How to Fix Common Baking Problems
Everyone has a baking disaster every now and again, but do you know what went wrong? In this hub I will show you how to fix the most common baking problems so that next time you'll know how to make it perfectly!
The cake is burnt on the outside but not cooked in the middle
Overcooked outsides, undercooked middle
Why? If your cake burns or over-browns on the outside it is often caused by the oven being too hot or the heat coming from the top of the oven is too intense. This is because the cake cooks from the outside in - burning the edges before the middle is cooked.
This could also be caused by using a fan forced oven. Sometimes the fan in a fan forced oven can be too intense as the strong burst of air browns the cake too quickly.
Solution? Reduce the temperature or cover the cake with foil during the last half of the cooking time to protect it from burning
My cake collapsed!
Collapsed Cake - Cake that sinks in the middle
If your cake collapses, it could be because:
- You have used too much raising agent (such as baking powder or baking soda) in the mixture
Why? The excess raising agent will cause the cake to rise too quickly and the gluten in the cake will not be able to support the carbon dioxide bubbles released as it rises and the cake will collapse
- Your oven temperature is too high
Why? If your oven temperature is too high it will activate the raising agents too quickly, causing the same problem as above
- You bumped or moved the cake around whilst baking
If you knock your cake around while it's in the oven you will burst the bubbles released into the cake and cause the same problems as above.
- You over mixed the batter
Over mixing a cake batter can also cause it to collapse during baking, next time be careful to only mix it until it is just combined.
My cake cracked!
Cracked Cakes and Cracked Muffins
There are a few reasons why the surface of cakes can crack whilst cooking. This may be because:
- The oven is too hot
Why? This makes the cake rise too quickly and causes cracks on the surface once it is cooked through.
How to fix it? Use an oven thermometer to get an accurate temperature reading. Your thermostat may be off and this will ensure you are baking the cake at exactly the right temperature.
- You opened the oven door frequently while baking
Why? Opening the door too often during baking will make the temperature of the oven fluctuate, leaving your cake more susceptible to cracking and other problems.
I can't get my cake out of the tin!
Cake, cupcakes, muffins sticking to tin
If your baked goods are sticking to the tin, you may not have prepared them properly. Always be sure to grease and line a cake pan with melted butter or an oil spray. If you don't wish to grease the tins, you can use non-stick silicone bake ware instead.
For cakes that still stick, despite greasing, line the base and sides of the pan with non-stick baking paper. If you're using a pan with a pattern or shape that cannot be lined, dust your greased pan with plain flour and tap out the excess over the sink.
Your cake could also stick to the pan if it is left in the tin to cool for too long.
My scones are hard as a rock!
One of the most common problems with scones is that they harden when cooled. One of the ways to fix this is to wrap them in a clean tea towel as soon as they come out of the oven - doing this will steam the scones to soften the crust so that once they're cool they will still be soft and fluffy.
Another way to keep scones soft whilst baking is to bake them close together in a tray or in a cake pan so that they bake upwards, keeping their sides softer.
If you overwork your scone dough they will also be tough as it will develop the gluten in the flour. The solution to this is using light fingers and a gentle touch and to stop working the dough as soon as they come together.
My cupcakes spread everywhere
Cupcakes spreading into each other
If your cupcakes spread into one another this is because the cases have been overfilled. The cupcake cases should be 2/3 - 3/4 full, depending on the recipe and how much they will rise. If you overfill the cupcake cases they will overflow as they start to rise and run into one another. This will also cause the surface of the cupcakes to be flattened.
Your cakes could also overflow out of the pan if the recipe was wrong - for example it had too much flour/liquid etc.
Uneven cakes, cupcakes or muffins
There are a number of causes for uneven baked goods. This may be because:
- The element in your oven is uneven
Why? This means the oven is hotter on one side than the other or the fan blows hard causing a volcano effect.
- Your oven rack, tray or shelf is placed at an angle.
- The oven is too hot
Why? If the oven is too hot, the raising agent in the mix will activate immediately and will cause a dome shape before the cake is cooked through completely
- The cake pan is too small
Why? If your cake pan is too small it will rise in the middle, causing a domed effect.
- Your cake wasn't on the middle shelf of the oven
Cooking your cake on the top rack of the oven can sometimes make it uneven as the heat source is too intense. Try baking it in the middle of the oven for a more even cake if none of the other causes are an issue.
- Flour was not mixed in properly
If the flour in the batter wasn't mixed in properly, it could cause an uneven cake.
The crust is too thick!
If the crust on your cake is too thick it means you have baked it for too long. Reduce your cooking time or increase your oven temperature slightly so that it cooks quicker.
My cake shrunk!
Your cake could shrink for a number of reasons, including:
- too much liquid in the batter
- your oven was too hot
- the cake was baked for too long
- the cake was over-mixed/under-mixed/not mixed to directions
- the batter was too cold when going into the oven