Cakes - Problems and Solutions

Copyright © 2000 Sarah Phillips Sarah Phillips, Inc. All rights reserved.
 Wishing Trees Cupcakes RecipeWe've all made cakes that just did not come out right. They have fallen apart while trying to get them out of the pan, they were too dry, they were misshapen or the frosting looked like a three year old put it on. This "WHAT WENT WRONG" List for Cakes will help you to figure out what happened so you don't make the same mistake twice. There's a list for both Butter Cakes and Foam Cakes.

If you have additional questions, please post them in our baking911.com Forum, and we will be happy to answer them.

In general, the number one cake question I am asked is:
QUESTION:
All of a sudden I have a butter / pound cake problem. I have made the same recipe for years with good results, but suddenly my cakes have become heavy and not done in the middle.
SARAH SAYS: One of my first questions is "Have you checked your oven to be sure the temperature is correct? If not, check it with an oven thermometer." If the problem is not the oven, then it must be something you must have changed -- ingredients, baking pans (different types), mixers (some are more powerful than others) or anything else.... 

BAD RECIPE
An incorrect recipe is a common cause of baking failures and is not discussed often enough as a potential problem -- if a recipe is off balance with its ratio of dry and wet ingredients, has something left out, has an incorrect oven temperature, etc. it simply won't work. (Recipes are not required to be tested before publishing).
Unfortunately, the only way to find out whether your recipe is bad is by trial and error; you've baked something several times and it doesn't turn out right.

In this case, I always suggest trying a new recipe before you get too frustrated, feel like a failure and hate baking.

SARAH SAYS: KIDS & PETS
Cakes need to be mixed without skipping a beat and then put in the oven--I still have trouble doing that when my kids are around--I get distracted and sometimes leave out ingredients.

And, then there are the dogs under foot. I keep bumping into mine and sometimes tripping over. Plus, a barking dog begging for dog treats distracts me, also leading to problem cakes!