Have you ever wondered how bakeries get those perfect cake layers? It’s actually easier than you may think! Simple tricks like preparing your pans properly, adjusting your oven temperature and using fresh ingredients can result in cake layers that are fluffy, moist and oh so delicious! Whether you’re new to baking or you’re just looking to fine-tune your skills, these tips and tricks for baking a perfect cake will help you get great results every time.
Cakes Stuck to the Pan
There’s nothing worse than taking your cake out of the oven only to realize it has stuck to the pan! If your cake is sticking, that probably means your pan wasn’t prepared with nonstick spray or parchment paper before baking.
How to Prevent Your Cake from Sticking to the Pan
Bake Easy! Nonstick Spray – Bake Easy spray is great for spraying on your nonstick pans before baking. It’s colorless and tasteless, so it won’t affect the outcome of your cake. You can also use it on muffin pans and cookie sheets.
Parchment Paper – For easy release, use a circle of parchment paper to prevent the batter from sticking to the pan. Simply spray your pan with Bake Easy or any nonstick baking spray, then place a circle of parchment paper on the bottom of your pan. Pour in your batter and you’re good to go. You don’t need to spray the parchment paper, just peel it off your cake after you remove it from the pan.
Cracked Tops, High Domes and Sunken Centers
Other common cake issues include cracking, high domes or sunken centers that don’t rise. These issues are often the result of your oven not being at the right temperature. To ensure your cakes bake evenly, make sure your oven is set to the right temperature and there’s plenty of air flow around your pan.
Cakes with Cracked Tops
Cracking often occurs when your oven is too hot. Make sure you’re following the oven temperature on your recipe and don’t put your cake in the oven until it’s fully preheated. If you’re not sure your oven is registering the correct temperature, use an oven thermometer to check for accuracy.
Cracking can also occur if you overfill your pan, as your cake may have to spend a longer time in the oven. For an easy guide on how much batter to use in your pan, check out our Cake Baking Guide .
How to Fix a Cake that Has Cracked
The good news is that a cracked cake is really no big deal! You can fix most breaks with a smear of jam, ganache or buttercream frosting.
Cakes with High Domes
A high dome on your cake may be a sign that heat is not being evenly distributed. To make sure all sides of your pan are getting equal amounts of heat, try Bake Even Strips, which distribute heat evenly, preventing high domes and overbaking.
Keep in mind that when you use Bake Even Strips, it may take longer for your cake to bake, as the heat is being distributed evenly throughout the pan; however, this results in overall better texture to your cake – well worth the wait!
How to Fix a High Dome Cake
This is an easy fix – simply remove the high dome with a cake leveler or serrated knife. You can use the extra cake for cake pops, truffles or just for snacking!
Cakes with Sunken Centers
A sunken center is a tell-tale sign of under-baking. If your cake sinks in the middle, the center of your cake may not be cooked all the way through.
To test if your cake is done, stick a toothpick in the center of your cake. If it comes out clean (no wet batter on the toothpick), your cake is done baking. If there’s still batter on the toothpick, let it bake a little longer.
Other reasons your cake may have sunk:
Opening the oven door too early – opening the oven door lets a rush of cold air into the oven, which could cool down the oven and affect how your cake bakes. Use the oven light to check on your cake and avoid opening the door until 5 to 10 minutes before the cake should be done.
Adding too much leavening agent – adding too much baking powder or baking soda could cause your cake to gas out. The gas bubbles in the batter get too big, float to the top and then pop, causing your cake to sink. Be sure to follow the measurements in the recipe for adding the right amount of leavening.
Waiting too long before putting the cake in the oven – raising agents start to work as soon as they’re mixed with a liquid, so try to put your batter in the oven as soon as possible so too much air doesn’t escape your cake.
Adding expired leavening agent – if your cake isn’t rising or has sunken, it could be because your leavening is out of date. Check the use-by date on the package to make sure it hasn’t expired. You can also test your leavening agent by mixing ¼ teaspoon baking soda or baking powder with 1 tablespoon vinegar. If it fizzes and bubbles, it’s good to go. If not, it’s time to replace it.
How to Fix a Sunken Cake
A sunken cake may not look pretty, but you can still eat it! Try filling the well with buttercream or fresh fruit. For a layered cake, you can face the hollow sides inwards and fill them with extra jam, fruit or cream. No one will ever know!
Cakes that Didn’t Rise
If you’re cake didn’t rise at all, it could be because you forgot to add the leavening agent. Most cake recipes have baking soda or baking powder, which react with the liquid and cause air bubbles to form, giving your cake height. If you forgot to add the leavening (or used expired leavening), your cake may not rise in the oven.
