Why Put Water in Oven When Baking Cake – The Science Behind It

Have you ever wondered why grandma always insists on putting water in the oven when baking a cake? It may seem like an odd trick, but there’s a good reason for it.

In this article, I’ll reveal two core reasons why incorporating water into the baking process can make a significant difference in the outcome of your cake.

So, let’s dive in and unravel the mystery behind this age-old technique that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Why Put Water in Oven When Baking Cake – Revealed

After all, Grandma was right. Here are the two core reasons why putting water in the oven will help you when baking a cake.

1. Cake Love Moisture

The number one enemy of a delicious cake is dryness. It can ruin the texture and taste of your baked goods.

Different recipes have various solutions to this problem, such as using high-moisture ingredients like eggs or buttermilk.

However, these substitutions may not always be an option, as they can change the density of the cake and affect the cooking time.

2. The Steam Factor

This is where putting water in the oven comes in. The water will turn into steam while baking, providing moisture and maintaining an even temperature throughout the baking process.

This helps protect delicate dishes, such as custards, mousse, and sauces.

The water also spreads the heat around the pan, preventing crusting and rapid expansion, which can lead to cracking.

This technique is handy for delicate dishes and is a tried and true method passed down from grandma and aunties.

What Does A Water Bath Do For Cakes?

A water bath is a baking technique that helps to evenly bake delicate cakes and prevent the formation of breaks and cracks on the surface.

This method is commonly used for cakes such as cheesecakes and sponge cakes.

chocolate Cake on ceramic plate - Why Put Water in Oven When Baking Cake

The water bath technique is versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes, such as:

  • Warming up cold baked goods
  • Melting chocolate for decoration
  • Baking delicate cakes like cheesecakes and sponge cakes

When using a water bath for baking a cake, the goal is to surround the cake batter with warm water to protect it and maintain even heat throughout the circumference of the cake.

This helps to bake the cake evenly on all sides, resulting in a smooth and even surface without hard crust or cracks.

When to Add Water to the Oven?

We typically add water to the oven before placing the cake inside. While water may not be a necessary ingredient in all cake recipes, incorporating it into the baking process can enhance the final product.

The Risks of Using Water in the Oven and How to Avoid Them

As much as we love to bake, let’s face it – nothing is foolproof. And when it comes to adding water to the oven while baking your cake, there are a few risks to keep in mind.

The biggest danger? A soggy bottom. If water seeps through the tinfoil, your cake may cook on top but not on the bottom, leaving you with a mushy mess. And let’s not even get started on the possibility of your cake falling apart when you take it out of the pan.

But fear not, There are ways to manage these risks. For example, lining your cake pan with baking paper, even if you’re using a non-stick pan, gives your cake extra protection from the water. And remember to always keep at least an inch between your tin and the water, because let’s be real – we’re not trying to make a cake-flavored soup here.

So, as they say, “With great baking comes great responsibility” – or something like that.

Why Do Some Cakes Need to Be Baked in a Water Bath?

When it comes to baking, using a water bath is like giving your delicate dishes a warm hug.

It’s the secret to achieving the perfect texture for custard-based bakes like crème brûlée, quiche, soufflés and terrines.

Trust me, the last thing you want is a rubbery cheesecake or a curdled quiche.

So, next time you’re whipping up one of these delicious treats, don’t skip the water bath step. Your taste buds will thank you.

Here are some baked goods that will benefit greatly from the use of a water bath:

  • Cheesecakes
  • Sponge and Chiffon Cakes
  • Terrine
  • Soufflés
  • Crème Brûlée
  • Quiche

How To Bake A Cake In A Water Bath?

Here is how you can bake a cake in a water bath by just following these simple steps:

  • Cover the bottom of the cake pan with aluminum foil
  • Add the cake batter to the pan
  • Put the cake pan in a bigger pan
  • Boil water in a kettle
  • Add about 1 inch of boiling water to the bigger pan
  • Put the pan in the oven on the middle rack
  • Cook the cake for 40 minutes or until it looks done
  • Let the cake cool for 15 minutes on a rack
  • Take the cake out of the water bath
  • Let the cake cool for another hour at room temperature.

Can I Bake a Cheesecake in a Water Bath?

Yes, you can bake a cheesecake in a water bath. A water bath is a crucial step in baking a delicate cheesecake.

The evaporating moisture helps prevent the cake from drying out in the oven, resulting in an airy and delicious slice.

Cheesecake is one of my favorite cakes to bake, but it’s also one of the most delicate. Over the years, I’ve learned that the key to a perfect cheesecake is to protect it during the baking process. That’s where the water bath comes in.

Placing the cheesecake into a larger pan filled with water, allows the cheesecake to cook evenly and reach its full potential.

Treat your cheesecake like a newborn baby and give it the care it needs to turn out perfectly

Can I Bake a Sponge Cake in a Water Bath?

Yes, you can bake a sponge cake in a water bath. In fact, it is recommended as it helps create a smooth and even surface all around the cake.

The moisture provided by the evaporated water also helps maintain the spongy texture that is characteristic of sponge cakes.

Cheese Cake on plate - Why Put Water in Oven When Baking Cake

Benefits of Baking a Sponge Cake in a Water Bath:

  • Prevents rapid expansion from too much heat
  • Helps create a smooth and even surface
  • Maintains the spongy texture

Other Techniques to Avoid Dry Cakes

Are you skeptical of the water method for ensuring a moist cake? Don’t worry, there are plenty of other ways to achieve the perfect crumb. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Properly Applied Ingredients: Room-temperature butter results in fluffiness, the right ratio of baking soda or baking powder prevents too much density, and a little extra oil will mend a batter that seems too dry.
  • Avoid Over-Mixing and Over-Baking: Over-mixing the batter will cause a dense cake, and over-baking will dry it out even after all your efforts to make it moist.
  • Simple Syrup to the Rescue: If your cake still turns out dry, don’t throw it away! After it has cooled slightly but is still lukewarm, brush it all over with simple syrup, cover it, and let it stand for a couple of hours. Even professional bakers do this to add extra moisture to cakes.
  • “Wet Fillings and Ice Cream: Another way to compensate for a dry cake is to add a wet filling, such as whipped cream or jelly, or serve it with ice cream, so the dessert soaks up a newfound texture.

Crunchy Cake on a cutting board - Why Put Water in Oven When Baking Cake

Remember, a dry cake doesn’t have to be the end of the world. With a little bit of kitchen improvisation, you’ll be able to fix your cake and learn something new along the way.

Why Put Water in Oven When Baking Cake – Conclusion

Putting water in the oven when baking a cake serves the purpose of providing moisture and maintaining an even temperature throughout the baking process.

This technique, known as a water bath is commonly used for delicate cakes such as cheesecakes and sponge cakes to prevent surface cracks and ensure an even bake.

The water surrounds the cake batter and maintains heat throughout the circumference of the cake, resulting in a smooth and even surface.

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