If you own an air fryer and are unsure whether it can perform the same as your oven, you might be surprised by the truth. This article will give you some incredible facts and tips that can give you plenty of reasons to use an air fryer instead of your oven for baking a cake. We’ll also give you our expert opinion on when is baking in the air fryer the same as baking in the oven.
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Why bake a cake in an air fryer?
You can probably guess that air fryers are great for making select items nice and crispy, especially if you want to use less oil for frying. Many people would even wonder why attempt to bake more delicate items like perhaps a cake… But if there is a will, there is always a way to do the impossible. Just look at making brownies in a mug using only your microwave. Nothing wrong with that idea at all.
But for the most part, baking a cake in an air fryer is possible due to select conditions that make it happen. Not every air fryer will suffice and you do need to have temperature controls so you get better results. You also need a machine that will be big enough for the cake size you intend to bake. But to be honest about the main question at hand here, how is baking in the air fryer the same as baking in the oven?
The simple answer is a lot closer to speed and convenience which makes this a lot of fun. It can also be just for last-minute cake making that doesn’t need much preparation. The short answer here is that you do need to follow some rules that will give you the best results, and this is where we aim to give you a complete breakdown of how and why baking a cake in an air fryer can be a success.
Stick to basic recipes
If you use a cookbook or have your own personal recipe book that contains family recipes, you probably have at least two or more rock-solid recipes for making a cake. You want to have a recipe that is simple and isn’t going over the top with complicated ingredients. Unlike your oven, it’s easier to make simple cake layers that can be baked separately and then layered onto each other when they are all completed.
Just for the practicality of reasoning, start with simple cakes first and work your way toward more complicated recipes later. This might sound like experimentation, but you have to know that an air fryer can bake a cake when the conditions are good. This can include air flow control, temperature, and how long it’s baked. If you like super simple recipes, many of the simplest recipes that work with the best results come from cake mixes.
Perhaps this sounds like you’re intending to cheat, although this can also be considered a great hack since you don’t need to measure and weigh all of the basic ingredients. Cake mixes are good since you just add your water, butter, and eggs to any typical off-the-shelf cake mix and mix it together. This lends very well to last-minute cake-making tasks for celebrations, birthdays, and special occasions.
Your air fryer is only so big
Let’s talk about air fryer size and how much space you can actually use for baking a cake. Unlike your oven, air fryers only have so much space inside for putting food. Small air fryers aren’t a good choice so you must have at least a 6-quart or bigger air fryer if you intend on putting a cake pan inside. The general rule of thumb is testing which size cake you want to make and see if it fits into your air fryer.
Even with a 5.8-quart air fryer, you can still manage to fit a 7-inch cake pan inside but nothing larger than that. If you’re going for a big cake, you need a fryer that will fit a larger cake pan. It’s as simple as that! Only pour so much cake batter into a pan that will also accommodate for the rising of the batter once it starts to rise. This usually isn’t a problem if you figure that the top of your cake will reach the upper rim of the cake form.
Cooking and temperature controls
Every air fryer will have modern digital control settings that are easy to adjust to get the best temperature and airflow setting. On some models, there is a timer that will automatically cut off the heat after a certain time. This reduces the chances of burning anything or in this case overcooking your cake. Because the airflow is coming from the top and rotates in a swirling motion, you’ll find that cake tops will have a certain shape because of this swirling air.
You will likely need to trim this part off of your cake if you intend to have a flat cake top when adding fondant toppings or frosting. Since every cake will bake differently due to the size of your cake, the temperature and time that you bake need to be adjusted –accordingly! Many air fryers are different so this adjustment will only be 2-4 minutes at best. But, this also relies heavily on the fact you need to use metal cake pans.
You can consider using silicone cake forms if they keep their shape and are meant for use in a standard oven. This would certainly reduce needing to grease a metal pan and add parchment paper. If you prefer using silicone, this is an option that many modern kitchens are switching to. The only downside is that silicone does tend to toughen and crack through repeated baking because the silicone oil is (literally) being baked out of it. So, metal pans -never let you down.
If you still have the operating manual for your air fryer, chances are it also comes with a simple menu selection for common things you can cook inside it. This will immediately tell you what the general temperature and time needed are best recommended. Online recipes for air fryer cakes will only give you a temperature range to follow. Aside from getting your cake baked all the way through you will need to make the toothpick test to see if the stick is clean.
This lets you know that your batter is baked, whereas gooey toothpicks are a sign you need to bake a bit longer. The biggest problem with burning comes from the top of your cake which can be remedied by laying some tin foil on top so this deflects the heat. If you are cutting off the top portion, this might not pose a major problem for you unless you intend to use these extra bits to add into frosting as a thickener or for basic shapes to create fondant toppers.
What kind of cakes are possible?
When you get more experience baking simple cakes using an air fryer you can start to experiment with more advanced recipes. Even if you decide to make cake batter that is whipped to the point of meringue, it’s possible to bake this under the right temperature and fan settings. If you are searching for a recipe that is a special kind of cake such as coffee cake, pound cake, or angel food cake, always look at the reviews on that website for feedback.
You can be creative and start doing your own experiments, which is what most home chefs are already doing. It’s always nice to do your research beforehand to see if others have attempted to make fruit-filled cakes, fruit cakes, cakes with nuts, and other seasonal favorites. Keep in mind that if you’re making a King Cake for celebrating Mardi Gras, try looking for a little plastic baby that has a high melting point or choose a ceramic baby instead.
Troubleshooting and air fryer hacks for baking
There are some tips they don’t teach you about air fryers soon enough. Just like your oven, you want to preheat the inside to get the best results. This means that the circulating temperature before your cake goes in, is perfect for baking cake. It will take longer for your cake to bake if you start with a cold air fryer. Don’t believe that rumor that air fryers heat up faster than an oven, you want to have a preheated chamber before your cake goes in.
Always start your temperature a bit lower than the recommended level and increase this during the bake time. This helps to keep cakes moist and also so you get a nice easy rise that isn’t being forced down with swirling air. You can also turn off the air fryer for a couple of minutes to allow internal sections to catch up and bake so you keep the outer cake edges from burning or browning too soon. The last tip is to avoid baking cakes that are too thick.
The thicker your batter happens to be also has a disadvantage for getting enough heat to bake at the same time that your outer edges and top are baking. This is why you will need to use pauses’ to allow the residual heat inside your batter to bake inside. Your oven is essentially similar since the heat is cooking from the outside. Allow the residual heat inside that little chamber to work its magic in your favor instead of getting poor results.
Is an air fryer better than an oven for baking cake?
You might not have the exact results that a conventional oven will give you at first, but this is a hard comparison to start with. Air fryers are excellent substitutes for baking a cake if you follow these tips and tricks. The rest is up to you to experiment and try new recipes that you haven’t tried yet. Out of all the reasons that you would want to use an air fryer are the portability aspect and baking convenience. You can take an air fryer on vacation or over to a friend’s house. As long as you have electricity, you don’t need to worry about firing up your gas oven.
Even if you have an electric oven, you can bake a cake on any table or countertop that is comfortable for you. Chances are, you might be very happy with the results you can get and get hooked on making other kinds of pastries in your air fryer after this success.