Last week, I baked a red velvet cake that my family loved absolutely. It was moist and delicious and the colour was spot on. However, it had a fault. The top was cracked. I can’t remember the last time I baked a cake that cracked so much. It made me a little sad because it was my first red velvet cake. But then, I told myself to deal with this recipe fail by finding out what I did wrong. I went to Google to search for an answer. As always, it provided me with several possible reasons for my cake crack. I knew some of those reasons but I obviously needed a reminder.
More importantly, I realized what went wrong with that recipe and I would definitely redeem myself next week. I decided to share what I learned from my little research on cake cracks with the class because I know that both new and old bakers will learn something from it. So, if you have ever had this challenge and you could not fathom why here are some reasons why your cake may have cracked:
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1. The Oven Temperature was too High:
If the oven is too hot, the outside of the cake cooks faster than the inside. This causes a crust to form and set before the cake has finished rising. Does this mean that the cake will stop cooking? No. However, the centre of the cake which is still cooking will try to push through the crust causing it to crack in the centre.
2. There’s Incorrect Placement of the Pan in the Oven:
Your recipe may have omitted this detail but the oven rack position is one of those little details that can affect the final outcome of your cake. If you didn’t know this, here are three very simple rules for racks and oven rotation:
First, when baking your cake(s) on one rack, position the rack in the lower third of the oven. If you’re baking more than one pan on the rack, rotate the pans from the front to the back a little over halfway through the baking time.
Secondly, when baking a single sheet of cookies, position the rack in the centre of the oven. Then, rotate the sheet from the front to the back a little over halfway through the baking time.
Finally, when baking cakes or cookies on two racks, you are advised to position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. In addition to this, you should rotate the pans from upper to lower and back to front a little over halfway through the baking time.
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3. The Batter has too much Leavening:
Leavening is also known as a rising agent. Notable examples are baking powder and baking soda. If too much baking powder is added to the cake batter, it can cause it to rise too quickly and either crack or spill over the sides of the pan. The same can also happen with baking soda especially if your cake is high in an acidic ingredient like buttermilk.
4. There’s Liquid and Flour Imbalance:
Your cake can also crack if you don’t use liquids and flour in their right proportion. A stiff doughy batter will most likely crack as the cake bakes and rises. That’s because it lacks elasticity. An ideal cake batter should have as much egg and milk by weight as the flour.
5. The Wrong Cake Pan was Used in Baking the Cake(s):
Baking pans have sizes for a reason and most recipes specify the size of the baking pan to be used for baking. But I decided to do ITK (I too know) and instead of using two six-inch cake pans for the recipe, I decided to pour all the batter into one eight-inch pan. Guess what? The cake batter was deep in the pan. This increased the chances of crust formation before the centre of the cake was cooked and so it cracked. Don’t be like me, lolz.
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Finally, my people, knowledge is power. May what you’ve learnt today make you a more conscious baker. Happy Baking.
Featured Image Source: Food52
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