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Common Cake Baking Problems (And How To Fix Them)

Common Cake Baking Problems (And How To Fix Them)

For my youngest sons birthday last year we baked a big cake for him to share with his class.

He was excited to help make his favorite chocolate cake for his friends so this was a big day for him!

I was busy after a full day of work and running errands so when I pulled a dry, cracked cake out of the oven, I was deflated.

We didn’t have enough time to bake another, so we (gasp!) stopped at the store on the way to school for some premade sugar cookies for him to share with his classmates.

My son was almost as disappointed as me, and it just goes to show that even an experienced baker can have problems baking cake.

Well, today I’m going to go over the most common problems home bakers run into when baking, and let you know exactly how to prevent each issue from happening in the first place.

Save this recipe: Banana cake using sour cream (super moist)

How to Prevent the Most Frequent Issues with Home Baked Cakes

overhead picture of cake ingredients in measuring bowls

The good news is, most issues that come up when baking a cake are super easy to prevent. It often comes down to not rushing, and following a good recipe.

In fact, I’ve found that the majority of times I’ve had a cake come out poorly, it was because I was distracted and missed a crucial recipe detail.

It’s also incredibly important to use a solid recipe. If you are using an unproven cake recipe, even the best attention to detail won’t save your cake. For great cake recipes, search above, I have lot’s here on Treat Dreams.


Pin this tasty recipe: Chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting

Dry Cake

closeup of home made chocolate cake viewed from top

This is easily one of the most frequent problem I am asked about by readers. And there are few things more disappointing than a dried out cake.

The best cake recipes produce a moist texture, so if you’re cake isn’t moist it’s probably from not measuring an ingredient or two accurately.

The most common causes for a dry cake is using too much flour or baking powder. Make sure to double check your recipe measurements.

If it’s not from too much flour or baking powder, then too little fat may have been used. So whether that is vegetable oil, butter, or even shortening, make sure to accurately measure out your fat.

Not as frequently the issue, a dry cake can also result from baking at too low a temperature.

Another great recipe: Classic yellow cake

Cracked or Uneven Surface

closeup of cracked surface of chocolate cake

Another common issue cake bakers run in to is a cracked or uneven surface. This tends to make it more difficult to frost your cake, especially multi level cakes.

While you can trim your cake top to make it even, it’s even better to prevent it from happening in the first place.

The two primary causes for a cracked and uneven cake top is from using too much flour or baking at too high a temperature.

Another possibility is from not fully preheating your oven before baking your cake.

Make sure to check your temperatures and your flour measurement and you won’t have cracked topped cakes again!

Another delicious recipe: Chocolate fudge cake

Sticky Cake Crust

homemade yellow cake on serving platter on wooden table

While some cakes, such as pound cake, are expected to have a sticky crust. That is not the case with most common cake recipes.

This is probably the easiest issue to figure out the cause of. Without fail, the reason a cake’s crust is sticky is because too much sugar was used.

Again, this issue can be prevented by double checking your measurements. In this case, your sugar.

Cake Falls

top view of chocolate cake batter in cake pan

Not only is a great cake moist, it also is light and fluffy. So when a cake falls, it’s a real bummer. This is one of those issues you can’t recover from so it’s important to prevent it from happening so you don’t have to start from scratch.

There are a few primary causes for a cake falling. The most common is from not using enough flour. Flour is important for the structure and rise of our cake, so too little can lead to a flat, unappetizing cake.

The second reason I frequently see for a cake falling is from too little baking powder added. Baking powder is a leavening agent and is providing the bulk of the lift in our final cake structure. Make sure to properly measure you baking powder to ensure your cake doesn’t fall.

While not as common, a fallen cake can happen when not enough fat is used, too much flour, or from under baking.

Coarse Texture

top view of mixing bowl with cake batter

I bet you’re sensing a theme by now, right? Well in the case of a cake with coarse texture, I’ve got a curveball for you!

The most common causes for home bakers who bake a cake with a coarse texture is from over mixing your cake batter.

It’s important to stop mixing once your ingredients are combined. And for most recipes, a few lumps is not an issue. So make sure not to over mix or stir your batter.

Now, back to our previous theme. A coarse texture can come from improperly measured ingredients as well.

This can happen when too much fat is used or too much baking powder. So, check those measurements!

Uneven Cake Color

slice of frosted cake on plate viewed from top

While not as common as the issues above, I do receive questions from readers wondering why their cakes did not have a consistent color, or uneven browning.

There are a few likely culprits for this problem. To ensure that your cake’s color comes out even and consistent watch for these common causes.

Using a dark pan can lead to an uneven cake color. Baking at a temperature that is too high is another common cause.

And while not as common, under mixing your batter can lead to uneven browning.

Cake is Dense and Heavy

slice of chocolate cake with frosting on small plate

While I don’t get asked about this often, I have experienced it myself on a few occasions. Because achieving a light and most texture is so important, I wanted to cover it just in case it ever happens to you (well, if you follow these tips it won’t!).

A dense or heavy cake is usually caused by using too much sugar. White sugar in particular. It can also happen when a cake is not baked long enough.

So, make sure to check your measurements and follow your recipes bake time.

Bottom Line

Now that you know the causes for the most common cake baking problems, you should never have to deal with them again!

Well, I still run into a problem now and again. But it always comes when I rush or don’t read my recipe carefully.

The bottom line is, use proven cake recipes and follow the recipe closely. Double check your ingredient measurements and bake temp and time and you will rarely run into a cake baking problem.