There’s a lot that can go wrong with your cake from the time of mixing the ingredients to the time you remove it from the oven.
This makes cake-making a demanding and delicate affair.
Some errors can’t be corrected, like when the cake fails to rise.
Others are easily rectifiable, like when cakes get stuck in the tins.
So, Can You Re-Bake an Undercooked Cake?
Broadly speaking, yes, but can depend on its current temperature. If it’s still hot, the answer is “yes” but the second shot may not deliver the quality you wanted in the beginning.
Once The Cake Cools, Re-Baking Is A “NO NO”
Once the heat leaves your cake, there’s nothing you can do about it.
It’s only right that you return it in the oven while it’s still hot or warm to pick up from where the baking process stopped.
Returning a cold cake in the oven will get you nothing but a hardened, chewy mess.
Just How Undercooked Is Your Cake?
Undercooking occurs on a spectrum – the degree will vary from barely recognizable to near raw ball of dough.
To check the degree, poke the cake with a toothpick.
If the tester comes out with sticky debris on it, that part of the cake is undercooked.
In extreme cases, you don’t need to look hard to see – if the cake is sunken at the center, it’s undercooked.
Here are the different levels of undercooking:
1. Completely Raw Cake
In this case, the cake didn’t bake beyond a few minutes after the preheating stage.
It has zero signs of baking, basically. If it’s still warm, just return it to the oven as if you are starting.
Let it stay in the oven for an extra 15 – 20 minutes before you check the progress again.
2. The Middle Is Uncooked
This is probably the most common problem in cake preparation.
Often, it has something to do with temperature inconsistencies in the oven.
For a cake with a raw middle, a trip back in the oven would do but make sure you wrap it in aluminum foil. The foil is integral to trapping the heat close to the cake and ensuring it penetrates deep enough to reach the middle part.
Bake for 10 – 15 minutes and check the progress after 5 – 7 minutes to make sure you got it right this time.
3. The Bottom Is Undercooked
Uncooked bottoms are hard to rectify.
They are also harder to detect because testers and toothpicks are best suited for a whole cake or middle testing.
So, it’s likely you will learn from your first bite when it is too late to return it to the oven.
Often, this type of undercooking has something to do with imperfect placement.
If it’s still warm, return it to the oven and put it on the rack you think will expose it to more heat.
If it didn’t work with the middle rack last time, place it on the bottom rack this time.
You can wrap it with aluminum foil for even heat distribution.
Try to turn off the heat in the upper section to focus on the bottom part.
4. Soggy Cake
A soggy cake is a special type of undercooking that can be traced back to the mixing bowl.
If you didn’t mix the ingredients well enough, the final product will feel soggy and won’t bake completely. Another cause can be a shorter baking time.
If you disregard the time recommended by the recipe and remove the cake earlier, you will certainly end up with a soggy, inedible heap of dough.
If it’s still warm, return it in there and complete the recommended time.
A Moist Cake Has Issues Bigger Than Undercooking
A moist cake is very much like a soggy cake except that it can’t be returned to the oven, even if it’s still warm.
Unlike soggy cakes which are merely poorly mixed, moist cakes have too much liquid ingredients in them.
It can be excess milk, water, or egg. Because the flour can’t absorb all the liquid, such a cake won’t bake at all.
How Do You Tell Apart A Soggy And Moist Cake?
Both are uncooked if they are fresh out of the oven.
However, the easiest way to tell them apart is to prick the middle part with a tester or toothpick.
If the tester comes out with tiny crumbs stuck on it, the cake is soggy and can be returned for further cooking.
If the tester comes out with wet streaks, it’s moist i.e. has too much liquid and can’t bake.
What’s The Best Oven Setting For Complete Baking?
The temperature requirements of your cake should be mentioned somewhere in the recipe.
If you own an oven with fan-forced airflow or conventional settings, return the cake to the oven and bake it slowly for longer (often, you don’t rush with cakes).
Adjust accordingly in situations that demand fast, high-temperature baking.
Some Cakes Aren’t Too Particular With Temperature
Some types of commonly baked cakes aren’t too particular with temperature.
You may have realized by now that cakes that demand, say, 356°F (or 180°C) and about 25 – 30 minutes can still bake perfectly slightly below these requirements.
The point here is that you must not hit the exact temperature listed in the recipe book for certain cakes. Generally, 350°F is perfect for baking.
Still, cakes are different. Lightweight and airy cakes bake well under 210°F. Conversely, flourless cakes bake well in the region of 205°F.
Three Ways To Prevent Undercooking
There’s a lot you can do to ensure your cakes bake to completion. Remember that the oven isn’t always at fault. For example, such minor errors as the wrong choice of tin can interfere with smooth baking.
1. Always Preheat Your Oven
Never insert your cake in the oven and start baking right away.
Some ovens don’t heat evenly, meaning they will leave some cold spots in the compartment if you don’t preheat them.
Preheating is especially important for cakes that don’t just occupy the center of the compartment.
Set your oven to the right temperature for 30 – 60 minutes before inserting your cake.
2. Use The Right Size Of Cake Tins
Always use the size of tin prescribed by the recipe.
If you didn’t know, the size of the tin influences the amount of time the cake takes to bake. So a small tin would certainly produce an undercooked cake because it will reduce the baking time.
The only time you should resort to guesswork is when you are an experienced baker with a deep understanding of sizing and baking times.
3. Watch The Proportions Of The Cake Ingredients
As mentioned earlier, the problem may start at the mixing bowl.
Be certain to use correct proportions of your ingredients, especially liquid ingredients like milk and water so that you don’t end up with a soggy cake.
To summarize everything, yes, you can re-bake an undercooked cake, just make sure it’s still hot and not moist.
However, don’t expect your re-baked cake to meet your initial quality expectations as you’d have messed up the proper sequence of the recipe instructions.
Also, you are less likely to get the temperature right during the second shot.