Nobody likes dry cake, here’s how to prevent it.
Why your cakes are dry?
Flour, eggs, sugar and butter. The four ingredients in a basic sponge, but don’t let this simple line up fool you. As any baker will tell you, baking is a science.
While following a recipe may seem easy enough, there are multiple key steps in any recipe. And at any stage, things can go wrong.
Preventing a dry cake, and baking a good sponge needs precision and an understanding of all the factors at play. From how long a batter should be mixed down to the temperature of the butter.
While a good recipe should guide you through these steps, none are fool-proof. Following the steps below should help you answer why your cakes are dry; How to prevent this from happening, and how to fix a dry cake.
Follow the recipe.
Follow the steps of the recipe accurately, this is crucial to preventing dry cakes. If the recipe calls for room temperature butter, make sure you take your butter out of the fridge a few hours before.
Most sponge recipes will start with creaming butter and sugar. The creaming process is what makes a light and fluffy cake. The butter traps air bubbles in the mixture, creating a fluffy batter.
But be sure not to overmix! Mix until everything is just combined. If your mixture is over-creamed, the butter will trap too much air, which when baked will deflate, resulting in a dense cake.
Typically, liquid and binding ingredient is then added, in a basic sponge, this is usually eggs. Adding eggs one at a time binds the fat and liquid in a cake, creating a stable batter that is still airy and light.
Finally, the rest of the ingredients are then incorporated until the mixture is just combined. Remember, don’t over-mix your batter.
Preventing dry cakes 101
Measure your ingredient accurately
- Baking isn’t something you can eyeball, weigh your ingredients. Too much of a dry ingredient, or using small eggs when the recipe calls for large = dry cake.
- The same goes for wet, using too many eggs or not enough butter = unset, wet and dense cakes
- Fan ovens are more efficient than conventional ones, so need to be set at a lower temperature. Generally, this will be 20 degrees Celsius lower than in a convention one. This will usually be specified in the recipe.
- Use a reliable thermometer. The temperature display on some home ovens can’t be relied on. To be sure of what temperature the middle of your oven is really at, use a good external thermometer. You’re far more likely to see consistently better results, whether you’re baking a chocolate cake or roasting your Sunday lunch!
When is a cake baked?
- It takes a bit of practice to know when a cake is done from smell and sight alone. Test your cake after the shortest recommended baking time. The middle of the cake should bounce back when softly pressed. If an indent is left, it’s not yet done.
- To be 100% sure, insert a clean skewer in to the middle, it should come out clean. With no cake batter or crumbs stuck to it.
- Remember, you can always put an undone cake back in the oven, but you can’t un-bake an overdone one.
- The sides of a cake begin pull back slightly from the tin when they are done. The outer part of a cake is the first part to cook and set. When the cake is done, they will have peeled back a little.
If you have determined that you cake isn’t quite ready after checking, return it to the oven and check again after 5 minutes.
Fix a dry cake.
Even if you’ve followed all the steps, taking every precaution to prevent a dry cake. Mistakes, or misfortune, can still strike. You may be wondering why it happened, but there’s no use crying over a dry cake. Utilise the cake saving tips below.
While these are no substitute for a well baked, moist cake. They may save you from having to put your hard work straight into the bin.
- Add a syrup. Make a syrup by heating equal parts sugar and water, and add any flavourings to taste. A freshly squeezed Lemon syrup is the key component in any Lemon Drizzle cake. And what makes ours so moist and tangy. Poke a few holes in your cake before pouring the syrup and allow your syrup to infuse into the crumb for a few hours before serving. A syrup will make your cake moister and sweeter.
- If your cake is already sweet enough, use a milk soak. You can use plain milk, or lightly flavour it with a drops of vanilla and evenly brush a few layers over your cake. Again, leave to soak for a few hours before serving. A milk soak can be adapted for different recipes, use coffee or chocolate for different flavours.
- Fill the cake! Jams can lends some of their moistness to a dry cake. This is also true of high fat fillings, a mousse or whipped cream filling may be enough to save a dry cake.
- Frost your cake, frosting can help trap in any moisture in your cake, this will be especially true with any added moisture in your fillings.
If all else fails, and your cake is dry beyond repair, turn your cake into something else, a seasonal trifle is a good way to repurpose any dry or stale cake.
If you’ve baked yourself a perfectly moist and fluffy sponge, congratulate yourself. As you know, it can be far harder than it looks.
But if you don’t quite feel like baking and would rather leave it to the experts. Then choose from our range of 9 cakes, and have one delivered straight to your door.
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