We’ve all fallen victim to it: A ruined cake. Whether the cake crumbles, falls in the middle, comes out cracked, or is just plain no good, you need not worry. It’s happened to many a good baker, and it’s no cause for hanging up your rolling pin. Here are three common cake catastrophes that home bakers encounter, along with three easy solutions.
Problem: A crumbly cake that sticks to the pan.
Solution: Properly prep your pan before pouring the batter in.
A cake that sticks to the pan it’s baking in will inevitably fall apart when you try and remove it later. To avoid this, you must properly line your cake pan—each and every time. First, grease your pan lightly (all over, including sides and corners) with your grease of choice. Butter is standard, but olive oil or coconut oil will also do the trick. Next, line your pan with parchment paper cut to fit snugly inside. Then, re-grease your lined pan just as you did in the first step. And finally, dust your pin lightly with flour. Your pan is now ready to be filling with your cake batter.
Problem: A falling cake. It seems to rise while baking in the oven, but eventually caves in (usually in the middle) once done.
Solution: Calibrate your oven, and make sure you’re not overdoing the baking powder.
Oven temperatures can vary as widely as 10 to 25 degrees in some home ovens, and putting your cake batter in an oven that’s off by that much can be cause for it to fall in the middle. Calibrate your oven to make sure it’s baking your foods at the proper temperature. Also, take a look at your baking powder situation. First, make sure it isn’t old; buy a new box, if so. Next, make sure are measuring your baking powder correctly. Too much in a cake batter can cause a rapid rise of air bubbles too soon, leading to a fallen cake later. And only mix right before you are ready to toss the batter into the oven, so that the rising begins as the cake is baking.
Problem: A cracked cake.
Solution: Proper temperature, cooking time, and liquids.
A cracked cake is often the result of too much heat and not enough moisture. Simple solutions for this problem are often as easy as making sure you’re baking at the right temperature, setting your cake on the middle rack, and giving it just enough time to bake. Also, make sure you’re adding your liquids and oils properly so that the batter gets enough liquid.
Image: BILL HR