How to Check the Doneness of Your Vegetables—the Amazing Cake-Tester!

Cake testers are a wonderful little gadget whose utility doesn’t stop at just testing cakes!

These have been one of the secrets of professional chefs and are the perfect tool for testing a wide range of foods.

Cake testers look like a tiny rubber donut attached to a very thin, rigid piece of wire. We like the OXO brand cake tester, but they come in a variety of brands and are available from your favorite kitchen store in the utensils or the baking section.

Try inserting the cake tester when you are boiling potatoes or carrots… start around 5 minutes into cooking to give you some sense of what an uncooked veg feels like. Then as you get better you can use it later on in the cooking process.

At first, you’ll find it going in easily through the outer portion but if it’s not fully, thoroughly cooked, the center will start to feel different. After this resistance, it should start to feel easier on the other outer side, which should be cooked. You will find that the time varies depending on the size and type of potato—for smaller, new potatoes, you’ll want to start testing after 10 minutes.

For potato salad, you want to feel a little tiny difference in resistance right at the center. If it’s the same resistance all the way through, you are a little late. If it’s hard to push through, you have a few minutes to go. If you will be eventually roasting the potatoes, you will want to “par boil” or partly cook the potato- so there will be a fair amount of resistance that will go away when it is roasting in the oven for another 35- 45 minutes. For mashed potatoes, you want it cooked right through… so, you guessed it, no resistance!

The cool thing about cake testers is they will allow you to keep the integrity of the vegetable and they have a remarkable sensitivity for feeling differences in doneness.

Cake testers also work well for testing doneness of fish. Insert the tester into the center of the filet and pull out and lay across your upper lip. If it’s almost too hot to handle on your skin, it’s done.

Things you shouldn’t use your cake tester for: beef, pork or chicken. There’re not ideal for gauging doneness of meat- best to use a temperature probe.