Is there some way to check a cake is done without using a toothpick or other penetrative device?
I like the thermometer idea, but no one seems to know how the heck to use them.
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http://www.baking911.com/cakes/data.htm I found some baking times for specific sized cakes. For me, I just use the toothpick method.
If it's a spongecake, you can check by pressing down on it and if it "bounces" back it's done.
If the reason you don't want to use a toothpick is that it leaves a big hole, you can buy a cheap little item called a cake tester that is just a thin piece of wire with a little handle. It leaves such a small hole that as to be unnoticeable. As a bonus, it is quite useful for checking the doneness of vegetables. This is the one I use.
Touch the center with the your finger. Texture will tell. It should have some spring back and not be gooey or too jiggly. If the center is cooked, so is the rest.
As for overcooking, I use the edges as a guide. If they're starting to brown, (either the over temp is just too high), or the center is probably done too.
Finally, smell. Fresh cake will have a sweetness. Underdone will still be a bit 'doughy'. Overcooked will start to have bready/crusty/burnt overtones.