Why Do Cakes Fall When Cooling?

by Charlie
Why Do Cakes Fall When Cooling

One of the most discouraging experiences of at-home baking is a deflated cake but practice makes perfect. Once you are aware of the causes and the ways of prevention, you can usually find an easy fix.

Why do cakes fall when cooling? In most cases, a cake falls when cooling when the directions of the recipe were not followed correctly as it can be easy to overlook some of the minor details. For example, the wrong amount of leavening agent or inadequate baking temperature can lead to a sunken-in middle.

Let’s go over all the possible causes and solutions so that you could bake cakes with confidence. 

Why Do Cakes Fall When They Cool?

There are many reasons for sunken cakes but all of them revolve around the recipe itself and the right temperature. Unfortunately, a cake’s deflated texture can even affect its taste. For this reason, it is advisable to use measurements for every ingredient especially if you are quite inexperienced.

Consider the difference between cakes. Some require a longer baking time which allows for more time to set better. Sponge and soufflé cakes need less time, and they cannot set that well. This means the chances of having to deal with a deflated cake are higher in case you choose the latter types over denser cakes.

Cakes lose some of their airy texture right after being taken out of the oven. You can easily notice this when the edges separate from the pan. This is normal to a degree due to temperature changes.

However, your cake could fall and that is not merely a matter of aesthetics. If your batter does not get fully baked, it might stay runny and become hardly edible in the middle.

How Can You Prevent Cakes from Sinking?

When you want to layer your cake, you could encounter major difficulties with a fallen cake. The cake might remain underbaked or turn out too dense. Here are some ways to set your cake’s structure properly. 

Choose the Right Pan

If the quantity of your batter is too much for your pan’s size, baking it evenly will be a challenge. Your recipe will usually include the dimensions of the pan you need. An angel food cake is not like a rich chocolate cake so you cannot necessarily swap the ingredients and automatically use the same pan size for another type of cake without adjustments. 

Set the Right Baking Time

Allow enough time for the cake to bake completely. Use a toothpick to check the middle but only at the end. The edges always bake first while the middle takes longer. If the batter is still raw and runny in the middle, you may need to keep baking the cake a little longer to see if that helps to set its center. 

Avoid Using Too Little or Too Much Leavener

When there is too much moisture, cakes rise quickly but fall when they cool down. You can avoid having to deal with this issue by adding the right amount of leavening agent. Baking soda leavens by reacting with anything acidic while baking powder reacts to heat and when dry and wet ingredients are mixed together.

Thus, a lot of cake recipes call for both. Too much leavener can significantly affect the flavor. If you have put too much, check the flavor to make sure it is still OK.

Don’t Create Air Bubbles by Overmixing

Overmixing the batter results in an airy texture making your cake rise too high but when you take it out of the oven, it will fall. Only mix the ingredients for as long as needed.

Avoid Too Much Fat or Sugar

The batter would be too dry and crumbly without a source of fat. However, too much fat or sugar can drag down your cake ingredients whether the source is vegetable oil or butter. Feel free to try olive oil which is also perfect for cakes. Only use the amount according to the recipe so that your cake would rise properly.

Be Aware of the Order of Dry and Wet Ingredients

Did you know that not adding the ingredients in the right order can cause this issue because your batter’s consistency will not turn out as intended? If a recipe calls for your dry and wet ingredients to be mixed separately, there is a reason for that. 

Stir Your Batter Well

If your cake batter has been sitting for minutes, stir it up before placing it in the oven.

Choose the Right Type of Flour

Check the type of flour your recipe calls for because there is a significant difference between finely ground cake flour and coarse flours. The flour you use affects the overall density of your cake. Therefore, adjustments to the amount of the other ingredients can be necessary if you do not have the right flour at hand.

Keep the Door Closed

Do not open the oven door to check frequently before the cake would set. Its structure typically sets no longer than 5 minutes before it is done. Use the oven’s window and light to monitor the progress.

Preheat the Oven

Always preheat the oven according to your recipe’s directions because this guarantees an even temperature, and your batter will not be sitting in the oven without proper heating. 

Can You Fix a Sunken Cake?

If your cake has already deflated, you cannot reverse the process by putting it back into the oven. You can make the right corrections by using decoration or scooping out the pieces you cannot use. You could even try to make cake pops to use the center piece. 

If it is fully baked, you can use cream cheese or any frosting to even it out. You can then cover the top with moldable fondant, coconut flakes, chopped nuts, chocolate curls, or fresh fruit.

If the cake happens to be underbaked, you can cut out the sunken piece to completely replace the middle with something else such as fruits, pie filling, or jam. You could also opt for only serving the parts not affected. The ones close to the edges could be cut into small slices.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, when it comes to baking, nothing is more important than the ratios. Whether you would like to use cake mix or make it from scratch, you need to follow the recipe and its recommendations.

It is easier to prevent cakes from falling than trying to fix one that has sunk. Not every cake is the same though. Certain kinds such as sponge cakes are very airy. You can expect these to naturally lose their shape after you remove them from the oven.

Baking does not have to be an intimidating experience because there is always a way to save some of your cake and use it up in some shape or form.

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