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Using a thermometer to judge when a cake is done

I find using the toothpick test often leads to a dry cake.

Is there a way to judge whether a cake is done by using a thermometer poked in the center of the cake? And, if so, does "done" vary by type of cake - for example chocolate verses yellow cake verses a quick bread?


T. London


  • Hi Lizbeth - The toothpick test is a popular technique to tell when a cake is done, but i agree it can be a bit unreliable. Fudgy chocolate cakes and rich carrot cakes are considered fully baked while a few crumbs are still attached to a toothpick or tester. I usually pull all cakes out of the oven while there are still a few crumbs attached to a cake tester or toothpick since, due to carryover cooking, the cake will continue to bake. A better test of doneness is to touch the top of the cake in the center. If the cake feels firm and springy to the touch, the cake is probably done. If the batter sticks to your finger or the cake doesn’t spring back, it’s not. 

    If you do want to take the temperature of your cake, first ensure that you don’t take it too soon. The hole made by the thermometer could affect the rise. Close to the end of the baking time take the temperature in the center of the cake (making sure you don’t hit the pan bottom). For most cakes you’re looking for 200-205 degrees. For lighter angel food cakes or sponge cakes, a temperature between 205-210 degrees is better.  Thanks for writing in! Best, Lynn C.

  • Thanks so much for the helpful reply!


  • thats the FIRST time I have ever seen temperatures for’s usually for meats...not so much for fish etc

    in the day of instant read thermometers, might MILKSTREET assemble a chart with other useful “temperatures”?

  • I wish there was a more comprehensive list, I know bread is about 205, and pecan pie is 175

  • I've looked for a temperature range for cakes in the past and never found it. I should have known I could ask you for the answer! Thank you

    I love the idea of a chart! … a magnetic chart I can add to the conversion charts and meat temp charts I keep on the side of my fridge!

    I'm gonna bake a cake today!

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