Old wives tales were often told to children around the kitchen table that a cake would fall if the children were being too loud while their parents are baking. While true, this tale was also used to keep children from running around the house. Besides not being jostled while cooling, there are many other factors that can lead to a fallen cake. Most of these are preventable, including making sure the batter is properly mixed, oven temperature and opening and closing the oven door.
Place the warm cake on a cooling rack for approximately 10 minutes after it comes out of the oven. Carefully run a small knife between the cake and the pan. Gently remove the cake from the pan and allow it to cool so it is no longer warm to the touch. Keep the floor and table from shaking while the cake cools.
Common mistakes are made before the cake even goes into the oven, which can hinder a bakers' chance at success. Baking is a more exact science than cooking, so follow the ingredients precisely. If there is too much sugar, baking powder or shortening in the recipe, this will affect a cake rising properly. Do not over- or under-beat, make sure everything is mixed together smoothly without lumps and then stop mixing.
Sometimes a cake can fall because it was baked too long or if the inside is not cooked enough. If the recipe has been baked before and the cake did not fall that time, it may be time to get the oven temperature checked. Before pulling the cake out of the oven, check to make sure it has started to pull away from the sides and, if a piece of hard spaghetti is stuck through the center, no cake residue appears on the pasta. Do not open and close the oven door often during baking, this can also lead to a cake falling.
One way to cover a fallen cake is to add a thicker layer of icing to the middle section of the cake. No one will notice until they start cutting in, and hopefully by the time cake-eaters reach the fallen middle, everyone will be so hungry for cake no one will notice. Another fix is to make a trifle, or a parfait-type dessert, by cutting the cake into layers and adding fruit and custard topping in-between.
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