8 reasons your cakes turn out dry

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Baking cakes is something that lots of people like to do fairly often. You probably bake cakes for special occasions all the time, and you might need to bake one for an important birthday sometime soon.

If you encounter a problem while baking a cake, then you definitely want to be able to fix it instead of having to start all over again.

One common problem that people wind up having is that they have cakes that aren’t baking properly in the middle. Perhaps the sides of your cake baked rather well but the very center just doesn’t seem right at all.

What can be done to fix an issue such as this, and can you prevent this from happening in the future?

It’s really disappointing when you take a cake out of the oven only to realize that it turned out way too dense. When your cake is much denser than it needs to be, it’s going to make it tougher to enjoy it properly.

Sadly, there isn’t going to be a lot that you can do once it has already been baked. You might just have to enjoy it for what it is, and it can still be tasty with the right frosting.

This might be a bit disheartening to hear, but you can’t go back and change what you already did. Fixing this issue is going to be much more about learning about some preventative measures you can take.

Examine the information below to get tips about how to prevent your cake from turning out overly dense in the first place. If you utilize this advice properly, you should be able to enjoy delicious cake that turns out just right.

Whether you are baking a cake for a birthday party or if you just want to have a snack, it’s important to bake things well. The information below will allow you to do just that, and it isn’t going to be hard to learn the right steps to take either.

5 – Start Using Cake Flour

When it comes to baking cakes, it’s pretty typical for people to use all-purpose flour. Lots of people just use the standard all-purpose flour to bake cakes, but this might actually be one of the reasons why yours is turning out too dense.

It’s going to be a better idea to start using cake flour instead. The reason why this works out so nicely is that cake flour is a low protein type of flour that has incredibly fine consistency, and this makes it less likely to make a cake turn out dense.

However, it should be noted that cake flour isn’t going to be ideal when you’re baking every single type of cake out there. There are many cake styles to consider, and you might not wish to use cake flour when making something such as a chocolate cake.

Chocolate cakes use cocoa powder already, and this is a very fine ingredient that you might use alongside all-purpose flour just fine. When paired with cake flour, it’s possible that your cake could turn out a bit weaker than it should, making it not stay together as well as you would like it to.

In summation, cake flour is going to be fantastic if you’re trying to make certain types of cakes such as red velvet cake or vanilla cake. It isn’t as good when you’re using other very fine ingredients in the batter such as cocoa powder.

“Why did my cake sink in the middle?” The question may suddenly concern you when you have spent a full hour preparing a precious cake and your cake deflated after rising.

So why do cakes fall in the middle? In this article, you can learn the various possibilities so you can prevent them from happening in the future.

Disclaimer: I´ve tested 3 sunken sponge cakes and made every possible mistake on the cake below. It is actually very hard to achieve such a baking disaster:)

baking is science and every step must be done carefully and correctly

Baking is a science. And just like scientific experiments in the lab, every step must be done carefully and correctly. A little difference in a process can greatly affect the result.

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When your cake sinks in the middle, it means that something was wrong in the process, it may be a small yet crucial thing. Learn the different reasons below and try your best to avoid these mistakes in the future.

How to Bake Your Cakes to Light and Fluffy Perfection

It’s a sad day when you spend a lot of time whipping up the ingredients for that chocolate cake you’ve been craving only to find the cake is too dense or rubbery when it comes out of the oven. Successful baking requires attention to every detail. Tiny factors like measuring ingredients correctly, knowing if your oven runs hot or cold, and proper mixing are just a few different factors that could be causing your cakes to lose that soft texture. Keep these key points in mind before you make your next cake.

Don’t Overmix Your Batter

The culprit behind what makes a cake tough could be overmixing your flour. Flour is the foundation of baked recipes because it provides structure. When combined with liquid and after mixing, flour’s protein (gluten) begins to develop. The elastic substance traps and holds air produced by leavening agents (keep an eye on the expiration dates!), enabling your cake to rise. You know how you have to knead yeast bread to get the best texture? Yeah, you don’t want to do that if you want a soft cake. For tender cakes, avoid overworking your mixtures once liquids are added to prevent the development of too much gluten. The mixing times on your recipe are there for a reason, so pay attention to those.

Measure Ingredients Properly

We have a whole guide to measuring ingredients the right way that you’ll want to check out. The key here is to make sure you’re using the proper tools (dry or liquid cups) before you measure ingredients. For example, you’ll want to spoon flour into the cup and level it off with a knife rather than scooping it right out of the bag. Packing too much flour in your recipe will cause a dry cake.

Buy It: Tovolo 10-Pieces Plastic Measuring Cup Set ($24, Wayfair)

Use the Right Bakeware (and Prep Them Correctly)

When it comes to baking cakes, our Test Kitchen recommends using aluminum or metal baking pans. Nonstick or not, they are lightweight and conduct heat well for even baking. You’ll also want to prep your pans correctly. With the exception of angel food cakes and chiffon cakes, most cakes require pans to be greased and floured to prevent your cake from sticking.

Buy It: Wilton Premium Nonstick 6-Piece Bakeware Set ($40, Bed Bath & Beyond)

Temperature Is Key

If you have an older oven, you might want to invest in an oven thermometer to test whether your oven is heating to the proper temperature. Bake your cake at the correct temperature and let it cool for the specified time. And as tempting as it is, avoid opening the door too soon so you don’t let the heat escape and cause your cake to sink. Our Test Kitchen also recommends baking with room-temperature ingredients, especially eggs and liquids. If you’re ready to bake asap, use our handy tips on softening butter.

