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Baking a Cake in Normal Ovens & Fan Ovens

Asked by RDJ. Answered on 22nd July 2011

Full question

Please let me know the time and temperature i need to set for a normal cake?

Could you tell me please if it's wise to turn down the temperature 20 centigrade when I'm baking in a fan oven? I find that sometimes when I bake in my oven my food comes out a little different from when I bake in a conventional oven. I have used a conventional oven around a friends house with a few of Nigella's recipes, and they come out perfect. However, at home, they don't seem to pack that punch. Many Thanks, Nathalie

Our answer

The majority of cakes are baked in a regular oven at 180c (350F/Gas Mk 4), on the centre shelf of the oven. Muffins and cupcakes generally take 15-20 minutes to bake, 20cm/8-inch Victoria sandwich cakes will take around 25 minutes and other cake layers will usually take between 25 and 45 minutes, depending on the size of the tin and the depth and liquidity of the batter. Loaf-type cakes tend to take longer - often 50 minutes to 1 hour. Rich fruit cakes will take 1 1/2 hours or more, depending on size.

Some cupcakes and muffins are cooked at higher temperatures - 190c (375F/Gas Mk 5) or 200c (400F/Gas Mk 6) - this tends to make them slightly more peaked. They can take the higher temperature as they are small and cook through quickly, reducing the risk of the outside burning before the inside is cooked. However the baking time will be sorter so you need to start checking the cakes after about 13 minutes cooking time.

For fan forced ovens (or convection ovens) the heat is forced through the oven by a large fan so the temperature should be even throughout the oven and any shelf should be suitable. Usually you need to reduce the oven temperature by 20c (about 50F) as the constant heat and force of the fan causes cakes to bake more quickly. However you should refer to the manufacturer's handbook as some more modern ovens have different functions (such as roast and bake) and may make the adjustment as part of the cooking program.

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