American Flag Cupcake cocktail stick

Cake & Pastry

Cake Tester: Do you need one?

If you’re someone who loves kitchen gadgets (and who doesn’t?), then you’re probably thrilled with the idea of a cake tester. It sounds so simple: a small metal probe that will tell you if your cake is completely baked.

Except, it doesn’t really. Since the probes are metal, you’ll only be able to tell if your cake hasn’t cooked if it’s still completely raw. When you pull the tester out of a cake that’s raw in the middle, the batter will coat the metal stick.

If your cake is partially baked, you may never know. Since the metal is so smooth, the cake tester slides back out of your cake cleanly. You just can’t beat a wooden toothpick or bamboo skewer when it comes to testing your cakes.

Pros and Cons of Cake Testers

Cake testers are handy little gadgets to have in the kitchen, but you might find yourself using them to test other foods’ doneness. Some chefs reportedly use them to feel the texture of potatoes as they press the cake tester through it.

More experienced chefs also use metal testers to gauge temperature. When cooking meat or fish, you can stick a metal cake tester into the flesh for a few seconds and then hold it against your wrist to see how hot the food is inside.

However, if you’re not a culinary expert, don’t try this method with your meat at home. A meat thermometer will give you a more specific temperature and ensure that it is safe for you to eat. 


  • Cake testers aren’t too expensive, so you’re not losing a lot of money if you buy one. 
  • They’re washable and reusable, so they’re great for the environment.
  • They make small holes in the cake—about one millimeter in diameter.


  • They don’t convey detailed information about how done or moist the cake is inside.

Pros and Cons of the Cake Toothpick Test

Since toothpicks have a textured surface, crumbs and moisture stick to the wood even as you pull it back out of the cake. You’re able to look at the toothpick and know for sure if your cake is ready to come out of the oven or if it needs a bit more time.

How to judge the cake toothpick test:

  • If your toothpick comes out with batter up to here, then you know you need to adjust your cooking time or temperature.
  • For a moist cake, you’ll want to see a hint of moisture in the middle of the toothpick with a few crumbs hanging on.
  • A clean toothpick means your cake will slice smoothly and hold together well once you remove it from the pan.


  • They show precisely how moist or set a cake is inside.


  • They’re not washable, so you have to throw them away after each use.
  • Toothpicks make larger holes in the cake—at least two millimeters in diameter.

It’s funny how you don’t want cakes to stick to the pan, but you do want them to stick to a cake tester! While a cake tester might sound like an ideal solution, it’s not a necessary gadget to have in your kitchen.