Cake Troubleshooting Guide

Possible reasons your cake is too course include:

  • Excess baking soda
  • Too little liquid
  • Butter and sugar not thoroughly blended

Cake Sticks to Pan

Possible reasons your cake stuck:

  • Insufficient greasing
  • Cake removed from pan too quickly
  • Cake cooled in pan too long

Cake Is Dry

Possible reasons your cake is dry:

  • Excess flour or baking powder
  • Too little shortening, butter, or sugar
  • Oven too hot or cake baked too long

Cake Is Heavy or Dense

Possible reasons your cake is heavy/dense:

  • Too little baking powder
  • Too many eggs
  • Batter is overmixed

Cake Sinks in Middle

  • Pan is too small
  • Too much liquid
  • Opening oven or moving pans during baking
  • Oven temperature too low or cake not baked long enough

Now it’s time to bake the cake of your dreams! Start simple with a delicious soft cake recipe such as the classic yellow cake. Then practice your buttercream frosting skills. Or if you want to make a soft and spongy cake without eggs, try making this easy Depression-era cake.

Why does my cake usually become too dense and rubbery? Here’s the thing; it happens to most bakers. However, there are many ways to avoid it.  But first, nobody wants a cake too dense and rubbery. Anyone who has tasted it can agree that it is unpleasant. Better yet, it is indeed frustrating to take every bite of it. That is why it would be best to know these helpful tips to avoid making a cake too dense and rubbery ever again.

  • Tips to Fix Cake too Dense and Rubbery
  • How Long Does a Thick Cake Take to Bake?
  • What Can I Do With Dense Cake?
  • How Do You Fix a Watery Cake Mix?

Never Overmix the Cake Batter

Overmixing the cake batter can lead to a rubbery cake since it produces too much air. Because of this, the trapped air expands. After that, it deflates in the oven. As a result, a deflated cake can turn into a dense cake. That is why you should only blend the dry and wet ingredients till well incorporated.

Likewise, the main reason why a cake becomes too rubbery is due to the overmixing of flour since it activates the gluten. For this reason, it makes the cake hard instead of making it soft and spongey. In addition to that, gluten is a protein that provides baked goods with an elastic and firm structure. However, overdoing it can result in an extremely chewy texture which is not great.

Moreover, improper creaming of the eggs and sugar will lead to a rubbery texture since there is no sufficient air trapped in the mixture to give it a lift. Remember that you should not feel the sugar between your fingers in cake recipes that need you to cream the sugar and eggs. Also, keep in mind to cream the sugar and eggs until you reach a homogenous mixture. As a consequence of not creaming it well, there will be no air in the cake batter.

Whether you are utilizing a stand mixer or mixing the cake batter by hand, the most effective solution you can do is to avoid overmixing it. To guarantee that there will be no big lumps at the bottom of the mixing bowl, use a whisk or spatula to blend it a few times.

You Can Find Delicious Recipes by Clicking Here:

Always Use Room Temperature Butter

Typically, cakes start with the creaming of sugar and room-temperature butter together. Because of this, the creaming process is when butter traps air. With that, the trapped air expands and produces a fluffy cake. That is why it results in a dense cake if you did not correctly cream the butter. Hence, no air leads to no fluffiness.

Unfortunately, if you did use room temperature butter, then started creaming it with sugar. However, you left the mixer running. There is a big possibility that the room-temperature butter and sugar will over-cream. As a result, the butter will trap more air than it should. In addition to that, the extra air will deflate and leave you with an exceedingly dense cake.

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The most convenient way to achieve the best results is to cream the sugar and room-temperature butter together for approximately one to two minutes. Moreover, it would be best to use room-temperature ingredients, especially milk, eggs, and sour cream, in your cake recipes. However, it depends on what the recipe calls for; if it does, make sure each ingredient is at room temperature when needed.

Also, keep in mind that room-temperature ingredients bond together fast and easily since they are warmer. Because of this, it considerably lessens overmixing.

Measure the Ingredients Precisely

Essentially, measure the ingredients precisely because excessively adding liquids to a cake makes it hard to bake. Likewise, it makes the cake rubbery. Also, too much flour in the cake batter will result in an extremely dense cake. It would be best to utilize a spoon and scoop the container’s ingredients into measuring cups till full, especially for dry ingredients like cocoa powder and flour. Also, it would help if you did not dip the measuring cups into the containers since it can result in the ingredients becoming too packed. For this reason, utilize a weighing scale to achieve the most accurate results.

Broadly speaking, dry cake isn’t exactly an earth-shattering problem. But when you’ve put your skill, effort, and ingredients into a cake that later reveals itself to be dry — and worse yet, when that revelation comes at a special celebration — it certainly impacts your own little world.

Why does cake turn out dry — and what can you do to prevent that sawdust-y scenario? Let’s examine the most common causes of dry cake.

Certain cakes, especially those that’ll later be rolled or stacked and filled (like this Genoise) are meant to be on the dry side. Their drier texture helps them support creamy fillings without becoming soggy.

1) It’s the recipe

Some cakes are supposed to be a bit on the dry side: think nonfat foam cakes like angel food, or a lower-fat genoise. In fact, their drier, sturdier texture is considered an asset: They’re better able to handle being rolled or filled with custard, soaked in syrup, or slathered with whipped cream. If your recipe uses no fat or calls for butter as its only fat (and not much of it), then you can assume it’s not going to produce a super-moist cake.

