You have a beautifully clean oven and its just calling you to bake a cake.
You've made a beautiful batter, popped it in your tin, placed it in your preheated oven and 30mins later you smell something.... not..... quite.... right.....
You take a look and see this....
Nobody wants this!
Here's a few tips to acheive a tall, georgeus cake that cooks IN the tin and then comes OUT of the tin really easily. I've also included how to make baking strips which will give you cake a nice level top too.
Baking strips are by no means a new invention. They prevent your cake from browning too much and ensuring you dont have a hard dry crust.
Theres a few different methods you can use. Old tea towels, cut towels or even purchase some ready-made from cake decorating shops. I think if you can make it at home with a few simple things, no need to buy...BONUS!
Thought I'd also do a little experimenting too. Ive baked two mud cakes, exactly the same cake tin size (10"), same recipe, same cooking time, same cooking temperature except one is with baking strips and one is without. Results are at the end!
Lets get started!
What you'll need:
non-stick baking paper
1. Spray your tin with oil and trace the bottom of the tin on to baking making. Use your marker to outline.
2. Fold in half, matching the lines, and then in half again. Cut around line and open up. Voila! perfect circle every time.
3. Measure a strip of baking paper around your tin and then cut where they meet. Fold in half lengthways and insert into your tin. Use a little oil spray to to adhere together.
4. To make a foil lid, grab some foil and pull out enough to cover the base of your tin. Fold the edges about 1cm. Now place your tin in the middle and drag up the foil to create the same shape as the tin. Take the tin off the foil and you have a perfectly shaped lid that fits your size tin! The folded edges will give it a little weight so it doesnt fly off in your oven.
1. Tear off a piece of foil long enough to wrap around the tin with a 10cm or so overlap. Tear off (or cut) two strips of paper towel the same length. Fold the foil in half lengthwise and then unfold.
2. Lay one strip of paper towel on top of the other and fold in half lengthwise. Roll or fold them up, then saturate the towels with water and squeeze them out very lightly, just until they no longer drip all over your bench and/or floor.
3. Lay the towel along one side of the foil, and fold the other side of the foil over. Fold the edges in (trim or fold the paper towels if they stick out too far, you should be able to fold the foil over at least once.)
4. Fold over the top edge of the foil, and then fold it over again to seal.
5. Place the baking strip with that folded edge on the bottom and facing towards the tin, and wrap the strip around the tin.
6. Pull the strip tight and secure in place with the metal clips. (Note: if you are lining a square tin the concept is basically the same, but you will need to crease the strips at the corners. Make sure you crease it all the way up above the tin – if your cake rises above the edge of the tin then the strip will help it keep it’s shape).
7. Snip the top edge of the strip in a few different spots around the tin, this lets a little of the steam out as the moisture in the paper towels evaporates and stops the strips from puffing out due to trapped steam, and distorting the top of your cake.
9. Now you can make your cake batter and fill the tin. If using the foil lid then place this over the top just before putting the cake in the oven.
TIPS: You can re-use the strips more than once, just carefully open up the foil and either re-wet the same paper towels or replace them with fresh ones.
If the strips dry out completely during cooking and start smelling burnt, then you can remove them before the cake is done – they will have done most of their job protecting the cake by the time they dry out. If you suspect the cake has a lot longer still to bake then you can put new strips on, or re-wet (or replace) the paper towels in the strips – just use oven mitts to remove the hot metal clips, and let the strips cool a bit before you handle them! (And the cake should go back in the oven while you refresh the strips).
Now lets see how our baking strip experiment turned out!! 2 tins lined exactly the same, same chocolate mud cake, same amount of cooking time (3 hours)..........
Below is the top view - left is no baking strip and right is with baking strip. The left has risen in the middle, sightly cracked and is cooked through.
On the right the cake needed MORE cooking time and has NOT cracked and remained quite level.
Below is a side on view once out of the tins....
Front cake is with baking strips. You can see that it required longer cooking time as it has slightly sunk in the middle. It has a nice soft edge however it has come in slightly from the tin.
The cake below is without baking strips. It has risen in the centre, cooked slightly unevenly (its higher on the left and slants down to the right) and has quite a darker edge. It is fully cooked.
So Ill let you decide - Yay or Nay to baking strips?