Some common baking questions ask about the difference between baking in a metal versus a glass pan and the difference between baking soda and baking powder. Other questions ask the reason a cake sinks in the middle and how to keep berries from sinking to the bottom of muffins.
Baking in a metal pan differs from glass because metal withstands higher temperatures. A metal pan holds and conducts heat better, so the cake stays hotter. Pans made of black metal can brown cakes too quickly because they heat up fast and stay hotter. Shiny metal pans help cakes to brown more evenly. Glass pans have a more uniform heat distribution. A general rule is to follow the recipe and use the pan indicated. Typically, the term “baking pan” refers to metal, while “baking dish” usually means a glass pan.
While they are both leavening agents, baking soda has four times the strength of baking powder. It is the ideal choice when using ingredients such as yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk. Mix it with dry ingredients before adding it to a batter.
A cake usually sinks in the middle because the batter has been stirred too vigorously and is overbeaten. To prevent sinking, beat the butter and eggs together at medium, rather than high speed and add the eggs one at a time. Beat for only the time called for in the recipe to prevent air from forming that can cause the cake to sink.
To prevent berries or raisins from sinking to the bottom of a muffin or cake, toss them with a small amount of flour to coat before combining them with the batter. Pieces that are lighter tend to sink less. Chop the fruit into smaller pieces to help distribute it evenly.