2) Too much flour was used

Photography by Rick Holbrook; food styling by Kaitlin Wayne

The soft, tender crumb of this Coconut Cake comes from cake flour, which also helps keep the cake moist.

3) A different flour was substituted

Your recipe calls for white whole wheat flour, or cake flour, but you think “whatever” and opt for all-purpose flour. Whoops! If a recipe calls for a specific flour (and doesn’t offer a substitute), use what’s called for. Both cake flour (with its fine grind and higher starch content) and whole-grain flours (more coarsely ground) absorb and retain more liquid than all-purpose flour. This liquid retention results in a cake that stays soft and moist longer.

(So if your recipe calls for all-purpose flour, can you substitute cake or whole wheat flour and get a moister final product? Maybe. But at least on the King Arthur site, the recipes are written such that you’ll get the best results by using the flour called for.)

4) Butter was used in place of vegetable oil

If you can’t resist using butter, try substituting it for half the vegetable oil (by volume), and increasing the amount of butter you’re substituting by 25%. Example: If your recipe calls for 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) vegetable oil, use 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) vegetable oil and 4 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon butter. Melt the butter before stirring it into the cake batter.

Want to know more about balancing butter and oil to get the best attributes of both in your cakes? See The key to making a cake that tastes straight from the box.

Baking your cake in a pan larger than what the recipe calls for can easily result in overbaking — i.e., dry cake.

5) You chose an alternate pan

What if your recipe calls for a 7” x 11” pan, and all you have is a 9” x 13” — close enough, right? Nope. The thinner the layer of batter the more quickly it’ll bake, and the faster the cake will dry out. Match whatever pan you have as closely as possible to what the recipe calls for, volume-wise. For help, see The essential alternative baking pan sizes.

Choose an oven thermometer with big, clear numbers so you can read it through the oven window; opening the door to read the thermometer will drop your oven’s temperature as much as 25°.

6) The oven was too hot — or not hot enough

You choose your oven temperature, hit preheat, and 20 minutes later you’re sliding your cake onto the middle rack. But hold on: did you check your oven’s temperature with an independent oven thermometer?

Ovens are notorious for their inaccuracy: 10 minutes after you turn it on, the oven signals it’s 350°F when your hanging thermometer inside reads 225°F. Likewise, an oven that’s on for a while can start to creep up, the 350°F gradually becoming 375°F or even 400°F.

Baking a cake in a too-hot oven for the recommended time will dry it out. And baking a cake in a not-hot-enough oven will dry the crust before the center is fully baked. For best results, check the oven temperature before loading your cake, then monitor it every 10 minutes or so throughout the bake, making adjustments as needed.

The top layer of this hot milk cake was in the oven just 5 minutes longer than the bottom layer — yet look what a difference in browning. You can guess which layer was drier.

7) The cake was left in the oven just a bit too long

If your recipe says to bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, start checking it at around 20 minutes. (For what to look for, see How to tell when cake is done.) Much better to tuck your not-quite-done cake back in for 5 more minutes than to suddenly remember to look at it 10 minutes after you ignored the timer going off. Even a couple of minutes can spell the difference between a cake that’s perfectly baked and one that’s disappointingly dry.

8) The cake was stored in the fridge

Warning! Warning! Do NOT store cake in the refrigerator long-term unless it includes a topping or filling that needs to be refrigerated, e.g., whipped cream, custard, and their ilk. Your perfectly moist cake, no matter how well wrapped, will start to dry out after a day in the fridge.

You need to chill the cake for its filling to set? No problem. The recipe says to refrigerate the layers for 30 minutes to make them easier to frost? Fine; simply apply a crumb coat and your covered cake will remain soft for as long as 12 hours or so. But putting a perfectly good lemon cake brushed with syrup into the fridge for “safekeeping” and leaving it there for several days (or longer) is the road to ruination.

Likewise, if your cake does have to be refrigerated for a few hours (or even overnight), be sure to let it warm at room temperature for a bit before serving. Any solid fats used in the cake (e.g., butter, in either the cake itself or the frosting) re-solidify when cold, making its mouthfeel (you guessed it) dry.

A generous application of Simple Syrup helps bring dry cake back to life.

Rescuing a dry cake

If despite your best efforts your cake turns out dry, bring it back with some simple syrup, either plain or flavored. Brushing 3 to 4 tablespoons syrup onto each layer of cake before frosting will help disguise any dryness-inducing errors you made along the way!

Does your idea of the perfect cake come right out of a box? See how to give homemade cakes that signature moist boxed-mix texture: The key to making a cake that tastes straight from the box.

Cover photo and food styling (Back-to-Basics Yellow Cake) by Liz Neily.

The oven door is shut too quickly or slowly

After the batter is poured into the cake pan, it’s time to actually bake the cake.

You will need to close the oven door after placing the baking pan in and if this is done carelessly, it can terribly affect the texture of the cake.

Here’s the thing. When you shut the oven door too quickly, there is a high chance that the oven will experience a little shocking jolt. This can shake the cake batter as well, which can make it sink after the baking process.

Closing the oven door too slowly? The oven temperature will drop resulting, meaning you will need to bake the cake much longer and might take it out too soon while it is still under-baked.

