Why does my cake sink in the middle? Why does my cake have a big dome in the middle? Why is my cake so hard to ice with all the crumbs? Why is my cake cracking when baked? Why doesn’t my cake look like the picture on Pinterest?
Just a few of the questions we get asked when people are having cake baking issues!
Before we give you some baking advice, here’s one thing I would really like you to do and which may help solve half your baking problems…
CHECK YOUR OVEN
Did you know that even brand new, never been used before ovens can run at a lower or higher temperature than what you’ve set the dial at?
If you bake often you will notice that your food may cook faster or slower and you become used to adjusting your cooking times and/or temperatures, but if you don’t use your oven all that much you may not be aware that your ovens internal thermostat may be out.
You can buy an inexpensive oven temperature gauge to see what your oven is actually cooking at!
The kids think it looks cool but if you’ve ever had to level a cake that has done this, you will know how much cake is wasted when your cake rises up like Mt Fuji…
This occurs if your oven is too hot and can also make big cracks in the top of your cake. It causes the cake to rise too fast, too soon. We advise baking our cake mixes at 160 degrees on fan forced, if you still get the domed result, time to check your oven temperature!
Flat as a Pancake
You know how it is, a mums life is a busy life…you turn on your mixer and then your child has something life threatening occur, like they can’t find their other shoe, their sandwich is cut in triangles not squares or the old “I had the Ipad first and she stole it” saga. You go to deal with it and forget that you only have to mix your cake for 3 minutes and even if you’ve set your timer (I always, always set my timer), the sound of it going off gets lost in all the noise.
Seriously over-beating your cake can result in a cake that comes out of the oven flat as a pancake. Our recipe card says mix for 3 minutes because it’s been tested soooooo many times and bakes a successfully risen cake!
Another reason, which is why I recommend checking your ovens temperature, is your oven may be on too low a temperature, it’s not hot enough to make the cake rise how it should in the timeframe it’s being cooked for.
The Sinking Ship
You’ve opened the oven door to check that all is going well or can’t resist releasing some of that awesome cake baking smell into your kitchen…DON’T DO IT! If your baking time is 60 minutes don’t be tempted to check on it before 50 minutes. If you open the oven too soon, you are letting the heat out and messing up the baking process.
If you think your cake is ready to come out of the oven and it collapses after removing it, then it wasn’t ready yet!
Cakes bake from the outside in, meaning the middle is the last to cook. So if your cake has risen in the middle, springs back when touched lightly in the centre (and doesn’t leave a dent) or an inserted skewer comes out clean, then you’ve created some cake magic…
You’ve iced your cake with butter icing and it looks fab! Half an hour later it’s dribbling off your cake and is one big, sloppy mess…
Butter is best at room temperature when making buttercream icing. If you forgot to take your butter out of the fridge to soften beforehand and try to help it along a bit by using short bursts in the microwave, you are setting yourself up for an Icing disaster!
If it’s not at room temperature/soft enough, following the instructions on our recipe card: place it in the mixer first, on it’s own and beat well before adding the icing sugar and milk. Or try using spreadable butter instead!
If you find your icing is too stiff and you haven’t added your food colouring yet, do this first before adding any extra milk. The liquid food colouring will help soften it and you will find you may not need to add any extra milk at all!
The Dreaded Crumbs…
Who doesn’t hate the crumb factor? In my opinion the worst part of icing and the bane of my cake making existence… I’m an impatient baker haha and sometimes it shows in my cake coverings!
If you haven’t ordered one of our cake kits that require no cutting (ie. flip straight out of the baking box and ice) like our Number Cakes etc and need to cut your cake into a shape, you’re going to have crumbs.
If you have the time (and patience!) you can do a crumb coat which is putting a thin layer of icing on your cake to ‘seal’ the crumbs and refrigerating for 30 minutes. Then ice your cake as normal for a clean finish.
Just make sure you have enough icing to do both. If you have some icing sugar in your pantry you could halve the amounts on our recipe card under the Icing Ingredients to use for the crumb coat, leaving the bag we send you for the top coat.
The Pinterest Wonder Cake
Ahhh Pinterest… how many 3 or 4 tiered cake ‘masterpieces’ have you got pinned? Me, personally, hundreds! Can’t get enough of all those amazing creations! Lets get realistic here (hate to burst your bubble) unless you have a heap (and I mean a heap!) of time, are child free for days, an unlimited budget and some serious cake decorating skills up your sleeve, you may be disappointed when trying to copy an elaborate cake from one of your Boards.
You need special support systems to hold them all up and speaking from recent experience, covering tiers of cakes in fondant can end up in tears!
Most kids aren’t fans of fondant (unless you have an oddball like my 6 year old who can’t get enough of the stuff) so you are better off sticking to a one level buttercream with fondant accents or you can try one of our 3D cakes (Digger, Fire Engine, Dump Truck, Truck) which don’t require the support systems, are more achievable for all skill levels, are a lot less stressful, less time consuming and the kids will love the taste!
It’s easier to try a fun, stress free CAKE 2 THE RESCUE DIY Cake Kit!
Now that we’ve got that sorted, try your hand at baking, kids love nothing more than a homemade cake made by mum or dad!
What’s your biggest cake flop? Love to hear your stories in the comments xx