Q: I've been having persistent issues when it comes to baking anything in a loaf pan in my current apartment. When I bake I follow recipes exactly, I keep a thermometer in my oven, and generally don't have problems with other kinds of baking: muffins, scones, cookies, cakes in springform pans — but my loaf cakes never set.
The bottom and sides will brown to the point of burning, and the top will set, but the center is always uncooked. It's gotten to the point where I have left pound cakes in the oven for upwards of an hour longer than a recipe calls for and it's still a disaster.
I've tried using different racks in the oven, rotating it, switching pans (I currently use a pyrex loaf pan), but nothing seems to remedy this problem. In the past I've had no issue — these are repeat recipes I've made with excellent results — but since I've switched from a gas stove to an electric, my loaves never bake. I just threw a blueberry-lime pound cake that I thought would be my lunch for the week into the trash.
Is there an obvious solution to this that I'm just overlooking?
Sent by Lori
Editor: Losing that blueberry-lime pound cake would frustrate me too. I have a few suspicious about what the issue may be, and most of them center around your switch to an electric oven.
What temperature are you cooking these cakes at, and are you preheating the oven? Cooking at 350°F is the sweet spot for pound cakes, and you really have to let the oven heat up all the way before sliding the cake in. Electric ovens take some time, so don't cut any corners on your wait. Pick up a new oven thermometer — perhaps the one you have now isn't reading correctly — to be sure you're truly baking your cake in a properly heated oven.
The glass loaf pan shouldn't be an issue; in fact, it slows down the browning of the cake (especially in comparison to metal bakeware). Tent your cake with foil if it begins to brown too quickly.
Emma wrote a post about the things you need to know about an electric oven, and it's full of other handy tips that might help you with further troubleshooting. But start with a new oven thermometer and proper preheating, and hopefully your next pound cake will end up on your plate.