Baking A Cake In A Water Bath

The idea of baking a cake in a water bath may sound a little odd, but the truth is that this can be an extremely effective way to cook a cake.

This is because the cake pan retains moisture for a variety of different cakes, such as cheesecakes. Not to mention, the water bath provides an even temperature for the cake to bake in.

If you have never used a water bath before, it can be a little tricky. Yet, this is an important skill for bakers to learn. So if you are using a set of recipe instructions that call for the use of a water bath, this guide will help you to use this technique to make a delicious cake.

What Is A Water Bath?

A water bath is a useful piece of equipment used in cooking. Essentially, it’s just a cake pan that has been filled with hot water. This not only cooks the cake but provides a moist atmosphere.

How To Bake A Cake In A Water Bath


For this method, you will need the following baking tools:

  • An oven
  • A springform pan or cake tin
  • A large baking pan
  • heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • A kettle filled with boiling water


Once you have followed a recipe and made the cake batter, all you have to do is:

  1. Preheat your oven. Adjust the oven temperature to whatever temperature is recommended in the recipe instructions.
  2. Wrap the base of a cake pan with aluminum foil. Ensure that the aluminum foil has been tightly wrapped, as loose foil can affect the baking process.
  3. Transfer the cake batter to the springform pan or cake tin.
  4. Place the cake pan in the center of a large baking sheet or pan.
  5. Activate the kettle to create boiling water. Heat enough water to fill the sheet.
  6. Pour approximately an inch of hot water into the baking sheet to create a water bath. Ideally, your baking pan should have raised edges, as this will prevent the hot water from spilling. Don’t add too much water, as this will cause it to overflow.
  7. Carefully transfer the baking pan to the oven. Ideally, you should wear oven mitts to protect your hands. Put the cake on the middle rack to make sure that the cake bakes evenly.
  8. Bake the cake for the required amount of cooking time. This will be outlined in the recipe that you are following. As a general rule, it takes around 40 minutes for cakes to fully bake when using the water bath method. By this point, the cake should be firm.
  9. Refrain from opening the oven door until you are ready to take the cake out. Otherwise, the cake might sink.
  10. Once the required time has passed, remove the cake from the oven using oven mitts. Remove the cake from the water bath and leave it on a wire rack for approximately 15 minutes.
  11. Take the cake out of the springform pan and detach the aluminum foil.
  12. Leave the cake to cool on the wire rack for another hour. A cooling rack is great for getting baked goods to quickly cool down by enhancing air circulation.

When Should You Use A Water Bath?

Most cakes can merely be cooked in an oven without the use of a water bath. The only time in which you should use a water bath is if the recipe tells you to. A regular cake recipe might not need to be cooked by using a water bath.

For the most part, the water bath technique is used to bake cheesecakes. Cheesecakes require plenty of moisture, making this an ideal cooking method. Not to mention, these cakes are delicate. This technique will guarantee a good cheesecake.

Plus, sponge cakes can be cooked with this method. When cooked in a water bath, the cake batter won’t expand as much as it usually would. A water bath helps keep the sponge cake soft and moist.

A water bath is also commonly used to make a custard. By preventing the custard from splitting, these baths help bakers to achieve the smooth texture of this dessert.

Finally, a water bath can also be utilized to melt chocolate. If you are making a chocolate sauce to accompany your desserts, a water bath pan can help you to produce silky melted chocolate.

Things To Bear In Mind When Using A Water Bath

To keep you safe and ensure that your recipes are a success, you should consider the following:

  • Coming into contact with boiling or hot water can be dangerous. Avoid getting boiling water on your skin, as this will cause burns. Moreover, you should expect the water bath to produce plenty of steam.
  • Try to avoid any water from seeping into the baking pan. Putting water in the springform pans will result in your sponge cake developing a soggy texture, especially toward the base.
  • Protect yourself from direct heat. This will include using oven gloves when putting the roasting pan in the oven.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do Some Cakes Need To Be Cooked In A Water Bath?

Water baths are best suited to delicate cakes, such as baked cheesecakes. The water bath ensures that the cake is evenly cooked.

This will stop the cake from rapidly expanding. This is good news since rapid expansion can result in cracks forming, which will ruin the appearance of a cake.

Not to mention, water baths will prevent cakes and custards from curdling. Curdling causes baked goods to separate into different lumps. Luckily, the more maintained temperature of the water bath averts this.

What Is A Bain-Marie?

“Bain-marie” is just a French term for a water bath. So if you come across a recipe that commands you to use a bain-marie, simply use the same method as outlined above.

Final Thoughts

If you have been confused by a recipe that requires you to bake a cake in a water bath, simply use these instructions to ensure that your cake has been perfectly cooked. So whether you are making a cheesecake or a sponge cake, this technique is guaranteed to create deliciously moist cakes!

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Kathryn Sewell

Hi! I'm Kate and I have been baking and cooking for as long as I can remember. I like to share the most interesting tips and recipes I try here on What Kate Baked for you to enjoy. If you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share send it over on social.

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