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Thanks very much NCB, awesome instruction and advice as usual. I think you're right that I should get an oven engineer to check my oven over. Maybe the heating element needs replacing. I think initially I'll buy another oven thermometer. I've dropped mine a couple of times and although it seems to work, it displays the temperature that I set a few minutes after the oven light goes off. That's the oven light that says the oven has supposedly reached the correct temperature. I want to see if a new thermometer performs differently and if it also fluctuates.

I usually preheat the oven until the oven light goes off, this takes about 15 to 20 minutes I think. And then I wait some more until the thermometer says it's at the set temperature.

Yep, my oven is fan assisted. But this is a great suggestion you just made. Maybe switching the fan off, and I'm pretty sure my oven has a non fan setting, will bake my cakes better. If I turn the fan off, how should I adjust baking time and temperature? Still reduce by 15c and bake for longer?


Do you think baking on the lowest shelf instead of middle shelf would see any improvement or make things worse?
I leave my oven thermometer in my oven all the time. I never take it out. It’s designed to hang in the oven off the rack.

No bake the cake in the middle of the oven. The middle of the oven should be cooler than the bottom or the top. Remember the air closest to the heating element is going to heat up first and that’s going to be the hottest air. That air will move upward. It will cool somewhat as it moves upward so it won’t be as hot as the air at the oven floor. But as it reaches the oven ceiling it is going to stay hot up there. So the air at the top of the oven is going to be hotter than the air in the center of the oven.

Just because the light goes off does it mean that the entire oven chamber is equally heated. Give the oven time to fully heat. As a test, move that thermometer around to different spots on the rack to see where your hots pots/cold spots are in the oven.

Bake the cake at 325°F (160°C). Check it about one hour in. Do the touch test first to see if the cake springs back. If it springs back, check the temperature of the cake. If it does not spring back, start checking it every 3 - 4 minutes or so. You want to make sure you don’t over bake cake.

To be honest it’s with rare exception that I bake a cake at 350°F (170°C). Carrot cake, hummingbird cake, my chocolate cake are the cakes I bake at the higher temperature. Pretty everything else gets baked at the lower temperature.
 
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I leave my oven thermometer in my oven all the time. I never take it out. It’s designed to hang in the oven off the rack.

No bake the cake in the middle of the oven. The middle of the oven should be cooler than the bottom or the top. Remember the air closest to the heating element is going to heat up first and that’s going to be the hottest air. That air will move upward. It will cool somewhat as it moves upward so it won’t be as hot as the air at the oven floor. But as it reaches the oven ceiling it is going to stay hot up there. So the air at the top of the oven is going to be hotter than the air in the center of the oven.

Just because the light goes off does it mean that the entire oven chamber is equally heated. Give the oven time to fully heat. As a test, move that thermometer around to different spots on the rack to see where your hots pots/cold spots are in the oven.

Bake the cake at 325°F (160°C). Check it about one hour in. Do the touch test first to see if the cake springs back. If it springs back, check the temperature of the cake. If it does not spring back, start checking it every 3 - 4 minutes or so. You want to make sure you don’t over bake cake.

To be honest it’s with rare exception that I bake a cake at 350°F (170°C). Carrot cake, hummingbird cake, my chocolate cake are the cakes I bake at the higher temperature. Pretty everything else gets baked at the lower temperature.
That's a good idea, I'll move the thermometer around to test hot and cold spots. And I'll leave the oven for at least 30 minutes before baking.

I've taken a look and there's unfortunately no way to turn the fan off. There's four settings: 3D fan, grill with fan, grill with no fan, and defrosting with fan.

Regarding the heating element, the manual says "A fan with a ring heating element on the back panel of the oven ensures that the heated air is distributed evenly".

Perhaps that is the sole heating element? I've taken a photo from the manual which suggests baking sponge cakes and victoria sponges on shelf level 1, the lowest level. I suppose that would make sense if the element isn't under the floor of the oven?

