Baking Fails: 4 reasons why your cake baking might be failing

February 01, 2021

Baking Fails: 4 reasons why your cake baking might be failing

Baking is a science and it isn’t very forgiving - especially when it comes to cakes. Recipes must be followed exactly to get the perfect result. The temperature needs to be exact, all the steps followed how they’re described and the measurements need to be spot on and not a gram off!

To make this easier, our Baking Club & Bread Baking Club come with all the ingredients weighed out in the exact measurements so that’s one less thing to worry about! Why not sign up to one of our subscriptions and get a new bake every month - a perfect lockdown treat!


Most baking fails including sunken cakes and flat chewy cookies can be linked back to the incorrect use of butter. Having the right butter in the right state is KEY.

Using Margarine instead of Butter

In baking butter is best! Butter starts off as cream and therefore creates a richer flavour in your cakes, cookies and pastries. Butter has a high fat content which is what gives the baked goods their texture.

Because Margarine is made from vegetable oil it contains more water and less fat leading to thin cookies and sunken cakes.

The temperature of the butter

Here at Bakedin we most commonly use room temperature butter for all our recipes, you should always follow what the recipe says in terms of how the butter should be. If the butter is too cold it won’t cream properly with the sugar which can seriously impact the fluffiness of your cake!

Also beware of putting the butter into the microwave to soften, doing it like this can lead to the outside of the butter melting but the inside staying solid which isn’t good! A good trick to get softer butter without melting it is to fill up a glass (big enough to cover the block of butter) with hot water, empty the water out and place it over the top of the butter for 5 minutes. This will result in softened butter ready for baking!

You didn't follow the recipe EXACTLY

You may think that when the recipe asks you to wait until the butter is cool before adding it to the mixture, that adding it a little bit earlier when it’s warmer will be ok, it won’t be! With baking being the science that it is, if a recipe asks you to wait until it’s cool, just wait - this will make sure your cakes are perfect and not a flop.

Cakes dipping in the middle

The most common reason for cakes to sink in the middle is because they’re under-baked. If a cake isn’t cooked fully, the centre doesn’t have a chance to set and will cause it to sink. This in turn creates a dense and doughy texture. The best way to check is to put a skewer into the centre of the cake, if it comes out clean, it’s cooked.

Another reason why cakes dip in the middle is that the temperature of your oven might be off; if your oven runs cold the cake won’t cook in the middle in the time that the recipe states, whereas if it runs hot the cake will brown up quicker leading you to think the cake has cooked but when you get the cake out and leave it to cool, the centre will dip as it didn’t get a chance to set. The best way to combat this is to get an oven thermometer and adjust the temperature of your oven accordingly.

Opening the oven door too soon

With the wonderful smell of your cake being baked being released from the oven, it may be tempting to have a little peek into the oven to see how it’s getting on… DON’T! Opening the door while your cake is cooking can cause great changes in the heat within the oven which is the leading cause for a cake to collapse in the middle.

If you’re worried about your cake burning, make sure you can see into the oven from the outside so you can keep an eye on it without opening the door. Normally if you have your oven at the right temperature and are following the instructions for the time, it’s unlikely that the cake will burn before the time is up.

Not letting the cake cool enough before icing

Although it may be hard to resist the urge to decorate a cake as soon as possible, make sure you wait until your cake is completely cooled before you start.

One of the main reasons that you need to wait until the cake is cooled is because it’s a lot more fragile when it’s warm and so when you try and spread icing it is likely to create a lot of crumbs and give you an uneven finish even if you’re doing a crumb coat before!

Also if the cake is too hot the icing won’t stay where you want it to and will instead melt into the cake and drip down the sides and you’ll be left with a soggy icing mess.

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