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I'm tweaking a thin sponge cake with nut flour that I want to roll with a filling. My third attempt at the cake was delicious, but it didn't bake evenly. The edges were dry and there was a slightly sunken, dry section in the middle. The sections that weren't dry were great! I'm using a half sheet pan that's quite thin and may be a bit warped. I have another one just like it. Could it possibly help to nest the two pans to create an insulated baking environment?

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What kind of oven do you have, gas or electric? –  Cos Callis Nov 11 '13 at 23:46
    
It's an electric oven, new. –  Jolenealaska Nov 11 '13 at 23:48
    
Do you just mean the 1/2 inch or so at the edge of the pan? If so, that is normal in a jelly roll; trim it off. –  SAJ14SAJ Nov 12 '13 at 1:03
    
@SAJ14SAJ Nope, a bit more than that, maybe an inch. Plus there was the dry patch in the middle. The cake was so tasty that I wouldn't mind trimming even the full inch, but the dry patch was problematic. Tonight I'm going to try upping the ingredients 50%, that would still make it plenty thin to roll, but it would still leave me with the uneven baking problem. I've baked enough in this oven, and tested it enough, that I don't think the oven itself is the problem. Still, I'm going to move the cake more as I rotate it this time. I'd really like to know if nesting the pans could help. –  Jolenealaska Nov 12 '13 at 1:11
    
@Jolenealaska, sounds like you need to make a trifle. :) –  Marti Nov 12 '13 at 1:13
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1 Answer

There are a couple of things that can lead to uneven heating in an electric oven. Here a couple of things that can help.

  • Let the oven 'thoroughly' preheat. Are you putting the cake in before or just as the oven preheats? Let the oven sit for a good 5 minutes after it has reached the desired baking temp.
  • Keep the oven door closed until the expected baking time has been reached. Each time the door is open a significant amount of heat escapes, causing the elements to come back on for a longer period, this will cause the heat to circulate in an uneven pattern.
  • place either a pizza stone or another baking sheet on a rack above the cake (with enough room for the cake to rise). If the broiler element is coming on the direct heat might be causing the dry center (note: if you had a gas oven then I would put the stone a rack below the cake.)
  • finally, lower the temperature 25°F and extend the baking time.
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I have to go to the hardware store tomorrow. It's been on my list to get some bricks for even baking (as you describe in your third point). I'll try 4 or 5 bricks on my second cheap sheet pan on the rack above my cake. –  Jolenealaska Nov 12 '13 at 5:39
    
If the hardware store has UNTREATED tiles (granite or marble) that might make a better choice. –  Cos Callis Nov 12 '13 at 5:46
    
You might also consider light coloured bakeware. Dark pans radiate the heat onto the edges of the bake, causing more browning. Professional grade pans are almost always made from something like thick gauge aluminium to help prevent this. –  ElendilTheTall Dec 12 '13 at 10:56
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