Cake Fails: 9 Ways your cake Could be a disaster and how to Prevent them

Cake fail prevention

It takes time and energy to bake a cake. Even easy cake recipes can go sideways if you dont follow the instructions properly and the cake could turn out to be a complete disaster and total waste of time and ingredients.  

Here are 9 common cake fails that could happen to you. Because I'm your friend and internet cooking coach, I'm also going to give you some tips to prevent these cake fails.

Friends don't let friends bake crappy cakes!

Have you ever seen the website cakewrecks.com?  The site is full of cakes that are made by professionals that have gross misspellings and other decorative issues.

When you are baking at home, "cake wreck" can take on a whole new meaning.  There are numerous things that can co wrong when you try to make a cake from scratch.  What you shouldn't do is just as important as what you should.

Here are a few tips and an illustrated guide.  Have any of these cake wrecks ever happened to you?

Cake Wreck #1-Your cake rises higher on one side than the other

To fix this issue you need to make sure the batter is spread evenly in the pan.  Spin the pan on the counter to act as a centrifuge of sorts.  See what I mean by watching this video from Michelle of vegan cooking with love.Or tap it gently on the counter to level everything out.

Make sure the racks in your oven and your stove are level.  Make sure your house is level too.  I used to live in a house that was lopsided.  It rained all the time and the house noticeably leaned to one side.  A friend came to visit and said is your house crooked or am I still drunk from last night?

Pans are placed too close to each other or the sides of the oven.  When the metal touches metal, it will heat up faster.  The side of the pan that heats up faster will rise faster and the side with air circulation will rise slowly.  If you can fit two cake pans in at once just bake them one at a time  or see about buying a second rack to place in your oven.

Cake Wreck #2-Does your cake burn on the side or on the bottom?

Your oven is too hot.  Get an oven thermometer and hand it inside your oven so you cal tell the true temperature of your oven.  Sometimes ovens are not calibrated properly so the best thing to do would be to get a low cost thermometer until you can call a service person to come and repair it.

Cake Wreck #3-You get humps or cracks on top of your cake.

Your oven is too hot.  Invest in an oven thermometer.  You can find one here or here.

Another issue may be the type of flour you are using.  Use cake flour if at all possible for the best texture. You can find cake flour here if it isn't available in your local grocery store.

Cake Wreck #4- Your cake falls and is soggy.

This could happen because your cake wasn't baked long enough or the oven was to slow(temperature not high enough).  You can rectify the situation by using an oven thermometer or increasing the baking time.

Another reason why your cake may fall is use of too much baking powder or sugar.  Just use less the next time you make that cake recipe or use a different recipe from a trusted source.

Cake Wreck #5- Your cake has a tough texture.

Most of the time the reason for tough cakes is over-mixing.  Any time you are working with flour, you are working with gluten.  The more you mix the batter, the more the gluten will develop.  Too much gluten development in cakes will result in a tough end product rather than a tender one.

Another reason for a tough cake is too little shortening.  Shortening, butter or any other type of fat added to cake is what makes it moist.  If you don't add enough fat, your final product will be dry and tough.

Cake Wreck #6- The bottom layer of the cake is soggy.

If this happens to you, your cake probably wasn't baked long enough.  Double check the temperature of the recipe you were following.

Another reason for a soggy bottom layer is not enough leavening agent was used.  You may need to increase the amount of baking powder you use the next time you make that recipe.

Cake Wreck #7- Cakes texture is too coarse.

Insufficient mixing may be the culprit when your cakes texture leaves much to be desired.  You don't want to over mix, but under mixing will cause problems as well.  There should be no streaks of flour in the batter before it gets poured into the pan.

Cake Wreck #8- Cake batter runs over the pan.

The pan was too full of batter.  Most cake batters are designed to rise.  If your batter is near the top of the pan before it even gets in the ove, that would be a disaster waiting to happen.  You can get an oven liner for an extra layer of protection, but generally speaking, the cake batter shouldnt fill up the pan more than 2/3 of the way.

Cake Wreck #9- The cake sticks to the sides of the pan.

The pan was not properly prepared if your cake sticks to it. Some cakes need to baked in pans that have been greased, or greased and floured before the batter is poured in. 

Even if you have properly prepared your pans, sometimes cakes still stick if you leave the baked cake in the pan too long. Cakes typically need to be removed from the pan and cooled on a wire rack unless the recipe says otherwise.

Another course of cakes sticking to the sides of the pan would be insufficient baking. One sign that a cake has been baked long enough is that the cake starts to come away from the sides of the pan. Other ways to tell if the cake is done is to test it with a skewer or touch it lightly in the center. If the cake springs back, it's done.

The most foolproof way to ensure that your cakes will come out of the pan every time, is to use silicone cake pans to bake in. These pans are a lifesaver and don't require any greasing or flouring, even in pans with intricate designs, nooks and crannies.