What are the advantages of having the oven filled when baking slab or other cakes
The advantages of having an oven filled with product come from the humidity and heat transfer. Once cakes are placed in the oven their temperature rises and eventually the moisture in the product reaches boiling point and steam is given off. If the oven is full of product then the volume of steam will be fairly large for a given volume of oven capacity. The humidity in the oven will be high and will act on the surface of the cake, keeping it moist. As each cake is in close proximity to its neighbour, the side crusts will be kept thin and pale in colour. The hardening or drying of the final crusts on the top and sides will be delayed, enabling the cake to reach full growth before it is set.
If the crust has become set before full growth has been achieved, the inside of the cake will burst through the prematurely formed crust and form a break or crack across the slab. In some cases this break may be desired, e.g. in muffins. The atmosphere in the oven is less humid and so the product crust sets and dries before the cake has risen fully.
For slab cakes a break on the surface is not desirable and so aim for a full oven, with the oven door remaining closed for the whole baking period. Where this is not possible, a humid atmosphere should be created in the oven by placing tins of water in the oven with the product.
Continue reading here: Why do we add extra acid to make white cake batters
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