What Makes A Cake Rise? (A Full Guide)

Let’s face it no one wants to go through getting all the ingredients, mixing the ingredients creating the cake batter to later find out that the cake doesn’t rise at all in the oven after all your efforts. In this article, we’re going to share and talk about everything about what makes a cake rise. Grab your mixer and get ready.

The ingredients that help the cake rise the most are baking soda and baking powder. Baking soda is activated once there is an ingredient that is acid based added to the batter mix. Baking powder has two steps first it gets activated once it gets in contact with liquid and once it is officially put in the oven from the heat.

Mixing the batter and creating air bubbles also contributes to the cake rising and activating with the leavening agents mentioned. The baking powder and soda utilize the air bubble to create gases to create the texture within the cake and then is stabilized. 

Be sure to hit the pan on the counter a few times to bring up any larger-than-usual bubbles on the surface so you can pop them. Not popping the big bubbles within the batter can cause the cake to have holes once baked. It can be aesthetically non-pleasing to the eye.

Every other ingredient that is used within a cake plays a  huge role in helping the cake rise and create structure.


Using flour helps the cake have structure and helps gluten form within the batter. Using different flours will yield different results based on protein. The most common flour used for making cakes is all-purpose flour and cake flour. Using cake flour as an alternative will usually get a nice fluffy and light cake. It is very beginner finally and it’s perfect for mixing batter to avoid over-mixing.

All-purpose flour is very common to be used in most cakes but gluten develops very quickly once mixed. It’s important to be very attentive to the batter so that it doesn’t over-mix. Without gluten developing and your batter not developing some strength your cake wouldn’t be able to rise or have a strong enough foundation to even stay up. Gluten development is key! 


Sugar is perfect for caramelizing and it is what gives the color of brown crust, especially on the top. The reason why most cakes have sugar is without it most cakes wouldn’t hold up in terms of structure. and it would be very crumbly without sugar. Sugar does play a role in helping a cake have a great foundation and helping the cake ingredients stay together without falling apart.

Sugar is also responsible for creating air within the batter which would help you later on with contributing to the texture and plays hand in hand with the leavening agents to do their thing within the cake. Forgetting to put sugar in the cake would be noticeable. It would be awful, dry, and almost breaking apart. You definitely wouldn’t have the texture you’re used to.

Let’s not forget the milk!

Though milk is not a leavening agent it plays a big role as a liquid ingredient that helps activate the other ingredients within the batter but also combines it and brings it together. Baking powder loves liquid ingredients and is activated by the first touch of liquid. But also milk helps create steam once the batter is in the oven but also contributes to adding moisture to your cake. 

Proper mixing of ingredients

Improper mixing of ingredients can cause the cake to flop and never rise. Not combining ingredients properly can cause lumps within the better. It can cause the baking powder and baking soda to not be properly activated within the batter so that it rises properly in the oven. 

Creaming butter and sugar together

One of the most popular mixing methods for cakes is the creaming method which consists of creaming the butter and sugar together by using a mixer or a hand mixer. By using this method it helps create a structure for the cake as well as creating a fluffy texture. Air is created by the sugar creating air pockets within the butter once beaten together in the cake once baked to rise the best way possible when using a leavening agent. If you go a step further and add the egg and you were to whisk the egg separately until it has a fluffy texture technically a meringue it will create an even higher cake and even more structure. 

See this post to learn more about the importance of each ingredient in baking.

Psst… here are all the recommended products you might need right now to start baking ❤:


Baking Soda

Baking Powder

All-purpose Flour

Cake Flour

Cocoa Powder

Oven Thermometer



Hand Mixer

Cake Pan

The topic of a cake rising is such a big topic and it’s not going to stop there we’re going to talk about what causes the cake not to rise. The specific ingredients that play a role when baking your cake. Let’s face it baking is a science so you’re going to see how the ingredients all play a role in helping the cake rise. After reading all this you’ll never have a flat cake again.

What Causes A Cake Not To Rise

A cake may not rise for the following reasons: not mixing the batter properly, improper heat distribution in the oven, not following the recipe as per the instructions, and substituting ingredients. Not using the right temperature in the oven can cause the cake to be undercooked or not cooked in the middle which means that the cake won’t rise properly. Uncooked batter means that it’s not baked properly.

