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       Volume I - February 16, 2007

Is It Done Yet?
by Alice Osborne

It's an old kitchen maxim: Don't remove a cake from the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with no crumbs attached. Who hasn't followed this advice? But recently test-kitchen cooks have discovered that finding a few crumbs sticking to the toothpick (not raw batter, mind you) isn't such a bad thing.

In fact, a few crumbs can be the sign of a moist and tender cake. That's because residual heat continues to bake the cake once it is removed from the oven. If you wait until a toothpick comes out perfectly clean, the cake may be dry and crumbly by the time it cools.

This "few crumbs attached" maxim is especially apt when baking low-fat cakes. Without a healthy dose of fat to keep it moist, low-fat cakes can become chokingly dry if overbaked. In general, it's best to check all cakes a few minutes before the earliest baking time recommended in the recipe. You can always test the cake again if it's not done, but once a cake is overbaked, there's no going back.

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