What’s wrong with my cake? 14 common baking problems fixed!

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  • 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? You've come to the right place!

    We’ve rounded up 14 common baking problems that arise when baking a cake. From raw middles to uneven tops, we’re here to help you get your baking mojo back, so you’ll have a successful bake every time!

    Whether you’re trying to make a delicious boozy banana bread, a classic Victoria sponge cake, or some family favourite chocolate brownies, baking is one of the most satisfying hobbies.

    You whip up your cake mixture, pop it into a tin, watch your creation grow, you let it cool and get creative with decorating, and the best bit? You get to eat it after all your hard work! But, what happens when you come across a baking problem or disaster? Do you panic and start again or do you try and solve the problem before its too late?

    We’ll show you how to fix all the common problems that occur when making a cake – and how to stop it happening next time!

    And don’t worry, you’re not the only one to come across these baking problems. We’ve certainly burnt a few cakes or two over the years. It’s all about practising and if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again or in this case, bake, bake again!

    What’s wrong with my cake?

    1. My cake didn’t rise
    2. My cake is greasy
    3. My cake is stuck in the tin
    4. My cake is burnt
    5. My cake is raw
    6. My cake mix has split
    7. My cake is too dry
    8. My cake has sunk in the middle
    9. My cake has risen unevenly
    10. My cake has shrunk
    11. My cake is too dense
    12. My cake is crumbly
    13. My cake is hard
    14. My cake is too moist

    My cake didn’t rise

    What’s wrong with my cake? My cake didn’t rise and is as flat as a pancake.

    Can I fix it? If you’re wondering, why did my cake not rise, it might unfortunately not be fixable. If you forgot to put the baking powder or didn’t use self-raising flour, then there’s nothing you can do to fix it. The cake’s not destined for the bin though, if the cake is still soft and spongy and not overcooked, then it’s good enough to eat. You could cut it into chunks and top with buttercream or icing for mini cakes instead – no one has to know!

    If it’s not completely cooked and you’ve definitely added the rising agent, pop it back into the oven and bake for longer. Double check the temperature and make sure it’s correct – it may just be that your oven is a little too cool.

    What to do next time?

    • Remember to add your baking powder next time.
    • If you’ve chosen a complicated recipe, swap it for something simpler like a classic chocolate sponge.
    • Make sure your baking tin is the right size – if it’s too big the mixture won’t rise enough to fill it.
    • And last but not least, don’t over whisk your mix. Once your ingredients are combined, that’s it – stop whisking and get baking!

    My cake is greasy

    What’s wrong with my cake? My cake is really shiny and greasy and I have no idea why!

    Can I fix it? If your cake’s cooked properly, but is a little greasy, you could cover the top in chocolate and let it set to disguise the grease. If not and it’s soggy the whole way through then we’re afraid it’s one of the bin!

    What to do next time?

    • Be sure to measure out your butter carefully
    • Make sure you whisk the mixture properly
    • Don’t leave your butter out on the side at room temperature for too long – it will start to sweat and become greasy and if you add that to a cake – well, you’re asking for trouble!
    • Keep your butter at a good temperature and follow the recipe.

    My cake is stuck in the tin

    What’s wrong with my cake? My cake is stuck and doesn’t want to move from the tin – help!

    Can I fix it? Don’t panic! This is an easy problem to fix – just run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake, between the cake and the baking tin. Give it a little pat around the edges and on the bottom too. Leave it to stand for a little while – don’t attempt to get it out of the tin when it’s scorching hot. Let it sit for 15 mins or more.

    To tip your cake out, pop on your oven gloves. Hold the tin with one oven glove and cradle the top of the cake with your other one and tip it upside down tapping around the edges until it falls onto your hand. Flip it the right way up and pop onto a cooling rack.

    If it’s a major disaster and your cake has not kept its shape, don’t worry – you can let the crumbled up pieces of cake cool and add them to ice cream to make a sundae, or turn then into the layer at the bottom of a trifle or mash them up and make cake pops!

    What’s wrong with my cake?

