Peaked or pancaked? Dense or doughy? Here are the reasons behind the most frequent cake catastrophes so you can get the best results.
Problem: My cake has peaked in the middle and is cracked.
This could be because too much raising agent has been used, the cake tin was too small or the oven temperature was too high.
Problem: My cake has spilled over the sides of the tin.
This happens when the cake tin you've used is too small. It's always best to use the tin size stated in the recipe. If you don't, avoid filling the tin more than three-quarters full and also adjust cooking times accordingly.
Problem: My cake is overcooked and thin but the texture is good.
This happens when the cake tin is too big.
Problem: My cake is burnt on top but still isn't cooked in the centre.
The cake tin was too small or the oven is too high.
Problem: My cake is very dense.
This could be because the cake mixture didn't have enough air beaten into it or perhaps eggs were added too quickly and curdled. Another reason could be that there wasn't enough raising agent.
Problem: My cake is flat and has large air bubbles on the top.
This could either be because the cake didn't go into the oven as soon as the mixture was finished or because the oven wasn't hot enough when the cake went in.
Problem: My cake has a gooey centre.
The cake hasn't been cooked for long enough.
Problem: The edges of my cake are soggy.
This happens when the cake isn't turned out onto your cooling rack soon enough and condensation has built up on the inside of the tin.
Problem: My cake has sunk in the middle.
There are a number of reasons why this might have happened. The oven door was opened before the cake had time to set; the cake didn't go in the oven as soon as the mixture was ready; or too much raising agent was used.
Problem: I can't get my cake out of the tin.
You need to ensure your tin has been well lined. Baking parchment is ideal for this.
Problem: The sides of my cake are crunchy or burnt.
There are quite a few reasons you could end up with this result. It could be that too much fat has been used to grease the tin; the cake tin wasn't lined sufficiently; the oven was too hot; the cake was left in the oven for too long or a fat that is not suitable for baking has been used.
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