With every country’s government asking all their citizens to remain indoors unless they have something important to do, many of us have resorted to picking up new hobbies. During this pandemic, one of the most prominent hobbies that almost everyone has picked up -or tried- is baking.
Regardless of how easy it may have seemed in all those tutorials that you watched before getting started, it is an undeniable fact that baking requires a lot of patience and effort.
In today’s article, we will discuss some common cake baking problems and solutions to help you take a step further into becoming a great baker.
Common Cake Baking Problems & Solutions
From here on, we will be looking at some of the common problems related to baking a cake and the solutions to those problems. So, without further ado, let us get started!
1. A Sticky Cake
Although some gooeyness is great for the cake you baked, you still need to know where to draw the line with this pastry. Many a time, when trying to take the cake out of the pan, you will see that the sides or the bottom (or even both) are stuck to the inner surface of the cake pan.
Now, a common solution to this problem is greasing the pan before you pour the cake mix into it. However, what experts do not tell you often is that you should also dust the pan with a little bit of flour before pouring the mix in.
Doing so will help your cake slide out of the pan much more easily after being baked. Another great way of preventing your cake from sticking to the sides is by surrounding the inner edge of the cake pan with parchment paper. The parchment paper will assist you by letting you pull on it when you try to lift the cake out.
However, if by the time that you are reading this, your cake has already been baked, you do not have to worry, because we have a solution for that as well!
Instead of trying to pry the cake off of the pan, put it back in the oven for a minute or so. The extra heat will actually help the cake come off the pan when you try to take it out later.
2. Excess Batter in Your Cake Pan
Now this is a very common problem since many beginners (and sometimes even those who have been baking for a while now) often end up miscalculating the amount of batter that their cake pan could actually hold.
As a result, they pour all of the batters in, and when the cake is put in the oven, the batter overflows from the side of the pan. Batter flowing over the sides of your cake pan might even lead to a fire starting inside your oven, which is definitely not something you would want to see.
In order to prevent this from happening, always fill the cake pan up to half or two-thirds of its height. This way, your cake would not be too small, and you could still rest assured that nothing will get ruined, either with your cake or with your oven.
3. A Cake That Collapsed
A cake that had not been baked fully before it had been taken out of the oven will collapse after some time.
One of the best ways to find out whether your pastry has been thoroughly baked or not is by using the age-old trick of sticking a toothpick or a knife into it. If the pastry is done, your toothpick will come out looking the same as when it went it.
The contrary is also true that if your cake is not done yet, your toothpick will have batter on it when you pull it out. Moreover, your cake might even collapse if you baked it at too low a temperature. Side by side, a frequently changing temperature will also bring the same fate to your cake.
A fundamental rule that many of us forget when we bake is that we should always follow the instructions manual to the last letter. Not adding the specified amount of an ingredient to your cake mix will also lead to it not being baked enough around the middle, causing it to fall apart.
4. A Cake That Is Too Dense
The main reason why your cake might have turned out to be so dense is that it did not get a sufficient amount of air. Now, a lack of air could arise due to one of the following ways:
You Used a Leavener That No Longer Works
Some common leaveners are baking soda, baking powder, and so on. Do make sure to check that the leavener you are about to use is still in good condition. This is because it is the leavener that traps the air inside the cake batter and makes it rise, thus making your cake lighter and fluffier.
As mentioned before, not following the recipe will not give you the desired results when it comes to baking. Just like how not using enough of an ingredient will cause your cake to collapse, putting in too much flour will also cause the cake to become dense.
Since flour has a very high gluten content, we would suggest you opt for cake flour instead. As it has a relatively low gluten level, it will help your cake be less dense as well.
However, if you are going to be using flour, please do make sure that you take the correct measurements for it before you add the flour to the mix.
A Cold Oven
You should always pre-heat your oven at least twenty minutes before you put the cake inside. Not doing so will cause the batter of the cake to start getting cooked before the baking powder gets a chance to help the cake rise.
As you may already know, baking powder and baking soda require a good amount of heat to get activated. And when you put the cake mix in a cold oven, you will not be giving the baking soda in your cake mix a chance to work its magic on your cake.
The Mix Has Not Been Beaten Enough
A major reason behind your cake coming out too dense is that you may not have beaten the batter enough times before pouring it into the cake pan. One key ingredient of your cake batter is a soft and creamy mixture of butter (or oil) and sugar.
To achieve the required fluffy texture, you will have to beat butter and sugar enough times to let the air bubbles form.
5. A Hard-to-Stir Batter
While it is essential that you stir your cake batter enough times in order to help those air bubbles form, overdoing the motion will give rise to another problem.
Many newbie bakers complain about how their cake batter is not easy to stir after some time, and the main reason this happened is that they have been beating it for too long.
As we know, flour (whether it be regular flour or cake flour) contains gluten. Continuous stirring of the batter will activate the gluten in the flour and lead to the batter hardening. Another reason why this may have happened is that you may have used too much flour.
To prevent this from happening, mix the batter just until all of the ingredients have adequately combined with each other, and do not use more flour than needed.
6. Arched Sides
Sometimes you will find out that it is not the top of your cake that is folding inwards, but the sides. There are generally three big reasons behind this happening to your cake-
You Used Excess Grease
Keeping your pan well-oiled will definitely help the cake slide out of it later on with more ease. However, there is a limit to how much butter or spray you should use. An excess grease on your pan will stop the batter from “gripping” on to the sides of the pan when it rises.
Moisture Got Trapped Inside
Leaving the end product in the cake pan for too long when it cools is not a very good idea because it locks the vapor in and causes the sides of the cake to become mushy. Instead of letting it cool in the pan the whole time, take it out of the pan after two minutes and then leave it on a cooling rack.
You Miscalculated the Liquid Content in the Batter
Pouring extra amounts of a liquid ingredient (such as coffee or milk) will not increase the flavor of your cake. Instead, it will actually cause the sides of the cake to become weak and double in on themselves when the cake is taken out of the pan.
This brings us to the end of our article for today. We hope we were able to help you with some common cake baking problems and solutions with what we wrote for you today. Thank you for reading till the end, and happy baking!