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Learning to bake a 12x12 cake...

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Ha ha, what a day of baking and experimenting and learning it's been! I just got a nice 12x12 pan recently and so tried it out today, along with a bunch of tips I've read on the forums here...

Cake #1:
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I'd like to blame the homemade Cake Release I tried for the first time -- I had a hard time spreading it evenly with a paper towel wad and I didn't seem to get much on the sides -- but I probably have to face the fact that trying to turn it out of the pan about a minute or two after taking it out of the oven was NOT a good idea! icon_redface.gif

Cake #2:
(aluminum foil package added to top of pan to help show off wonderful results of "smooshing" cake down)
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Been reading about the "smoosh dome down right after you take cake out of oven" technique. Decided to try that, though I'm not sure why, since the dome wasn't THAT high to begin with. (Moist terry strips around outside of pan, two flower nails in batter, and high quality pan probably helped keep dome down!)

First thing I learned -- make sure the cake is baked through before trying this. Mine wasn't. Oops. icon_redface.gif After it had cooled about 5 minutes and I realized part of it was still gooey, I stuck it back into the oven for 10. Figured a dry or burned cake wouldn't be any worse than a gooey one...

Second thing I learned -- don't press down too hard. The fact that the cake should've baked another 5-10 minutes probably made matters worse. So anyway, after it had cooled off a second time, I popped it back into the pan and took this photo, showing the position of one of my hands during the earlier smooshing. Can you see right where my other hand pressed down? icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif
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P.S. Is it normal that my cake shrunk by about 1/2" in both directions?
post #2 of 16
I'm no expert but I can tell you what I've noticed while baking.

While some people swear by homemade cake release, for me I find the oil/flour spray you can buy works alot better. I buy Baker's Joy if it's on sale (Walmart was selling it dirt cheap around Christmas) but the store brand works just fine as well (Safeway, Lucky by me). The first time I used the spray and turned out my cake I thought Wow! So THAT'S how you get a cake to come out super clean...

For a 12x12 pan, you may want to use a heating core with those nails. It keeps the bump down for a round cake so maybe it can also work for a square one.

I read on CC before that if a cake pulls away from the pan then it's overcooked.

HTH!

P.S.- I'll have to post some pics whenever I finally bake a square cake for the first time. I have the pan, I just need the courage!
post #3 of 16
I don't think you can apply cake release with a paper towel. I was told to use a pastry brush. I've used silicone and traditional brushes and have had great results with both. The only time I do cake release and parchment is my carrot cake. I haven't figured out if it's the brown sugar or the nuts but it tends to stick.

Good luck with your 12 x12. The big layers are tough.
Visit me at www.keeponcaking.com for tutorials and other cake stuff.
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Visit me at www.keeponcaking.com for tutorials and other cake stuff.
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post #4 of 16
First of all, I don't mess with cake release or those baking sprays.. maybe I'm too chicken, but I spray the pan with PAM then line the bottom of the pan with wax paper or parchment paper (whatever I have on hand).. That's how I learned to do it and I've never had a cake stick, even if it's been in the pan several hours.

I bake 12x12 squares all the time.. and I use just one flower nail in the center, never have used bake even strips, and bake at 325 till done (usually a lil over an hour). I use an uncooked spaghetti noodle for testing because my toothpicks are always too short and I can't test doneness properly.

Before torting, filling, stacking, etc. I throw them in the freezer to make them easier to handle.

HTH! Good luck!!
Aileen Policarpio

Sweetologie - Desserts by Design sweetologie.com
Dessert. Design. Life. - a food and lifestyle blog dessertdesignlife.com
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Aileen Policarpio

Sweetologie - Desserts by Design sweetologie.com
Dessert. Design. Life. - a food and lifestyle blog dessertdesignlife.com
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post #5 of 16
What does everyone mean by putting in a flower nail? I have one, but how do you put it in?
post #6 of 16
Just prepare a flower nail so the batter will not stick to it and put it flat side down into the prepared pan. Pour the batter in the pan and bake. when you turn out the cake you can easily remove the flower nail as the flat side is visible on the bottom (now top of cake you turned out). HTH
post #7 of 16
I don't like heating cores. Instead, I use 4 flower nails or 4 baking nails from Ateco that I purchased at ICES in Chicago last year. (Wish I could find more.)
Love cakes!!
Valerie
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Love cakes!!
Valerie
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post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Ha, I'd posted this in Cake Disasters because -- while not as bad as a 4-tier wedding cake crashing to the ground -- I was just laughing at my little foibles and thought I'd share them.

