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Every time I bake cakes/cupcakes the tops are the last part to cook fully. In other words, the bottom might register at 210f and the top might still be at 180-190f. This can be confirmed by the top being visibly wet. This has been true in the last 5 ovens I've owned and seemingly regardless of what rack I use and also happens if I use convection. This makes sense to me since the pan acts as a thermal bridge so any dough touching the pan will cook quicker.

The problem with this is that the bottom becomes overcooked and the middle starts to edge that way while I wait for the top to cook fully.

Would it make sense to apply more heat to the upper element? My oven has a "roast" function which apparently has more heat coming from the top. Or is there another solution? Or perhaps I am seeing a problem where there is none?

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  • It’s also because there’s evaporation from the top, so it’s being actively cooled while the cake bakes.
    – Joe
    Dec 28, 2021 at 22:28
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    How are the recipes coming out? If they're coming out well, then it's not a problem.
    – FuzzyChef
    Dec 29, 2021 at 7:11
  • This is generally how cakes bake, maybe your oven temp is too high. Back off a bit see if you can avoid the over cooking.
    – moscafj
    Dec 29, 2021 at 12:04
  • @FuzzyChef things are coming out fine but I'd rather the cook be more even
    – Behacad
    Dec 29, 2021 at 14:07
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    Do you fully preheat the oven? Dec 29, 2021 at 16:35

3 Answers 3

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As your problem persists across 5 ovens, I think it has something to do with the way you are using it. I notice, you did not say where in the oven you place the rack. It should be placed in such a way that the baking goods are in the vertical center of the oven. I achieve best results for cakes, muffins, etc with top and bottom heat, but convection works as well. Or even better, if there is only one heat source in your oven. No, I do not have the problem of the tops of muffins being too wet.

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  • I think there is a misunderstanding here. The issue isn't with my baking, but seemingly baking in general. It seems like most baked goods are cooked through the bottom and sides up and that the top is last to bake. It looks like no one has a problem with this, though it seems to me that even heating would lead to a more tender product.
    – Behacad
    Jan 20 at 13:41
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You haven't mentioned the recipe you are using, @Behacad, but there are a number of approaches I would take if your cakes are too "Wet".

First of all, I would check the manufacturers instruction manual for your particular oven. This should have details of what foods are best cooked using the upper (or lower) elements turned on. My guess is that it would be too aggressive, but that is going by my particular oven, and as always in such matters, YMMV.

Secondly, you could try slightly reducing the amount of liquid in your recipe, or alternatively increasing the flour amount slightly. I assume you are using eggs here, and your local egg size may be slightly different from the original recipe. Of course, this will affect the density and crumb of the sponge slightly, but it might be enough to push it towards a drier consistency.

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  • My cakes aren't too wet because I let them bake for long enough to be fully baked. The issue is that the bottom and center are overbaking as we wait for the top to bake. This is not an issue about a specific recipe or specific oven as it seems to apply to all cakes and ovens. If I was cooking a beef roast and the very top was medium rare and the rest was medium-well we'd have a problem! Or perhaps I am just being too picky?
    – Behacad
    Dec 29, 2021 at 20:39
  • I must admit I'm scratching my head with this one. I could understand your problem if it happened under different conditions, but it seems to be consistent across recipes etc. Are you using a baking steel or stone by any chance? Also, what type of cake tin are you using? A thin metal one will differ from cast iron, silicon etc. I'm beginning to agree with @moscafj, unless you can eliminate something specific to do with your cake baking process (oven, pan, recipe, technique etc.) it might just be the way things are with your particular setup.
    – Greybeard
    Dec 30, 2021 at 1:11
  • it has nothing to do with my setup. In fact I know for sure that this happens to you. Does it not? Surely the top of your cakes take longer to cook than the bottoms and sides? This is the issue I'm getting at. I guess most people don't see it as a problem.
    – Behacad
    Dec 30, 2021 at 3:36
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Two things to check:

  1. Does your oven heat the top and bottom element when set to "bake", or just the bottom one?
  2. Does your top element need replacing?

For example, my mother-in-law has an oddball oven that only heats the bottom element in "bake" mode. American recipes, however, assume top-and-bottom heating, which has been the norm for American ovens for the past several decades. As such, she finishes baking anything with 5 minutes on broil to brown the top.

If the problem with your oven is that it's bottom-heat only, I'd suggest taking the same step.

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  • I live in America, and every "regular" oven I've used/seen has bottom heating only, with a "broiler" element on top that can not be turned on at the same time as the regular bottom element
    – Esther
    Jan 7 at 6:10
  • @Esther my experience has been different. But that feels like it ought to be its own question.
    – FuzzyChef
    Jan 19 at 23:14

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