How To Avoid Sinking Cakes In The Middle: And How To Fix It

Everyone wants a perfect cake and in this article, we’re going to talk about exactly why your cake isn’t rising so you can avoid this issue and never let it happen again so you always have the perfect cake height.

Why Doesn’t My Cake Rise In The Middle?

The cake not rising is caused by inconsistencies. For example, the batter being under-stirred or over stirred not allowing the right amount of air bubbles, baking soda being stale, not using the correct weight of ingredients required (using too little or too much),  or uneven oven heat distribution. 

The cake rises based on the three types of formation of gases- air (creaming, whipping, stirring ), steam (milk, cream, liquids), and carbon dioxide (baking powder or yeast). 

If any of these types of formation of gases have inconsistencies the cake will not rise. 

A cake not rising is usually because of the following reasons:  

Mistake #1: Over stirring

The batter is under-stirred or over-stirred meaning there isn’t the right amount of air bubbles produced needed to bake a perfect cake.

Mistake #2: Your baking powder might be stale

 We all love keeping baking powder forever and before we know it, sometimes we will check the expiry date and find out that it’s actually a year old. You would know it’s expired when you put the baking powder into 

water it doesn’t fizzle. If it doesn’t fizzle it’s time to buy new baking powder. If there is not fizzle it means there is no rise.

Mistake #3 Using too little or too much sugar 

The type of sugar matters. if you’re not used to making recipes on your own from scratch it’s best to find a recipe that uses the amount of sugar that you’re looking for. Believe it or not, sugar affects the way a cake rises. So if you use white sugar it will usually rise more than brown sugar. 

Mistake #4:The oven baking temperature may not be at the right heat level.

There are levels to this. Not having a well-heated oven ready before you put in your cake can cause your cake to never grow. For some, it could be the oven not distributing heat properly.

Another reason can be not having the ingredients at the right temperature. So if your ingredients are too warm it could cause the cake to lose its air bubbles before it even gets to the oven. The result can be the cake losing volume, having a dry texture, and breaking easily. The same goes for having ingredients that are too cold in the batter. The rising ingredients form too late causing the cake to bake quickly which loses the air bubbles needed for the cake to rise leading to a dense cake (no one wants that!)

Mistake #5: The size of the egg matters.

The more eggs you use the denser the cake becomes. See the chart below to get an idea of how it affects the cake depending on the amount of egg you use and the type of texture you get.

Number Of Eggs Added to The Cake BatterCake Results
No Eggs Not dense, will fall apart when cut and short in height
1 EggA bit dense but held together when cut 
2 EggsThere is a greater height, lighter texture, and greater structure strength
3 Eggs Taller, lighter, and slightly spongier
4 Eggs Short dense and rubbery – too far, too many eggs!

See this full guide on how eggs affect the cake and change the texture.

You just got reasons why your cake may not be rising in the middle and how to fix that. but also will be share how to get the perfect rise and how to avoid that flat cake below.

How Do I Get My Cake To Rise Evenly?

Setting the oven to be hot before the cake goes in will determine how well a cake rises evenly. Opening the oven door before the cake is set may cause collapse resulting in it not rising. The middle of the cake will usually rise first, scraping the top of the batter evenly will help rise at an even level. 

Making sure that your oven is 100% pre-heated plays a big factor in how well the cake will rise. Put it this way heat is your best friend.

If you’re all good with heat another thing that you can use is wet cake strips. It helps keep the top of the cake flat so if you don’t want the cake to rise up in the middle and have that extra amount of cake, you have to level out by cutting. You would use this to keep everything flat. It does wonders. 

An alternative to wet cake strips is wrapping foil with a wet paper towel around your cake pan to get the same effect.

Check out this full guide on what makes a cake rise.

How Can I Make My Cakes Firmer?

Adding an extra egg will make a cake dense. But be careful not to use too many eggs as it may cause the cake to be rubbery. It is best to add one extra egg at a time and test the cake once baked. Also, adding milk and doubling the amount of melted butter will help firm up your cake.

If your recipe calls for oil replacing it with butter instead will help make it denser. If it calls for brown sugar using white sugar instead will help improve the sturdiness of your cake. 

Why Is My Cake Flat And Dense?

A flat and dense cake is caused by over-mixing the batter. When you add flour with water, gluten develops which is good but too much mixing causes it to form gluten strands. This results in the cake becoming super dense because the cake starts to create structure in the batter.

A rule of thumb is to mix your wet and dry ingredients just right, meaning not too much, not too little just enough that it is mixed and you can visibly see that it is good to go.

Another reason a cake can be dense is by measuring the flour incorrectly. This happens if you’re using measuring cups and you are just eyeing them. It is always best to weigh your flour or an alternative is spooning. Spooning is great because it’s for the new baker who may not have a scale but allows them to get started with what they have. It’s an easy way to get as close as possible to having the right amount of flour within your recipe. 

Not creaming your butter and sugar properly. Having these 2 ingredients mixed properly and creamed is crucial to have the perfect cake as this is the foundation for the cake. It’s what gives you a light and fluffy texture. So if you don’t mix it properly it may cause your cake to be flat and dense because the ingredients are not distributed properly which causes there to not be any air bubbles. 

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