I took this picture for a friend of mine to explain that baking doesn't necessarily have to be started through expensive means. If you don't have wax, parchment or any other paper to line the baking pan, the plain white papers, i.e. those used for printing, are now available in almost every home and Ive used them quite often in my early baking days. (However, I would strongly recommend to stay away from brown grocery bags or news papers because the ink, colours or toxic materials to make these might not be very healthy).
Similarly, you need not buy a complete range of baking pans to start with baking. Good baking pans are surely helpful in getting perfect results but it makes no sense to invest the whole lot of money in buying pans of each size that you would probably never use later. The baking pan in the picture is nothing else but a normal cooking pan that I don't even remember when I used the last time, so I removed the plastic handles, simply line it with baking paper and ta-daaaa, here I have my new 8" cake pan.
I think, I should probably write my views on this in a separate post, lets first talk about what the post title is about, i.e. how to bake level, domeless, even cakes:)
In the beginning, my cakes often used to dome in the middle while baking, and trimming that in order to have a smooth top for icing was such a fuss to me because I never used to get a balanced and flat surface even after cutting almost half of the cake and then I came across this great tip of using the bake even strips .
These are long thin strips of aluminum-like cloth that you wrap around the baking pan. And the result is simply marvellous. The cake gets a very nice and even top that almost no cutting is necessary. But since I bake a lot and baking surely is not a cheap hobby for the reason that there is always a long list of products to buy, I kept looking for some cheap yet safe alternative (Check this link).
There is basically a science behind the doming. This mainly happens because the high temperature in the oven makes the metallic sides of the pan absorb the heat very quickly, making the sides set earlier before the centre portion and the expanding batter has no where to go but up. Now its your personal choice how you want to fix the heat distribution issue. One way is to place something metallic in the core of the batter that will conduct heat in there, helping the batter to rise more effeciently. (Check this helpful tutorial).
Another alternative is to prevent the sides to absorb heat quicker than the centre. For that, we try to wrap the metallic sides of the pan with something that generates moisture, and cools down the temperature a bit allowing an even heat distribution. Some people use damp towels for this purpose. That doesn't look very neat to me and you also need to cut the cloth to fit the pan size. So, here comes my favourite method for securing the cakes against doming :
The foil-pack technique:
Kitchen papers / old news papers / cheese cloth
A safety pin
Baking paper or silicon sheet etc. to line the inside of your pan.
Cut the foil as well as the kitchen papers according to the size of your pan .
Fold the kitchen paper twice to get a long strip.
Dampen the kitchen paper.
This may increase its size, cut off the extra length and place on the foil. Fold and make a pack.
Wrap around the lined and greased baking pan (also check the post on how to line the baking pan) and assure by using a safety pin. Dont overlap.
Here is another picture.
The moisture in the strips keeps the sides of the pan cooler for a nicely even and moist cake. See for yourself.
This all might sound a bit messy but takes no time to prepare in real. And the result is always very satisfying. I have been following these steps for a few months now, and my cakes are always fairly even with almost no cracks. Also the sides are very moist without having any dry crust.
For more baking tips and tricks, follow the latest blogs!
Happy baking friends!