How to avoid it in the future:

Always close your oven door gently. Yes, the oven is hot and you want to get away from the hot air as soon as possible, but please do it carefully so you don’t shake the oven and pan. In the meantime, do not wander around the oven with its door open either.

The oven is not hot enough

The best investment that you can make to avoid cake sinking in the middle is a digital oven thermometer.

Most home ovens are either over or under heat resulting in unreliable baking processes that make your life very difficult when it comes to making delicate desserts such as sponge cakes.

When the oven temperature is not hot enough, the cake batter might rise but would require much more time in the oven, than you might think. So, as a result, you will take out the cake too soon, when in fact, it is not yet baked.

How to fix it;

Apply the toothpick check always baking taking the cake out of the oven. If your oven underheats, you might be able to save the cake by putting it back in the oven and baking it longer.

How to prevent it in the future;

Just as with the previous point (when the oven is too hot), always check what degrees should you preheat your oven. I always recommend slightly overheating your oven because when you open the oven door to place the cake in, the oven temperature always drops slightly.

But most importantly, invest in an oven thermometer and use it to check the oven temperature during the whole baking process.

examples when I had to adjust the oven to 185C / 365F to achieve 170C / 338F (real oven temp)

3 – Don’t Forget to Use Room Temperature Butter

Many of the top cake recipes specifically call for room temperature butter, but that doesn’t mean that everyone waits for the butter to become room temperature. Properly creaming butter and sugar together is part of what makes your cake turn out so deliciously, and when it doesn’t happen properly, it can lead to dense cake issues.

It’s also good to avoid over-creaming your butter since that can cause issues. What this means is that you mixed your butter and sugar together too much, and this often happens by not being careful about how long you’re using an automatic mixer.

When this occurs, the butter traps way more air than it should, and that butter could wind up deflating during the baking process. This will cause you to have a dense cake as well, but it can easily be prevented by just being careful when mixing butter and sugar together.

The cake recipe is simply unreliable

Maybe the problem is the recipe itself. Today, it’s super easy to find a cake recipe, especially on the internet. However, not all of them are high-quality. Some recipes are not tested or developed professionally in regards to the ingredient quantities and ratios or are simply not explained well. If you try it, you may find your cake sink or taste awful.

How to avoid it in the future;

Use recipes from trusted baking resources. If you’re using a recipe from the internet, try to look at the reviews, what do people say about the recipe?

Also, try to apply the knowledge you have learned in this article and troubleshoot possible mistakes or problems that occur on the way. Baking is a science and even with the best intention, the recipe might work differently using your ingredients and your oven, then for the creator of the recipe.

The cake pan is incorrect

Check the recipe carefully, does it suggest a specific baking pan? If so, try your best to find the exact cake pan.

A baking pan supports the cake batter during the baking process. It helps the cake butter develop its best structure. Hence, it’s super important to use the right kind of baking pan particularly when it comes to the size.

For example, when the baking pan is too small, you might need to overfill the baking pan with the batter. In this case, it’s very likely that the cake isn’t fully baked after the recommended baking duration. And as you have learned at the beginning of this post, when the cake is underbaked it may sink.

use the right size of cake pan to avoid underbaked or overgrown cakes

1 – Stop Doubling the Recipe

The mistake that you’re making could be that you’re doubling the recipe. This might sound like an appealing thing to do since you might wish to make more cake at once, but it might be better to just make two cakes using a standard recipe than it is to double it.

When you double your recipe, you’re going to run the risk of making more mistakes than usual. You could easily wind up over-creaming the cake, mixing it too much, not mixing it enough, or making other errors.

It might seem a bit inconvenient at first, but you would be better off making two cakes rather than trying to make one large one. Mix up the ingredients two times so that you can keep yourself from making various mistakes.

The baking powder is expired

You might ask yourself, “What’s wrong? Why did my cake not rise? I have added enough baking powder and made this cake before several times”

Maybe the baking powder (or baking soda) is not working. An expired baking powder won’t give too many benefits to the cake batter so your cake might not rise well.

In some cases, maybe your baking powder is supposed to be still good. It’s not too close to the expiration date. Yet, every cake baked using that baking powder refuses to rise. Maybe your baking powder has actually expired before the real expiration date. This can happen when the baking powder is exposed to too much moisture and humidity during storage.

Baking powder usually lasts for about a year or less. If it has passed the expiration date, you probably need to get a new one.

If it’s close to the expiration date and you’re not sure whether it’s still good because eg. you live in a very hot, moist climate, it is better to use a fresh bag of baking powder than risk your dessert.

Store your baking powder well and keep it away from too much moisture or it will expire sooner.

How Long Does a Thick Cake Take to Bake?

Thick cakes can be quite tricky to figure out how long you need to bake them for. This is why most people opt for baking a cake in two thinner layers, rather than one deep one. For example, the baking time of an 8-inch two-layer cake is anywhere between 25-30 minutes, whereas if you put all of the batter into one thick tin, you’ll be looking at just under an hour of baking time!

While there is no set time for a thick cake to bake (as it all depends on the size of the pan and the amount of batter used), there are a few ways to tell if your thick cake is ready. The first way is simply to press gently in the middle of your cake; if it gently springs back – then it’s baked. Another effective way is the implemented method. All you need to do is place a toothpick or skewer into the center of your cake and if it comes out clean (or with very few baked crumbs), it’s ready to remove from the oven.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular cake pan sizes: 8-inch and 10-inch pans. If you’re making a thick cake using one of these sized pans, you can easily work out how long to bake. In an 8-inch pan, for every ounce of batter, it’ll need around 1.29 minutes to bake. And for a 10-inch pan, for every ounce of batter, it’ll need around 0.9 minutes to bake.

