When cooking cakes (especially lemon cakes for whatever reason; perhaps they're sweeter or have a different type of sugar?), I have trouble with the surface of the cake becoming too brown or burning while waiting for the inside to cook through. I frequently have to leave the cake in substantially longer than what the recipe states, and do my best to remove burnt bits afterwards.

This is probably partly because I often use a deep tin in order to get the right shaped cake for decorating, but I'm interested in techniques to reduce the browning/burning on the surface.

If I reduce the oven temperature, cooking time will take much longer, but that might be ok if the surface doesn't burn. How much would reducing the temperature help with this problem?

Are there other techniques that could slow the cooking of the top surface of the cake, such as shielding from above with tin foil, or increasing the humidity of the oven with a dish of water?

  • Is your oven electric or gas?
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Dec 7, 2013 at 1:09
  • @Jolenealaska, it's electric, and modern (but not an expensive model). Commented Dec 7, 2013 at 1:50
  • How tall are these layers? Baking through without overdeveloping the crust is why truly tall cakes are assembled from individual layers.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Dec 7, 2013 at 2:02
  • Oops, I somehow skipped the "deep tin" bit when I read before, let me revise my answer.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Dec 7, 2013 at 20:24

1 Answer 1


You said that you're using deep pans to get the right shape for decorating. If you're using something deeper than the recipe calls for, you should expect to have trouble. It will take longer to bake through, while the top and bottom overcook, and if you've gone too far, the structure may not hold up as well during baking. You can probably get away with something 25-50% taller than the recipe is meant for, baking longer at a lower temperature, but in general, you should really try to use the correct size pan, and make multiple layers if you want something taller.

Wrong sized pans aside, reducing the temperature is definitely the best first thing to try. In pretty much all types of cooking, burning some parts before cooking others is a sign of too much heat. You should also check the temperature of your oven. Ovens thermostats can easily be significantly off. If you're having this problem with multiple recipes, it's plausible that yours is too hot. Depending on the source of your recipe, it's also possible that whoever wrote it was compensating for a too-cold oven.

Also, make sure that the cake is centered in the oven. The top of the oven is hotter, and too high a rack can definitely cause overbrowning on the top. Of course, if you lower it too much, you may overcook the bottom.

Shielding the top with foil is also very effective. If it's just that this is a particularly sensitive cake, I'd definitely try loosely covering with foil. Protecting the pie crusts is such a common version of this that you can buy pie shields, rings of metal to cover just the outside edge.

I wouldn't try to turn your oven into a steam oven for this; steaming will affect the texture of the surface of the cake.

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