A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Large wedding cake turns brown & dry

Marcie asks: I recently baked a wedding cake from a scratch vanilla cake recipe I’ve used a million times. It always turns out a light yellow color. Normally I bake an 8×3 or 10×3 round using this recipe and it comes out fine but this time I  baked a 14×3 round 2/3 full and it took forever to get the center done. I have a convection oven & baked it as I normally do at 325. When the cake was finally done, it was very brown on the outside and I was concerned it was overbaked but to my delight, it was still yellow on the inside (I checked when I removed the “cake bump”). The cake was filled with chocolate buttercream & covered with vanilla buttercream under the Fondant. It was put in a walk-in refrigerator about 5 hours before the wedding. When the cake was served, I was mortified to see that my yellow cake had turned a caramel colored brown to the point where people asked me what flavor cake it was! It was also pretty dry. It’s a temperamental recipe but I have never had this happen before, let alone my friend’s daughter’s wedding! People ate it but I knew it wasn’t my best. Do you have any idea why this would happen? Is it better to bake thinner layers than one big 3″ layer?

Thanks for your help!

Baking S.O.S. says: What a frustrating experience!  I can certainly relate: we always want our products to taste the best, especially on such an important occasion as a friend’s daughter’s wedding.

I think you are right in assessing that the problem was caused by baking such a large and deep cake.  Because it was 14-inches around and 3-inches deep, it simply took much longer to bake than the usual 8-inch or 10-inch cakes, and because it was in the oven so long, it probably over-baked on the outside of the cake before it finished baking in the center, thus creating the dryer texture than normal.

I’m not sure why the cake would have changed color once it was refrigerated, unless it simply absorbed some of the color from the chocolate buttercream inside the cake layers.

I have a couple of suggestions that might produce different results:
1) Try using “bake even” cake strips for large size cakes. (Several other brands make these besides Wilton–they all work the same, so check your local cake supply store if you have one.  Any brand will do.)

I always soak the cake strips in water, then fasten them around the outside edge of the cake pans.  It helps the cake bake more evenly, both in how it rises and also in how it bakes from the outside to the center.  Definitely a “must have” for large size cakes.

2) As you mentioned, it may be better to bake more cake layers in shallower pans, like a 2-inch rather than a 3-inch deep pan.  That will reduce the baking time, which in turn, should reduce dryness in the finished cake.

3) I don’t recommend baking cakes in convection ovens because I don’t like the browning effect on cake batter.  I prefer to use conventional ovens to bake cakes.  I would suggest that you either turn off the convection bake feature for cakes (or at least the large cakes) or else turn down the baking temperature by 25 degrees when baking a large cake in the convection oven.  Perhaps the cake would be less dry if it bakes at a lower temperature, giving the center of the cake time to bake all the way through without drying out the outside edges of the cake.

I hope one of those suggestions might help in the future.  Good luck!

9 comments to Large wedding cake turns brown & dry

  • Kim

    The same thing happened to me today! I used the exact same ingredients, the exact same recipe, I did the recipe twice and ended up with the same result 🙁 my cake decorating teacher told me it could be the weather :S

  • Millie

    We are making a butter cake for fair. It is moist, but after you cool it is just crums.
    Do we need more flour or what?

  • Hi Millie, I don’t think you would need more flour if your cake is already crumbly…..I think more flour would make the cake drier and tougher, causing it to crumble even more. To give the cake more structure so that it doesn’t crumble, you would need more eggs to give it structure and hold it together.

  • Kerry

    Hi, I am making my Son’s wedding cake and have just finished the practice 14″X 3″ bottom tier. I have a reasonable vanilla cake recipe and am happy with it, but for the 14″ cake I had to 4 times the recipe. I calculated 20mins per 2″ so that’s 7×20=140minutes at 170 Celsius. I had to cook it a further 10 minutes because it was still goohy in parts and it had giant cracks in the top. It also was VERY brown but not actually burnt surprisingly. Will putting bake even cake strips stop it from browning so much around the edges. Also can I put anything on the top of the cake to lessen the browning. I have heard that you can lay a baking tray on top of the tin. I have baked the other size tiers before with no problems. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

  • Hi there, regarding the bake-even cake strips, I definitely use those for the large-size cake pans. However, they are designed to help the cake bake evenly on top (vs. doming or sinking), rather than browning evenly, from my understanding. So I don’t think using the bake-even cake strips would necessarily make a difference with the browning of the cake. (though it can’t hurt!)

    My best recommendation would be to turn the oven temperature down by 25 degrees if the cake is not fully done in the center but is getting too brown on top. That is probably a sign that the oven temperature is too hot for the size of the cake you are baking. Given that the cake is so large, you should bake it at a lower temperature to ensure it bakes all the way through without over-browing.

    Good luck! And congratulations on your son’s marriage!

  • geeta

    Why my cake turns yellow or brown from inside.
    Is it that it is over baked.pls suggest how can I have white cake

  • Hi there, perhaps the cake is getting a little too dark if the oven is too hot? There will always be some color in any type of cake you bake….the sugar in the batter caramelizes when it is baked, so it will turn somewhat brown due to the caramelization. But if it is getting too dark and too dried out, then try lowering your oven temperature by 25 degrees. It may take longer for the cake to bake, but it should also have less color, as well.

  • Dulce

    Hi there. I don´t know why my pound cake batter came out kind of light brownish. It used to come light yellow as it should but, I really don´t known what´s happening. Same ingredients, I bake one poundcake almost every week. Thanks in advance for your help.

  • Hi there, since you said that all the ingredients are the same, then I wonder if the problem is due to something else like equipment–perhaps the pans are different? Or maybe your oven isn’t working as well as it should?? Changing pans might cause a darker color in the pound cake, especially if you’re using a non-tick coated pan. Those draw in more heat from the oven and make everything turn out darker.

    Or perhaps your oven temperature is not baking accurately, and that is causing the batter to over-bake and get too dark. Try putting and oven thermometer in the oven while it is turned on to see if it registers at the correct temp.

    If neither of those options explains it, we’ll have to go back to the drawing board!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>