Testing Cakes for Doneness
You can do several things to make sure that your cake is thoroughly baked. Some visual clues can tell you whether the cake is done.
- The color of the top should be golden brown.
- The edges should be just beginning to pull away from the pan.
- The should appear to be firm and should not jiggle when lightly shaken.
Once these conditions have been met, touch the top surface lightly with your finger, the cake should spring back, and your finger should not leave a dent. To be absolutely sure your cake is done, insert a cake tester into the center of the cake. If you do not have a cake tester, you can use a toothpick, thin wooden skewer, or butter knife. The tester should come out clean and dry, indicating that the cake is done. If the tester comes out wet and covered in batter, bake the cake for a several more minutes, then retest.
Be sure you set your timer to the minimum baking time given and try not to open the door while the cake is baking. Your oven temperature fluctuates each time you open the door, and that could affect the way the cake bakes -- in the worst-cake scenario, the cake could fall (invert onto itself). The only exception to the cake test rule is cheesecake, which has it own set of rules.