November 28, 2014

Why do my cakes sink in the middle?

Cakes usually sink when the cake batter is not completely cooked; everyone’s ovens are different so you need to find the optimum baking time for you oven.  Also towards the end of baking test the cake repeatedly to see if it is fully baked. If a skewer inserted into the cake does not come out clean, then bake the cake for a little longer.

However other things can be the problem, here are a few:

  • Over beating the batter and incorporating too much air – the air can then cause a collapse.
  • Temperature of the oven is too high causing the cake to rise too rapidly. Tip: Invest in an oven  thermometer to check your oven temperature.
  • Opening the door to check on the cakes before the batter is set can cause the cake to sink, as can closing the oven door too sharply in the early stages of baking.
  • Placing the baked cakes to cool in a drafty place.
  • Poor recipe, baking is a chemical reaction so the proportions have to be correct.

But generally most cakes sink/dip because their outer edges were fully cooked but the centre was not!
Hope you find this helpful
Lindy

Comments

  1. Hi Lindy,

    Not sure if you can advise what to do, however I seem to have a problem with my cakes were I think the fan in the oven is too strong as one side is always higher than the other or do you think the mixture is too runny – this is for a chocolate and vanilla sponge cake. They are flat when they go in the oven so the fan is the only thing I think is the problem.

    Thanks for your help – your blog is great.

    Andrew

  2. Hi Andrew
    It certainly sounds as if your oven is not heating evenly, can I suggest that you try turning your cake whilst it is still cooking to even out the baking – its cheaper than buying a new oven! Anyone else experienced this problem?
    Lindy

  3. Since getting a new oven a few months ago I have not been successful with my fruit cakes. The fruit sinks to the bottom almost every time although the cakes rise and look perfect on the outside, I have tried dusting the fruit with flour and altering the temperature but nothing works. I have made cakes successfully for years and not experienced problems like this. Please help.

  4. andrea cresswell says:

    My cakes also sink in the middle but i thought it maybe that the tin is too big and actually fills the oven. i have tried cooking at various temps and the same thing happens. This only in different shaped tins, not my round one.

    I also have an electric fan oven. what temp do you suggest for a 13″ square cake.

  5. Hi Andrea
    The trick is to allow the cake long enough to cook in the middle without the edges and top browning too much.
    To do this, I protect the edges with folded up newspaper, tied in place with string (this is exactly the same technique as for fruit cakes). The top can be protected with a piece of foil. Allow the cake to cook normally and towards the end of the cooking time check the centre with a skewer until it comes out clean. Bearing in mind you are slowing down the cooking, the cake will take alot longer but please don’t worry, your key test is when that skewer comes out clean!
    Lindy has also started stocking the heating core which can be placed into the centre of a cake to assist the cooking process in the middle.
    I hope that this helps
    Andy
    Lindy’s Cake Team
    Heat Core  - gadget to help you bake deep and  large cakes successfully

  6. josepjine diaz says:

    MY CAKE SINKS IN THE MIDDLE AND ITS GUEWEE IN THE CENTER HOW CAN I FIX THIS PROBLEM BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN BAKING CAKE
    FOR A LONG TIME AND I DIDNT HAD THIS KIND OF PROBLEM

  7. Dear Jo
    We are not sure what recipe you are using but we have found Lindy’s fruit cake recipe (found in all her books) to be reliable.
    Generally, dried fruits are heavy and will sink if a cake mixture is too soft and wet. If the fruit has been washed, spread it out to dry well on a cloth before adding it to the cake mixture. Glace cherries are particularly heavy and covered in sticky syrup, so always wash, dry and quarter the cherries to make them lighter.
    If you find the fruit still goes to the bottom of the tin, toss it first in a little flour or ground almonds. This technique should help to spread the fruit evenly throughout the cake.
    Don’t forget too that you should always use hard butter and not the soft fats.
    I hope that this helps
    Andy
    Lindy’s Cake Team

  8. Hi Josepjine
    I’m sorry that you have struggled with your cake not cooking properly in the middle.
    The trick is to allow the cake long enough to cook in the middle without the edges and top browning too much.
    To do this, I protect the edges with folded up newspaper, tied in place with string (this is exactly the same technique as for fruit cakes). The top can be protected with a piece of foil. Allow the cake to cook normally and towards the end of the cooking time check the centre with a skewer until it comes out clean. Bearing in mind you are slowing down the cooking, the cake will take longer but please don’t worry, your key test is when that skewer comes out clean!
    Lindy has also started stocking the heating core which can be placed into the centre of a cake to assist the cooking process in the middle.
    I hope that this helps
    Andy
    Lindy’s Cake Team

  9. Marion hutchinson says:

    Hi Lindy,
    I have been looking at the heating core in your online shop. I thought it was like a probe but on research it seems to be quite large.Have you had much feedback on its success/ease of use etc.
    I would be interested to hear of the experience of others who have used the core before I buy it.

