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I baked a gingerbread cake following a recipe which seemed fairly typical for gingerbread. The instructions included slicing a pear and pinwheeling it across the top of the batter. I ended up over-baking it because the pears prevented the very top layer from baking and I couldn't see that the sides and bottom were plenty well done. Now I have a dry gingerbread that has a top layer of basically pears and batter.

Edit for details: Oven temp was 375, 9.5" glass pie dish (called for 9x9 glass dish, but I didn't have one). It is a very small, old oven that I'm not used to yet, though other things I've baked have so far turned out alright.

I assume the wet pears caused this, but it's not the first recipe I've seen that you bake with fruit on top. How could I have prevented this uneven bake while still using fresh fruit?

  • Maybe providing the size and type of baking tin, and the temperature of your oven, can help people construct a response. – moscafj Feb 19 at 18:42
  • Good call @moscafj I've edited the question to hopefully help more. – Gwendolyn Feb 19 at 18:45
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    Something wrong with the oven (temperature) or setting?... But from your description, it should have cooked true. I might have had a little lower temp, maybe 175 C but that's just 15 degrees off from your setting. – ErrantBard Feb 20 at 5:54
  • Maybe you could use a baking strip? That would cool down the sides a little, so they do not burn when you leave to cake longer in the oven to properly bake the center. – Eike Pierstorff Feb 20 at 13:28
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If you were baking this in a glass dish, the color of the sides should have been a hint that you needed to take the cake out of the oven. This is one reason for the popularity of glass dishes. But you have to keep in mind that a glass dish holds a lot of heat, so things baked in it need to be slightly underbaked when you take them out.

Also, it sounds like this would be a good candidate for the toothpick method of cake testing (the toothpick, when inserted in the middle, comes out dry). You're not trying to caramelize the cake, just cook the batter entirely.

Slices of fruit, especially pear, are never going to go brown like a naked cake would. So you need to allow for that in your evaluation. One of my coworkers baked a cake into leather last week because she thought it had to be really brown - that is not the case, a mild gold is usually enough. If you want more color, you might consider sprinkling a slight bit of sugar on top, that usually causes a bit more brown for the same degree of doneness.

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    The sugar on top is an interesting idea! But this doesn’t answer why the top was still wet batter. I did the toothpick test but, because the tip was still batter, it didn’t come out clean. The batter was also relatively dark. The batter around and under the pears did not bake. – Gwendolyn Feb 20 at 1:25
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    So, the question text said the top was still batter, so I dunno if "the color of the sides" is a very good hint in this case. As they said, the toothpick still had batter, and the sides were dry at the same time. Would you recommend lowering the heat and cooking for longer? Or maybe the opposite? Something else entirely? – Aethenosity Feb 20 at 9:06
  • If parts of the cake were brown and others uncooked, then yes bringing the temperature down is a good first step. But in this case it's also really weird. Did you by any chance keep this poor pear in the fridge (horror!)? Were your slices really thin? – user57361 Feb 20 at 19:28

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