If you’ve noticed that the batter itself is thick, it may be because you’ve overmixed your cake batter. If this is the case, your finished cake is likely to be extremely dense, and won’t be able to hold its shape well; it may even sink in the middle.

The oven is too hot

Before the actual baking process, make sure that the oven has been preheated to the correct temperature as suggested by the cake recipe.

Keep in mind that some ovens might display the wrong temperature. For example, the oven might say it’s 180 C / 360 F while in fact, it’s 193 C / 380 F. Use a digital oven thermometer for the best result.

When the oven temperature is too hot, the cake batter may rise too fast and then sink. In this case, usually, the outer part will look almost burnt and the middle part is still too moist and under-baked after the baking process.

Secondly, invest in an oven thermometer and use it to check the oven temperature.

use a cake pan stip for even heat distribution on your cakes

The butter is too soft

Yes, it’s important to whip room temperature butter along with the sugar. However, the butter should be still firm enough instead of soft or liquid. It needs to be soft, not melted. Creaming sugar with too soft butter may result in frothy bubbles which may collapse soon and greatly affect the texture and structure of the cake.

Check the temperature of the butter before creaming it with the sugar. Ideally, the butter temperature should be 23 C / 73 F. If it’s above that or it feels too soft, refrigerate it for several minutes before creaming it.

The ingredients are not at room temperature

Everything including the egg, butter, and milk must be prepared at room temperature when preparing a typical cake batter. Not too cold and not too warm. Otherwise, it’s difficult to emulsify or mix them properly. This can terribly affect the cake structure and make it sink.

Gather your ingredients and make sure that everything is not too cold or too warm, but at room temperature. If you plan to bake today, be sure to take out the milk, egg, and butter from the fridge about 1 hour before the baking starts. Let them achieve room temperature before whisking them.

Follow the Recipe to Avoid a Cake Too Dense

How to Make a Cake Moist

What makes a cake moist? Precision, for one. Baking requires using exactly the ingredients called for. For example, some cakes use milk, buttermilk (or an acceptable substitute), or sour cream for liquid. These ingredients are not interchangeable. The same goes for oil, butter, or shortening; use exactly what’s called for. When butter is listed be sure to use real butter and not a substitute; substitutes contain water, which will not give the same tender crumb as the fat from the butter.

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Avoid Overbaking

  • Preheat your oven at least 10 minutes, and use an oven thermometer ($7, Target) to make sure that the oven reaches the proper temperature.
  • If you’re using dark cake pans, reduce the oven temperature called for in your recipe by 25°F.
  • Start checking cake doneness after the recipe’s stated minimum baking time.

Why Does This Happen?

Determining exactly why your cake isn’t baking properly in the middle can be tough without more information.

It could be happening due to a number of different factors such as the temperature of the oven not being right or using a pan that isn’t doing too well. Your oven could even have hot spots that are causing it to bake unevenly.

The hot spot idea could very well be what you’re encountering if the cake seems to be done well on the sides and not in the middle. Some ovens will have spots where they will bake things faster than others.

For example, if you put a cookie sheet filled with individual slices of bread in your oven, then you might notice that the bread will come out with some of the slices being more burnt than others as you get closer to the sides of your oven.

This happens because your oven might be hotter the closer it gets to the sides. It’s usually thought that this occurs because the metal sides of your oven get hotter than the middle and it makes the temperature of the sides a bit higher than it should be.

Not every oven has issues such as this, but it’s very possible that yours might.

If you want to determine whether your oven has hot spots or not, then trying out the bread trick is going to be a good way to go about it. Just set your oven at a low temperature and put the bread on the cookie sheet as mentioned before.

After a few minutes, the bread should start toasting and you’ll be able to see whether the bread slices toasted evenly or whether one side burnt the bread.

This is a simple little trick to help you get information about how your oven bakes things. You might note that one side bakes a bit faster than the other side. Whatever you find out, it’s going to be good to know so that you can adjust your baking strategies moving forward.

2 – Add Baking Powder or Baking Soda

Just a little bit of baking powder or baking soda can help your cake to turn out how it should. Sometimes you will find out that your cake will need help with the leavening process, and this is where baking soda and baking powder come into play.

Adding just a touch of one of these ingredients can give the leavening support that your cake needs. You don’t want to use too much baking soda or baking powder since it can throw off the taste.

It might be prudent to look up specific advice about the cake recipe that you are using. You could get a recommended amount of baking soda or baking powder to use.

If you can’t find that information, then just try to stick with a small amount such as one-fourth of a teaspoon of baking soda for every cup of flour. One teaspoon of baking powder for every cup of flour is generally prudent as well.

If you’re completely out, try a baking powder substitute instead.

How to Make a Box Cake Moist

Lots of people who run into density issues will actually be causing the problems by baking the cakes longer than they should be baked. If you bake a cake for too long, it’s most likely going to turn out dry and dense.

If you aren’t paying attention, you could wind up overshooting the amount of time that it is supposed to bake. You can have an easier time getting things just right by being right there by the oven several minutes before the cake is supposed to finish baking.

