Hello, I am curious as to why some of Nigella's cake recipes say you should use sandwich tins (layer pans)? I am unfamiliar with a cake being baked in two tins, as opposed to just baking it in one tin and cutting into layers after it's baked. Is there a difference in taste or texture or is it only to do with convenience? Will the cake be as nice if baked in one tin?
The use of sandwich tins for layer cakes is pretty traditional in the UK and many recipes use them. Probably the main reason is convenience as a cake in two layers will bake much more quickly than one in a deeper tin. Typically a 20cm/8-inch 2 layer cake will take 25 to 30 minutes to bake in two layers and 50-55 minutes in one deeper tin.
Also many people will find it easier to have the cake already baked in two fairly equal layers rather than having to cut a larger cake into two equal halves. You may need to trim down any peaked tops slightly so that the layers are flat but that can be easier than having to make sure you are making a level cut across the centre of a cake.
Some also suggest that a larger cake it doesn't rise as much as cake baked in two layers as the heat takes longer to penetrate. Hence the larger cake will have a slightly denser texture.
If you do want to bake layer cakes in one tin then make sure that the sides of the tin are deep enough. The cake batter should not come more than 2/3rds up the side of the tin, otherwise it could overflow during baking. Also reduce the oven temperature slightly as it will take longer for the cake to cook and a lower temperature will reduce the risk of the edges scorching.