As a hobby baker who bakes big cakes infrequently, I always take the
time to take all the little, nit-picky, steps to ensure the best
possible cake, because I don't want to invest the time and money to
Well, over the last few days, I made my sour cream chocolate cakes which have a huge amount of rise while baking. I put 3 flower nails in the 12" square pans and casually wondered why they looked a bit different as they were cooking, and as they cooled. Well, today, while I was making additional 8"x2" rounds, I realized the difference.... I'd forgotten to put on the Bake Even Strips.
Fortunately, they turned out ok and I can use this as a comparison tool for what happens when I forget something. Since I used 3" parchment collars and parchment liners for all the cakes, and used flower nails in the 12" square pans, (12x2" squares, 8x2" rounds, 6"x2" rounds), there was no problem with the rise and all the cakes baked up nicely.
Today I went to tort the layers with my Agbay (can you hear the angels singing????) and noticed the corners of the 12" square cakes were not as high as the center. Hmmmm.... I thought, as I used my Agbay (there's that singing again), and cut off about 1/4" of the gorgeous, dark chocolate top, resulting in layers that are only 1-7/8" high, instead of the full 2". AH HA! It was because I didn't use the Bake Even Strips.
So...the good news...the 12" square layers are beautiful and the world did not stop turning on it's axis. The only difference was the 1/4"-1/2" dip at each corner which resulted in a shorter layer.
So, yes, I DO have better/optimal results with parchment liners/collars,
AND flower nails (even on 8" rounds),
AND Bake Even Strips.
(But it's nice to know if I forget, all is not lost.)
Thanks for describing your experience, Apti.
Are we weird because I felt the need to record all this and you appreciated it??? (lol)
No, not weird at all
if i understand what you mean-- you can shim the corners (next time) to bring them up higher - i mean you still need to level some cake off so you have material to shim with but you can just add a dab in each corner to make up the difference -- glue together with icing --
not to mention, you can if you ever need to-- put a same size (12" in this case) short little dummy under your 12" cake to regain the height you lost too -- dummy could be a couple 12" foam core boards or cardboard squares iced to look like a part of the tier --
you probably already knew that i was just on a roll -- I have a thing about bottom tiers needing to be taller than the other tiers in the cake for proportions sake --
anyhow the devil is in the details huh what a difference a bake even strip can make
I may be weird, but for completely different reasons. :-D
Not only is it not weird (well here anyway) but I want to know more! I've never used the parchment collar, does it wrinkle at all with the moisture of the cake? I notice the bottoms of my cakes would have wrinkles when I use parchment rounds.
These are the times when I declare confidently, "Frosting hides many sins!"
Pastrybaglady~~I don't collar my pans for all cakes, just certain recipes that have a very high amount of rise while baking.
My sour cream chocolate and my red velvet recipes always have a huge amount of rise while baking, then cool down to about 2-1/4" which yields a lovely, perfect, 2" height. Both of these recipes have instant pudding added to the batter which results in some shrinkage anyway.
The way I get the collars to stay flat on the sides:
BEFORE putting spray or pan goop in pans, I cut the parchment liner for the bottom, and cut 2 parchment strips for the sides of the pan. The side strips are about 3" high. Then I place my parchment liner for the bottom in the pan and use Wilton Bake Easy Spray and generously spray the inside sides of the pan. Then I take the 3" high strips of parchment and place the strips with the curvy side toward the pan - pan ) curvey side of parchment - so the parchment strip doesn't curl into the batter and stands up straight and behaves. The "grease" from the Bake Easy spray acts like glue to hold the strips in place while you are filling and baking.
It is better to use 2 or 3 or even 4 strips (for square pans) than to use a single, super-long strip which will curve inwards and create wrinkles.
TUTORIAL: How to collar a cake pan...
Thanks for the info!
Update on link to see parchment collar tutorial (the link above doesn't exist anymore....) so try this new link:
Thanks for sharing Apti!
Will definitely try the 'collaring' idea next cake!
You are most welcome.
What do the flower nails do? (I presume those are supports used when making frosting flowers)
@GrumpyMike - Metal (not plastic) flower nails help evenly distribute the heat during baking. The outside always cooks faster than the middle because the outside has metal sides which generate more heat. By placing one or more metal flower nails in the center, you are providing an additional source of heat which will allow the sides and the middle to cook "at the same time". The reason cakes have a dome in the middle is usually because the outside ceases cooking/rising before the middle is fully cooked. The batter in the middle has nowhere to go but "up" -- hence the dome.
Thanks, Apti. I still use a nail through 'taters when I cook 'em on the grill or when camping. Guess I didn't make the connection because I just couldn't picture how the heck one would make the flower nail stand up in uncooked cake batter. Your new link solved that, too.
I used to have a perfect photo tutorial on the Wilton forum, but alas..... the Wilton forum has died and gone to cake heaven.
However, since cakers tend to think alike, I did a quick google search and came up with another lovely set of photos posted by notimeforpie.blogspot.com who wrote about flower nails: "So first I put down parchment paper cut to size on the bottom, and then stuck the flower nail through it. I sprayed it with Bake Easy all over as well (which also helps keep the parchment paper from curling up)."
This website does not talk about parchment collars, but does have a picture showing the use of both metal flower nails AND bake-even strips. Please note that this baker does this the easiest way by punching the flower nails through the parchment so the nail(s) don't float around when you add the batter to the pan.
Thanks so much!