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My wife has been working on making a chiffon cake. The picture below is attempt number 10. She has varied the temperature of the oven, used a metal tray or no metal tray in the oven, and other factors. The cake rises and looks ok from the top, but it always has this weird form on the bottom. To me, it seems that a steam / gas pocket is forming possibly because the heat is too hot on the bottom. She says she has lowered the bottom temperature and the results are similar.

My question is what causes this to happen and what are some solutions?

enter image description here

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    Just to be sure: would you mind sharing the recipe and method with us? Welcome to Seasoned Advice!
    – Stephie
    Jul 3, 2016 at 17:27
  • @Stephie Thank you. Let me add that in the morning Jul 3, 2016 at 17:29
  • Did you ever figure out how to prevent this from happening? I had the same thing happen even though I baked the chiffon cake in a regular round pan instead of a tube pan! It might mean that it wasn't baked long enough. I baked mine at 325F degrees, and am thinking about baking it at 300 degrees next time for a longer period of time. But you say your wife already tried that. Jun 11, 2022 at 16:26

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I was just looking into trying this myself (after a disastrous attempt at bundt cake - tasted fine but broke in half coming out of the pan) anyway, I found a great site with lots of tips https://www.justonecookbook.com/how_to/perfect-chiffon-cake/ but what I also found, were other chiffon cakes where this had happened, and rather than it being a failure, people would decorate the groove with fresh fruit and icing sugar. So as long as it tastes good, just embellish it.

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I have tried making chiffon cakes a few times in the past, and I always had problems with the bottom of the cake looking either like a crater or the ring formation in your photo. I don't even use a tube pan, but strangely that ring formation can still happen in my round pan, as you can see with one of my attempts:

enter image description here

All of those attempts used cake flour (actually a substitute made by removing 2 tbsp flour and adding 2 tbsp cornstarch for each cup of AP flour), as I saw lots of websites say that you should always use cake flour if you want your cake to be as soft and tender as possible.

However, I recently saw an article that said:

“Subbing cake flour 1:1 into a recipe that was developed for all-purpose flour might result in sunken cake or bars, or cookies that are too delicate or simply fall apart.” That’s because the lower protein content in cake flour may not develop enough gluten or structure to support a baked good meant to be made with all-purpose flour.

Now I just tried making another chiffon cake, except that I used 100% AP flour instead of my cake flour substitute. Finally, the cake turned out with a perfectly flat bottom.

So it seems the ring formation was caused by using cake flour, and using all-purpose flour solved the problem for me.

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  • your substitution ratio doesn't look right - you should probably be swapping out about 7 tbsp of the flour, not only 2
    – rumtscho
    Jul 2, 2023 at 13:39
  • There are so many sites that say to use 14 tbsp AP flour + 2 tbsp cornstarch as a substitute for 1 cup cake flour. Example1, Example2, Example3, Example4 Jul 2, 2023 at 16:59
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If the cake comes out of the oven looking fine, but then collapses as it cools, you may want to consider using an angel food pan. They have metal ‘feet’ along the lip of the pan so that you can cool the cake upside-down.

This allows gravity to pull down on the cake as it cools, to help counteract the shrinkage from bubbles cooling.

If the tube of your tube pan extends past the outside edge of the pan, you might be able to cool it upside-down if you can balance it. Or you can try to find a heavy bottle or similar than you can fit the tube around so it can stay upright when upside-down.

(If you have access to the Good Eats episode ‘Let Them Eat Foam’, I think this was what he did, but Food Network has only posted an abridged version)

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  • From the OP's photo, they did use an angel food pan. Jul 2, 2023 at 17:01
  • @pacoverflow not all tube pans are angel food pans. And I’ve seen companies label tube pans without the feet as angel food pans, too.
    – Joe
    Jul 2, 2023 at 17:23

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