  10. Hi Marion
    The heating core is cone shaped – you place it in the centre of your cake and place a small amount of the cake mixture inside, we will add a photo to our shop in due course. I’ve not used one myself but some of my studdents have very successfully, which is why we started to stock the product.
    Hope this helps
    Lindy

  11. Tell me more about the Heating Core n the newspaper round the tin my cake is always hard on the sides and flat in the middle i make only eggless cakes

  12. Jane, my workshop co-ordinator, is planning to write a blog next week about how she has mastered the art of baking madeira cakes so watch the blog for her post – I think it will answer your questions.

  13. colleen penny says:

    having discovered that my xmas cake is not quite done in the centre, is there any way that I can rectify it?

  14. Maggee Johnson says:

    Help
    My daughter wants me to make her weding cake for 250 people. She wants the pink / white wonky cake with stripes & flowers as copyrighted by you in 2005. Do you have a step by step guide for this cake. I intend cooking 4 tiers of fruit cake and having a maderia cake to cut separately. I have you cakes to inspire book so think I can manage the cutting but the icing of stipes etc I might have problems with. I have you DVD also but not so good at watching would rather read and digest!!!
    I hope that you can help.

  15. Hi Maggee
    The stripes are covered in the DVD, in the decorating section. Tip: Make sure you roll the pastes out using spacers so that they are all cut from the same thickness of paste.
    Hope this is a little help
    Lindy

  16. Maggee Johnson says:

    Thanks I will keep my fingers crossed.

  17. Connie Johnsey says:

    These are all great ideas,,however, my problem is with a cranberry & chop nuts topping that is put on top of the cake batter before cooking,,,it always sinks! Can anyone help?

    Thanks,,,,,Connie

  18. Hi Connie
    You don’t say what recipe is used for the cake, but I guess that the topping will work if it is added say part way through baking once the cake batter is firm enough to support the weight of the cranberries and nuts.
    You’ll nead a bit of trial and error – why not experiment on cupcakes first
    Happy Baking

  19. I think my cakes sink “because their outer edges were fully cooked but the centre was not!”
    What should I do to avoid this?? Take a bigger baking dish…?

    Thanks
    Shelly

  20. Hi, i have this terrific chocolate cake recipe and it tastes great. But as soon as i take it out of the oven it sinks. its usually over cooked on the outside. it is cooked in a very low oven temp. 150 c for an hour and 20 mins.
    I hate it sinking! what do i do. it has 2 cups of sugar in it and 250gr sour cream. Hope you can help. Should i leave it oven to cool first?
    Cheers, hope you can help.

  21. Hello Shelly,
    Take a look at our Cake Chat and Recipes and look at “Baking the Perfect Madeira”.
    Jane

  22. Hello Gina,
    It sounds like it is not cooked in the middle. Why not use some of our tips on Baking the Perfect Madeira in Cake Chat and Recipes.
    Jane

  23. Hello Jane,
    Thanks for the tips. Will let you know how my cake comes out next time.
    Shelly

  24. Hi,I’m having trouble with a cake recipe that I’ve tried a couple of times and the same thing happens each time, which is the cake mix sinks in the middle while it is cooking. The recipe uses melted butter, and with icing sugar and caster sugar, it states in the book to beat these ingredients together with an electric hand mixer for a few minutes,which I do for about 3mins, which it then looks light and fluffy, to me. It is then cooked for 35min in a fan oven.

    Can anyone help
    Thank you

  25. Hello Susan,

    It is hard to comment on a recipe which we have not seen.
    Usually a cake with a sunken middle means that you need to increase the cooking time.
    I take it you are not opening the oven during cooking – as this temperature change can also cause the middle to sink.
    It may be worth testing the temperature of your oven with a thermometer – or trying a different recipe!

  26. Hi Jane,

    I tried the same reciepe again but this time in a loaf pan. And bingo!! It didnt sink. I think my baking dish was too small last time..

