Updated: Jun 9, 2021
“It’s a bit sad when you take the cake out of the oven only to realise it has sunk in the middle. Still, it’s not all bad! It’s a lesson learnt and best of all, it’s a mistake you get to eat (and is probably still delicious).
There are a few factors at play when it comes to baking a cake and helping it rise.
And of course, we are talking about cakes that are meant to rise here – think Victoria sponges, fluffy chocolate cake, light as a feather lemon drizzle etc. Will touch on rising agents and more in future articles, but first, let’s troubleshoot cake sinkage and why that might happen.
Here are some pointers towards cake sinkage and why that might happen:
The ingredients aren’t mixed properly. For most cake batters it’s really important that you take your time to mix it properly. If the batter starts with butter and sugar it’s important to spend time here. Lumps of butter in your mixture will cause pockets and holes in the bake and can lead to an uneven rise.
Also if you are adding in a rising agent, chemical (baking powder, bicarb,self raising flour) it’s important that these are mixed properly into the batter.
The weight of the batter is too heavy for the tin. Often, a loaf cake can sink in the middle. This can be due to the nature of the cake batter and the dimensions of the tin and the way the heat in the oven is conducted. So if a batter doesn’t work in a loaf tin that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work in a round tin!
You opened the oven! Now, it’s actually ok to open the oven when you’re baking a cake BUT only after the half way point. The first few moments when a cake goes into the oven and feels the heat is super important. The rising agents of the cake need that heat to react.
Make sure the oven is pre heated properly.
If your cake looks fine when it’s removed from the oven but slowly starts to sink that could mean that it hasn’t been in the oven for long enough.
Tip: Everyone’s ovens are different! Get to know yours and how it bakes. You can do this through baking a standard cake recipe and following a recipe. Check the cake after the suggested baking time and see how it has baked, does it need more time? Is it uneven in colour? Is it over baked? All of these things will help you to get to know your oven better.
You might need to preheat the oven for longer or know that there’s a specific ‘hot spot’ in your oven that you need to avoid. Using an oven thermometer can be really handy here, they are pretty inexpensive and will help you to gauge the correct temperature of your oven.
That’s our two cents on cake sinkage, but remember, it’s not the worst thing that can happen and the best part is that it’s all feedback to know what to do differently next time.
Hope that helps!