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Woa, I just noticed something else which may be the root of the problem. I took the oven door apart a few months ago to clean the inside of the glass. But the rubber seal at the top of the door is not seated correctly, There's visible rubber on the left and right side, but there's about 12 inches between where it's just glass meeting metal and a thin gap for hot air to escape. Right then, I'm going to fix that!

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Ok, fixed. I had refitted the seal incorrectly but it's looking good now.

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Ok, fixed. I had refitted the seal incorrectly but it's looking good now.

View attachment 2790 View attachment 2793 View attachment 2791
OK fixing the seal I am sure will help.

so the heat is coming from the back of the oven and there’s no way to turn the fan off. So drop the temperature to 325°F (160°C). That’s a substantial drop in temperature from 350°F (170°C). So see how that works

I would still leave the rack
That's a good idea, I'll move the thermometer around to test hot and cold spots. And I'll leave the oven for at least 30 minutes before baking.

I've taken a look and there's unfortunately no way to turn the fan off. There's four settings: 3D fan, grill with fan, grill with no fan, and defrosting with fan.

Regarding the heating element, the manual says "A fan with a ring heating element on the back panel of the oven ensures that the heated air is distributed evenly".

Perhaps that is the sole heating element? I've taken a photo from the manual which suggests baking sponge cakes and victoria sponges on shelf level 1, the lowest level. I suppose that would make sense if the element isn't under the floor of the oven?

View attachment 2787


Woa, I just noticed something else which may be the root of the problem. I took the oven door apart a few months ago to clean the inside of the glass. But the rubber seal at the top of the door is not seated correctly, There's visible rubber on the left and right side, but there's about 12 inches between where it's just glass meeting metal and a thin gap for hot air to escape. Right then, I'm going to fix that!

View attachment 2788 View attachment 2789
Fixing the seal should help.

Reduce the temperature to 325°F (160°C). That’s a substantial temperature change from 350°F (170°C). See how the cakes bakes at that temperature. As I mentioned I rarely bake cakes at 350°F (170°C). The temperature is just simply too hot for cake. It sets the batter much too fast. You end up with a domed cake. The cake is overly brown. The crust is dry and hard. I simply do not like the higher temperature that you see on most recipes. Most pastry chefs that I know also bake cake at 325°F (160°C).

Continue to bake in the center of the oven. The reason is the fan is going to circulate the air through out the oven chamber. So even though the heating element is at the back of the oven the fan is moving the air throughout the oven chamber. It’s not staying in the back of the oven. So leave the rack in the center of the oven.

Also, since you can’t turn the fan off it makes sense to reduce the baking temperature. The fan creates a hotter oven as it circulates the hot air throughout the oven chamber and between the cake tins.
 
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I'm late to this part of the party, but going back to the discussion on espresso crema, I wouldn't pay much attention to that word, especially as it relates to espresso powder. There really is no such thing as "crema" in a dried espresso, and if there is such a thing, they have included some sort of additive to create a synthetic crema. Who knows what it does to a cake.

Real crema on espresso is the signature light brown "crown" atop the shot in the demitasse. It is actually a foam produced by an emulsion of the oils contained in the espresso bean when forced at high pressure and temperature through the filter holes in the basket in the brew group. The crema dissipates within a minute or two of a return to normal pressure in distinct phases. First a darkening, then a thinning, then dissipation. The bubbles pop and the oil that remains is reintigrated into the cup.

Dehydrated espresso power is the residual coffee solids of a brewed espresso sprayed against a hot steel plate with the solids scraped off (similar to how other dehydrated powders are made.) It doesn't have much of that original oil in it and it isn't being extruded at high pressure through anything. It can't form a crema without a synthetic additive to "foam" in a rehydrated cup.
 
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Thanks very much Norcalbaker, I shall follow your advice. Centre of oven and 160c. Thinking of buying a ring cake tin and making mascarpone cake with raspberry cream from a recipe I've just seen. Because I happen to have a tub of mascarpone cheese and a tub of whipping cream that was originally intended for the coffee cake.

Thanks MixUp, I didn't know any of that, especially how they arrive at dehydrated espresso powder. Very interesting! :)
 
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Thanks very much Norcalbaker, I shall follow your advice. Centre of oven and 160c. Thinking of buying a ring cake tin and making mascarpone cake with raspberry cream from a recipe I've just seen. Because I happen to have a tub of mascarpone cheese and a tub of whipping cream that was originally intended for the coffee cake.

