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Trying to create a round top cake

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I'm trying to create a cake that is 8" across and rounded on the top. My strategy so far (which has failed twice) is to bake in a stainless mixing bowl and trim any bottom that exceeds the 8". I've tried two different recipes, one more genois-esque and one more meringue based. Both collapsed terribly and both stuck to the sides making even the remnants virtually unremovable. I really want a clean look on this because of how its going to be used.

My next attempt will be to painstakingly line the pan with fitted parchment. Has anyone done this, or do you have any ideas? BTW, I have an iSi silicone mixing bowls that says they're safe up to 490F so I'm tempted to bake in one of those.

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Its not that I'm trying to avoid buying another pan (our sales are good enough to justify that), but I'm not quite going for a full hemisphere. I really want the shape of the bottom of a mixing bowl - it flattens out.

And I considered the idea of carving, but I can't imagine getting a clean enough finish from that - meaning I've only carved up a cake once or twice. It won't be frosted - its being set inside of a mousse.

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How did you prep the bowls for your initial efforts? Butter and flour? I am a big fan of parchment-lined cake pans, but that is going to be pretty painful to get a smooth finish on a bowl. I would definitely give your iSi bowls a shot, they should be fine in the oven.

Chris Hennes
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Do you have a rice cooker? Mine have rounded edges with flat in the middle and are non-stick.

If you have the time you can order a round contour pan here.

I have a couple that I use as top layers over a regular round. I don't have an 8 inch, only 10 and 14 in.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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I've made round cakes a number of times and baked a couple of cake layers in 8 inch pans, as well as a cake in a 6 inch diameter metal bowl. I spray the bowl with pan spray, but don't even try to use parchment in it.

Once the cakes are baked, cooled and filled, I stack them (using dowels, if necessary). Once the whole cake is really cold, it's time to gently carve around the edges of the bowl-shaped cake and the cake below it, using small pieces of carved cake to fill in the edges, if needed. Once it's crumb coated, you can smooth out any bumpy imperfections.

If your cake is supposed to be 8 inches at its most narrow top, use a bowl that's 8 inches at the inside base diameter, with a 9-10 inch outside diameter.

I have the best success using butter cakes for these projects; they're more sturdy for stacking and carving.

Beaches Pastry

May your celebrations be sweet!

Beaches Pastry Blog

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I wonder if the bowl shape is a cause of the collapse of the cake? Both recipes were basically meringue based and rely on preserving the egg structure. The bowl can't provide even heating by the nature of its shape. Just speculation on my part, but maybe you would need to use a less delicate cake type for it to work.

Edited to add: beacheschef's point on butter cakes may be getting at the same issue in a different way.

Edited by rickster (log)
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Back in my 1970s childhood, Wilton sold a shaped cake pan that would fit your specifications perfectly. It was a tapering half-round with a flattened topside, intended to portray the full skirts of a doll, who rested atop the cake. Alas, Wilton no longer makes this pan, but I did find one on ebay.. The pan features a hollow rod through the center, which allows for heat conduction through the center of the cake.

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Wilton still makes and sells the "Wonder Pan" - it is 8 inches in diameter at the base and 5½" tall, the smallest end is flattened but not a large as a bowl bottom (maybe 3-4 inches). It has a center aluminum rod that helps the center cook. In the real world it is known as a Tiffin pan.

You can do parchment for your bowl. It is difficult to explain. You cut a circle whose radius is about the depth of your bowl or larger so the attached pie slices you create will overlap. Cut radius slices into the circle of parchment stopping short of the center to allow the paper to lie flat on the bowl bottom. HTH

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If you wanted to add some better heat conduction to the center of your cake (like the Wilton pan does with the aluminum rod), you could try dropping a flower nail (see here) upside down into the bottom of the bowl before you bake it. Depending on the size of the bowl you may have room for more than one. I think I've seen examples in these forums of people using aluminum foil folded into a T shape for the same purpose also.

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I actually make a pineapple upside down cake in a cast iron wok. It took me a couple of time to ge the cooking time adjusted though. The dome cooks much more quicky around the edge and gets overdone before the center is done. I just lowered my heat and put it on a top rack to get more of a bake from the top and it comes out beautifully now.

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Grrrr...I've had three successive failures with this. Today was a honey cake in the iSi pan. Baked fine, but couldn't get that sucker out for the life of me even after freezing. I'm going to a super basic recipe tomorrow and trying again with a parchment circle just on the top since that's what stuck today. I sure hope this is worth it when I finally get this cake complete.

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Maybe try it with a cake you know to be solid, stable and predictable and spray and flour the #%$& out of the bowl (maybe even add the little disc of parchment you mentioned). Even if that's not the cake you want to use, you'll eliminate the bowl as the culprit if it works and then you can concentrate on working on the recipe you want to use or finding another.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here's what I ended up doing - a hell of a lot of spray and flour, and a couple of strips of parchment in my silicone mixing bowl. Sure enough it lifted right out, but the parchment didn't leave a clean enough finish. I'm going to try smaller strips of parchment and a different recipe - I wanted honey cake for this version which is especially dense and sticky.


And this is the effect that I was going for:


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That looks stunning, Rob. very clever.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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