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Why Cakes Dome???

Jun 11, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose

There are two desirable looks to the top of cake layers:

1) slightly rounded for a one layer cake
2) perfectly flat to stack as a multiple layer cake

Cakes dome in the middle for two reasons:
1) the metal on the outside of the pan conducts the heat faster so that the sides of the cake set while the center still continues to bake and rise higher than the sides.

2) the structure of the cake is too strong, preventing the leavening gases from escaping til toward the end of baking when they erupt through the center like a volcano.

My recipes are created to have the proper strength or structure of the batter to result in level or slightly rounded tops.

Solutions:

If you are getting doming:

1) try silicone pans (silicone does not conduct the heat the way metal does making the center to sides more even).

2) wrap metal pans with moistened cake strips. you can make your own by wetting paper towels and wrapping them in foil or purchase cake strips that can be reused many many times.

3) use a weaker flour. i you are using all purpose flour switch to cake flour.

4) increase the leavening. if using baking powder increase it by 1/4 teaspoon; if baking soda 1/16 teaspoon. you may need to increase it further depending on the results. leavening weakens the structure of the cake by breaking through the cell walls created by the gluten formed by the flour when combined with liquid.

5) increase the butter: an extra ounce of butter will coat the flour more preventing the formation of gluten, weakening the structure.

Comments

Hi Rose, RE the Designer Baby Grands - I finally achieved the results pictured in Rose's Heavenly Cakes by reducing the amount of batter in each cupcake liner to 20 grams (I shortened the baking time a bit). I'm extremely pleased with the way they turned out. The flat mirror-like finish of the lacquer glaze reminds me of an ice skating rink.

I posted a photo on the forum if anyone is interested:

http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/index_ee.php/forums/viewthread/2699/

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Rose, thank you so much for providing us with such great insight. I echo Charles, in that I am happy to hear that the stylist leveled the cupcakes - this proves that I didn't make any error that resulted in my cupcake doming.

Mine domed a little bit, I skipped the lacquer glaze and decorate the cake with the ganache and chocolate pearls.

http://knittybaker.blogspot.com/2010/07/designer-chocolate-baby-grand.html

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charles, we did use the equivalent of cake strips--the muffin liners were set in silicone muffin cups!

the edge of the cakes are fairly close to the top so leveling them will result in a pretty even surface. the milk chocolate syrup will also help to fill in the edges if they happen to be slightly below the top of the liner. also keep in mind that the shot is directly overhead so it would tend to compensate for any slight uneveness.

stylists work under a huge amount of pressure having to turn out so many cakes, some of which are quite complex, in a short time. i would say that 99% of the cakes are true to our test results and vision. the few that were not i put on the "outcakes." i just went through the book and the designer cupcakes are the only other ones that deviated slightly.

bottom line: this cake is so delicious it would be great just brushed with the milk chocolate syrup and frosted with ganache or buttercream. it does look more elegant when glazed if it is flat but one has to go to the extra effort of leveling it.

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Yes, thank you for doing this Rose. I hope to find time this week to do a little experimentation myself. I just love any excuse to play in the kitchen with chocolate cake batter!

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Rose, thank you greatly for experimenting with this. I for one am relieved that the stylist "cheated" and it's not due to my screw up. Question: If you had the equivalent of magi-cake baking strips for cupcake pans, do you think it would solve the problem?

As a side note, it seems very odd to me that the stylist would take such liberties with your recipe. Is this unusual? (I thought about cutting off the dome, but I couldn't figure out how to cut it at a level below the rims.)

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we tested 4 different levels of baking powder and an additional test using 100% cake flour with the original amount of baking powder and nothing resulted in a perfectly flat top the way it was pictured. We therefore have to assume that the stylist trimmed the slight dome to level the cupcake. we tried this, allowing the cakes to cool for about 5 minutes and then using a serrated knife, and it worked well. so this is our recommendation in order to have a cake that looks like the one pictured.

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charles, you have a good point. we're working on flattening it! stayed tuned.

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I made the glaze work by allowing it to thicken quite a bit more before mounding it on the cupcake. It ended up looking like a shiny ganache. ;-) There's nothing wrong with that, but the photos in your book looked so elegant, so I think that's what most of us have in our mind's eye when we make these. On the flip side, a shorter cupcake with a flat top has less cake...

If I were to make these again and had to live with domed tops, I would probably use a ganache or buttercream as you suggest. I would rather avoid having to remove the liners from the foil, because this tends to distort the foil.