Thanks MixUp, I didn't know any of that, especially how they arrive at dehydrated espresso powder. Very interesting! :)
oh that sounds delicious. One of my favorite icings is actually mascarpone and heavy cream. I dissolve a few gelatin sheets in the heavy cream. Scrape a vanilla being into it Then mix the heavy cream, mascarpone, some sugar together. Refrigerate it overnight. And then whip it with some almond extract or other flavor emulsion the next day. It makes such a nice icing for chiffon and sponge cakes. I don’t use the shortening icings—ever. And the meringues can be really heavy and not always appropriate for the lighter cakes.
 
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oh that sounds delicious. One of my favorite icings is actually mascarpone and heavy cream. I dissolve a few gelatin sheets in the heavy cream. Scrape a vanilla being into it Then mix the heavy cream, mascarpone, some sugar together. Refrigerate it overnight. And then whip it with some almond extract or other flavor emulsion the next day. It makes such a nice icing for chiffon and sponge cakes. I don’t use the shortening icings—ever. And the meringues can be really heavy and not always appropriate for the lighter cakes.
I've never used gelatin sheets, but I've seen it used to make mirror glaze chocolate ganache. That sounds very nice though. Chiffon is another on my list of cakes to make.

This is the recipe I'm going to use. Looks yummy right? :D



I've not made a cake with all oil and no butter. I hope it tastes as nice as I usually like buttery flavours.

I ordered my ring tin, arrives today. :) Couldn't find a lighter coloured one in the size I need. Thanks Amazon Prime free trial for next day deliveries!


Hmm, my whipping cream is still sealed in its tub and has been in the fridge since purchase but the use by date is end of February. I wonder if it'll be ok. I guess if it smells ok should be fine. I'm pretty sure I've had cream past it's sell by and it's been alright.
 
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Well you know I’m not a fan of any recipe that is in volume. That’s always a red flag for me.

The other red flag is she says you can substitute all purpose flour for cake flour. Cake flour and all purpose flour are dramatically different.

Cake flour specifications on average
Soft wheat
Protein 8%
Ash < 40%
Extraction rate 45% - 50%
Bleached
Unmalted

==========

All purpose specifications on average
Hard red wheat
Protein 10% - 12%
Ash > 50%
Extraction rate 70% - 75%
Bleached or Unbleached
Malted or Unmalted

Cake flour and all purpose flour are not interchangeable as the performance of the flour are dramatically difference. The hydration in this cake is from the eggs and mascarpone cheese. Cake flour has a very low absorption rate. All purpose flour has a higher absorption rate with its higher protein level and higher extraction rate. I don’t know if you recall any of my discussions about whole wheat flour requiring 100% to 105% hydration. The higher the protein and extraction rate the more hydration is required. Where whole wheat flour is at the high end for need of hydration, cake flour is at the opposite extreme. Think of all purpose flour at 75%.


Cake flour is banned in the UK. But your domestic wheat in the UK is naturally low in protein. It produces a flour that is about 9% protein. But it’s also unbleached so you’re going to have a absorption rate than a bleached cake flour. So just adjust your expectations. Your cake is not going to come out like her cake because 1) Volume measurement is never an accurate way to bake; 2) she used cake flour which is not available in the UK.
 
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Thanks NCB. I made the cake and as you mentioned it didn't come out quite like hers. Tasted nice though, not too sweet and perhaps could have even had a touch more sugar. But the icing sugar on top and the cream made it all sweet enough. It was soft and moist, reminded me of madeira cake. I baked it at 160c for 55 minutes and I'm pleased to say the crumb was not undercooked anywhere :) It had more surrounding crust to cut through than in her photos and didn't have the cracked look on top, and I suspect hers would be even more tender.

