I know, this may seem like the most obvious thing ever when it comes to baking. But hey, if it slipped my mind I figure it could happen to anyone and this is a way for you to learn from my mistakes and not waste quite so much money or time.
So if you’ve seen my butter cake and failed butter cake posts, you’d know I was used to baking my cakes in 8 inch pans. The initial recipe I used to make my butter cake called for 40 minutes in the oven in 8 inch pans. I have even used this cake recipe to make cupcakes and altered the time accordingly. So why is it I didn’t adapt the same method to make my 10 inch cake? I have no idea. Too excited, I guess.
Anyway, here’s my take on baking times and testing cake of various sizes. I’m gonna explain this in terms of whatever standard size cake you usually bake, and how to up-size and down-size accordingly. Although the time is always stated in a recipe and unless you are very sure of the baking time, you should always opt for less time and then keep testing the cake to see if it’s done. Remember, an under-baked cake can always continue baking but there’s no going back from an over-baked cake. I sometimes need to continue baking my cake past the 40-minute mark anyway but I don’t alter the time in my recipe because it’s not an exact science. What I’ve also found is that if I’m baking 1 cake after another, the later cakes sometimes take less time to bake. Probably because the oven is already that hot to begin with.
My standard cake recipe bakes in an 8 inch round pan for about 40 minutes. Better Homes & Gardens gives us a formula for adjusting baking times when converting cake recipes into cupcake recipes. We should reduce the cake baking time by one-third up to one-half. Of course always go with the lower limit because as I’ve said, there’s no going back from over-baking. When I use my butter cake recipe to make cupcakes, I bake them for 20 minutes and it proves to be quite sufficient. But still, always test the cakes before you start to cool them.
Aside from cupcakes, if I were to down-size my recipe to 6 inch pans, I bake them for about 30 minutes. Makes sense, right? If cupcakes take 20 minutes and an 8 inch cake takes 40 minutes, naturally the 6 inch cake would take about 30 minutes. Lucky for me, my 6 inch cake was due after my doomed 10 inch cake so I learnt my lesson well and adjusted the time accordingly.
If you’ve read my failed butter cake post, you’d know I learnt my lesson the hard way with this one. So again, my 8 inch cake takes 40 minutes to bake therefore my 10 inch cake would take 50 minutes to bake? This is what I do when I need to up-size my cakes. I bake it for the exact same amount of time and just proceed to test the cake every 5 or 10 minutes until it’s done, depending on how much batter comes out with the cake tester. (The less cooked the cake still is, test again after 10 minutes. The more cooked the cake is, just test every 5 minutes)
Why do I say test the cake instead of adjusting the baking time from the start? Because an 8″ x 8″ square cake as well as a 10 inch round cake are both up-sizes from an 8 inch round cake. But they are both significantly different. The extra 10 minutes of baking time you add to the 10 inch round cake may cause the 8 inch square cake to over-bake instead. Therefore I say, cake testing is the best way to go when up-sizing. That being said, how you test the cake is equally as important as any other part of baking (this is what caused my 10 inch butter cake to fail).
When I first started out on my baking journey, I was so excited when I went shopping at my local ingredients store that I bought a bunch of stuff I thought was really cool. One of these really cool things was this cake tester (mine is the white one). I know any normal skewer would have done but you know, you see something so cute you just have to buy it. This completely ruined my 10 inch butter cake, though. Somehow the batter was at such a consistency that this cake tester wasn’t thick enough to capture any uncooked batter in the cake. So it made me think that my cake was properly baked and I wasn’t aware of any complications until it was too late. That was after the cake had completely cooled and I discovered the middle was still uncooked. At that point, it was too late to pop it back in the oven to bake some more as the sides would then have over-baked. Ever since then I’ve only ever used wooden skewers or toothpicks. No complications so far!
The cake tester isn’t completely useless. I use it to clean other utensils now if I need something small enough to get into all those little nooks and crannies!