Baking in a half sphere pan

Mike Nolan

One of the first things I ordered from King Arthur was a purple silicone half-sphere pan to use as a double boiler.

It works very well for that, but now we want to use it as a cake pan, too.

Our first attempt to bake a cake in it was not as successful as I'd like, the center wasn't fully baked even though we gave it about 15 extra minutes of baking time.

The outside also seemed a bit overdone. Should we be using a lower temperature?

I think that pan is about 7 1/4" inches in diameter, any idea how much cake batter it takes to fill it? The cake didn't seem to rise as much as it normally does, is that normal with a half-round pan?

We were using a chocolate cake-in-the-pan (aka crazy cake) recipe for this test, but I think the 'production' cake is more likely going to be some kind of white almond sour cream (WASC) cake.

badge posted by: Mike Nolan on November 08, 2010 at 10:57 am in Q & A
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reply by: KAF_MaryJane on November 08, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Hi Mike,
A couple of ideas/hints.

Fill the pan 2/3 full with water to find out how many cups it will hold. This will give you a good idea of how much batter to use.

Also, most molds like that have some kind of core to insert in the center of the batter to ensure that the cake cooks all the way through. I've heard of folks making one out of heavy duty foil. Biggest drawback is a hole in the cake when baked.

Lastly, with a thick cake, it is a good idea to reduce the baking temperature and increase the baking time.

Hope this helps!

reply by: uninvited-guest on November 08, 2010 at 4:35 pm

To "eliminate" the hole, use an oven proof custard cup/ramekin and form a foil mold to use as MaryJane states. Then, you grease and flour the inside of the custard cup/ramekin and bake a mini cake in it. When it comes time to put the cake together, just insert the mini cake into the hole that was made by the foil mold. Trim if needed.

At some stores, you can buy just a metal cone, and bake the cake using it, then baking a smaller cake on the inside of the tube. If it's not something you are going to use a lot, just use a foil mold

reply by: Mike Nolan on November 08, 2010 at 4:59 pm
Mike Nolan

The capacity of the pan is about 6 3/4 cups. (That's also consistent with it being a half-sphere with about a 7.25 inch diameter.)

I don't recall any core coming with it, and I've bought four of these pans from KAF (though sold as a double boiler, I believe): three blue ones that collapse down for storage and the purple one that doesn't. I think they were all made by Lekue, but I don't see it in their online catalog.

I also checked the Wilton site, since they make a half-sphere pan, though I think theirs is only 6" in diameter. That extra 3/8 of an inch of pan height might have a big effect on baking.

I don't know if theirs comes with any kind of core, either, though I don't see any reference to it in the instructions available online.

I think the recipe we used makes somewhere between 3 and 4 cups of batter, next time I think we'll try doubling it, with a pan underneath to catch spills.

Is there a rule of thumb for how full to fill a shaped cake pan? (I'm not the cake baker here.)

reply by: KAF_MaryJane on November 09, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Good rule of thumb for pans is to not fill more than 2/3 full.
This site has a cool method of using a flower nail as a heating core, less holes.

reply by: Mike Nolan on November 09, 2010 at 3:42 pm
Mike Nolan

I'm not sure quite how to adapt the flower nail method to a spherical pan that is over 3 1/2 inches deep, but I'll keep that trick in mind.

I think we filled it about 2/3 full, but it didn't rise much, possibly because of the specific recipe we used. I plan to try this again with a WASC recipe soon, this time I'm going to probably fill it 2/3 to 3/4 full by volume, which in a spherical pan with no markings on it is a bit tricky to measure.

reply by: frick on November 09, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Mike, I know you don't have a Michael's (crafts) store right next door but I believe I've seen the aluminum core for sale there.

The trick with the pyrex cup is clever but I'm afraid that with a half-sphere, the cup would sink to the bottom and you need it to stay at the top, so that might not work. Same goes for the flower nail (remember the aluminum nails that we used to use to make a potato bake more quickly?

The alum. tube is taller, maybe 6 inches and has a flat flange if I remembr correctly.

This is a radical idea if you are not able to find a core. Buy a cheap angel food pan from a Goodwill (I see them there all the time), and cut away the pan bottom and sides, leaving the core and a part of the bottom as a flange. Burnish the edges and, voila. This will, however, leave you with a cake with a hole in the middle, but I believe you could bake a muffin size insert and make it fit.

reply by: uninvited-guest on November 14, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Sorry I was unclear. You use the cup to FORM the foil, then you remove it from the cup, and use it as a core. You can then bake the mini cake in the cup at the same time as the larger cake (though it will be removed from the oven a bit earlier)..

reply by: Mike Nolan on November 15, 2010 at 12:01 am
Mike Nolan

There's a Michaels about a mile from here, but I don't recall having seen the core there.

Anyway, I'm off the hook on the soccer party/cake because the Madrid Real-Barcelona game has been moved from a Sunday to Monday--a work day. But I still plan to practice with the modeling chocolate, that's a skill I'd like to have in the repertoire.