Day: August 4, 2016

Baking Bad: Common Cake Faults and their Cause

Being a cakepreneur, where baking cakes is our livelihood, it can be costly, time wasting and most of all frustrating where your cake does not turn out the way it is supposed to, especially where you are pressed for time.

Imagine trying to bake a last minute order and your cake refuses to come out of the tin, or there is a big hole in the middle. You almost feel like crying.

I remember I had an order for a 2 tier cake- Vanilla and Red Velvet. I was running late and even after baking, I had to wait for the cakes to cool, then carve, then crumb coat, cool in fridge, cover in fondant and then decorate. Talk about leaving it to the last minute to get all these done.

I guess I was too much in a hurry because when I got out my Red velvet cakes out of the oven, both had sunken so bad, that it was unusable. I had to start all over again. Let’s say I didn’t go to bed that night.

Anyway, I learnt from my mistake. So it is important to be able to identify what went wrong in order that you do not make the same mistake again.

I have identified some of your most common pitfalls when it comes to cake making, so you should get the perfect rise every time. Enjoy.


Problem: My cake has sunk in the middle

Causes: There are a number of reasons why this might have happened. Too much of a certain ingredient can cause the cake to rise quickly but then collapse. The most common causes are as follows:

  • The oven door was opened before the cake had time to set;
  • the cake didn’t go in the oven as soon as the mixture was ready;
  • Too much raising agent was used.


Problem: My cake is burnt on top but still isn’t cooked in the centre

Cause: The cake tin was too small or the oven is too high when you placed the cake mixture in the oven.


apple cake

Problem: Cake falls during Baking

Cause: Excessive jarring or moving of the cake during baking.

  • Oven temperature too low.
  • Excessive mixing


Problem: The sides of my cake are crunchy or burnt.

Cause: There are quite a few reasons you could end up with this result. It could be that:

  • too much fat has been used to grease the tin;
  • the cake tin wasn’t lined sufficiently;
  • the oven was too hot;
  • the cake was left in the oven for too long or
  • a fat that is not suitable for baking has been used


Problem: Fruit sinking in the cake

Cause: This is a very common problem. The most common causes are:

  • Pieces of fruit were too large and too heavy.
  • Sugary syrup on the outside of the fruit was not washed off- causing the pieces of fruit to slide through the mixture as it heated.
  • Washed and dried fruit was not dusted with flour before being added to the mixture.
  • Cake mixture was over beaten or was too wet so it could not hold the fruit in place.
  • Oven temperature was too low, causing the mixture to melt before it set to hold the fruit in place.


Problem: Top of cake peaks and cracks

Cause: Oven temperature was too hot (the outside of the cake baked to form a crust too quickly. As mixture in center of the cake continued to cook and rise, it burst up through the top of the cake.)

  • Cake wasn’t baked on the center rack of the oven.



Problem: I can’t get my cake out of the tin.

Cause: You need to ensure your tin has been well lined. Baking parchment is ideal for this.



Problem: My cake is very dense.

Cause: This could be because the cake mixture didn’t have enough air beaten into it or perhaps eggs were added too quickly and curdled. Another reason could be that there wasn’t enough raising agent.


Problem: My cake is flat and has large air bubbles on the top.

Cause: This could either be because the cake didn’t go into the oven as soon as the mixture was finished or because the oven wasn’t hot enough when the cake went in.


Problem: Cake rose unevenly

Cause: Flour was not blended sufficiently into the main mixture.

  • Temperature inside the oven was uneven.
  • Oven temperature too high.


Problem: Cake staling quickly

Cause: This has a number of causes

  • Oven too cold so the cakes are in the oven too long, and the crumb dries out
  • Too much baking powder
  • Not enough liquid in the batter to keep the cake moist

Please leave a comment below if you found this article useful or have any questions. I am here to help.

Happy Caking!

Till next week.