There was a time a little while back when I was having no joy with my cupcakes or cakes. As hard as I tried to stick to my recipe they kept sinking while they were cooling. So I did some research and spoke to some people and here are my top 5 reasons that you cakes may be flopping.
1. Are you following the recipe correctly? Baking is all about chemistry and ingredients reacting together to get the desired result, in this case, a cake that rises properly. If you were for instance to add too much baking soda, then too much of air would be created within the cake when it’s baking and when it’s resting the cool the air will escape and cause the cake to sink. Ingredients are also not interchangeable. You cannot substitute baking soda for baking powder.
2.Did you overmix the batter? Recipes will often say ‘Mix until just combined’ . They say this for a reason. When adding in your flour you do not need your batter to be smooth and silky, you need the ingredients to be at the point when they just combined. Overmixing will cause too much air to be incorporated into the batter and cause air pockets in the cake. So, like with the baking powder when this air is let out of the cake, the cake will sink. We tend to get a bit carried away using our big mixers so be careful and use the machines on a low speed.
3. Is the oven temperature correct? The temperature of your oven is an important factor in the baking of your cakes. If its running too hot or too cold there is a good chance your cake will sink. I would suggest investing in an oven thermometer if possible. Also opening the oven door to check on your cake will drop the temperature in the oven every time you do, so try not to open the oven door for about the first 80% of the baking time.
4. Are your ingredients fresh? So this is where the fault in my baking lay. Baking powder has a shelf life of 6 months to a year, if stored correctly and even though it’s such a small percentage of your ingredients it an cause all kinds of drama. In my case, I was convinced by someone at the store that I buy my ingredients to buy the store brand of baking powder. It had obviously been on the shelf for a while and hence was the root of my sinking cake debacle. I’ve learned my lesson!
5. Did you take it out too soon? The tried and tested method for checking if a cake is done is to insert a clean skewer into the center and if it comes out clean it’s done. I’ve found that this is not always 100% effective for me so I rather use the spring test. If, with a finger,you gently press down on the center of the cake or cupcake and the sponge springs, back its ready to be taken out of the oven. If you leave a little dent in the sponge it needs a little while longer to fully bake.
*Just as an extra tip: Preheating your oven is an important step that needs to be followed
I hope that these tips help and please comment below if there are any others that you can think of.
Photo Credit: Nicky – PolkaDots and JellyTots / Products made by Madame Macaron