The perfect cake is moist and fluffy, which makes for a very delicious crumb. When overcooked, a cake will come out hard and dry, and when undercooked, it has a gummy and dense texture.
If you don't know how to tell when your cake is just cooked right, then baking will become a very tedious and unrewarding task. But there is no need to worry anymore. Here's an outline of five simple signs as well as tests that will help you accurately determine your cake's doneness every time.
1. The top of the cake browns
If you're making a cake that's not chocolate, then you can quickly tell that it is done just by taking a peep into the oven to check if its top has browned.
You'll notice that the cake's edges are slightly darker than the top and the center, a lighter golden hue. This browning is mainly dependent on the amount of sugar in the cake: the more the sugar, the browner the cake will turn when it's thoroughly cooked.
This test is much more challenging to perform on chocolate cakes because of the batter's cocoa powder. However, you can still take a close look at the edges and top to check a slight darkening. When fully cooked, the cake will also have a matte finish.
2. The toothpick test
This is a very popular test among bakers, newbies, and well-versed. It involves dipping a toothpick or a paring knife into the cake's center to check for doneness.
If the toothpick or knife comes out clean, then the cake is well done. If it's still raw in the middle, you'll observe bits and crumbs of the batter sticking to the toothpick.
This test is pretty straightforward, but it is not always accurate; a toothpick may come out clean when the cake still needs just a bit more time in the oven. So, you may need to refer to other tips on this list.
3. The edges pull away
When your cake is nearing its full cooking time, you'll notice its edges slightly pulled away from the pan. This happens because the edges of a cake are the first part to set and become fully baked; they shrink inward as the rest of the cake bakes, and the crumb tightens.
So, when you check your cake and notice a gap between the sides of the cake and the pan, it tells you that the cake's outer part is fully baked, and the center may be too.
If you observe this, don't hurriedly remove the cake from the pan. Make sure you check for other signs first to ascertain the cake's doneness.
4. The cake becomes fragrant
This is undoubtedly one of the best signs on this list; when you start to perceive the cake's delicious fragrance, it hints that the cake is nearing doneness.
However, please do not pull out the cake unless you notice it has browned enough, or the toothpick test comes out positive. If you can't perceive any aroma, your cake probably needs more time in the oven.
5. The cake springs back
This is another way to examine the texture of the cake for doneness. All you have to do is gently press on the center of the cake with a few fingers to check if it springs back.
If it does spring back, then that means the cake is done. If you notice that the indents from your fingers remain, then the cake still needs a little more time in the oven. Do the test again after five minutes.
There you have five simple ways to ascertain your cake's doneness!
You may have noticed that almost all of them are not resolute, that is because your cake's doneness depends on several other external factors like the oven's temperature, ingredients, and so much more.
So if you want to avoid the despair that comes with cutting into a half-baked cake, make sure you perform at least two of these tests.