Troubleshooting Cake Problems

Find the answer to what caused your "not so perfect" cake. Helpful hints are listed below.

Cake did not rise
  • Pan is too large
  • Oven temperature too low; underbaked
  • Under-beating batter
  • Added too much liquid
  • Batter sat too long before baking

Cake fell or dipped/was soggy, compact or heavy
  • Over running too cool; underbaked
  • Cake removed form oven before completely baked
  • Too much liquid
  • Extra ingredients added to the batter
  • Excessive over-beating
  • Used too much batter per pan
  • Didn"t use cool water/cold eggs

Batter ran over sides of pan
  • Oven temperature too low
  • Pans too small/too much batter per pan
  • Batter unevenly divided between pans. Fill about 1/2 full but not more than 1" deep
  • Too much liquid
  • Oven racks not level
  • Pans not placed in center of oven

Cake sticks to pan; difficult to de-pan
  • Pans not greased heavily enough
  • Cooled improper length of time (if cake is still hot and tender it will break easily. If too cool, the shortening begins to harden and can "glue" the cake to the pan)
  • Cake not loosened with knife or spatula before removal

Cake wet/moist/weeps when stored
  • Underbaking
  • Not completely cooled before frosted or stored
  • Frosting a frozen cake
  • Freezing a frosted cake
  • Stored in too warm/humid area

Cake split, humped/peaked too much, shrunk, had holes and tunnels, dry, crumbly
  • All of these problems can indicate overbaking which results from too hot an oven or too long a bake time
  • Holes and tunnels can also be caused by:
  • Failure to scrape bottom/sides of bowl when mixing batter
  • Excessive lumpy mix (blend dry mix at low speed to break up lumps before adding liquid

Layers uneven
  • Oven racks not level
  • Pans not centered in oven
  • Too much liquid
  • Under-mixing
  • Oven temperature too high

Uneven browning
  • Oven not preheated
  • Used dark, dented or warped pans
  • Oven racks not level

Cake difficult to frost
  • Cake not removed from pan properly (see Cake Sticks to Pan/Difficult to Remove)
  • Cake cooled in wrong position. Cakes should cool right-side-up on a cooling rack
  • Cake not completely cool before frosting
  • Excess crumbs not brushed away
  • Frosting not a good spreading consistency
  • Try using a crumb coat before frosting

Cake broke/crumbled when assembling
  • Cake stored in too warm/humid area
  • Cake not supported with rack when depanning or turning over
  • Cakes not stacked with adequate supports