A cake is going to be done when it is slightly pulling away from the sides of the cake pan that you’re using. You can also stick a toothpick in the middle of the cake and it should come out clean or with only a few crumbs if it is done.

The baking powder is too much

“Why did my cake sink in the middle? I thought I have added a huge amount of baking powder to the batter?”

Well, that might be the problem.

Normally, you will only need a certain amount of baking powder for a cake batter. A little goes a long way. This wonderful ingredient has a significant function to help a cake rise well even when it’s added in a small, yet proper amount.

A leavening agent such as baking powder is important to help the cake rise. However, it needs to be added to the right amount. Not too little and not too much.

Adding too much amount of leavening agents might be counter-productive. There is a high risk of the cake rising too much and deflating afterward.

Also, mix it well with other dry ingredients (flour+salt) before incorporating it into the batter.

use the right amount of baking powder and mix it well with other dry ingredients (flour+salt) before incorporating it into the batter

The oven door is opened too soon

It’s so tempting, right?

When you can’t wait to see the final result, it can be hard to resist the urge of checking the cake layer in the oven. Sometimes, looking at them through the oven glass isn’t enough and you really want to touch the cake during the baking process.

But please, don’t do that. Opening your oven door means letting the hot air out. As a result, it’s common to see the cakes sink after the oven is opened too prematurely or too many times.

Some recipes state to rotate the cake halfway through the baking time. Unless your oven heats extremely unevenly, I do not recommend rotating delicate desserts such as sponge cake, macaron, etc. as you are doing more harm than good.

Let the cake bake with peace in the oven. Don’t open the oven door only to watch the wonderful look of the batter. The only valid reasons to open your oven door during the baking process are when you need to rotate the pan (but do it only towards the end) and when something emergency happens.

If you find it’s too hard to resist the temptation of opening the oven door to check the cake batter prematurely, distract yourself with something else. For example, while waiting for the cake to bake, prepare the frosting.

do not open the oven door before the baking time ends

How to Fix This Issue

Fixing this issue might involve having to get a new oven, but you can also just try not to bake things too close to the sides of the oven. Perhaps the cake that you’re baking is rather large and this is causing the sides of your cake pan to be too close to the sides of your oven.

If this is the case, then you might want to consider baking smaller cakes in your oven due to your potential hot spot issue.

If the hot spot idea isn’t the problem, then you should be able to just bake the cake a little longer to allow the middle to finish baking. What you should do is cover the cake with aluminum foil before placing it back in the oven for five or ten minutes.

Just check it every so often by using a toothpick in the middle to see if it will come out clean.

Reducing the temperature of your oven can help to keep your cake from burning on the sides. This, combined with loosely placing the aluminum foil around your cake pan, can give you the time that you need to bake the middle of the cake.

You’ll just need to keep looking at the middle every few minutes to see how things are going and most would say that checking at five-minute intervals is a good idea.

Once you have a toothpick or butter knife coming out clean when you stick the middle of the cake, you’ll know that it’s done. You might have gotten a bit impatient since the sides of your cake seemed to be done.

The aluminum foil should help to keep your cake from burning, but you won’t want to keep it in the oven for too long since it just needs enough time to bake the middle a bit more.

If you don’t think that this is going to work due to the oven hot spots, then you could reposition your baking pan during the middle of baking. You could rotate the pan the other way after twenty minutes and see if it makes a difference.

This is more for if one side seems to be baking faster than the other, though, and not necessarily for the middle.

Another potential solution is to alter the temperature of the oven when you’re baking cakes moving forward. You might have been baking a cake at a temperature that was too low for things to bake well in the allotted time.

Try looking up a recipe to see what temperature is recommended before moving forward.

You might be surprised by how many people make simple mistakes by setting the oven 25 or 50 degrees too low. If you adjust the temperature and bake things at the right level the next time that you bake a cake, the results will likely be better.

Hopefully, one of these solutions will solve your cake not baking in the middle issues.

The ingredients not measured correctly

Baking is science as we mentioned several times on this blog, and incorrectly measuring your ingredients is the most common reason for baking fails incl. cakes sinking in the middle.

Cup measurements are simply inaccurate when it comes to consistent happy baking as a small imbalance in the wet and dry ingredients can cause underbaked cakes or even the opposite, too dry texture.

You must invest in an inexpensive Digital scale if want consistent results in baking. It cost literally 10USD and will save 90% of baking failures you might experience today.

Digital scale not only prevents imbalance in recipes but also makes fewer dirty dishes! Win-win!

How Do You Fix a Watery Cake Mix?

So you’ve made your cake batter and it just seems a little too runny. If this sounds like you, don’t worry! There are plenty of quick fixes to save your batter.

The easiest way is to add a tablespoon or two of extra flour until it reaches the right consistency. Adding dry ingredients like flour is a quick and easy fix. Another dry ingredient to add is a packet of instant pudding mix.

Many recipes call for this secret ingredient anyway, but it can really salvage a cake mix that’s too runny. And our final suggestion is to add mix-ins, whether it be chocolate chips, nuts, or dried fruit, it’ll really make the batter come together; this works especially well if you coat them in cornstarch before you add them to the batter. Cornstarch is renowned for being a great thickening agent. Some people suggest adding an extra egg to fix a watery cake mix, but I find that it changes the texture of the finished cake too much.

7 – Add a Bit of Oil

Adding a bit of oil can sometimes be the right call to make when you’re looking to fix a dry or dense cake. Your cake might have too many dry ingredients that are causing it to not turn out right.