    Thanks for your suggestions.
    Shelly

  27. Hi Susan,

    I had a similar problem.. Though i am not an expert but you can try using a smaller baking dish. I used a loaf pan and my cake didnt sink.

    Hope this helps..
    Shelly

  28. Hi Shelly,
    Thanks for your suggestion, I’ve tried a smaller cake tin and put in an extra teaspoon of baking power in the plain flour mix and hey presto it worked.

    Susan

  29. Hi, I have seen in many shops these cake tester probes which I’ve believed to be nothing more than a skewer – is there anything more to them? The reason I ask is that I am never 100% confident that the cake is cooked even when the skewer has come out clean as I have had a few instances where it’s still be slightly undercooked in the middle. Thank you for your wonderful cake recipies, they work a treat every time, in fact I’m just trying the carrot cake recipe as I type! yum yum!!

  30. Hi Emma
    Hope the carrot cake was a sucess. You are, in my opinion correct, cake testers are glorified skewers. Another trick to see if a cake is baked is to listen to it, this may sound strange but next time you bake listen closely….!!!!

  31. Hi Linda, can you tell me why my fruit sinks to bottom of fruit loaf
    Ann

  32. I have baked cakes for my decorating business for 10 years. Same recipe and ingredients , this week 6 cakes baked all sunk in middle, nothing changed.Thought the eggs might be to blame (left in the cold by milkman) bought new eggs -disaster- still sinking during cooking. Same consistency as usual, door not opened. Had new oven in Jan took some getting used to but have had an understanding with it till this week. Do you have any ideas what I’m doing wrong?

  33. Hello Ann,
    Usually the problem is that your batter is too loose and needs to be a little thicker.
    Jane

  34. Hello Jo,
    It may be your oven, if you are using all your usual baking techniques. It’s worth investing in an oven thermometer, they’re not expensive, and the readings are usually more accurate than the built-in thermometers.
    Jane

  35. Hi,

    I was wondering if anyone can give me some advice…. I baked a new chocolate cupcake recipe today. The texture and taste was lovely, however the cakes sunk in the middle while still in the oven? The oven was at the exact temp as per the recipe (I have a oven thermometer)and I measured everything precisely. I baked a batch of vanilla cupcakes that came out of the oven just before the chocolate ones went in and they were perfect :)

    Any suggestions and advice will be appreciated, or any recipe for a small batch (4/5 cupcakes) chocolate cupcakes will be appreciated.

    Thanks Steph

  36. Hello,

    I have been making a double layer sponge cake: two cakes are put into the oven at the same time and on different shelves. The mixture is from the same batter. One cake rises… the other sinks! Any suggestions? Should I put them both on the same shelf?

    Thanks!

    Zali

  37. Hi Zali,
    I would try putting them both on the same shelf if you can, there may be differences in the heat at different levels.
    If they do not fit on the shelf together, I would bake them seperately.
    All ovens are different and I would experiment with different ways until you know what suits your oven the most.

    Happy baking!

    Marina

  38. Hi Steph,
    I’m glad to hear that the cakes tasted lovely.
    Did you open your oven before the cupcakes were fully baked?
    Or were the measurements of the ingredients not exact?
    There are many tips on making perfect cupcakes in Lindy’s book: http://www.lindyscakes.co.uk/bakemeimyourscupcakecelebration.htm
    Have fun baking!

  39. Thank you!
    I made chocolate fondants at the weekend and they sank in the middle and from reading this I’m 99% sure it’s because I over-whisked them, incorporating too many air bubbles so they collapsed – would you agree with this??
    I made a batch the week before to test the recipe and they worked perfectly so was a bit distraught they didn’t work when it came to the big day, but hopefully you’vve helped me solve the mystery!

  40. Hi Cat,
    It sounds like you have solved your own problem, over whisking can make cakes sink.
    Vive la cakes
    Marina

  41. Hi there.
    It’s my 40th birthday next week. I searched the web high and low looking for a good fruit cake recipe as I didn’t want a rich Christmas cake type of thing. I found your site by accident and when I saw this Fruitcake recipe I knew mediately ” this is for me”. I have just now taken it out of the oven. It smells gorgeous and feels lovely and springy and is a lovely hazlenut brown. It rose by about 3/4 to 1 inch and did so perfectly level. The old inverting before icing trick will not be needed. That’ s a first for me. I used an apple corer carefully in the middle of the cake and I have never seen a texture like it. The pieci i took out is back in place now and when iced no one will be any the wiser.
    Thank you so much for this recipe. I work as an an engineer at sea and see baking as therapy when I return home. If I live for eternity, i will never use another cake recipe. I followed your recipe to the letter and old speckled hen is my favourite beer so it has been win win. I can’t praise you enough and once again, thank you. Tom.

