Why Did My Cake Sink in the Middle? (How to Fix It)

If you’ve just spent an afternoon making a delicious cake from scratch only to have it sink in the middle, don’t fret. It’s not uncommon for even the most experienced baker to have an occasional cake fall. There are ways to fix this culinary misstep for different types of cake and revive your dessert. Read on as this guide can help you determine why a cake sunk in the middle, how to fix it and give you inspiration in creating other cake recipes.

Why Do Cakes Sink in the Middle? 

There are various reasons why a cake might fall, from simply not cooking it long enough to using inaccurate ingredient amounts in your cake batter. It can be a little complicated, but with persistence you can get to the bottom of your sunken cake. Keep in mind that baking a cake requires precision and patience.

Reason 1: Underbaked cake

You might have taken your cake out of the oven before it was fully baked. The outside of a cake bakes first, then the center rises as it cooks through. When you check to see if your cake is done, there are few things to look for. Notice if your cake has pulled away from the pan. You can gently touch the top middle with your finger to make sure it isn’t too soft or jiggly. Then use a toothpick or a paring knife to test the center. The toothpick may come out with a few cake crumbs, but if it’s more of a runny batter, your cake will need more time in the oven.

Reason 2: Incorrect oven temperature

There’s a chance that your oven isn’t heating properly. It may be not warming up to the set temperature or it might be overheating. You can check this by placing a couple of oven thermometers in different areas of your oven to confirm the temperature.

Reason 3: Too much leavening agent

Baking can be finicky as it requires precision in measuring ingredients to create the ideal chemical reaction between your leavening agent, liquid, fat and sugar. The leavening agent is the ingredient that helps the cake to rise. Too much baking powder or baking soda can create excess gas in your cake, making it expand too quickly without the proper structure, only to deflate once you take it out of the oven.

Follow your recipe exactly and level your measuring spoon with a knife or some type of flat edge. Measuring dry ingredients precisely is a good way to ensure a properly baked cake. With a KitchenAid® stand mixer Sifter + Scale Attachment you can accurately measure ingredients directly into your mixer bowl. Keep in mind that baking soda is more potent than baking powder, approximately 1/3 teaspoon baking soda to 1 teaspoon baking powder.

Reason 4: Opened oven door too soon

Some recipes recommend rotating the cake pans in the oven while they’re baking. Follow your recipe instructions closely. If an oven door is opened before the cake has had time to set, it may cause it to fall. Be gentle when closing the oven door. A slammed door may deflate your cake.

Reason 5: Improper mixing technique 

Whipping is not recommended as it aerates the batter which creates a light fluffy texture that may make the cake rise too quickly without the proper structure in place to hold the volume. Balance is required to avoid over mixing or under mixing. Follow your recipe instructions closely, and look for references on what to notice in the texture of your cake batter. Read more about how to mix with this handy baking techniques guide.

Reason 6: Wrong size cake pan

It might not seem like a big deal to swap out a different size cake pan for your recipe, but it could be the cause of your cake collapsing. If the cake pan is too small, the batter might be too deep and require a longer cooking time or may even overflow in the pan. Filling your cake pan to around halfway is generally ideal.

How Do You Prevent Cakes from Sinking in the Middle? 

In general, follow the exact order of your recipe ingredients. When the batter is ready, it’s better to not let it sit, but put it in the oven right away. Bake according to your recipe instructions. Once your timer goes off, gently touch the center with your finger to see if it makes a light depression. If the middle moves or appears somewhat liquidy, allow it to remain in the oven a few minutes longer. Then test it with a toothpick or paring knife and look for moist crumbs.

A KitchenAid® stand mixer is a versatile kitchen tool that can help you create the right texture and cake batter consistency, as it allows more control over the mixing process. Using the Sifter + Scale Attachment to precisely measure ingredients can also help ensure a perfectly baked cake.

How to Fix Sunken Cake 

If your cake appears to have sunk in the middle, you may be able to fix it without anyone noticing. Follow these simple steps to make your cake look as good as new.

  • Frosting
  • Knife
  • Spatula

Step 1: Cut the outer ring of cake

Take your fallen cake and cut the ridge from around the sunken middle, so the top of the cake is level. Taste a little piece of the cake to make sure that the flavor is good.

Step 2: Fill in the gap in the cake

Using the excess cake, fill the sunken middle in and smooth it out. If the reason that your cake sunk is because it’s not baked through, remove the undercooked section. You can fill this center with candy for a surprise filling when you cut into your finished cake.

Step 3: Cover with frosting

Frost your cake to not only make it even more delicious, but to also disguise the gap. Use a little extra frosting if you need to make the top more level. If you’re looking for frosting ideas, you might want to try scrumptious buttercream frosting, or mouthwatering cream cheese frosting.

Shop KitchenAid® appliances for baking

A KitchenAid® stand mixer with accessories like the Sifter + Scale Attachment that measures ingredients precisely and the Flex-Edge Beater that reduces mixing time by scraping the bowl for you can add convenience in making a cake or other delicious baked goods. The versatility of these kitchen tools can help unleash creativity to reimagine your favorite recipes and develop new culinary creations. Shop KitchenAid® stand mixers to find the right style for you. Discover KitchenAid brand wall ovens and a variety of oven ranges with innovations and smart capabilities on select models that open new possibilities in your baking adventures. 

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