What went wrong with my cake?

Cake Fail

ANSWERS

color

The oven temperature is too low or the pans are too close to each other.

The oven could be crowded or the pan is touching an oven wall or another pan.

Warped pans cause uneven cooking. Deep pans keep the top from browning. Place darker colored pans on higher racks due to absorbing more heat. 

volume

Overmixing the batter,  not enough baking powder, or an oversized pan could be factors. Check that the temperature isn’t too high.

The temperature isn’t high enough or the pan isn’t large enough. Too much sugar or baking powder can also contribute.

shape

Excess moisture: not enough flour, temp too low, removing from oven too early.  Batter not was not emulsified: imbalance of ingredients, didn’t cream butter properly.

Uneven cooking: oven too hot at the start, pan heats hotter then oven. There is a possibily too much flour was used.

Rises too quickly: too much flour or baking powder, pan too small. Crust forms too fast: undercooked on high temp, openned oven too soon, placed too high in the oven.

texture

Flour: wrong kind of flour, unsifted flour, unbalanced flour ratio, slightly overmixing. Other: aged or refrigerated batter, too much baking powder, temp too low.

Too much gluten from overmixing flour; gently fold instead. Other: Temp too hot, not enough shortening or sugar, didn’t cream enough leaving undesolved sugar, too much egg whites verses egg yolk..

Batter preparation: creamed at too high speed, added flour too quickly or roughly. Other: Temp too low, left in pan too long after removing from oven.

saving cake

red velvet cake shake
simple cake pops

If your cake came out less then perfect, you can still salvage it for other uses. As long as a cake is baked through, you might be able to make something of it. Even if it looks fully baked, take a small taste to make sure there isn’t an unpleasant flavor.

First try leveling the cake to even it out. It’s possible that it will still work as a slightly thinner cake level. If not, you can make cake pops, petit fours, or ice cream topping, cake bread pudding, cake french toast, a cake shake by blending it with ice cream, or crumble it into a batch of brownies.

If the cake came out tough, you can try making a trifle. Whip up some pudding and whipped cream. Then layer big chunks of cake, compatible fruit (cherry, blueberies, raspberries, etc), pudding, a little liquor (cognac, brandy, amaretto, etc) and spread some whipped cream on top. Refrigerate overnight and cut in slices. These wetter ingredients will balance out the firmness of the cake.

petit fours
Cake French Toast
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