Why does my cake sink?

sunken-cake

Have you been asking yourself the same question?

Recently we have had a few discussions over on our Facebook page about the reason for sinking cakes so I thought I’d whip together a blog on some tricks and tips to stop your cake from sinking and avoid that horrible deflated feeling!

So…. Why Does My Cake Sink?

Cakes can sink for a number of reasons but there’s 5 main ones that I’m going to mention in today’s blog so let’s get started.

Too Much Baking Powder

Raising agent, believe it or not, can have a counter productive effect if too much is added. Adding too much to your cake mix can often bring your cake crashing down and looking rather sorry for itself.

Top things to remember:

  • You should never add baking powder as well as self raising flour… self raising flour already has the raising agent in it and adding more can cause the cake to sink.
  • An average basic ratio from plain flour to baking powder is 120g of flour to 1.5 tsp of baking powder. Once you know the basic ratio then you can often tell if there’s just been a miss type on the recipe.

 

Old Baking Powder

Old baking powder can hang around the cupboard and sometimes we find we have several in there at a time. Fresh baking powder is important to encourage your cake to rise the way it should, not doing a quick test before using it can be a costly expense and result in the need to start all over again!

Top things to remember:

  • Check the dates on your baking powder it often only works for 6-12 months.
  • Do The Test: Add 1tsp of baking powder to 110 ml of hot water. This should result in the water fizzing & bubbling rapidly, if this does nothing to the water or only a small reaction occurs you need to chuck out that baking powder and take a trip to the shops!

 

Temperature

The temperature of your oven and cake mix all make a difference. Ensure your cake isn’t a flop by following some simple rules when baking your cake. It’s well worth investing in an external oven thermometer to make sure the collaboration of your oven is correct and you are making sure your oven is hot enough.

Top things to remember:

  • Preheat your oven well before putting your cake in.
  • Ingredients are recommended to be at room temperature.
  • Read the thermometer not the oven dial to give you a true reading of temperature.

 

Over Beating

One of the most common causes of cakes sinking is due to over beating. With so many fantastic facilities to help us bake better such as the Kitchen Aid, it can often actually cause more harm than good on some occasions if we don’t use them correctly. When creaming sugar and butter we are required to mix until light and fluffy, however when you add your flour this should be gently folded in on a low speed or by hand to allow air to get in to the mixture. Over mixing the cake batter can not only cause the cake to sink but can create a greasy, heavy cake.

Top things to remember:

  • Beat on a high speed only before adding the flour.
  • Once the flour has been added fold the mix together by hand or on low speed.
  • Once combined do not continue to mix.

 

Timing

It’s all about the timing… juggling the cake making and the kids run to school can be a challenge, no matter how rushed you are put aside the right amount of time for your baking as leaving your cake mixed on the side for hours can cause disaster when it comes down to baking. 20-30 minutes between baking cakes is fine however don’t leave your cake mix out longer than that or in the fridge, every minute longer you leave it more air is released from the cake mix causing the cake to sink in on itself in the oven.

This happens because when you mix your wet & dry ingredients together the ingredients create a chemical reaction with the rising agent, this reaction is suppose to take place in the oven in the baking process but if left out it happens on the side of your kitchen counter without the heat it needs to encourage it to rise and stay light and fluffy!

Time the cake well for cooking, when you have reached the time your cake has stated for cooking time then you can use a metal skewer to nip into the cake to check it’s fully cooked. This should be a quick process and if not cooked quickly shut that oven door! Letting cool air in can also cause the cake to sink…. it’s a minefield!

Top things to remember:

  • Don’t leave cake batter on the side for longer than 20-30 minutes before baking.
  • The quicker you bake, the better! Once mixed the chemical reaction begins so get it in the oven.
  • Opening the oven door prematurely can cause the cake to sink. Check the cake quickly with a skewer.

 

Skewer Test

Use a skewer to insert into the centre of the cake, take straight out & close the door ASAP.

  • A clean Skewer indicates the cake is fully cooked.
  • Mix or wet crumbs on the skewer means it needs longer.

 

Other things can make a difference to your cake results such as altitude, heat and humidity too. If you’ve moved to a much warmer country or you are baking at a higher altitude you may need to do some tinkering with your recipe. I hope that this blog helps you and thanks for taking the time to stop by and read it.

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