If you can add a bit of oil, it’ll be much simpler for it to turn out just right. You do have to be careful about the ratio of ingredients, though.

For instance, if you have a bit too much milk in your cake and then you add oil to it, it’s going to be way too wet. You don’t want the cake to be thrown off in either direction, and this means that you need to make sure that it could use some oil before you just throw some in the mix.

It’s possible that a couple of tablespoons worth of vegetable oil could make a positive difference. Some recipes actually call for you to use oil in place of butter as well so you’ll want to remember this moving forward.

Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.


Can you put a sunken cake back in the oven?

It depends on the cause of the sunken cake. If the cake sinks due to over creaming or overmixing, putting the cake back in the oven might not give any benefit.If it’s sunk because it’s being underbaked, you can immediately put the cake back in the oven while it’s hot.The issue is that the sinking might not happen straight after you take the cake out of the oven, but minutes before. If this is the case, don’t bother placing it back in the oven as the baking process has finished and the leavening agents might have stopped working.

Will a sunken cake taste OK?

As long as the cake isn’t burnt, isn’t row, and is made with the right amount of ingredients (eg. not too much baking powder), and the batter has walked through the correct process, a sunken cake should still taste good. The texture might be a bit denser or unpleasant, but the flavor should be nice.

How do you fix a cake that sinks in the middle?

Once the baking process is completed, a sunken cake is irreversible. It means that once it sinks, you can’t make it rise again. However, you can cover this mistake using extra frosting to conceal the sunken part.

Why does the middle part of my cupcakes sink?

The cupcake batter and cake batter are very similar, if not the same. So, the reasons for a sunken cupcake are also similar to the sunken cake. It can be over-creaming, overmixing, too much baking powder, incorrect oven temperature, or the cupcake cups being overfilled.

Why does my cake sink in the middle when baking?

Some recipes suggest rotating the baking pans in the oven during the cake baking process. This process includes opening the oven door, so this should be done at the right time. If this is done prematurely, the cake may sink. Avoid rotating your cake pan too early. Also, avoid rotating it in general unless your oven is really badly unevenly baking the cakes.

Why does my cake fall in the middle after baking?

The cake that looks normal in the oven and falls once it cools down may happen due to too much or unstable air bubbles incorporated in the batter. Hence, it’s important to avoid over-creaming and over-mixing when preparing the batter as well as taking out the cake too soon, before it has actually baked.

How do you get a cake to rise evenly?

Can too much baking powder make a cake sink?

Yes. Adding too much baking powder or baking soda can make a cake sink. When too much amount of leavening agents are added, there can be too many air bubbles develop in the batter and the cake may rise too much without enough support, then it sinks.

What can you do with a sunken cake?

As long as it’s not burnt and not raw, and the taste is normal, you can proceed to decorate your cake with frosting. Use additional frosting to conceal the sunken part and decorate the rest of the cake as usual.You can also crush the cake into small crumbles and mix it with your ice cream to make an ice cream cake.

The batter is overmixed

Combining the wet ingredients and dry ingredients is one of the final steps before baking the cake. In this process, there is a good amount of air incorporated into the batter. This help with building the cake structure.

Mix the ingredients well until they look just combined. Stop your mixer right away when you see that the batter looks very well mixed.

Beating the batter for too long or too much is called overmixing. It can trap too much air in the batter. If this happens, the cake may rise too fast during the baking and quickly sink.

Don’t walk away from the oven when you’re mixing the wet ingredients and dry ingredients. It will only take about a minute until they’re fully combined. Stop mixing when the ingredients look just combined, best if you are using a rubber spatula, instead of a stand mixer.

The butter and sugar are over whipped

Cake recipes usually start with creaming the butter and sugar. Don’t underestimate this process as it’s super important and it greatly affects the structure of the cake.

Beating the butter and sugar needs to be done using the right equipment and within the right amount of time.

During the creaming process, gas bubbles happen. They help with the structure of the cake. You will need these air bubbles but at the right amount. Overcreaming will result in too many air bubbles that can cause the cake to rise too quickly and deflate shortly.

typical cake ingredients; butter should be soft (room temp) but not too soft so avoid last minute microwaving

The cake is not fully baked

You spent pending your precious afternoon baking a delicious Marble loaf cake recipe from my blog only to find out that the cake loaf cake sunk in the middle.

Taking out a cake from the oven before it gets fully baked is the most common reason for a sunken cake. Underbaking is a common way to make brownies fudge, but does not result in an appealing result when it comes to sponge cakes.

The cake batter receives heat on the outer part first, then the heat is transferred to the inner part. It means that the middle part is the last part that gets the heat. It also means that the middle interior of the cake will be the last part to cook.

When the cake is removed from the oven too soon, there is a chance that the inner side of the cake isn’t fully baked. It can vary from semi-liquid to half-baked, either way, it’s not strong enough to function as a supportive structure of the cake. As a result, the cake sank in the middle.

Before it gets too late, put the cake back in the oven for several minutes.

Then, grab a toothpick and insert it into the cake in the middle part (make sure it touches the middle part of the cake interior). If the toothpick comes out with some moist cake batter, let the cake bake for a little more time. If the toothpick comes out clean, you can take the cake out.

Repeat this process one or two more times during the final minutes until the toothpick comes out clean, which means that the cake is ready.

