baked 6 cakes and for the first two I used Pam with Flour spray, and then I ran out and did it the old fashioned way, Crisco and flour. Well, the first 2 did this and had a crispy rim and the others didn't. I have been battling this for the longest time and couldn't figure it out, as it only did it sometimes. I think it is a combo of the spray and cooking temperature/overcooking the cake.

metria Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 5:11am
post #11 of 23

i'm not sure how to prevent this, but if it happens again, you can use cake spackle (cake crumbs + BC until pastey) to help even it out. i had some ugly 6" rounds once:






JaeRodriguez Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 7:03am
post #12 of 23

Oh Metria that looks so much better! Does it have a weird texture though, the outside of the cake? Or maybe you don't notice... hmmm what a great idea!

indydebi Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 11:57am
post #13 of 23

I stopped using Pam because it seemed to "fry" the sides of the cake.

I dont' knwo why this happened, but I prefer this result over the flared middle that happens with flared pans. MUCH easier to ice!!

One of my light-bulb moments was when I realized I didn't have to ice to the shape of the cake. icon_surprised.gif Does the middle of the cake go inward like an hour glass? No problem! Just add more icing there! Is one corner slightly lower than the other 4 on a square cake? No problem! JUst build it up with icing!

The icing doesn't have to be an even 1/4" deep on all areas of the cake. If the icing is 1/4" deep in one place and 1/2" deep on another, but the end result is a smooth cake, then all is good! thumbs_up.gif

LindaF144a Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 1:30pm
post #14 of 23
Originally Posted by PartyCupcakes

Thanks for the replies!

I don't think the pans stack (I only have one of each size) so I'm pretty sure they are straight sided.

To find out if they are straight sided, measure both the bottom of the pan and the top of the pan on the inside, there should be no difference.

My guess is they are not straight sided. Even in Australia, unless you bought them from a cake decorating place and they said "professional" on the label some where, they are not straight sided.

I got this problem with my cakes when I baked them in the pans I first bought also. Then I went and bought some already precut parchment paper circles and discovered that the bottom of the pan was not a 8" or 9". I could not tell from just looking at it. It was when I stacked the cakes and got the result you did that I realized they were not straight. Luckily for me I would stack them as in a "hour glass" shape and fill it in like the other poster demonstrated.

But as soon as I figured out they weren't straight on the sides I am slowly replacing them with "professional" pans. The Duff ones at Michaels are great. And I can get the other "professional" pans from Wilton at Michaels too. I test them first to make sure they don't stack inside each other.

My other pans are going into my garage sale if I ever get around to having it.

JaeRodriguez Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 2:02pm
post #15 of 23

Linda, do you remember how much the duff pans were?

4realLaLa Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 2:06pm
post #16 of 23

Thanks for posting Metria. I will definately try your suggestions if I ever encounter that problem.

anney Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 2:37pm
post #17 of 23

I get this too & all my pans are straight sided- I threw away all those anoying flared ones years ago. I have finally figured that for mine it must be an issue of drying out as the cakes cool. If I leave the cake in the tin, even for a short while, it will be smaller around the top- probably because the moisture can evaporate from the top so it shrinks inwards. I have just wrapped a 10" round that I took out of the oven an hour ago, I took it out of the tin & removed the lining paper straight away then left it to cool on a rack with a clean towel over the top & the sides on this one are straight. It worked for the two cakes for the 8" tier I baked earlier too. I will just have to put up with handling hot cakes & pans & peeling off hot steamy cake liners if it means I don't have to faff around getting all the edges straight.

LindaF144a Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 3:08pm
post #18 of 23
Originally Posted by JaeRodriguez

Linda, do you remember how much the duff pans were?

I think around $14.00, but I used coupons, so paid 50% of that price.

But don't trust my memory. It has been over 5 minutes since I bought them. icon_wink.gif

metria Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 3:25pm
post #19 of 23

my specific problem was that i wasn't prepping my pans well enough. i have switched to using baker's joy and now no longer have ugly cakes icon_smile.gif

metria Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 3:28pm
post #20 of 23
Originally Posted by JaeRodriguez

Oh Metria that looks so much better! Does it have a weird texture though, the outside of the cake? Or maybe you don't notice... hmmm what a great idea!

once you put on your layer of icing or whatever, you won't notice the spackle at all. the texture and placement is so close to your icing, you can't tell.

JaeRodriguez Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 4:07pm
post #21 of 23

Thanks Linda and metria!

PartyCupcakes Posted 13 Jul 2010 , 4:25am
post #22 of 23

Thank you everyone for all the suggestions!!

The tins are straight sided (I measured) so I will try and change what I use to grease the tin and also try to remove the cakes from the tins after baking and before covering them and see if that helps!

auzzi Posted 14 Jul 2010 , 9:03am
post #23 of 23

As it is specific to a Plant Cake recipe, you could try posting your question on the Planet Cake Forum:


Quote by @%username% on %date%