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Cake Faults: Identifying and Remedying the Problem

It is often the case that cakes are made that are not up to the required standard. When this happens,
it is important to be able to identify what went wrong so that you do not make the same mistake
again. What follows is a list of the most common faults and their causes.

Cake Sunk in the Middle


Most of the causes for a sunken cake are concerned with recipe imbalance. Too much of a certain
ingredient can cause the cake to rise quickly but then collapse (too much baking powder) or can
result from an imbalanced recipe preventing sufficient air being beaten into the mixture (flour too
soft, too much fat). The most common causes are as follows:

1. Too much baking powder


2. Too much sugar (this will be apparent if the cake also has a crisp, sugary crust)
3. Too much Fat/Margarine
4. Flour too soft
5. Cake was knocked in the oven before it had set

1. Cake Collapsing at the Sides


This is also called the 'X' fault on account of the shape of the cake after it is baked. Most often the
cause is too much liquid in the batter inhibiting the batter from rising evenly.

2. Fruit Sinking in the Cake


A very common problem and one that can have a number of causes, either to do with the fruit or the
batter. The most common causes are:
1. The flour is too soft
2. The batter is too soft
3. The batter is too lightly aerated (either from overmixing or from too much baking powder)
4. Fruit is wet and therefore heavy (especially cherries)

3. Cakes too Small


A very common problem, and again one with a number of potential causes, the most common of
which are as follows:
1. Insufficient aeration (from undermixing or not enough baking powder)
2. The batter is too stiff
3. Flour is too strong
4. Batter toughened (from overmixing or from recipe imbalance)
5. Oven too hot (which leads to the cake being 'gripped' and stunted)

4. Badly Cracked Tops


The cause of this is that the oven is too hot, and the crust of the cake forms while the cake is still
rising, leading to the crust 'bursting'
Second reason is (SM) due to high SAPP & Soda contents.

5. Peaked Top
Usually caused by a tough batter, which is caused by over mixing, and is often accompanied by a
long hole in the cake.

6. Wet Streak at the Base of the Cake


This is caused by too much liquid, with the excess liquid in the recipe left as residue at the base

7. Cake Staling Quickly


This has a number of causes:
1. Oven too cold so the cakes are in the oven too long, and the crumb dries out
2. Too much baking powder
3. Not enough liquid in the batter to keep the cake moist

8. Sugary Tops or White Spots on Cakes


The causes are as follows:
1. Too much sugar
2. Not enough liquid (to dissolve the sugar)
3. Sugar too coarse (to be fully dissolved)
4. Cakes standing too long before going in the oven. This allows moisture to escape from the top
of the cake, and leaves sugar residue in the batter.

9. Curdled Cake Batter


Fat and water do not mix normally, and in a cake batter that contains fat and water (in the eggs)
there is a natural tendency for curdling, the breaking down of the emulsion of fat and eggs. If a cake
batter curdles, then the cakes are often still acceptable, though smaller than usual. Curdling will
occur if:
1. The eggs are added too soon before the fat and sugar have been creamed
2. The eggs are added cold, as this causes the fat to harden again, and accept no more eggs.
Egg temperature should be approximately 72F (21 Centigrade)
3. The eggs are added in too large amounts. Eggs should always be added slowly and gradually.
Collapsed or Sunken cakes Cake sunken, specially in the center, more often than
not the reason with this is the imbalance in the recipe.

Too much sugar


Too little liquid
Too much baking powder
Knocking in the oven before the cake is set, by knocking in I mean the
physical knocking while the cake is rising. The rising stage in the cake bakin g
happens the first and if during that time one opens the oven, the temperature
drops and the cake gets a knock it is likely that the cake will sink

Cake with peaked top

Too strong flour, which means a flour high in gluten, great for bread baking
but cakes need a softer flour
Insufficient aeration or beating
Overbeating or tough batter
Oven top hot specially the top heat which leads to the crust forming before the
cake sets and the steam then cracks and peaks the top

Cracked crust/Too many cracks

Too hot oven


Cake tin too small
Cake batter standing too long before baking

Wet/Dense Streak at the base of the cake

Excessive liquid in the batter


Too little baking powder

Tunnel like holes in the cake

Inadequate mixing
Lumps of unmixed fat in the batter
Mixture being poured in the cake tin, little at a time instead of continuously
hence forming air pockets

Fruits falls to the bottom of the cake

Too thin batter


Too much sugar
Too much baking powder
Fruit is wet and hence heavy (coating the fruit with a little flour helps)
Low baking temperature, I know this does sound counter intuitive since most
fruit cakes are baked at low temperatures but too low temp will lead to sinking
of fruit

Sugary top or white spots on the crust

Too much sugar


Not enough liquid or hydration
Sugar too coarse, this is specially true in India since the granulated sugar is
too fat. Always give a whizz in the mixie before using it
Batter standing too long before baking

Cake too dense

Insufficient baking powder/leaving agent


Excess liquid
Excess sugar
Oven not hot enough

Coarse or irregular cake

Too much baking powder


Improper mixing
Insufficient liquid
Insufficient eggs

Cake too tender/crumbly for cutting

Overmixing of the batter


Too little egg
Too much sugar

Crust too thick

Too much sugar


Too little liquid
Incorrect oven temperature (both too hot and too cold can lead to this)
Cake standing too long before baking

Curdled cake batter This is usually not too huge a problem but it freaks out most
people who are not regular bakers and more often than not can be solved by
throwing in a tablespoon of flour and continue baking

Eggs are added before the fat and sugar have been creamed enough
Eggs are too cold when added, the eggs always need to be at room temperature
Eggs are added in too large amounts. Remember there is a reason to add eggs
one at a time
Faults and Causes During Cake Making

Cake rising to a peak and cracked

This happens when the heat in the oven is too hot, or when the cake is placed to high in the oven.

Open and coarse texture

This happens because of four reasons: too much baking powder, wrong portion of fat to sugar or the flour to the

liquid, insufficient creaming or the heat in the oven was too much.

Dry and crumbled texture

Curdled mixture, too much baking powder or the cake cooked slowly.

Sinking in the middle

This is very common in cake baking, some of the reason are: over creaming, too much baking powder causing the

gluten to over stretch, too much liquid or opening the door of the oven before the cake is set, it allows air in causing it

to sink.

Large hole in the cake

This commonly occurs when there was inadequate mixing of the flour or when the mixture was poured into the baking

tin little portions at a time thus forming air pockets.

Fruits settling at the bottom of the cake

This happens when one uses wet fruits or when the mixture is too light for the fruits used.

Heavy and close texture

This happens for several reasons:

i. Insufficient creaming of fat and sugar or during the addition of eggs

ii. Insufficient raising agent used

iii. Too much liquid

iv. Low heat fro.m the oven

v. High heat from the oven thus forming a hard crust from the mixture before the air expands.
vi. Insufficient cooking.
Cakes have a very high rate of collapsing therefore one should ensure that they have followed the recipe procedure

correctly for that good quality to be presented while cooking. Some of the most common faults can be done away with

by adding the right measurement in the mixture to avoid disappointments in the end. Follow the recipes to the end for

the best results.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7167498

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