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p.s. the way the recipes is now, the slight dome makes it ideal for spreading with ganache or buttercream. i would still use the milk chocolate glaze. (in fact this is what raymond suggested initially--maybe he had something there!)

but i have to say that several of you including marie, raymond and evil cake lady made the lacquer glaze look beautiful despite the doming and it appears from the photos that some of marie's cakes that were a little less high in the liner looked quite flat.

raymond, by the way, your lemon meringue cake looked fantastic. frankly i was a little worried about meringue with all this humidity! i can't wait to see the rest of your results. and while scrolling through other bloggers postings of the designer cupcakes we ne-noticed svetlana's magnificent rendition of the génoise rose.

you all are so gifted and creative it's a pleasure to come home to your communications.

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how ironic! i remember now, and i see in my photos, that i was so thrilled that i finally had a chocolate cup cake with a lovely gentle DOME! it did, however, require more batter than the layer cakes.

looking at the photo in the book i see that it is indeed perfectly flat. quite possibly the stylist used less batter to achieve this effect. i do remember thinking at the photo session that these were flatter than mine.

we will retest to see if using less batter will result in a flat top and get back to you very soon. certainly it will leave more room for glazing. in any event, the glaze will always cascade a little over the sides of the liner which is why i suggest removing it from the second liner and then returning it to the foil liner to hide the drips.

thank you all for your feedback. i see that one of the great results of this bake through is fine tweaking of the recipes to suit our taste preferences!

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This batter more than doubles; the recipes for the German chocolate cake and the Deep Chocolate Passion cake say to fill the pans only 1/4 full and it will rise to the top. Filling the cupcake wells to almost halfway conflicts with the advice on the other cakes, and I think our results show that. Keep in mind we need room for the glaze, too.

Another poster said that she put in 25 grams of batter and they rose too high. I've written a note to myself to only put in 20 grams per cup next time.

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Did u fill under half full?

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Excellent question Charles! I'm frustrated with that recipe too. I've baked these cupcakes twice now, and had to ditch the plan of covering them with the lacquer glaze both times because the cupcakes were too tall to even think about trying to get that lovely pool-like smooth top (like the ones pictured in the book).

The first batch turned out wrong because of my error - I misread the recipe and divided the batter up into 12 portions instead of 14. The second time I carefully divided that batter evenly among 14 cupcake liners (33 grams of batter each). They also rose well above the top of the cupcake liners. I pulled them out of the oven as soon as they were done, hoping the beautifully rounded tops would flatten a bit, which they did, but not enough. I ended up with 14 flat cupcakes, but they were about 1/4-inch taller than the top of the cupcake liners. I plan to make these again, but I'll experiment by decreasing the amount of batter per cupcake to somewhere around 20 or 25 grams each. I'm bound and determined to get the same results as the photo!! I'll post the results on my blog soon.

Rose, is it possible you tested this recipe using different sized cupcake liners than we, your loyal followers, are able to purchase at the grocery store? I have purchased 3 brands of foil cupcake liners, all are identical in size.

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Rose:

Every photo that I've seen of the Designer Baby Grands (except the ones in your book) shows a domed top, sometimes severely so. Are the tops you get really flat? If so, what are the rest of us doing wrong? I suspect overmixing in my case, because the cupcakes were rather spongy, almost like angel food cake, although I adhered closely to the published mixing times. Unless you have a different suggestion, I plan to decrease the oven temp next time and mix slightly less.

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people have told me that they press down the domed top but although it may flatten it, the texture may be pasty or compact in that area. it's usually preferable to cut off the dome unless it's so slight that turning it upside down is enough to flatten it.

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My Mom told me about a trick to correct the doming. Something about putting a damp paper towel across the top and pushing slightly or maybe it was just to let is set for awhile. I'll have to call her in the morning to find out which it is but I've done it before and it works! Have you heard of this before or am I dreaming it up? Thanks!

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denise, i've never had the cake fall but then i never made it with buttermilk. try it the way the recipe is written and i bet you'll have no problem.

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Hi, i made a banana cake yesterday and the middle did not rise. I followed the reciepe and yet the middle caved in . what could of happened to it.i did use butter milk instead of milk was the batter to thick? let me know how to fix this. i used a alum pan butted and floured as well

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Thanks everyone for their comments. Appreciate it. I'll try increasing the baking powder by 1/4tsp, and see if it works. I'll update you guys again.

