2017 © “Cakes by Vivienne”
“Cakes by Vivienne”
Tips, Techniques and Tutorials for the Beginner Cake Decorator
A GUIDE TO WHAT WENT WRONG WITH MY CAKE!
Is your cake just not doing what you want it to do?
Has it not cooked properly?
Is it just a little bit too dry?
Has it sagged in the middle?
Ooops my first disaster – oven too hot, too much mixture and pan too small!! Lesson learned.
The cake pictured above was my first disaster and I thought I had worked it all out as I had not had any further failures for quite a while – however, having recently made a vanilla cake which looked perfect as it left the oven but not so great when it collapsed / shrunk in at the sides as it cooled, I decided to investigate ways to avoid future mishaps to my baking. All I can say is thank goodness for buttercream crumb coating as I was able to add a bit extra around the centre to straighten the sides up!
While it's impossible for me to know exactly what happened in any specific occasion I have put together a list of things you should look out for the next time you bake.
So if you have been similarly disappointed then read on...
MY CAKE HAS RISEN IN THE MIDDLE AND IS CRACKED
This happens when there is too much raising agent, the cake pan too small or the oven too hot. Most cakes baked in loaf, bar or ring pans crack slightly due to the confined space
MY CAKE HAS SUNK IN THE MIDDLE
There are a number of reasons this can happen:
THE SIDES OF MY CAKE ARE CRUNCHY OR BURNT
There can be a number of reasons that can cause this issue:
MY CAKE HAS A GOOEY CENTRE
Most likely the cake has not been cooked for long enough. When you check the cake before taking it out of the oven, a skewer should come out clean and the cake should feel the same in the middle as it does around the edges
MY CAKE IS OVERCOOKED AND THIN BUT THE TEXTURE IS FINE
This happens when the cake tin is too big for the amount of mixture
MY CAKE IS FLAT AND HAS LARGE AIR BUBBLES ON THE TOP
This could be because the cake did not go into the oven as soon as the mixture was ready or the oven was not hot enough when the cake went in
I CAN NOT GET MY CAKE OUT OF THE TIN
Make sure your baking tin is well lined
It can also mean that there is too much sugar or other sweetening in the recipe
MY CAKE IS VERY DENSE
This could be because the cake mixture did not have enough air beaten into it, the eggs were added too quickly and curdled or there was not enough raising agent
MY CAKE HAS SPILLED OVER THE SIDES OF THE TIN
The cake tin is too small. It is always best to use the tin size stated in the recipe. If you do not have the correct size tin then avoid filling the tin more than three-
The oven is too hot and has caused the cake to overcook
COLLAR AROUND TOP OUTSIDE EDGE
Cake baked at too high a temperature
This could be because the oven shelf is not straight, the oven is not level on floor or you have not spread the mixture evenly in pan
SHRINKS AND WRINKLES DURING COOLING
This is usually due to insufficient baking time, or cooling the cake in a draught
PALE AND STICKY ON TOP
This is due to baking at too low an oven temperature, or placing the pan in the wrong oven position
AND... A FEW BONUS TIPS!
To avoid this happening again, you will need to spot the signs that tell you when your cake is done. Again, I cannot stress enough, you need to avoid opening your oven door until it is absolutely necessary.
Here are some signs to look out for:
Preheating IS important. Depending on your oven, it can take as long as 30 minutes for it to reach the optimal baking temperature. Always ensure you turn your oven on before starting your recipe or you may end up with an uneven, lumpy cake
Centre your oven rack. Unless otherwise told, position your oven rack in the centre and place the cake pans right in the middle of the rack. If baking two cake layers at once, place them on the same rack side-
Remember your cake will continue to cook after it has been removed from the oven. With practice, you will be able to spot the signs and remove your cake the moment that it is ready to come out.