Why does my cake collapse?
While cakes can collapse for a lot of different reasons, here are a few common reasons to address and we can easily deal with all of them!
To understand why your cake collapses, we need to talk about how cakes rise in the first place. By getting to grips with how cakes rise, we can make sure we do this properly to avoid the cake falling later.
What makes cakes rise?
Cakes rise because tiny bubbles are formed in the first stage of the cooking process. These make the cake puff up, as you’ll often have seen through your oven door. In the second stage of cooking, the cake batter then sets around these bubbles, trapping them and keeping the cake light and fluffy.
Now that we know how cakes rise, we can avoid collapsing by treating our little bubbles carefully.
How to add your raising agents
Raising agents come in many forms, but mostly commonly are baking powder or bicarbonate of soda. These need to be thoroughly stirred into your flour before adding to the rest of your mixture. This makes sure they’re evenly distributed throughout the cake. If you haven’t mixed your raising agent in properly, this can cause clumps of raising agent in one place, meaning bubbles get too big and then collapse, leading to a cake that rises too much and then sinks. Take care (as described above) to mix your bicarb/baking powder in properly and you’ll have a cake with a more even rise and no more sink-holes.
Measure your ingredients
Too much of anything can be a bad thing and raising agents are no exception. Yes, we all love an extra light, fluffy cake, but adding more baking powder/bicarb isn’t the answer. Sounds counter-intuitive, eh? In fact, if you add too much it will make your cake bubbles too big for the mixture to support and they’ll burst leaving you with a collapsed cake instead of a springy one.
Be gentle with your cake batter
There are different stages in mixing your cake ingredients together. Butter and sugar go first and need to be beaten together firmly. You can go to town on these ingredients and it’s absolutely fine. However, when it comes to adding dry ingredients like flour and raising agents, this is when you need to be more gentle. We add the raising agent to the flour so that we can mix it thoroughly before wet meets dry. As soon as the wet and dry ingredients combine, that’s when your raising agents are activated and the little bubbles start to form. It’s essential to fold your batter together gently now, so as not to beat up your lovely bubbles; be gentle with them.
Another thing to note here is that you shouldn’t leave your cake mix to sit for any length of time before baking it. Get it in the oven as soon as you’ve mixed it, as those little bubbles won’t hang around forever. A wet cake mixture can’t hold the bubbles for long; they need to be captured in the set cake.
Cooking time and temperatures must be precise
Cakes can collapse because they haven’t been cooked for long enough. The bubbles have formed, but the mixture hasn’t set around them properly. This leaves your cake too wet and unable to support the bubbles, so they collapse and leave a flat, soggy middle.
Another reason cakes fall is because the oven temperature wasn’t right. Too cool and the ingredients won’t get hot enough for the little raising bubbles to form in the first place. Too hot and the bubbles expand too quickly and then burst because the cake mix can’t hold them up.
The best way to avoid these issues is to follow the baking times and temperatures precisely. It’s also worth checking that the oven temperature on your dial is accurate. If you’re setting it to the right heat and yet you’re still having issues, try using a heat-proof thermometer to check that the temp in your oven matches what you see on the dial.
We can make cakes easy for you
Rather than trying to find extra baking time in your busy calendar, let us take the stress out of it and make the cake for you! If you’ve got a celebration coming up and your cake keeps collapsing, don’t worry, we can help. We have a selection of existing cake designs that you can personalise, or we can make a custom cake just for you. Drop us a message and see how we can help.