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Britons have taken to sharpening up their skills in the kitchen during lockdown – however, baking can be tricky to get right. One of the most frustrating aspects of baking is to spend hours creating something only for it to go wrong. Whether your cake is too dry, the mixture sank, the texture is dense or not cooking in the middle – we’ve all been there. So Dr Oetker has explained the most common baking mistakes and why they happen – as well as ways to avoid them, or rescue your “oops moment”.
1. Why did my cake sink?
One of the most exciting things when baking a cake is to peer through the oven door and see the glorious golden batter rising in the heat.
However, that feeling of accomplishment can vanish in a trace when the cake begins to sink just moments later.
There are a couple of reasons your cake may have sunk when baking – and a few involve not sticking to the recipe or checking your ingredients.
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If you add too much raising agent – like baking powder – your cake can collapse down, and so its important you follow the recipe perfectly.
Also, double-check the use-by dates on any raising agents, as with time the effectiveness can wane causing sunken sweets.
Opening the oven door too early or waiting too long to put your cake in the oven can also be causes for sunken cakes – make sure you pop your batter in the oven as soon as you can and keep that oven door closed for the duration of the bake.
You can rescue your sunken cake, however, using decorations to mask the well in the centre – buttercream is your best friend!
2. Why didn’t my cake rise?
Similar to sinking, a cake which does not rise at all can be a nightmare for any baker.
However, there are a couple of ways to make sure you have perfectly risen cakes every time.
First, make sure you use the right amount of rising agent in your cakes, follow the recipe closely.
Try not to over mix your batter, Dr Oetker advises only whisking until you can’t see the last ingredient you added.
Next, you need to make sure your oven is hot enough in order to allow your cake to rise.
And if your cake tin is too big, the chances are your cake won’t rise. Try and make sure your tin is filled three-quarters of the way.
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3. Why did my cake crack?
Cracks are not a huge problem, you may just need an extra bit of icing to cover the gaps – but cracks in your cakes can be avoided.
Cracks can be caused if too much raising agent is added to your batter.
Equally, overtaxing your flour can cause cracks to appear during baking – only mix until you can’t see the last ingredient you added.
If you pop your mixture in a cake tin which is too small, this can cause issues during baking like cracks.
Try and fill your cake tin three-quarters of the way.
And an oven which is too hot can also cause cracks, stick to the recommended temperature given by your recipe.
4. Why is my cake dry?
Nothing is nicer than a moist slice of cake, however, some bakers come across dry and crumbly cakes.
Again, having an oven which is too hot can dry out your cake and not leave it soft and pillowy.
When making your cake, if you use eggs which are too small this can lead to dried out sponges. So try and stick to the recipe, use medium or large eggs where needed.
A cake tin which is too big for the amount of mixture can also cause a dry cake – try and fill your baking tin three-quarters of the way.
Over baking your cake or cooking your cake in an oven which is too hot can cause the centre to dry out.
Stick to the timings and temperatures given in any recipes you use to avoid this.
To solve dry cake issues, before you ice your cake add a drizzle of syrup, milk or even your favourite liquor.
5. Why is my cake not cooked in the middle?
Another age-old issue is cakes not being cooked in the middle but perfectly baked around the edges or top.
This can be a problem caused by the oven not being at the right temperature, or taking your cake out of the oven too early.
Stick to any timings and temperatures given in your recipe.
A cake tin which is too small can also cause cakes to be raw in the middle but cooked elsewhere. Try and fill your cake tin three-quarters of the way.
To fix the issue of a raw cake in the centre, Dr Oetker advises lowering your oven temperature and bake the cake for a little longer.
If you can see the top getting dark, you can cover it with foil to prevent burning.
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