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Loaf Cakes Overflowing From Tins

Asked by loz415. Answered on 25th June 2011

Full question

Hi, I made your Chocolate Orange Loaf Cake (Kitchen, p308) today and found that the mixture rises so much above my tin that it falls onto the bottom of my oven. This has happened twice before, I am sure I have 1lb loaf tins, what am I doing wrong? Thanks Lorraine

Every time I try to make the Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake receipie from "Domestic Godess" (p166) it explodes over the oven like a volcano! No cake left in the tin, all the batter over the oven floor. What am I doing wrong? Andien

Our answer

The most common reason for any cake batter overflowing from the cake tin (pan) is that the wrong size of tin has been used. For regular (not mini) loaf cakes Nigella tends to use a 900g/2 lb loaf tin. Dimensions may vary slightly but should be approximately 23 x 13 x 7 cm (9 x 5 1/2 x 3 inches) - see links below for some examples. The cake batter should not come more then two-thirds of the way up the sides of the tin, any higher and there is a risk that the batter will overflow as it rises during baking.

Both the Chocolate Orange Loaf cake and the Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake specify this size of tin. If you have smaller (450g/1 lb) tins then it would be better to divide the batter between two tins and bake for a slightly shorter time (start checking the cake after 30 minutes and bake until it feels just firm on top, but a cake tester/skewer/toothpick should come out with some damp crumbs clinging on rather than completely clean).

There is a small chance that the cake batter has too much leavening in it (in the loaf cakes this is bicarbonate of soda/baking soda, which is very active), causing the cake to rise excessively in the oven and overflow from the tin. The bicarbonate of soda should be measured with a proper set of measuring spoons (1 teaspoon = 5 mls and 1/2 teaspoon = 2.5 mls) and should always be level, not heaped.

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