  42. Happy 40th Tom!
    We hope you have a wonderful day and enjoy your fruit cake.
    There are lots of other wonderful recipes on Lindy’s blog that you can try when you are next back on land!
    Thank you for your kind comments.
    Marina

  43. Hi

    I am trying a new recipe for a simple sponge that uses 200g each self raising flour, castor sugar & butter & 4 eggs. The sugar & butter is creamed, eggs added slowly & sifted flour slowly till incorporated. I have tried the recipe twice & both times it has started baking beautifully but sinks in the last few minutes of baking, which is driving me insane. All ingredients are room temperature, I cream the sugar & bitter till beautifully light & am gently when adding all other ingredients. The cake is not overbaked either. The recipe comes from a well known baker so I don’t think the recipe from her book would be incorrect?..
    Please could you give me any ideas on why this would happen?!
    Thanks very much.
    :)

  44. hi lindy I am a beginner into cupcake decorating, you are my complete inspiration, have bought loads of stuff and four books from your site, fantastic service and variety. I wonder if you can give me some advice on how to bake a perfect looking cupcake, have tried so many recipes and for some reason all of them come out with the bottom of the cupcake case all scrunched up not smooth and proffesional looking as in your photos. i would greatly appreciate some tips on that and maybe a simple recipe to start me off again. Thank you so much sarah w.

  45. Hi Andrea,
    Maybe lowering the temperature of the oven and baking for a little longer may stop the cake from sinking otherwise it sound to us that you have done everything correctly.
    Cake on!
    Marina

  46. Hi Sarah,
    We are very pleased to hear you are enjoying Lindy’s books and our online shop.
    Whenever Lindy makes cupcakes she always uses the cupcake cases we sell as these are very well made and of a good quality.
    She also makes sure that once they are baked they do not sit in the baking tin as condensation can build up and make the cases wet.
    All of the recipes in Lindy’s book bake me i’m yours cupcake celebration will result in a gorgeous tasting cupcake: http://www.lindyscakes.co.uk/bakemeimyourscupcakecelebration.htm especially the hummingbird recipe but that’s my preference!
    Keep on the good work!
    Marina

  47. Hi everyone. I have a major problem when I do a basic sponge recipe. 4oz flour 4oz sugar 4oz marg 2eggs. I have tried many variations of this – the all in one – creaming butter and sugar until light and fluffy – beating the eggs and adding slowly with a tsp flour to stop the mixture from curdling – all no success as it still sinks in the middle. I had a gas oven until a few days ago and have just got a dual fuel range so i thought that it might of been my gas oven as it was oldish but still no luck. I can make any recipe (banana and butterscotch – date and walnut – caraway loaf) and they come out all soft and spongy and delicious but give me a victoria sponge or fairy cakes and they all sink and then become very dry :( HELP !!!

  48. Hello Sam,
    Really not sure what you could be doing wrong here. Usually victoria sponges are quite easy to achieve. I always use Mary Berry’s Victoria Sandwich recipe – it’s a “throw it in and mix it up” recipe which is great and works every time! If you Google “Mary Berry recipes” you should find it. Give it a go.
    Good Luck – Jane

  49. Priscilla says:

    Hi I´m having a problem with one of a chocolate recipe, its called mud cake. So I put it in the oven at 350° like it says and the cake starts rising and then all of a sudden it sinks in the middle. I leave it around 45 minutes, it says it should be done in around 25 minutes but that can´t be, you can still see that its undercooked. So the cake sinks in the middle and you can actually see kind of a circle that softer and moister than the edges, which are done and maybe overcooked. The cake is also sticking to the pan, I used shortening and flour , the same way I do with all the cakes that I bake and it sticks anyway. What am I doing wrong or what do you think might be happening?

  50. Dear Priscilla

    Could it be that your oven is too high? If you have a fan oven you can reduce the oven temperature to 160c (320F). I would grease your pan and then line it with baking parchment to stop it sticking.

    Hope this helps and good luck!

