Hello all! I'm only 18 and have just started decorating cakes simply this spring for fun. I usually make one a week, decorated with just icing and candy, for my family.
I usually use cake mixes from the grocery store, to save time and ingredients (as per my mother's wishes). Often, when I take them out of the oven, I notice that one is smaller around than the other, so when I stack them there's a bit of a shelf. It's never been so bad that I couldn't cover it, though.
But last night I made my first cake from scratch in years, I'm sure. When I took out the two pans and leveled the top, I noticed that they both seem to have risen inwards, almost. The tops are smaller then the bottoms; each one looks like the base of a cone. It was far too dramatic to conceal, so I just ended up cutting them up and I'm making petits fours today.
But does anyone know why that would happen? I've heard both that I should always and never grease the side of my pans; could that be the cause? Or would it be something in my recipe? Or is my oven just a mess?
Thanks for any help!
Do your pans have absolutely straight sides? A lot of what I'd refer to a "consumer"pans have a slightly flared side. I don't know who ever thought that was a good idea. Also you might be slightly overbaking your cakes. I use pan grease on the sides on my pans and waxed paper in the bottom.
also try lowering your oven temp.
Questions at 18? I LOVE it!! Intellectual curiosity will get you ahead no matter what you are doing
My guess is you are not using commercial pans, like the other poster said AND just grease the sides, don't flour them. I only have speculation as to WHY it helps, but I think it does.
Hi and Welcome to CC, memphreblues.
Decoding CC acronyms:
Cake troubleshooting charts:
Here's a thread you might find helpful even if you're not making tiered cakes:
(Has a lot of basic info and more.)
Check the pans like Leah suggested. Get yourself a scale. Don't attempt a scratch recipe unless you have one. There are some crappy recipes out there. Not having a scale makes it even tougher. Also weigh out your pans when you fill them. This will ensure you have them even. Baking is a blast when it works. Worse than an ex spouse when it doesn't.
WELCOME to CC.
Yay for you at 18!
I concur about the professional pans. Magic Line, Fat Daddio's or the professional Wilton line seem to be favorites. Worth the investment if you'll be doing cakes for a while.
Also try the baking strips around the outside of the pans. YOu can make these with strips of wet towel, too. This helps keep the outside of the cake from baking faster than the center of the cake.
I've encountered that one-cake-wider-than-the-other thing, too, and yes it does seem to happen more on the consumer pans than the professional pans.
If you do have the pans with the flared edge, what I do (when I'm forced to use those), is freeze the cake. Then, when frozen or just ever so slightly thawed, you can stand it on it's side (like a wheel) and with a paring knife, just run the knife around the edge of the "wheel" and trim the flare off. Works great.
When you have one cake wider than the other, put the wider one on top. It's easier to cover the cake this way with icing .. no cake showing thru.
We are looking forward to seeing your creations and your progress! Welcome to CC!!
I agree about the pans being shaped odd. In fact, Wilton's 9-inch ones are the same way! (I don't think they're Preferred line is, though) In the future, you can always shave the sides so you have perfectly straight sides.
Welcome to CC! So glad to know you are interested in baking!
As mentioned, a big part may be the angled pan sides. Also, a too-high temperature causes baked goods to shrink.
If you use a pastry dough scraper to even the sides of your icing, it helps correct slightly crooked cakes.
A CC member Tonedna has an excellent on-line video (I hope it's ok if I post this link):