Baking – Pears caused uneven bake – how to stop this


I baked a gingerbread cake following a recipe which seemed fairly typical for gingerbread. The instructions included slicing a pear and pinwheeling it across the top of the batter. I ended up over-baking it because the pears prevented the very top layer from baking and I couldn't see that the sides and bottom were plenty well done. Now I have a dry gingerbread that has a top layer of basically pears and batter.

Edit for details: Oven temp was 375, 9.5" glass pie dish (called for 9×9 glass dish, but I didn't have one). It is a very small, old oven that I'm not used to yet, though other things I've baked have so far turned out alright.

I assume the wet pears caused this, but it's not the first recipe I've seen that you bake with fruit on top. How could I have prevented this uneven bake while still using fresh fruit?

Best Answer

If you were baking this in a glass dish, the color of the sides should have been a hint that you needed to take the cake out of the oven. This is one reason for the popularity of glass dishes. But you have to keep in mind that a glass dish holds a lot of heat, so things baked in it need to be slightly underbaked when you take them out.

Also, it sounds like this would be a good candidate for the toothpick method of cake testing (the toothpick, when inserted in the middle, comes out dry). You're not trying to caramelize the cake, just cook the batter entirely.

Slices of fruit, especially pear, are never going to go brown like a naked cake would. So you need to allow for that in your evaluation. One of my coworkers baked a cake into leather last week because she thought it had to be really brown - that is not the case, a mild gold is usually enough. If you want more color, you might consider sprinkling a slight bit of sugar on top, that usually causes a bit more brown for the same degree of doneness.