How to Use a Toothpick in Baking

Four Methods:Use toothpicks to test readinessUse toothpicks to cut a cake into layersUse toothpicks to join cake layersUse toothpicks to hold plastic wrap above a frosted cake

Toothpicks are very versatile in baking. They can help you test if food is baked, make cutting a cake into layers much easier, and so much more. Here are just a few ways to make the most of toothpicks in your baking.

Method 1
Use toothpicks to test readiness

When cooking meat, it is commonplace to use a meat thermometer to measure when the meat is done. When preparing baked goods, an easy way to check whether they are done is to use a toothpick in a similar but simpler fashion.

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    Put on oven mitts to protect your hands properly. Open the oven with care.
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    Remove the cake or bread from the oven. If you don't want to completely remove it from the oven, you can also pull the rack out just enough to access the baked food.
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    Insert a single, clean (unused) toothpick into the center of the cake or bread until it is almost all the way in.
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    Pull the toothpick back out of the cake or bread by pulling directly up at the same angle at which you inserted it.
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    Examine the toothpick.
    • If there is any wet batter or crumbs clinging to the toothpick, the cake or bread is not ready yet. If nothing sticks to the toothpick, the cake is ready to be taken out of the oven.
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    If the toothpick came out wet, put the cake or bread back in the oven and perform the toothpick test again in another five minutes.

Method 2
Use toothpicks to cut a cake into layers

Cutting a cake in two even layers can be difficult; the cut can come out uneven and you can end up with a thin layer on one side and a thick layer on the other. By using a toothpick, you can create even layers easily.

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    Take a ruler and measure the height of your cake. Let's assume that your cake is 2 inches (5cm) high.
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    Take a toothpick and insert it horizontally into the side of your cake at half the height of the cake. In this case, you would insert the toothpick 1 inch (2.5cm) from the bottom of the cake. Make sure to insert the toothpick half-way into the cake so that there is still half sticking out of the cake.
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    Repeat the process of marking the middle of your cake until you've gone all the way around. It's useful to continue using a ruler as a guide. A good rule of thumb is to insert a toothpick every 2 inches (5cm) apart.
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    Take a long piece of dental floss and wrap it around the circumference of your cake. You'll want a piece long enough so that after it wraps around your cake, you still have some to hold in your hands.
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    Align the dental floss so that it's sitting right on the toothpicks if you're looking at the cake from above.
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    Cross the dental floss where it meets and start pulling the ends of floss away from each other as though you were strangling the cake. This motion will neatly slice the cake in half.
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    Once the cut is complete, pull the floss out gently and discard it.
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    Pull out all the toothpicks and continue preparing your cake.

Method 3
Use toothpicks to join cake layers

To make a cake more stable and less prone to siding to one side, bakers often use toothpicks to hold together the layers.

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    Prepare the bottom layer of your cake. Flatten it, frost it, etc.
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    Place three toothpicks in locations so that they will stand up vertically.
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    Place the next layer on top. The toothpicks will help keep it from sliding.
    • Be sure that no one chokes on the toothpick. Let them know it may be in a slice of the cake.

Method 4
Use toothpicks to hold plastic wrap above a frosted cake

If you've prepared a frosted cake that you plan to eat in a day or two, or if you plan on transporting it to a friend's house or event taking place outdoors, you'll want to protect the cake from external debris and from drying out. Frosted cakes are difficult to wrap though, since any wrapping you use will peel off the frosting once removed. Toothpicks are a great solution to this issue.

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    Insert between six and 12 toothpicks into the top of your frosted cake. The number you use is dependent upon the size of your cake. Distribute the toothpicks evenly across the whole top of your cake.
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    Insert between 10 and 15 toothpicks into the sides of your cake, focusing on piercing the edge closest to the top of the cake.
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    Tear off enough plastic wrap to cover your cake. You may need two pieces that are crossed over the cake if your cake is large.
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    Gently lay the plastic wrap on top of the cake, allowing it to sit on the toothpicks. The toothpicks on the sides of your cake are meant to create a sort of tent out of the plastic wrap so that it doesn't come into contact with the side frosting.
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    Tuck the plastic wrap gently under your serving dish. At the same time, avoid creating tension in the wrapping.
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    Once you're ready to unwrap the cake, remember to remove all of the toothpicks before serving.

Tips

  • If you don't have toothpicks, you can use uncooked spaghetti pasta instead.
  • Avoid performing the toothpick test too often, as it may result in your cake or bread having too many visible holes in the center.
  • If you don't want to use dental floss to cut your cake, you could also use a knife alongside the toothpicks that can still act as a helpful guide.
  • Removing the cake or bread from the oven too often may inhibit the baking process because a suitable baking temperature cannot be reached.

Warnings

  • Be sure to use non-flavored dental floss to cut the cake, otherwise it could leave a yucky minty flavor residue on your dessert.

Things You Need

  • Box of toothpicks
  • Oven mitts
  • Dental floss (unwaxed, unflavored)
  • Plastic food wrap

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