It’s also important to use the right sized baking pan. Your pan should be filled at least 2/3 full. If there’s too little batter in a pan, your cake won’t rise properly.
Finally, take care not to over-mix your ingredients. Only mix your batter until everything is incorporated. Overmixing, or vigorous mixing, can pop all the air bubbles in your batter, preventing your cake from rising.
How to Fix a Cake that Hasn’t Risen
If your cake didn’t rise, you can always crumble it up and use it to make cake pops! You can also store it in the freezer and use it as an added layer the next time you make a layer cake.
Cakes that Have Shrunk
If your cake has shrunk, it’s most likely that your ingredients weren’t at the right temperature. If your mixture is too cold when it goes into the oven, it will cause your cake to shrink. To prevent this, let all your chilled ingredients (eggs, butter, milk) come to room temperature before you start incorporating them.
How to Fix a Shrunken Cake
Shrunken cake still tastes great! You can use it to make a smaller-sized treat or place the smaller cake layer in the middle of your layer cake, then fill in the gaps with extra buttercream.
Getting your cake texture right is key to making a light and fluffy dessert. Whether your cake came out crumbly, dry, raw or dense, we’ll show you how to fix it and prevent any issues next time around.
Why is My Cake Crumbly?
Not enough egg – Eggs are important for creating a light, fluffy texture in your cake. Using less eggs than stated, or using eggs that are the wrong size, may result in a crumbly, dry cake. Follow the recipe instructions for the quantity of eggs needed, as well as the size (usually medium or large).
Too much flour – Another reason your cake might be crumbly is if you’ve added too much flour. Any flour that hasn’t been absorbed by your liquid ingredients could cause your cake to crumble.
How to Fix a Crumbly Cake
Try sticking your cake back together with buttercream or ganache. If it’s too crumbly, turn it into a trifle or crumble it up for cake pops.
Why is My Cake Dense?
Over or under-mixed batter – As a general rule of thumb, you should mix your cake batter ingredients until everything is equally incorporated. Over-mixing can cause air to escape, meaning your cake won’t rise and will come out dense. Under-mixing may result in not enough air being added to the batter, resulting in a dense texture.
How to Fix a Dense Cake
Dense cake is fantastic with a tasty topping. Add some fresh fruit or top it with some ice cream for a tasty summer treat.
Why is My Cake Dry?
The oven is too hot – one of the most common problems with dry cake is an oven that’s too hot. If you’re unsure of your oven temperature, you can use a thermometer to make sure it’s set correctly.
The eggs were too small – eggs are great for creating a light, fluffy texture; however, using eggs that are too small can dry out your cake and cause it to become crumbly. Make sure you use the right sized egg (usually medium or large) for the recipe you’re using.
The cake is overbaked – another common reason your cake is dry is that it has been overbaked. Each oven is different, so be sure to test your cake at least 5 minutes before it’s supposed to be done to prevent overbaking.
How to Fix a Dry Cake
The good news is that it’s incredibly easy to fix a dry cake! Simply drizzle it with a simple syrup, milk or a little liquor to add flavor and moisture back into your cake. Once drizzled, ice and decorate as desired!
Why is My Cake Raw in the Middle?
Your oven isn’t at the right temperature – if your oven isn’t hot enough (or is too hot), it can cause your cake to bake unevenly.
Your cake pan is too small – another common problem is overfilling a cake pan. For best results, you should fill your cake pan 2/3 full with batter. This gives your cake plenty of space to rise. If your cake pan is overfilled, the batter can overflow, causing your cake to bake unevenly (and creating a terrible mess in the oven!).
How to Fix an Undercooked Cake
If your cake is still not done in the center, try lowering the oven temperature a bit (about 5 degrees) and baking the cake for a few more minutes. If the outer edge of the cake is already starting to brown, cover it with aluminum foil to prevent burning.
Why is My Cake Sticky?
Cakes don’t usually come out of the oven sticky, but they might get that way if they’re not stored properly.
If you baked your cake, then wrapped or stored it before it had fully cooled, your cake will be sticky. This is due to moisture gathering on the surface. While it’s perfectly fine to bake and freeze your cake layers, make sure they are completely cool before wrapping and storing (this could take up to an hour or so, depending on the cake).
Check out our post on How to Freeze Cake and Other Baked Goods for lots of helpful tips!
How to Fix a Sticky Cake
To cover up a sticky surface, ice your cake with ganache or dust it with powdered sugar. You can also just cut off the sticky top and use it for cake pops!