    • Next time you’re making a cake remember to grease your baking tin before adding the mix.
    • Use butter, oil or non-stick and cover your tin in greaseproof paper, parchment or tin foil instead – any of these methods will save the day!

    My cake is burnt

    What’s wrong with my cake? Oh no, my cake is burnt – what should I do?

    Can I fix it? If it’s ridiculously burnt, and by ridiculous we mean black beyond saving then bin it – you don’t want to get an upset stomach eating burnt cake. But if it’s just a little crispy around the edges but is soft on the inside then cut off the edges.

    Get a large knife, a rigged bread knife would work, and cut off the outer layer. Cover your under cake in buttercream or icing and decorate like normal – you won’t be able to tell the difference!

    What to do next time?

    • Make sure you bake your cake on the right temperature and pre-heat it properly. If it’s too hot the cake will cook too quickly and burn on top.
    • If your cake is not cooked but is starting to brown on top then cover it in tin foil or baking parchment – this will make sure the centre continues to cook but the outside doesn’t.
    • Keep an eye on it and check it every 5-7 mins until done.

    My cake is raw

    What’s wrong with my cake? I’ve just baked my cake for the correct time but it’s not cooked at all and it’s raw! Help!

    Can I fix it? If your cake hasn’t even began to cook then pop it back in the oven and make sure the oven is on and on the correct temperature too.

    If your cake is not cooking in the middle, then pop it back into the oven and cover tightly in tin foil. The tin foil will trap the heat and help to cook the inside of your cake. Bake for another 10-15 mins checking after 5-7 mins to make sure it’s working.

    Your cake might not look very appetising when it comes out of the oven so leave it to cool and cover in the buttercream to hide the lumps and bumps if there are any!

    What to do next time?

    • Checking oven temperature is key – if it’s too low it won’t cook and if it’s too high it will burn!

    My cake mix has split

    What’s wrong with my cake? I’ve started to cream my butter and sugar together along with the egg and my mixture has started to split.

    Can I fix it? Before it splits any more add in your flour. Fold it with a wooden spoon or mix with an electric hand whisk until combined. The quicker you act the more likely you’ll be able to save your mix and stop it from curdling.

    What to do next time?

    • You don’t have to cream your butter and sugar together, you can use an all in one method instead – just like Mary Berry’s Victoria sandwich cake. There’s no need to cream the sugar and butter together just try this instead!

    My cake is too dry

    What’s wrong with my cake? I’ve just taken my cake out of the oven and it’s extremely dry!

    Can I fix it? If your cake is dry to the point of crumbling when you remove it from the tin then turn your cake into cake pops instead. Add some buttercream or candy melts to the mix and mould your cake into balls – there’s no need for waste! If it’s a little bit dry and still edible cover it in a thick layer of buttercream or icing and decorate with moist ingredients like butter, chocolate etc.

    What to do next time?

    • Double check how much flour you add to the mix. If you put too much flour in, the wet ingredients will absorb the flour leaving your cake dry and crumbly.
    • Your cake can also end up dry if you don’t add enough butter or eggs to make sure you follow the recipe correctly next time and always double check your oven temperature.

    My cake has sunk in the middle

    What’s wrong with my cake? My cake has sunk in the middle and I don’t know why.

    Can I fix it? If your cake has sunk in the middle but is cooked the whole through then there’s not much you can do about it. Just cover the top of your cake with buttercream to disguise the concave in the middle. If you cake isn’t completely cooked – cover it in tin foil and bake for a further 5-10 mins – check it again after 10 mins or so and if needs longer bake again. Your cake will still probably look a bit odd so get the buttercream at the ready and no-one will have to know!

    What to do next time?

    • Make sure you don’t open the oven door whilst your cake is cooking especially at the beginning.
    • Double check the temperature on your oven and if all else fails use two baking tins instead of one next time.
    • Cooking two separate sponges and then sandwiching them together will avoid any unwanted caving.

    My cake has risen unevenly

    What’s wrong with my cake? For some strange reason my cake risen on one side but not the other – any ideas?