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essentially it's that leavening weakens the structure of the cake so if you have coming you want to weaken it either by increased leavening or fat.

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Serena, the baking soda is already perfectly balanced for the acidity of ingredients- dont' change it unless you are changing the amount of acidic ingredients (I don't recommend doing that!).

Instead, increase the baking powder as Hector suggests. This will weaken structure enough to form a flatter top in the smaller pans. (Or, you could just slice off teh dome and eat it... hee hee).

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correction, for smalle pans you need MORE baking powder.

I think it has to do with sides of the pan baking faster been a small pan, so you want the extra baking powder to rise the sides of the cake fastly?

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serena, I can suggest lowering the baking powder. you need less leavening with smaller pans.

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Hi Rose,

I tried making the Cordon Rose Banana cake using the Nordic Ware Bouquet Pan, which gives me 6 smaller cakes. I have a problem, the cakes started to dome and cracked. I used the correct flours etc.

Any suggestion why this might happen?

I will try using your suggestion to increase the leavining. The recipe has both baking power and baking soda. Should I increase both? Or which one should I increase and which to hold? Any help or suggestion would be extremely helpful.

That said, the cake taste and smells fantastic!

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I just read your instruction about doming and will try finding cake pads. However my bakery has all heavy aluminum pans by Parrish, (Magic Line) so the investment has been made. We are making wedding cakes. Is there a rule of thumb for the amount of batter that should go into a 3 inch pan? I also have a recipe from one of the country's best culinary schools where I took wedding cakes classes...it is a nightmare and I do know how to bake, as well its different than one the instructor gave tom Bon Appetit 9 years ago...it's a white cake that has heavy steaks of water at the base...she said it was fine but all the students had poor results..its actually gummy...If I sent the recipe could you tell if its off...

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that's wonderful--i'm deeply impressed.no--nothing will be updated anytime soon.
re getting e-mails for threads that you don't want you have to go to the original posting and uncheck the box that notifiese you. as for double e-mails can't explain that.

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Rose...I've read your comments regarding the Cake Bible in relation to it falling apart because of lack of stitching. I've decided to buy your latest edition and have it stitched by a bookbinder. I just wanted to make sure, before I go to that expense, that you aren't planning on releasing a newer edition with more updates anytime soon. Thank you!!

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bjames - Hi. I've made that blend of flour and shortening in the past (but haven't tried it using the new crisco). Anyway, I would apply it with a papertowel. Since that time I've switched to just spraying my baking pans with non-stick cooking spray and I don't bother with any flour at all. I do line my pans with either parchment or waxed paper though.

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i use baker's joy spray. it has no odor and creates the most sealed in crust and most perfect release.
i'm not sure how well the new crisco without transfats will work to make goop but in any case if you want the cake to unmmold from the bottom of the pan you need to coat the bottom as well as the sides.

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Hi Rose,
I was reading the comments about "cake doming", and came upon another method for greasing cake pans. The contributor said, " instead of using butter and flour to make a nonstick pan surface, make "Goop." The recipe is simply equal parts Crisco and flour, and it keeps forever...". Could you please tell me more about this? How much do you apply, and do you spread it with your fingers/paper towel, and on entire pan or just sides? It sounds interesting and maybe less messy than other methods. Thank you.

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i especially like the model that has the dough button as it's ideal for bread.

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Hi Wanda - I have used a 7-cup capacity Cuisinart for years. It has served me well for making pie crusts, ganache, whipping heavy cream, preparing cheesecake batter, grating cheese, chopping nuts, etc. However, I like to cook "big" and have decided that it's time for me to move up to either the 11-cup or 14-cup model (because I often double or triple recipes). In summary, I think you will find the 7-cup model will accommodate most normal sized recipes or tasks well.

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Wanda LaLoggia
Wanda LaLoggia
08/18/2007 10:31 AM

I am looking for some advice on a new cuisinart. I have the little pro now and love it, but just isn't quite bit enough. I made the Blackberry pie yesterday (it was sooo delicious) thank you Rose, but I had to take the dough out of the machine and add the water and mix the last little part by hand. I would rather NOT do that again. I am thinking of upgrading to the 7 cup, but before I do that, does anyone have any suggestions?

(BTW, Rose, I am going to increase my oven temp even higher the next time I make a butter cake. I have pushed it up to 380degrees, but will go even higher next time to try to get the baking time down to the recommended time.) Thanks. Wanda

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Maria, I'm actually having the same problem - but I've never had a problem in the US with that recipe before.