    Zoe

  51. HI,
    I’m not a cake baking expert, ive actually only tried a few times, ive recently made several eggless cakes using the different Tesco cake mixes, and they’ve all worked just fine..they havent sunk. I started those to build up my confidence in cake baking, and then i tried to make cakes using my own ingredients…..but every cake has either sunk or not cooked at all, and i have always followed the cooking time and recipie exactly on the recipie. my most recent cake was a Victoria Sponge Cake using a recipie from a good website, i baked it in one tin instead of two and increased the cooking time. the cake cooked well, and i put a skewer through it and it came out clean, so then obviously i took it out of the oven. I romoved the ring of the cake tin, but left the bottom bit there, and the cake sunk to half the size. I just dont understand what i have done wrong, maybe it was me not detaching the base of the cake tin from the cake..or something else..i can’t make an eggless cake…please help me. :)

  52. Would you say there is a difference in dark and silver pans? I’ve invested in Silverwood pans and wonder is the silver has more heat retention than the black ones? I successfully made your fudge cake at 25cm then did 20cm, yet the smaller one seemed to rise enormously then slightly sink in the middle but I didnt wrap the edges on the 20cm so can I draw a conclusion that long bakes especially in silver plans require a paper & foil banding on the edges (which I did successfully on the 25cm one).

  53. Hi! I have an order and I usually bake well! Unfortunately this time it’s not going right :-(. I inserted the skewer in the middle of my sponge it came out perfect. It felt right. But on eating its tasting undone. What can I do? Pleaseeee help!

  54. Hello Devya,
    No really sure what the problem is here. Try Lindy’s recipe for a Vegan Chocolate Cake and see if you get any better results.

  55. Hello Fagun,
    It is always a good idea to put the skewer in a few areas around the cake and not just in the middle. It sounds like it was just undercooked.
    Jane

  56. Hello Ceri,
    Lindy prefers the silver coloured pans as she finds the cakes cook a lot quicker in the dark tins – this may be because black conducted heat more than the silver pans.
    Jane

  57. my cake is sinking to the middle dunno what to?am i over beating it or something?

  58. I tried to make a tall cake so i can split it into three and make a three layered cake but when I was baking it, it realised that the middle sank. It was working for the first 20 minutes of baking but the sinking happened all of a sudden. Is it because I had some air in the cake?

  59. Hello Nicky,
    There can be several reasons why cakes sink in the middle, the most common is that they are undercooked. Try this link
    Jane

  60. Hello Hayato,
    There are lots of reasons a cake can sink in the middle. The most common is that it is not thoroughly cooked through. If you opened the oven door too early this may have caused it to sink too.
    Jane

  61. shakir mahmood says:

    Hi ! Just note few points,

    Batter depositing shouldn’t more than 60% of the volume (in case of cup cake) and 75% in cake of pan.
    Always mix the ingredients in slow rotation right from the first stage of mixing till end cause that will avoid the chance of over development of flour protein. ( Development of flour protein gives you two major problem,frequent collapsing during cooling and un-bake center) both problems are directly linked with the taste and structure.
    Last point: Always use the soft flour around 8 to 8.5 % protein value.

    Shani

  62. You may be interested to try my method for dealing with with fruitcakes where the centre seems to refuse to cook. I insert a fine metal skewer part way through cooking and leave it there, which conducts heat directly to the middle of the cake.

  63. Thanks Shakir

  64. Thank you Gill. Has anyone else used this method – we’d be interested to know.
    Jane

  65. Hai .
    i went with all your cake bakig problems and the good solving methods.
    My problem while baking the cake is the cake upper layer gets hard like bread crust and the inner portion is very spongy .I tried to reduce my baking time but this showed uncooked inside ,Just give me a good solution where i am going wrong .the cakes outer portion comes out like rusk .

  66. Hello,
    You may want to try some of the tips from our blog “Baking the perfect Madeira”
    Jane

  67. Hi my problem is my eggless cake is always wet at the bottom though the cake inside and all round is perfect even my cupcakes have the same problem please help

  68. Hello,
    There are some recipes on our Facebook page for eggless sponges that “likers” have posted in (October 2010). This may help.
    Jane

  69. hi Lindy,

    Not sure if you could help, i have been baking chocolate cakes well in London, then when i moved to south Africa i tried the same recipe’s and they do not come out right, they sink in the middle all chocolates cakes i have made here don’t rise,
    could it be the chocolate in them or the flour or maybe the oven

  70. Hello Aisa,
    It could be any of the three! Check the ingredient packets to make sure they are the same as you would have used in the UK, especially the flour.
    Jane