Troubleshooting cakes : Cake Baking and Decorating Series


Let’s admit it – we have all had our share of baking disasters – cakes that were dry, domed, sunken or just not the way we had wanted. Even experienced bakers encounter these problems once in a while. It’s even more frustrating when we don’t know the reason behind the fiasco which would give us the chance to rectify ourselves next time. If the recipe is from a trusted source and you have used the right ingredients and right equipments, here are some possible reasons why cakes sometimes don’t turn up the way that we want:


 Problem : Cake fell or dipped; was compact or soggy:
Possible causes:
  • Cake underbaked because of being removed from oven too soon or lower than required oven temperature . It’s always advisable to use an oven thermometer since actual temperature may be different from that shown on the dial.
  • Oven door opened before minimum baking time expired. Remember no peeking.
  • Excessive overbeating or underbeating
  • Too much liquid. Liquids should be measured at eye level in a liquid measuring cup.
  • Too much flour can lead to dense cakes. It’s better to weigh rather than measure flour..
Problem: Cake domed, split, had holes or was dry, crumbly ,burnt
Possible causes:
  • Overbaking as a result of too long a bake time or too hot an oven
  • Overbeating
  • Less than required liquid (water/oil)  or eggs
Problem: Cake did not rise
Possible causes:
  • More than required liquid (water/oil)
  • Cake pans too large
  • Oven temperature lower than required
  • Overbeating/underbeating
  • Baking powder not fresh
Problem: Cake runs over pan
Possible Causes:
  • Too much batter (Two inch high pans should be filled no more than 1/2 or 2/3 full. 3 inch high pans should be filled only 1/2 full)
  • Too much water
  • Oven racks not level
Problem: Cake difficult to remove from pan
Possible causes:
  • Pan not greased properly. It’s always safer to use parchment paper along with greasing the pan.
  • Cake cooled for improper length of time. Before 10 minutes the cake is warm and tends to break. After 20 minutes the grease begins to harden and can stick the cake to the pan. If this happens return the cake to a warm oven (250 degrees F ) for a few minutes and try again.
  • Sides of cake not loosened with knife or spatula.
Problem: Custard like streak across cake 
Possible causes:
  • Streak under top crust of cake – underbaking
  • Streak across botttom of cake – too much water
  • Too much batter in pan

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