I made a substitute cake flour by replacing a couple of tablespoons of APF with cornflour, but I don't suppose it would make much difference compared to real cake flour. Yes, I found out that it's banned here because it's chlorinated and chlorination is banned in the EU. But I just discovered that our biggest supermarket is stocking cake flour imported from Poland so I'll buy some of that. I made a raspberry cream which was delicious with the cake.

I noticed the batter slightly leaning to the right after 10 minutes of baking, and a slight cracking probably due to that.

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which annoyed me enough to order a new wire rack which arrives today. I'll soon find out if it cures the problem.

But overall, pleased with the way it turned out though I would have preferred less crust. Probably should have wrapped some baking strips around it.


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@Lee_C, I glad to here your crumb was baked through. The cake looks very good. Don’t be disappointed that your top is not cracked, because the crack top is actually a improperly baked cake. Her crack top means that her cake is baked at too high a temperature. That set the sides too fast as the center continued to rise. Then the top burst open because it rose way beyond the sides. I didn’t want to say anything about it Because there was other problems with the cake recipe. But since you were aspiring to the crack top I thought I should just reassure you that your uncracked top is in fact a properly baked cake.

I think the dark metal pan is going to give you some trouble even with a new rack. The UK also ban certain types of untreated metal; that’s why it’s difficult to find light colored bakeware in the UK. Unfortunately the dark treated metal conducts heat more intensely.

It’s a myth that you can create cake flour by mixing cornflour in with your plain flour. The notion is that mixing some cornflour in reduces the protein. which is ridiculous because The amount of gluten remains the same in the flour.

You’re in fact making the thebatter bind more tightly by adding cornflour. Cornflour is pure starch. It’s used as a thickener. Place a tablespoon of cornflour in 60 ml of water and heat it until it comes to just under a boil. Do you see how thick it becomes? That’s exactly what’s going to happen when you put the cornflour in your batter. It’s going to absorb the free water. It’s more absorbent than the flowers so it’s going to compete with the flower for the available water. And when it’s exposed to heat it’s going to thicken. Cornflour is a more powerful thickener than flour. The cornflour is not going to behave any differently in your cake batter than it is in the pot on your stove.

You do more you do more damage to your cake batter by adding cornflour than just using the plain flour.

The Internet can be a terrible place for information for bakers; be careful of what you read.
 
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Thanks for the advice NCB. Good to get your confirmation that mine is baked properly.

I've thrown away the remaining few grams of homemade cake flour, it makes absolute sense that the plain flour will still have the higher protein. But more importantly, I hadn't realised it would bind the batter more tightly. I'll be buying the polish cake flour.

I've received my new wire rack, it's a copy of the Bosch one but a fraction of the cost and fits perfectly in my oven. Construction feels just as strong. I'll be testing it soon to see if my cakes come out any more level.

While I ordered it from Amazon, I ordered and received a second oven thermometer, a kitchencraft one which seems to be the highest rated on Amazon to check against my CDN Proaccurate (America's Test Kitchen favourite) and get a second opinion on my oven temperatures so to speak. The CDN had been dropped a couple of times and the display has subsequently rotated itself anitclockwise so it's a bit skewed. Seems to still be accurate. Also, easier to read the kitchencraft through the oven door window as the dominant numbers are very large in Celsius and I work with Celsius more than Fahrenheit.

I didn't know UK banned some untreated metals. But I'll keep my eye out for light coloured tins and replace mine gradually. Fortunately I now own two Wilton pure aluminium 8" round tins which are silver coloured so for probably most cakes I'm likely to bake, those should get me the best results.
My square tin is a champagne colour so I suppose that's a sort of compromise. I've not done any cakes so far with that tin, just lemon bars and brownies.

But my springform, bundt and ring tin are all dark. The first two are carbon steel I think, and the ring tin is aluminium.
 
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Thanks for the advice NCB. Good to get your confirmation that mine is baked properly.

I've thrown away the remaining few grams of homemade cake flour, it makes absolute sense that the plain flour will still have the higher protein. But more importantly, I hadn't realised it would bind the batter more tightly. I'll be buying the polish cake flour.

I've received my new wire rack, it's a copy of the Bosch one but a fraction of the cost and fits perfectly in my oven. Construction feels just as strong. I'll be testing it soon to see if my cakes come out any more level.

