Why does my cake rise in the middle is a question many of us have pondered as we pull out yet another mountainous creation from the oven.
Domed cakes are far from ideas, especially if you’ve envisioned sleek, magazine-worthy desserts with beautiful flat cake layers.
It might seem like flat cake layers can only be achieved by professional bakers. But here’s the secret; anyone can prevent a cake from doming, you just need a few tricks up your sleeve!
Keep reading to find out how to stop a cake from doming again!
Why Do Cakes Dome In The Middle?
Temperature Too High
The main reason why your cake domes in the middle is because your oven is too hot. When you place your cake batter in the oven, it starts to cook at different speeds.
The outer edge of the cake begins to cook first, with the middle of the cake having more time to bake and rise. By the time the whole cake has baked, the outer edges are burnt and the centre has domed, usually with a crack in the middle.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but ovens lie. When we set the oven to a certain temperature, chances are, it’s not actually at that exact temperature. To get the most accurate temperature reading for your oven, invest in an oven thermometer.
Wrong Size Pan
Did the recipe call for a 9-inch pan but you’ve used a 6-inch? Tut-tut. No wonder you have a dome shaped cake (don’t worry, we’ve all been there)! When you bake a cake in a smaller cake pan without adjusting the quantity of the batter, there is not enough space for the batter to spread out and rise evenly. So, the only way out is up. All this extra batter will cause a dome in the middle of your cake.
How To Prevent Cake From Doming
Okay, so we know what the common culprits are for domed cakes. But how do we stop a cake from rising in the middle?
Reduce Oven Temperature
If you want to know how to make a cake rise evenly reduce your oven temperature. A recipe will ask for a cake to be baked around 350F-375F/180C-190C, which is actually pretty high.
To avoid a dome, lower the temperature by 50F/20C. Baking your cake at 325F or between 160C-170C will ensure that your cake will bake more evenly with no burnt edges.
A slight dome is inevitable but there is no need to panic. As soon as you take your cake out of the oven to cool down, the dome should disappear, leaving you with a flat top on your cake.
I bake my cakes at 340F or 170C for 25 minutes as per the video below.
Use The Correct Size Pan
Using an appropriately sized pan is crucial. A pan that’s too small can cause the batter to rise excessively in the centre, leading to that unwanted dome, like we talked about above.
Ensure you’re using the pan size recommended in the recipe or adjust the amount of batter you pour in. If you don’t have the right size pan, it’s definitely worth investing in a few different sizes. Cake pans are inexpensive and your cakes will thank you for it!
Use Cake Heating Core
A baking core is a nifty tool that conducts heat to the centre of your cake, ensuring it bakes at the same rate as the outer edges. By using a cake core, you’re essentially ensuring an even bake throughout, reducing the chances of a dome shaped cake.
Use Cake Strips
Cake strips are game-changers in the world of baking. Made from absorbent fabric, they’re soaked in water and wrapped around the cake pan before baking. These strips ensure the outer edges don’t bake faster than the centre and will help you achieve that perfect flat-top cake every time.
Don’t want to spend your hard-earned cash on cake strips? They are super easy to make at home with items you already have in your house!
How To Fix A Domed Cake
Is it too late for your cake? Don’t throw it out! There are still so many things you can do to flatten that dome.
1) Cool It Upside Down
This is the first thing you want to do to flatten a domed cake. Once it’s out of the oven, let your cake cool down for 5 minutes only. Once that 5 minutes is up, take the cake out of the pan and place it upside down on a wire cooking rack. The weight of the cake should slowly reduce the size of the dome.
2) Use A Cake Leveller
If your cake still has a dome even after you’ve cooled it upside down, you can try to fix the domed cake by levelling it out. Before you do this, make sure your cake is completely cooled down. If you try and level your cake while it is still hot it will turn into a crumbly mess.
To level your cake, place the cake leveller next to the cake so you can see how high you need to set the wire. Every cake leveller will have an adjustable wire with notches running down the sides so you can easily adjust the wire.
Adjust the wire of the cake leveller to the height of the flattest part of your cake. Gently move the leveller along the cake, moving the leveller back and forth in a sawing motion.
If your cake tends to have a sticky top, using a cake lever is a great way to get rid of it too.
3) Use A Serrated Knife
If you don’t have a cake leveller, you can use a serrated knife to level your cake. Secure the cake layer on a plate or cake board. If you have a turntable even better. The turntable will make it easier to spin the cake as you cut through the cake.
Slowly cut across the flattest part, keeping the knife as straight as possible using a sawing motion. Take a look at how to level your cake using a leveller and a serrated knife.
4) Use Dental Floss
Not the most conventional way to level a cake, but desperate times call for desperate measures. This method can be a little trickier to perfect but it will give you a nice clean cut.
If it’s your first time doing this, you might want to put toothpicks around your cake to guide you when you run the floss through it.
Wrap the floss around the section you want to cut. Once you have wrapped it, take the two ends and cross them over, pulling the floss as tightly as possible so it cuts through the cake.
5) Frost Your Cake
Sometimes, the best way to hide imperfections is with a delicious layer of frosting. Once your cake is cooled and levelled, apply a generous amount of frosting to the top and sides. Not only will this mask any unevenness, but it also adds flavor and a smooth finish. Remember, a thick layer of frosting on the domed area can help create the illusion of a flat-topped cake. Plus, who doesn’t love extra frosting?
6) Embrace The Dome
Instead of seeing the dome as a flaw, why not turn it into a feature? Use the dome as a base for a creative cake design. It could be the hill for a scenic landscape, the face of a character, or even the dress of a princess cake. With a bit of creativity, that dome can be the highlight of your cake design.
7) Make Cake Pops
If you’ve had to slice off a significant dome, don’t let those cake scraps go to waste. Crumble the cake remnants, mix them with a bit of frosting, and shape them into balls. Dip these in melted chocolate or candy melts, and voila! You have delightful cake pops. Not only are they a tasty treat, but they’re also a fun way to ensure every bit of your baking effort gets enjoyed.
No More Do(o)med Cakes!
Now you know how to stop a cake from doming!
Armed with the knowledge of achieving perfect flat cake layers and preventing that pesky dome, it’s time to bid farewell to uneven frostings and cakes that tilt just a tad too much.
Remember, a domed cake isn’t a sign of failure; it’s just as scrumptious. But for those aiming for that picture-perfect finish, there are numerous strategies to ensure a smooth surface, even if there’s a little rise in the centre. With these tips in your baking arsenal, the days of domed cakes are surely behind you.