If you see that baking your cake at 425°, causes your cake to have an overcooked exterior but it’s still undercooked in the center and it never has time to catch up then the cake won’t bake properly. Whereas if you lower the heat and you allowed the batter in the center to catch up to match the temperature of the outer part of the cake you would have a great structure. You will also allow the batter to cook which means a better rise and great texture.

There are some recipes where you have to be careful if it calls for butter and you substitute it for oil you run the risk of the cake collapsing or not coming out as you expected. This is not something that happens all the time because sometimes people do swap from butter to oil and oil to butter but you run the risk of the texture changing and the cake not coming out as it’s supposed to. Substitution can be one of the reasons why sometimes the cake doesn’t work out as every ingredient is calculated. 

Incorrect ratio of ingredients.

Have you ever tried not putting enough flour in your cake recipe? As you’ve learned today flour creates structure so not having enough flour can cause a cake to not be able to hold itself and will lay flat once baked. Using the wrong size of eggs can make all the difference because maybe there’s not enough stability from the eggs to allow the cake to rise. If your cake starts to rise in the oven but then falls flat putting too much baking powder or baking soda could cause this.

Did you potentially mix it up and use baking powder instead of baking soda and vice versa? Each leavening agent has different capabilities because if you were to put baking soda instead of baking powder and there’s no acid ingredient within the batter then there’s no chance of a better rising. Basically, nothing would happen.


Are you mixing your batter including dry and wet ingredients thoroughly before joining it together?  When doing the creaming method are you ensuring that the butter and sugar are properly mixed and the sugar is completely dissolved and the batter itself is creamy and fluffy? Are you giving it time to get to the right consistency?

 When I’m making Italian buttercream meringue and I’m following recipe instructions if it says to continue to whip the egg until it’s fluffy I do it. One of the biggest things I noticed is that it was so easy to stop and just carry on because your arms get so tired and plus it takes quite long to see the eggs get to a fluffy consistency. But once you follow what the recipe says and you do the techniques correctly everything comes out right.

So the next question to ask yourself is are you following the instructions and making sure you are achieving the right technique?

What Makes A Cake Rise Baking Soda Or Baking Powder

A cake can rise with both baking soda and baking powder. But they both react differently. Baking soda works immediately once it gets in contact with an ingredient that is acid-based and wet. Yogurt, lemon, and buttermilk are some great examples of this. Baking powder reacts two different times, getting in contact with liquid and another time is with heat.

In recipes, it is common to use less baking soda because of its strong properties, and using too much of it can cause the taste to be altered and ultimately be very bitter. Let’s just say the cake wouldn’t taste that good. If a bigger rise is needed both baking soda and powder would be used to create this effect.

Why you would add baking powder 

Because baking powder is standalone it is more likely to use more to achieve more rise without altering the taste. The quantity still needs to be added in a proper ratio to not risk the taste of the cake.

Baking powder tends to have a longer lifeline because of its capability to activate twice. Leaving batter on the counter for a while would most likely still bake once you put it in the oven. You can also put it in the fridge but you’d have to be very careful to not agitate the batter so it doesn’t lose its leavening properties. 

Importance of acid in your recipe when using baking soda.

Adding an acidic ingredient such as buttermilk, yogurt, or lemon to a recipe will ensure that the baking soda is activated. Not using an acidic ingredient that calls for baking soda will cause it not to be activated properly and can lead to the cake not rising at all. Some may argue and say that the common ingredients used such as egg, vegetable oil, and milk or cocoa powder (If you’re making chocolate cake!) can be activators but not really true as it isn’t acidic enough to get a proper rise. 

How Do I Make My Cake Rise Higher

To make a cake rise higher using both baking powder and baking soda can make all the difference. When more baking soda can’t be added, more baking powder is added in combination to have a bigger rise. Also whisking your eggs to a certain peak can help rise a cake without the help of a leavening agent. Especially if you want a fluffy and more puffed-up cake. 

Higher heat can help a cake be taller but can make the outer edges of the cake dryer and crispier by the time the center is done baking. So lowering the heat in the oven does help but it would usually lead to a shorter cake doesn’t mean it won’t rise but the cake won’t be as tall. 

It’s a great idea to check the heat of the oven using a thermometer because there could be times when your oven may be not at the heat that you think it is at which can lead to denser non risen cakes. Turning on the oven before you put in a cake can do wonders but also checking the temperature to make sure it’s at the right temperature before you put the cake in to ensure that it bakes properly.

