I get this question almost everyday, “Can I leave the excess cake batter on the counter while the other one bakes?”
Now this question is asked for several different reasons.
Many of you are limited by the size of your oven; where you can only fit one pan at a time. Since I have jumped from apartment to apartment over the last few years, I can sympathize with this conundrum.
Others have the problem of not having the sufficient (2) pans required to bake all the batter at once. I call this the “one pan shuffle!”
For you folks I will say, “Buy another pan!” Easiest way to solve that problem! If you are someone who will possibly bake another cake again at some point in your life, honestly it is worth the expense to just go get another one!
As we get into baking several different sizes of cake from the same batter for let’s say making a Wedding Cake you may run into a problem of Oven Space as in the first scenario.
So, “can you leave the batter sit on the counter while the others bake?”
Here’s the deal. It is NOT a great idea, but some batters are more forgiving than others.
I have done this by accident actually, with many of the batters I demonstrate in my videos. As many of you know, when I owned by bakery, I would film videos after hours and when the ovens were shut down. I did not always want to fire up my giant oven just to bake a couple of cake layers, so I often “crossed my fingers” and left the pans of batter in the refrigerator for the next day. My thought process was always, “If it works, Great! If not, eh….no big deal.” I would have spent more to turn the oven on than if I had a cake failure!
BUT- This has proven to be a good experiment because little did I know that I would get so many questions regarding this same process!
Let me first explain the “science” behind the cake batters and how each cake is different than the next and maybe you will be able to foresee which batters are OK to do this with and which ones are absolute “No- No’s”
From my blog post What is Cake I explain that there are different types of mix methods and ingredients used to create those mixes and each ingredient in relation to it’s specific mix method is what produces the outcome.
Sponge Cake – Also known as foaming method cakes or genoise cakes, rely primarily on trapped air in the foamed eggs which are the base bulk structure of the entire recipe which also provides the leavening. These cakes must be baked right away because over time (even minutes) the volume of the foam will start to deflate resulting in a dense cake that is no where near the light fluffiness that was intended with this method.
Butter Cake– Also known as Pound Cake and some variations of the Devils Food Cake are mainly creamed butter cakes. Where the butter and sugar is creamed to create a fluffy matrix of air pockets trapping the sugars within the fat pockets which upon baking are melted and converted to steam, which in turn causes your batter to rise. Creamed cake batters have a closer, denser crumb than those recipes which require foaming.
These non- foaming recipes will require additional leavener such as baking soda or powder or both. And since we are talking about Baking Soda and Baking Powder it will be important to recognize what each of those ingredients does in the recipe.
Both baking powder and baking soda are chemical leavening agents that cause batters to rise when baked. Baking powder consists of baking soda, one or more acid salts (cream of tartar and sodium aluminum sulfate) plus cornstarch to absorb any moisture so a reaction does not take place until a liquid is added to the batter.
Most baking powder used today is double-acting which means it reacts to liquid and heat and it happens in two stages. Meaning an initial reaction takes place upon mixing with a batter, and then a second during the baking process. Because of the two stages, baking of the batter can be delayed for about 15-20 minutes without it losing its leavening power.
Do you see why it is necessary to understand your ingredients and what they are doing in your recipe??
For all of you NON science people, who just want answers rather than reasons…..well…Ok
In my experiments with my cake recipes I have found that the ones that will do their best upon waiting for you, your oven or your pans!
Fine to Sit out or in fridge for a few hours:
Red Velvet Cake
Golden Butter Cake
Sponges, Chiffons, Angel Foods, Genoise, Roulades (anything foamed egg method)
Now this is not the BIBLE of TRUTH, as with all recipes, baking has a lot to do with a lot of different factors! Just because it worked OK for me in my oven, under my circumstances doesn’t mean you will have the same exact result, BUT this is a good place to refer if you are questioning if you have a safe window with your batter being left out for a bit or not. At least you can now understand why things react the way they do and if indeed you have some room to play.