    Can I fix it? Once your cake has been cooked there’s nothing much you can do about an uneven bake other than cut off the top and level the surface with a large bread knife. You can then cover your cake in fondant or buttercream to hide the cut marks.

    What to do next time?

    • Next time you get baking make sure you whisk your flour properly when you add it to your wet ingredients. If the flour doesn’t blend evenly it will make the cake bake uneven.
    • Double check your oven temperature too – if your oven is too hot this can have an impact or if your oven is not working properly this can be a tell-tale sign as the heat is not spreading evenly around your machine.

    My cake has shrunk

    What’s wrong with my cake? My cake started off at a good size and now it’s shrunk!

    Can I fix it? If your cake has shrunk but it cooked the whole way through and looks edible then eat it. It might not look pretty but we’re sure it will still taste good. You could also cut your bake up into cubes and make mini cakes instead.

    What to do next time?

    • Always make sure your cake mix is not too cold when it goes in the oven. If you’re using lots of ingredients that have been stored in the fridge it’s best to allow them to reach room temperature before combining or before baking.
    • Over-mixing your cake mix can have an impact too so keep your electric hand whisk on a steady speed and stop whisking when combined.

    My cake is too dense

    What’s wrong with my cake? My cake is too dense. Not even a cup of tea is helping to wash it down!

    Can I fix it? If your cake is just too dense once baked then there’s nothing much you can do now. The best way to enjoy this cake (if you’re determined not to waste it!) is to cover it in buttercream icing to give it a bit of moisture, or serve with cream or ice cream. You could also crumble the cake sponge into ‘breadcrumbs’ to make cake pops instead.

    What to do next time?

    • Don’t overbeat or whisk when adding your ingredients. If you overmix you can loose air and air bubbles which help to create a light, soft sponge.
    • Use the correct flour, if the recipe suggests self-raising flour use self-raising flour and so on. Opting for the right flour and the right amount of flour will help with the dense texture of your cake.

    My cake is crumbly

    What’s wrong with my cake? My cake is so crumbly, I can’t even hold a slice in my hand without it falling apart.

    Can I fix it? If your cake is too crumbly to enjoy, you may have to opt for cake pops instead. Otherwise you could cover you cake in icing drizzle and disguise the crumbliness with cake decorations instead. Adding moisture like a light buttercream layer or icing will help to hold some of the cake together. Just make sure everyone has a fork or spoon for eating it!

    What to do next time?

    • Make sure your moist ingredients are measured properly. If the recipe says to use eggs, but doesn’t say whether large or medium, opt for large next time as medium just might not have been big enough to bring the mixture together and hold it in one form.
    • Make sure you are using the right ingredients too. If its a specific flour the recipe uses then opt for that next time. It just might make a difference to your cake.

    My cake is hard

    What’s wrong with my cake? My cake is so hard, why isn’t it nice and soft like the recipe said?

    Can I fix it? If your cake is hard you may have just overcooked it or overmixed the mixture when combining ingredients.

    What to do next time?

    • Make sure you don’t overcook your cake next time. If your cake is cooking on the outside and is browning but it is still moist on the inside, you should cover in tinfoil and carry on cooking for 5 minutes at a time, checking as you go so you don’t overcook it.
    • If you hand mixed your cake ingredients then you may want to opt for an electric whisk instead.

    My cake is too moist

    What’s wrong with my cake? My cake is so moist, I don’t feel like its cooked properly.

    Can I fix it? If your cake is super moist, you may want to pop it back into the oven and give it a bit more time to cook. Cover in tin foil and cook at the same heat as before but keep checking every 5 minutes until the cake is looking a little less moist.

    What to do next time?

    • Check the ingredients. Too much butter or too many eggs can make your cake super moist. If you’ve not got enough flour to balance this out then your cake can be super moist.
    • Some cakes are supposed to be moist so make sure you check the description of the cake before making it, especially if you’re not a fan of moist cakes. Opt for more solid cakes like loaf cakes or tray bakes.