This tip alone won’t guarantee that the cake will rise properly. There are other common things that cause a cake to sink and you want to avoid them completely. Continue reading.

the lighter the cake texture (eg this Japanese cheesecake), the more precision is needed to bake it throughout without overbaking

👩‍🍳 How to use a cake that sunk in the middle

So, what to do if your cake has sunk in the middle? Don’t worry too much about it because most probably you can still save the cake!

Can you eat a cake that has sunk in the middle?

If the cake is not burnt and not totally liquid, there’s a chance that it’s edible, at least part of it. However, you need to check that the flavor is normal. If the cake sinks because it has too much leavening agent, the taste might go awry and you might not want to eat it.

If the sunken cake is indeed edible, proceed to save it. You can use a knife to level up the cake so it looks flat. Yes, you can decorate it!

How to decorate a sunken cake? You can simply cover the sunken area with extra frosting. If you want to do this in cake layers, make sure that the sunken part is facing the top and placed at the top of the cake to avoid the cake being wobbly.

You can also get super creative and replace the sunken part with a hole filled with jam or something delicious related to the theme of the cake.

If you don’t want to use it as a layer, you can turn the cake into small cubes and make something else with it. For example, you can make an ice cream cake, cake pops, parfaits, cake trifles, or even cake parfaits! They are all attractive desserts!

What Can I Do With Dense Cake?

If you’ve made your cake and it’s not turned out quite as you expected, there are still plenty of ways it can taste good and still be enjoyed. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use up the dense cake.

  • Mini cakes. Rather than having one big fancy cake, just cut your cake into classy little squares and serve it individually. You can then only use the bits that you think are okay, and frost them as you would a normal-sized cake.
  • Parfait. Just cut your cake into cubes and place it in a glass along with fruit and whipped cream. It’ll look super elegant and doesn’t require much effort at all!

How to Make a Cake More Moist

With each of these must-have cake tips, you’ll never serve another dry cake. Moist chocolate cake recipes, red velvet cakes, pound cakes—you name it—you now know how to make all of them stay tender and moist through the whole baking process.

Other Things to Consider

You now know a lot more about how this issue can be solved when you make the common mistakes that lead to cake baking problems.

It’s possible that you could have made some mistakes when measuring out your ingredients that caused the cake to not bake as thoroughly as it normally would in a normal amount of time.

This can happen when you’re trying to bake a cake while you’re distracted by other things. You might have been talking on the phone or trying to handle multiple tasks while whipping up your batter.

Not mixing your cake up very thoroughly could be another culprit that is worth considering. If you didn’t mix the cake batter very well, then maybe your batter is a bit different in the middle of the pan.

It could be thicker there because you didn’t spread it out right or there could be a concentration of ingredients.

Even the cake pan that you’re using could play a role in how well your cake is going to bake. Some people have noted that older cake pans might burn cakes more easily.

It might be best to use a casserole dish or cake pan that you know has been doing fine when baking dishes lately.

Considering all of the potential problems should help you to figure out which issue is causing your cake not to bake in the middle. It might be a bit of a nuisance but human error plays a big role here.

You should be able to make the necessary adjustments and get your cake to turn out very nicely.

Final Thoughts

Baking cakes is something that you will need to pay attention to so that you can avoid making mistakes.

Remember that impatience can sometimes lead you to give up on a cake too soon before it is done baking. The most practical tip that will likely work for you is to cover the cake with some aluminum foil and let it keep baking in the middle.

Simply going a little longer is often going to be enough to turn things around and get you the results that you need. It’s worth considering whether you have oven hot spots or if you made some type of human error that caused your cake to bake improperly, though.

If you did make a mistake, you can always try to be more careful the next time you’re mixing up some cake batter.

It won’t take long to get your cake back on track if you have figured out the issue. Hopefully, you’ll be able to save it and your special party will go off without a hitch.

Cakes aren’t just tasty treats for you to enjoy since they often represent important sentiments that you want to convey to those who you love.

Take this advice into account so that your cake-baking adventures will be much easier next time. No matter what type you’re baking, it’s going to be important to pay attention to the basics.

Enjoy your delicious cake and make sure that everyone has a good time together.

4 – Consider Adding Some Sour Cream

Just taking the time to add some sour cream might be what you need to get your cake to turn out right. It can turn out dry and dense when it doesn’t have the right ingredients, and sour cream can add some much-needed creaminess to your cake.

You might be able to add a bit of sour cream in addition to your milk. It can even add some subtle sourness to the cake that will improve the overall taste, but this advice should only be used on a case-by-case basis.

It should go without saying that sour cream won’t be an appropriate ingredient in certain types of cake. However, you shouldn’t underestimate how useful sour cream can be when you’re trying to add a bit of creaminess.

If you think that sour cream might mesh well with a certain type of cake that you’re baking, it might be worth a shot. Typically, a few spoonfuls are all that you will need in addition to standard ingredients such as milk.

✨ Conclusions

Baking a cake requires quite some steps and they must be done carefully with precision. Practice makes perfect, so never give up! As covered in this article you must pay attention to the quality of ingredients, the temperature, and quantity of the ingredients, and how you cream the ingredients.

Besides, try your best to use the right baking tin and invest in a digital oven thermometer to avoid under-baked cakes, which is the most common reason for sunken cakes.

Yet, if something mistakenly happened that causes your cake to sink, don’t worry too much about it. You can still make an impressive dessert with the sunken cake as long as the taste is good.

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