Right now I'm waging guerilla war on pastries in an old soviet oven that doesn't have temperature settings, along with using bread flour instead of regular AP - that's all they sell!

Anyway, good luck to you - my recommendation is to try reading through the recipe once, set out the ingredients, then do the recipe as you read it again.

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just want to know if anyone has try to bake the,hershey's perfectly chocolate cake. i have but it never comes out right,please help me????? i really want to make or bake one. any help would be grateful sincerly, maria

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Thanks - I'll check out the "crossing the atlantic" section. The butter is the one thing I hadn't considered yet.
I guess I should also do some more careful research on how flours compare.
Wonderful site this is - wish I had found it earlier!
Luc

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luc, please check the postings related to "crossing the atlantic by cookbook" as it relates to the pacific too! the biggest problem is usually the flour. then comes the butter with varying water:fat contents.

glad you found a way to make the cake work though.

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Rose,
I live in Japan and a couple days ago I made a 3-tiered wedding cake recombining elements from the cake bible. The cake, roughly based on your "dotted Swiss Dream", was a success! Everyone raved about the looks of the cake, which came out looking quite byzantium, and apparently people have been commenting about the wonderful taste in a local coffee shop.
Thank you so much!
I did ran into problems with the chocolate butter cakes, though. Some of the cakes came out with fudgy streaks in the center, and didn't rise well. I had to redo these and managed to get good ones, but it felt a bit like a hit and miss type of job? I think I did a careful job mixing the cakes - I used a kitchen aid and when I made these cakes before in the States I don't remember having these problems. Could it have something to do with Japanese baking Powder, flour, sugar?
Any suggestions for what happened would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks again, Luc

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refrigeration will firm up the layers and give you more control over them.

ganache would be great but just about any frosting in my book will act as 'cement' to attach the layers.

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I'm still trying , but the (very thin) 6 layer cake I attempted slid all the way to home plate.
If I refrigerate each layer after frosting will this help?
After the final assembly what frosting will bind it all and still look and taste great?

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ruth, it does help to make a hole in the center of each cardboard but be sure to drive the stave dead center of course!
re the baking powder--better to use measuring spoons if you don't have a scale accurate to two decimel points.
it could be the baking powder or it could be the volume though i did test each and every size! as a rule of thumb, never fill layer cake pans more than 2/3 full. my recipes seem to be perfect at a little more than 1/2 and a little less than 2/3. but anything more and it will be too high.

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I recently made a three tiered cake for my mother's 90th birthday party. I'd intended to decorate it at home, but when I realized how heavy it was going to be on a heavy crystal plate, I chickened out and trasported the fondant covered layers separately and decorated it on site. As it had to be carried down a long flight of stairs to the back yard I tried to put a stake through the layers, but couldn't get through the cardboard on the bottom of the top two layers. I'd sharpened the end of the stake in a pencil sharpener, but was afraid that I would squish the bottom layers if I pushed any harder. Is there a trick to getting the stake through the cardboard without mangling the cake? A quick sharp tap with a hammer? Cutting a hole in the center of the cardboard circle before putting the cake on it?

My layers were 11 - 8 - 5 of your white cake. I used your formulas to calculate amounts of ingredients, weighed everything, and used Magic Strips. The two 11" layers came out perfectly. Both the 8" and 5" layers rose dramatically above the top of the pan while baking and then sank and had a dark, crisp crust. I removed the crust and was able to salvage them, but would like to know what went wrong. Was the problem too much baking powder? My scale doesn't go below 5 gram increments which makes weighing small amounts difficult. Could it have been oven temperature? I was using my mother's oven and didn't have a thermometer with which to test the oven temperature.

Thanks,
Ruth

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thank you nandita!

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I've always had this problem with cakes, but never bothered because I wasn't going to use it for multilayered cakes. Butlast week when I wanted to make a two tiered cake for my husband's birthday, the dome was indeed disturbing. Two layered because my single cake was too thin to cut into two.
These points sound really helpful and shall surely put them to use in my next baking session.
You have a wonderful site and wonderful credentials too. I'm glad I found your blog Rose.
Best,
Nandita

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the only sure thing to keep layers from shifting during transport is to drive a stake through them. this is what the professional wedding cake makers do.

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Linda Willis
Linda Willis
08/ 2/2006 06:50 AM

I'll try the silicon baking pans.

