This morning I cooked the cake for a Japanese Strawberry Cake.

It cooked in an 8" aluminum cake pan, inside a roasting pan with boiled water. When I added the water just before placing the roasting pan in the oven, the cake pan floated in the water. That is, it was buoyant enough so that the water did not reach as high up the cake pan as it should.

After the cake was done cooling, and I sliced it in two layers, the cake was very dense and more resistant to cutting than other style cakes I've cut before.

The layers are now freezing (prep for this cake isn't until later in the week). I'm worried that the cake itself is bricked, most likely because of the buoyancy of the cake pan.

Does anyone have a suggestion to keep this cake pan weighted in the water bath?

Push comes to shove, I think I have an 8" springform, but was hoping to not worry about the extra prep.

Extra details:


  • 80 g milk
  • 50 g butter
  • 75 g flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 70 g caster sugar
  • 139 g aluminum cake pan

Total mass: roughly 464g, assuming about 50g total for eggs

If I were to use my springform, the pan is heavier, but I would scale the masses. The springform is 5/8" more in diameter, resulting in a 1.162 increase in scale.

If I were to use the springform, it would be roughly 309g (springform) + 379 (ingredients) = 688g

I tested my bain marie now by placing an equivalent glass in my springform, in the water. It is barely buoyant. It moves, but not much.

I'm wondering if I go with the springform, and use extra parchment pinched in the bottom of the springform, and place weights on the parchment to pin everything.


  • It might help to know the details of the recipe you are following - what's causing the float is the displacement of the water (by the pan) vs the mass of the pan+contents. The original recipe should give you instructions for a pan type. Note that steel is ~2.5x denser than Al, so mass is substantially more for the same type of pan.
    – bob1
    Dec 14, 2023 at 2:24
  • 1
    @bob1 added masses and a thought on how to proceed Dec 14, 2023 at 2:52
  • Looks like you have the answer there. Just a note in the case of circular area, difference is proportional to the square of the radius (pi*r^2 after all...) so an 8" diameter circular pan will have area = 50 in^2 while a square with side of 8" will be 64 in^2, so there can be a big difference in displacement with shape of pan.
    – bob1
    Dec 14, 2023 at 3:42
  • Shouldn't a form with lesser diameter do the job? Mar 15 at 10:48

1 Answer 1


Jason — I don't believe the density of your cake is related to the floating pan. The purpose of a bain marie is to keep the temperature, especially around the sides of the pan, low so your goods cook more slowly and evenly (usually for custard-based dishes). You don't need the water to come all the way to the same level as your batter / custard. So if your pan is floating, just reduce the amount of water.

It would be helpful to see your entire recipe. Are eggs your only leavening ingredient? Since you're starting with boiling water, I can't imagine a scenario where oven spring is affected whether or not your pan is touching the bottom of your bain marie vessel.

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