Why is the center of my cake still raw?
When we use any of the functions using the TenderCrisp lid, we are using a dry heat with a fan that circulates the heat around our food. This is same as a convection oven. So, think of the Ninja Foodi as a convection oven when using the TenderCrisp lid.
This convection style of cooking is very efficient and helps to cook foods faster, but that is also one of the main reasons people have trouble baking in the Ninja Foodi.
Food gets done too fast on the outside and isn't done enough on the inside. When you either turn up the heat or leave it in longer, you end up overcooking the outside. Frustrating, for sure, but easily fixed.
The rule of thumb is always decrease your temperature by AT LEAST 25° from the temperature you would use in your regular oven.
That is only the starting point, though, and I usually decrease the temperature by 50° or more when baking cakes in the Ninja Foodi.
Decreasing the temperature is only part of the equation though, you also need to choose the right type of pan. Bundt style pans work the best because of the design. Essentially, there isn't a "center" to your cake and the central tube on a bundt pan also acts as a conductor of heat, so essentially you care cooking from the outside and the inside.
If you are just starting out with baking in the Ninja Foodi, I really recommend a good quality bundt pan. It will make your life so much easier! Here is the one I use and love.
I made this amazing Red Velvet cake using it! Here is the recipe: Red Velvet Cake
Sometimes, you don't want to use a bundt style pan, so what then? There are a few things you can do to achieve the results you want. Lower the temperature even more, change the pan material, or try using heating cores.
Sometimes a combination of all three is the answer. Lowering the heat slows the cooking process and allows more time for the center to finish cooking before the outside gets too done. I've lowered the temperature up to 100° lower than I would in a regular oven, but that is the exception. Usually 50-75° will do the trick.
Changing the material of the pan you use can also help. Different materials conduct heat differently and affect the cooking process. For example, silicone is a poor conductor of heat compared to glass or metal and darker metal conducts heat better than lighter metal. That doesn't mean it's always best to use dark metal cake pans though, in fact, I find that using light colored pans works best for most cakes. I like to use a heavy, straight walled pan, like the Fat Daddio Pans. You can find them in my Amazon store under Ninja Foodi Accessories: The Salted Pepper Amazon Store
Many bakers rely on heating cores to cook large cakes in the oven and they work quite well in the Ninja Foodi as well. Heating cores have a flat bottom and a small rod attached that goes into your cake or baked good. They do the exact same thing as the core in a fluted pan, but on a smaller scale. You place the heating core on the bottom of the pan and then pour in the cake batter. After baking, you remove the heating cores.
You can also find them in my Amazon store that is linked above.
The size and shape of the pan can also make a difference, so make sure to choose the right size and shape for what you are baking. It's also important to adjust recipes to fit the size and shape of your pan. In most cases, you only want to fill your cake pan ⅔'s of the way. If you have a recipe that calls for an 8" round pan and you use a 6" round pan and use all the batter, your cake will take longer to cook because the depth is greater. You can account for this by only using about ¾'ths of the batter.
For more information on Baking in the Ninja Foodi, please see this article: Tips and Tricks for Baking in the Ninja Foodi