Sift Flour For Your Cake To Get A Good Rise

It is highly recommended to sift your flour so your cake rises properly. Sifting your flour and dry ingredients allows the leavening to be properly distributed throughout the dry batter. It allows for no clumps to be developed so the cake doesn’t rise weirdly.

It also allows for a softer texture in the cake as well as having a more balanced mixture overall ensuring that everything is mixed together.

What Happens To Cake If You Don’t Sift Flour

Sifting is especially very important when you don’t want to over-mix the batter at the end. Specifically, if you’re adding the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients you want to minimize having to mix too much which can cause an excess of gluten development.  You would usually sift any type of dry ingredients such as salt, baking soda, baking powder, or flour to avoid having to mix excessively once you start combining ingredients. 

Is 1 Tsp Of Baking Soda Too Much

Using one teaspoon of baking soda is the common quantity that is usually recommended in most recipes.  If any more baking soda is added there is a risk of causing a bitter taste. But it will highly depend on the ratio of your ingredients because depending on the amount of flour that is added to the batter sometimes more baking soda would be added but usually a maximum of two teaspoons in a regular cake. 

What Happens If You Put Too Much Baking Soda In A Cake

Adding a lot of baking soda could also cause the cake to be acidic as well as extremely dense or it can be extremely mushy and not create the proper structure depending on the ingredients in the cake recipe.

The Role of Eggs In Baking 

Here’s a bit more information about the role of eggs and how it affects your baking on top of helping your cake rise. 

Do Eggs Make A Cake Rise

Using eggs in a cake recipe does help the cake rise. Even using an extra cake can cause a cake to be to rise even more and be fluffier. but adding too many eggs can cause the cake to be two days and possibly compromise the flavor. It helps all the ingredients come together and be combined and helps the overall texture of the cake to be more solid once gets in contact with it.

How Eggs Affect The Texture Of Baked Goods

Eggs affect the texture of baked goods by providing the necessary steam for the leavening to rise. It also provides moisture for the flour and egg yolks essentially having more fats. Eggs are very moisturizing and help keep the overall batter together which is responsible for creating a creamy and fluffy consistency once mixed.

The egg whites have more protein which you can call it more of a strengthener. It’s especially good to help a cake rise if you didn’t use any leavening agents. When a cake recipe just calls for egg whites it will tend to make the cake rise higher but it may be drier than if you were to use the yolk of an egg.

See this egg chart to see what happens once you start to add more and more eggs.

The more you whisk the egg the more it goes through different stages of it’s peak. To the point where once mixed the texture changes and it becomes very white and becomes more of a stiff texture. If you were to turn your whisk upside down the egg white peak would stand up.

Not using eggs within the cake can cause it to be very crumbly and wouldn’t hold up well that’s why when you look at vegan cakes they always have some type of replacement to substitute eggs and at times may find it difficult. 

There always has to be an ingredient that helps all the ingredients stick together and combine properly for the cake to build a proper structure and for it to rise properly. The structure is created once in the heat and that’s why you will notice you can’t unbake a cake. It can’t reverse to liquid once the molecules are connected that is it. 

The Temperature Of The Oven Is Also Important In Helping A Cake Rise

This may be the most important part to ensure your cake rises properly. Without heat, all the work that you have done in combining your ingredients would just leave your cake batter as just cake batter. Once heat gets in contact with your batter that’s the moment when you get to see the texture and the structure start to form.  If at any point the right ratios weren’t used the cake wouldn’t become a cake.

The temperature recommended is 350° but this will vary between ovens. But it’s the perfect sweet spot because though it may take longer for the cake to bake it allows the cake to cook properly in the center without burning the exterior of the cake. 

Once the temperature hits the batter a lot of things happen there’s usually a chemical reaction that happens, chemical gas bubbles are created and the leavening in the mixture starts to do its work and that’s where the texture forms and becomes spongy or fluffy. 

Otherwise, the cake would just be mushy without it. Baking is the only type of cooking where everything is carefully calculated so that way you get the structure cake that you’re looking for, the cake rises properly and the liquid turns solid. Having the right ratio of flour to water makes all the difference. Having too much water can cause the batter to be too liquidy which wouldn’t hold up in the oven.

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