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How to test a cake for doneness with a toothpick

Most baking recipes give a window of time in which your recipe might be done. This is because ovens can vary slightly in temperature and both the temperature of the room and your dough/batter can have an influence over baking time. So, it’s important to know how to check your baked goods for doneness to be sure they’re ready to come out and don’t need an extra minute or two. Cake is one of the most difficult things to test because it’s not always easy to tell by looking at it, or even by moving the pan.

The quickest and easiest way to check a cake for doneness is with the toothpick test. Simply take a toothpick and insert it into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, or with only a few moist crumbs attached to it, the cake is done. If the toothpick comes out with wet batter, you are going to need to add more baking time. You can also test with the tip of your finger, by gently pressing the top of the cake to see if it springs back, but a toothpick is fast, easy and you don’t need to risk your fingertip touching a hot cake.

This quick video shows you exactly what to look for. And remember, it’s usually better to check your cake or cupcakes a minute or two before you think it will be done to avoid overbaking anything.

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  • Stephanie
    November 7, 2012

    This may be silly but…are there any tips for testing certain kinds of cookie doneness? I know they all vary. I’m diabetic and can’t test them to see how they should be. I know undercooked is better than overcooked, but I hate putting out stuff I am unsure of. Any guidelines to share?

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