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I baked a chocolate and pear cake whose batter is made with yolks, sugar, butter, melted chocolate and amaretti, flour and baking powder and whisked whites. It was (not very evenly) divided in two layers, sandwiching a layer of pear pieces pre-cooked in rum.

It turned out like in the picture, after 40 mins in the oven at 180 celsius.

My question is: what are the holes due to? Uneven division of batter? Uneven rising? How can they be prevented?

enter image description here

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I cleaned up a couple things here, but there's still a confusing sentence: "It was (not very evenly) divided in two sandwiching pear quarters pre-cooked in rum." I really am not sure what you're trying to say there, and don't know if it's important to the question or not. –  Jefromi Sep 24 '13 at 16:29
    
I'm sorry, a comma was appropriate right after "two". I mean that the two halves of batter sandwich a layer of pear pieces. –  David Petrecca Sep 24 '13 at 16:49
    
Oh! That makes much more sense, thanks. –  Jefromi Sep 24 '13 at 16:51
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2 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I have seen this happening more than once. While I don't know the whole theory behind it, each time it happened, there was something just below the hole, let's call it "the lump".

What I think happens is that the lump is too heavy. When the batter below it tries to rise, it doesn't have the strength to push up the lump. This could be combined with differences in heat transfer throughout the batter vs. on the batter-lump transition in preventing rising (I am certain they exist, but I don't know whether they have an effect at all). The result is a hole where the batter didn't rise, surrounded by nicely risen batter.

As to where the lump comes from: you say "chocolate and pear cake". If you have pear pieces in the batter, right under the surface, they can do this. I have certainly seen it happen when the recipe includes fruit pieces in the batter. If there are no pear pieces, my second guess is badly dissolved flour. The directions for this type of cake normally include folding the whites very gently, and generally erring on the side of too little whisking. This could contribute to uneven batter texture, resulting in lumps.

In the second case, the cake may have some less-than-pleasant pieces, but will still be mostly good. If it is fruit, the holes are purely a cosmetic problem. So not much harm done either way, unless you are shooting for a prize at a baking competition.

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Yeah there are pear pieces inside, see my other comment. Would it make a difference to use raw pieces of fruit (marinated in rum) instead of pre-cooked pieces? –  David Petrecca Sep 24 '13 at 16:50
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I don't think this will make a difference. What is more important is that you have an even layer of batter over the pieces, it will happen where it is too thin. You can cut your pears in flat slices and make an even layer of them, then pour the batter on that. –  rumtscho Sep 24 '13 at 17:21
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There are many reasons why Holes in my Cake and the common reasons are

  • The cake batter was mixed too much or not enough to incorporate all the ingredients evenly.
  • The temperature in the oven was too high.
  • The flour is too strong
  • The mixture is too stiff – add a little milk to soften slightly
  • Over mixing the ingredients
  • The egg content is too high
  • Eggs – always use fresh eggs and beat them before adding
  • The batter may have curdled
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thanks, but kinda hard to tell how much mixing is too much :) –  David Petrecca Sep 30 '13 at 10:16
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