While I ordered it from Amazon, I ordered and received a second oven thermometer, a kitchencraft one which seems to be the highest rated on Amazon to check against my CDN Proaccurate (America's Test Kitchen favourite) and get a second opinion on my oven temperatures so to speak. The CDN had been dropped a couple of times and the display has subsequently rotated itself anitclockwise so it's a bit skewed. Seems to still be accurate. Also, easier to read the kitchencraft through the oven door window as the dominant numbers are very large in Celsius and I work with Celsius more than Fahrenheit.

I didn't know UK banned some untreated metals. But I'll keep my eye out for light coloured tins and replace mine gradually. Fortunately I now own two Wilton pure aluminium 8" round tins which are silver coloured so for probably most cakes I'm likely to bake, those should get me the best results.
My square tin is a champagne colour so I suppose that's a sort of compromise. I've not done any cakes so far with that tin, just lemon bars and brownies.

But my springform, bundt and ring tin are all dark. The first two are carbon steel I think, and the ring tin is aluminium.
I am heading out right now so I can’t respond more in depth. But I will when I have a chance. Don’t buy a bundt!! I have so many tins around here. I’ll send you one. Anyway I’ve got a run. I’ll respond more in depth when I get a chance tomorrow.
 
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Thanks for the advice NCB. Good to get your confirmation that mine is baked properly.

I've thrown away the remaining few grams of homemade cake flour, it makes absolute sense that the plain flour will still have the higher protein. But more importantly, I hadn't realised it would bind the batter more tightly. I'll be buying the polish cake flour.

I've received my new wire rack, it's a copy of the Bosch one but a fraction of the cost and fits perfectly in my oven. Construction feels just as strong. I'll be testing it soon to see if my cakes come out any more level.

While I ordered it from Amazon, I ordered and received a second oven thermometer, a kitchencraft one which seems to be the highest rated on Amazon to check against my CDN Proaccurate (America's Test Kitchen favourite) and get a second opinion on my oven temperatures so to speak. The CDN had been dropped a couple of times and the display has subsequently rotated itself anitclockwise so it's a bit skewed. Seems to still be accurate. Also, easier to read the kitchencraft through the oven door window as the dominant numbers are very large in Celsius and I work with Celsius more than Fahrenheit.

I didn't know UK banned some untreated metals. But I'll keep my eye out for light coloured tins and replace mine gradually. Fortunately I now own two Wilton pure aluminium 8" round tins which are silver coloured so for probably most cakes I'm likely to bake, those should get me the best results.
My square tin is a champagne colour so I suppose that's a sort of compromise. I've not done any cakes so far with that tin, just lemon bars and brownies.

But my springform, bundt and ring tin are all dark. The first two are carbon steel I think, and the ring tin is aluminium.
Six European counties banned aluminum cookware because untreated Aluminum can leach into food. But the amount of aluminum that leeches into the food varies significantly based on the quality of the aluminum. If it’s made from scrap metal it will leech a significant amount of aluminum.

There was a big uproar about it because people thought there was a link between Alzheimer’s and aluminum deposits in the brain and the use of Aluminum cookware. But it wasn’t that aluminum cookware causes Alzheimer’s, rather Alzheimer’s causes an increased uptake of aluminum in the body.


The truth is aluminum exposure is ubiquitous. Aluminum is added to so many products: during water treatment, cosmetics, personal hygiene products, skin care, nasal sprays, drugs, vaccines, naturally in foods, and added to processed foods. We get more exposure from our food naturally, our water, and our outlet daily products than from cookware.

Coating the aluminum prevents > 98% leeching. The problem is most of the manufacturers are using a dark non stick coating. I’ll coatings are going to conduct heat more intensely but the dark coatings are the worst.

I have a number of cake tins that I do not use. So do not purchase a bundt pan. I’ll send you one.
 
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Thanks NCB for the bundt tin offer. And thanks for enlightening me on aluminium; fascinating information. Yes, it would be much better if manufacturers could at least use light coloured coatings to help slow down heat conduction a bit.
 
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