Here's an idea I picked up in a cake decorating class: instead of using butter and flour to make a nonstick pan surface, make "Goop." The recipe is simply equal parts Crisco and flour, and it keeps forever, nearly. You can refrigerate it or not.

About the domed cake tops, I was really interested to read the solutions to this problem. If it happens, though, you can cut off the dome and turn the layer upside down so that you don't need to ice over the crumbs left by cutting off the dome. Instead you're icing the bottom of the cake layer that is now the top of the cake. Also, a really good tip is to refrigerate your cake for hours and then ice it. Even if the cake is almost frozen, it will defrost by the time you serve it, and it's much easier to frost without getting crumbs caught up visibly in the icing.

A problem I would like to solve is how to transport a 2- or 3-layer cake for a party. I made a birthday cake that was like a wedding cake with really elaborate decorations for my neice's birthday. It was a really cute cake, but as we drove to the party, the car hit a bump and a layer or two shifted. I sort of fixed it, but I was really upset that most of my work -- and all of my pride in it -- was lost. I've been told wedding cakes are assembled on site, but I can't see how anyone would have time to finish decorating the cake. I'd love some ideas on solving this problem!

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thanks zach for answering for me while i 'recover' from three days at the fancy food show! you are a true treasure.

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
07/13/2006 08:55 AM

Hi Mayen,

Try one of these three fantastic and very comprehensive books by Rose: The Cake Bible, The Pie and Pastry Bible, The Bread Bible. These will keep you busy for awhile. :)

Zach

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do you have a book ?

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when my father turned 90 exactly 3 years ago and was living in humid FL i brought rye and pumpernickel sourdough bread instead of cake!

either jam or ganache will be fine for 2 days but if it's really hot i would make a thicker ganache. if there's airconditioning it should be just fine. take photo and do report back!

by the way, the new book won't fall apart no matter how much it's used because there will be a stitched binding like the bread bible! it always gives me mixed feelings to see a cake bible in pieces becaue i'm pleased it's being used and angry and the publisher for not being willing to stitch a book that has become a classic!

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I'm making a multi-tier cake for my mother's 90th b-day. As I live on the otherside of the state from my mother, and I will need to arrive at her house a couple days early to help with the rest of the dinner, the cake will "sit" for a couple of days - probably at room temperature. I'm not worrying about it getting dry, as I will soak it with syrup and cover it with fondant. But what can I fill it with that can safely sit at room temperature for 2-3 days? I'm thinking of ganache and/ or jam. Would they be safe? Do you have any other suggestions? I've used the "Cake Bible" so much it is falling apart!

Thanks, Ruth

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
06/16/2006 03:24 PM

Hi Rose,

Just a follow up on a posting here we exchanged not long ago. I ordered the Fresh Wraps baking paper from qualitapaper and they came awhile in the mail a few weeks back; just what I was looking for. The company was easy and reliable when it comes to the ordering process. The Fresh Wraps will work great for many of my cakes. Just a note though, minimums order quantities are high - I had to order a minimum of 1,000 sheets at the lowest cost of $91.00.

Otherwise,they are just what we were talking about!

Zach

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good one phil!!! it doesn't suit my personality but certainly it's an option and i do it when it's too late to do anything else! what i don't like about it most is the crumbs in the buttercream problem!

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great news daphne! i admire all of you who are willing to take the leap with new technology. it's so easy to stay with the old and familiar. i'll confess to having eyed my cuisinart on the counter for several years before deciding to use it. then made that ill-fated mashed potatoes and celery root which turned to glue and it sat for a few more years. in those dark ages of food carl sondheimer would actually call people such as me and egg me on to give it a try. what finally won me over was cream puff pastry. i wouldn't dream of doing it any other way now.

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The other option for perfectly flat layers is also the easiest: Just cut off the domed excess. You're frosting anyway, so no one will know the difference!

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Daphne Pang
Daphne Pang
06/12/2006 04:51 AM

Remember me of the failed results with my first 2 tries with silicone pans - due to mistakes with the mixing? I'm so pleased to report I've just baked a couple of Sour Cream butter cakes this afternoon in the silicone pans and they came out with a beautiful even, brown crust all around. :-D (I lined the bottom with Glad-Bake and only sprayed and floured the sides which gave a gorgeous sealed crust all over)

So glad to finally know the silicone pans CAN give a lovely result - even browning the sides, which I was worried would turn out pale. The cakes domed a little during baking but during cooling, flattened out with nice level tops. My first success with silicone pans... I'm now an official silicone fan!

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