Christmas cake disaster

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Learning to cook

Christmas cake disaster

Hi, I'm a pensioner and learnin gto cook. I decided to make a Christmas cake for the family.
I followed the instructions to the letter and weighed each ingredient. It looked fantastic until I opened the oven door at precisely 4 hours only to find a disaster. Burned right through. My wife, who is an excellent cook and big fan of Delia checked every step of the way to make sure I didn't make any mistakes.

I can't afford to make another cake. Just looking to see if others have had a similar expereince and what caused the problem.

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Valmapp

Christmas cake disaster

Sorry to hear that did you put the oven on too high? Xmas cakes need long cooking on low heat. I made Delias Creole cake which was cooked on very low heat. Sometimes you need to cover the top of the cake with parchment paper which is like greaseproof for the last hour which stops the top from becoming too brown

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Welshcookie

Christmas cake

That is so, so sad for you. Truth to tell you cannot leave something like a cake for so long without peeking at it. I know the instructions say 'Do not look at it for X time' but ovens vary so much it is tempting fate. If the oven is running even a little bit hot over 4 hours it will make so much difference.

My family like a 'soggy' cake so I will certainly not be cooking it for the full 6 and a half hours recommended in the recipe I use (12 inch cake, which I cut in four, for different people)without checking it and sticking a skewer in it frequently.

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Queen of Puds

Christmas cake disaster

Poor you, what a pain & so disheartening. Don't give up though - we've all had problems over the years, & learnt by our mistakes. Even then, anyone can have a bad day (you only have to watch great British bake off to see it) so please don't give up! I remember my grandad making something called a 'Black Bun' cake for the first time when he was about 65, my gran was doubtful & worried that he'd make a pigs ear of it, but he managed it & he did it without help. But he also ate it (we were a bit dubious, to be fair- it looked quite dodgy) but it was such a big deal that grandad had cooked anything let alone a cake - a real first, he never usually even made a cup of tea!

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Sue G

christmas cake disaster

Hello,

Over the years there has been quite a few members who have burnt there cake, so you are not on your own.

Each oven temp differs.
If you do feel like making another, lower your oven a little and start to check after 2 1/2 hrs.
I make Delia's cake ever year, up until this year, the cake was cooked in 2 1/2 hrs, this year new oven and it took just 3 hrs.

You could try making the Light Fruit cake, this is also very nice, not so rich.

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Learning to cook

Festive Door Stop

Thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to reply. I've had four replies and will answer each one in turn.

I set the heat at 140 as per recipe. I used parchment on the bottom, sides and top and cut a small hole size of a 50p for feeding with the brandy. I put a kitchen timer on at 4 hours and excitedly opened the oven door only to be greeted with a burnt offering. At first I thought it was just the top which I could have removed but the whole cake was black and burned from top to bottom. Didn't have the heart to throw it out. It's my festive door stop.

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Learning to cook

Christmas Cake

Thank you for your tips. My wife, who was in the background for support and advice all the time also suggested I look at it from time to time but I insisted on sticking rigidly to Delia's guidleines which was NOT to open th eoven door for at least four hours.

Next time I'll listen to my wife.

Best wishes

John

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Learning to cook

Grandad's cooking

Wow. From what you say I could probably beat your grandad in a cook off.

My wife bought me a few of Delia's books including the one with absolute basics but I thought, hey, how difficult can a cake be if I weigh all the ingedients and follow the instructions.

Thanks for you reply.

John

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Learning to cook

Christmas Cake

It's nice to know, but a little worrying that others have had a similar problem. I suspect that ovens vary and maybe ours is hotter than others. My wife never has a problem. I've tried lots of other recipes and this is the only disaster so I feel fortunate.

It's actually giving a lot of people a lot of laughs so it's not all bad news.

John

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Yummy

Christmas Cake Disaster

Hope this hasn't put you off .

I wonder if your oven is fan assisted ? ? if so you need to reduce the temp by 20 degrees so that it compensates.

I have used Delia's Christmas Cake/Celebration cake for years and made wedding cakes using this recipe without problems. I ALWAYS also surround the cake tin with 4 times folded newspaper tied with string so that it is protected during it's long slow cooking, and keep looking just to check all is well.

Please don't be disheartened, we all have the odd disaster x

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Learning to cook

Christmas Cake

Hello Yummy,
We have a double oven and my wife did explain why I shouldn't use the fan assisted side.

I'm not disheartened. Disapointed yes, but in the whole scheme of things it is only a cake.

Thanks for your support.

I'll be on line tomorrow when we're told the great lady herself will be chatting live.

Cheers,

John

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Welshcookie

Christmas Cake

You have put your finger on the problem. If using a fan oven the temperature must be reduced by at least 20 degrees. None of the temperatures given in Delia's recipes are for fan ovens.

Not sure why you left a hole for the application of brandy. When the cake is cold the cake is usually turned over and 'fed' into the base of the cake. Or is that just me?

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Learning to cook

Fan or no fan?

Hello Welshcookie,

I'm confused. Delia says to pre-heat the oven to 140C which is exactly what I did. I deliberately avoided the fan assisted oven. You rightly point out they tend to run hotter. I followed the instructions to the letter (or number) in this case.

Sadly, I never got to feeding it feeding it let alone eating it.

I believe Waitrose sell a kit of ingredients so I may go there next and start again.

Thanks again,

I'll be on line on Thursday in case there are some last minute tips.

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Welshcookie

Christmas Cake

I'm sorry, I misread your post as saying you had used a fan-assisted oven.

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Lindsey, Food Editor

For Learning to Cook


Hello Learning to Cook,

From everything you have said it seems that your burnt cake is likely to be because your oven is running hotter than it should be. Clearly you have followed the recipe very careful and protected your cake with double band of paper as Delia recommends.

We have an oven running 20 degrees higher than it should at the moment and we have had an engineer out to look at it several times. The sensor has been changed and its still not working as it should.

However I have used it successfully by using an oven thermometer. I just pop it in the oven (on the centre shelf) and check the temperature on the thermometer before I bake and adjust the oven temperature down (or up sometimes!). I used the oven yesterday and it worked well by doing this.

Delia and I between us have several ovens, which are all the same brand, but the results vary between them. When testing or filming etc. we use the thermometer so we can be as accurate as possibly can.

http://www.deliaonline.com/equipment/deliaonline-cookery-school-equipment-oven-thermometer.html

An oven thermometer is much cheaper than the wasted ingredients and time so it really is worth getting one.

In the test kitchen I baked a Creole Cake yesterday which is baked at 140 C without any brown paper wrapped around it and when I checked it at 3 hours it was still uncooked but I did cover it, as in the recipe, for the last hour and the results were as they should be.

Over the past couple of years I have made more that 50 Classic Christmas cakes in all of our ovens and every one has cooked in 4 hours but I do think that the success of these is down to using the oven thermometers and adjusting the dial accordingly. It is much better if you cook the cake at the correct temperature for the correct amount of time. I suspect, as your cake was so burnt it was probably burnt on the outside before you cake was cooked through.

We really care that our recipes work but as so many members have confirmed, ovens are so variable. I think you have had a bad start but I hope an oven thermometer will allow you to have lots of successful results. If you do get one try out some low cost cake recipes first to see how it goes.

Best wishes

Lindsey

 
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