But I'm so glad it was moved over here to Recipe Ideas because you guys have given me some GREAT feedback! THank you, thank you!

So, now I'm armed with MORE things to try and experiment with! thumbs_up.gif
post #9 of 16
I think I have the same pan...

I always coat my pan with butter; bottom and sides, then put parchment paper on the bottom of the pan. I have never used any kind of a flower nail, heating core etc....just a pan.

I am however a doctored up mix kind of a gal so not sure if that matters...I cook for approx. 55 minutes at 350. Before I place the pan in the oven I will get the air bubbles out of the mixture by hitting/dropping the pan on the counter a few times. IF I have any rise in the middle of the cake (which I rarley have) I will use a clean dish towel and place it over the cake then push down (just a little) to get the air out.

I will then let the cake cool for about 20 minutes or so then I place a wire rack over the top of the pan and flip. The cake comes out perfect....I then place it in the freezer to make it easier to work with.

Good luck on your next try!
post #10 of 16
you do want your cake to pull away from the pan slightly...but not that much.

the larger cakes take longer to bake. even though you have put the flower nails in you still need to check your cake before pulling out of the oven. For chocolate cakes that large I always add like 15 extra mins to the original baking time.

it looks like you were using the WASC recipe in the first pic. that looked like it could have been cooked a little longer. and yes, you definitely need to leave your cakes in the pan at least 10 mins before flipping out.

Also, with all of my cakes I do the tried and true method of shortening the pan then dusting with flour...I find that for white cake/WASC that this is the only thing that works for me.

good luck and keep practicing! thumbs_up.gif
It's not "just" cake...it's my life!
WI State Representative for Icing Smiles...start 'Baking a Difference" today!
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It's not "just" cake...it's my life!
WI State Representative for Icing Smiles...start 'Baking a Difference" today!
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post #11 of 16
I think I have the same pan...

I always coat my pan with butter; bottom and sides, then put parchment paper on the bottom of the pan. I have never used any kind of a flower nail, heating core etc....just a pan.

I am however a doctored up mix kind of a gal so not sure if that matters...I cook for approx. 55 minutes at 350. Before I place the pan in the oven I will get the air bubbles out of the mixture by hitting/dropping the pan on the counter a few times. IF I have any rise in the middle of the cake (which I rarley have) I will use a clean dish towel and place it over the cake then push down (just a little) to get the air out.

I will then let the cake cool for about 20 minutes or so then I place a wire rack over the top of the pan and flip. The cake comes out perfect....I then place it in the freezer to make it easier to work with.

Good luck on your next try!
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
I have had better success now after a few more tries. But perhaps I need to add just a little more batter to my pans -- I've been filling them about 1/2 full, i.e. 1", and no matter what I do (nails, moist strips) or what temp i bake at (325, 350) all the corners so far have been slightly under the 2" tall mark!

But 1" / half full is all two mixes give me. I'm beginning to see why people add stuff to the mix, to "extend" it. Just a LITTLE bit more batter is all I want!

Then again, I'll be baking the "real" cake at 4800 feet altitude. Back of the mix says in that altitude range, make the mix the same way but note it'll make 36 instead of 24 cupcakes. So, I'm assuming it'll rise more... which will take care of my lower corners perhaps...

Well, I'll keep on practicing -- my family sure doesn't mind eating my attempts. icon_lol.gif Thanks for the tips!!!
post #13 of 16
I always coat my pans with Crisco or other shortening and lightly dust with flour. I let cool in pan 10 minutes before turning out, but I always run a butter knife along the edges between the cake and the pan before that. I have never had a cake stick to the pan. I also use baking strips on the outside of the pan and/or use the flower nail trick for larger pans. Good luck.
post #14 of 16
Hey Schwammrs,

I'm wondering if you would share your recipe for your white cake? I really hope so.
Thanks in advance icon_smile.gif
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by keahmilne

I'm wondering if you would share your recipe for your white cake?



Well, keahmilne, it's not really a white cake and it's not really a recipe, unless you count "1 box Betty Crocker Butter Yellow Cake Mix + whatever the box says to add" as a recipe... icon_wink.gif

Wish I could've helped out more.
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