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Why do sponge cakes fall after cooling?

Baking is a science in and of itself. There are a lot of things that can go awry when making a cake! One of the more common questions people find themselves asking is “why do cakes sink in the middle?” Instead, “why did my cake sink?”

image of an underbaked cake layer to help explain the question why do cakes sink in the middle Since this cake layer was underbaked, the center sank as it cooled.

I mentioned it briefly in my cake problem guide, but I thought it warranted a little more attention.

Although you may believe there is just one major reason, there are plenty!! A lot of different factors can cause cakes to sink in the middle.

The purpose of this essay is to help you understand why cakes sink in the centre and how to avoid it in the future.

I also discuss how to recover cake layers that have sunk.

Culprit #1: The Cake Layers Are Underbaked

Underbaked cakes are the most prevalent cause of sinking in the centre.

If a cake is not completely cooked, the center does not have a chance to set and sinks. This creates a doughy, dense texture in the center of your cake layer.

How To Prevent This Next Time:

Bake the cake layers for a few more minutes! Or if you’re unsure if the cake is baked through, check with a toothpick.

When a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs, the cake is done.

Culprit #2: Too Much Leavening Agent

The third probable cause is too much or the improper sort of leavening agent.

Too much leavening agent, such as baking soda or powder, may cause a cake to rise too rapidly and too high.

The gas from the leavening agents builds up and escapes before the cake bakes through in the center. This causes the core to collapse, causing your cake layers to sink in the center.

When it comes to leavening agents, a little goes a long way, so be sure you correctly measure them!

To ensure that you are using the correct quantity, always level the top of the spoon with the top of the box or a knife.

This may seem trivial, but it is critical to use the correct leavening agent.

Baking soda is about three times more powerful than baking powder, and the two should not be used interchangeably.

image of dry ingredients being sifted into bowl

How To Prevent This Next Time:

Be sure to read the quantity of leavening agents specified in the recipe and measure them properly with a teaspoon.

There is also the possibility that the recipe is incorrect! Sadly not all recipes are formulated correctly, and sometimes this can also be the problem.

If you’ve tried a recipe a few times and your cake is still sinking in the centre, you may want to try a different one.

Culprit #3: Oven Door Was Opened / Slammed

Although rotating cake pans halfway through baking is typical practice, it may sometimes create issues.

If the oven door is slammed after it has been opened, half cooked cake layers may sink in the center.

If the center is not established when the oven door is shut, the oven will collapse and will not be able to rise correctly again.

How To Prevent This Next Time:

If you need to rotate your pans, shut your oven door tightly afterward.

If you want to see your cake layers, consider looking through the oven door rather than opening it.

Culprit #4: Your Oven Temperature Is Off

Your oven is another culprit! Regrettably, not all ovens bake evenly. If your oven runs hot or cold, it might cause major difficulties.

Assume your oven runs a little cool. Even if you bake your cake following the bake time included in a recipe, it won’t bake through in time.

Or if your oven runs hot, the cake layers will brown more quickly. This may lead you to believe that the cake has been thoroughly cooked.

Unfortunately, the cake layers did not have enough time in the oven to bake through in the middle.

Since it didn’t have time to set, the center will sink as the layer cools.

image of an oven thermometer being used to make sure an oven bakes accurately

How To Prevent This Next Time:

With an oven thermometer, check the temperature of your oven.

If your oven runs cold, raise the temperature of your oven to ensure it bakes at the actual temperature the recipe calls for. Instead, if your oven is too hot, reduce the temperature as required.

Culprit #5: Using a Different Pan Size

Choosing a different pan size than called for in a recipe might substantially alter the baking time.

It might cause your cake layers to be thicker or thinner than the recipe calls for.

image of pouring black velvet cake batter into pans

How To Prevent This Next Time:

If you need to bake cake layers that are bigger than the recipe asks for, I suggest adding flower nails.

When I create huge cake layers or sheet cakes, I prefer to put a few flower nails in the middle of each pan, equally spaced.

Since they assist channel heat into the core of the cake layer, this helps the layers bake more evenly and faster.

image of sheet cake pan with flower nails being used as heating cores to help the cake bake more quickly and evenly

It is also critical to precisely calculate the quantity of batter required. This will help ensure that your cake layers a similar thickness to what the recipe intended.

How To Fix Cake That Sank in the Middle

If your cake has sunk in the centre, there are a few things you may do to repair it.

Sunken Cake Fix #1: Level the Cake Layer

Leveling the cake layer is the simplest and fastest remedy. This allows you to cut away the under-baked or raw section and leaves you with a level cake layer.

Nevertheless, this only works if the center dips somewhat.

image of underbaked cake layer that has been leveled, to help answer the question why do cakes sink in the middle

Sunken Cake Fix #2: Pop the Layers Back in the Oven

If the middle of your cake sinks immediately after you remove it from the oven, you may return it to the oven for a few minutes.

This will not exactly correct the sunken center, but it will aid in the baking of the uncooked middle.

Sunken Cake Fix #3: Use Extra Buttercream To Assemble The Cake

If all else fails, you can cut away the undercooked sections and just fill the cake in with a bit of extra frosting. In my perspective, buttercream can heal almost everything.

You can also use a circle cookie cutter to cut out the center completely and make a candy or sprinkle-filled cake like this.

Why do sponge cakes fall after cooling?

Let Me Know What You Think!

I hope you found this tutorial useful, and that your cake layers will now bake through completely and rise nicely and high.

If you think your cake sank for a different reason, let me know what issues you’re having in the comments section below. We’ll see if we can work it out together!

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Related Questions

  • How do you keep sponge cake from deflating after baking?

    To prevent sponge cakes, such as Angel food cakes, from sinking, chill them upside down! By cooling the cake upside down, the cake has plenty of room to stretch out of the pan, instead of collapsing into the bottom of the pan.

  • Why does my sponge cake keep falling?

    Too much leavening agent, such as baking soda or powder, may cause a cake to rise too rapidly and too high. Before the cake bakes through in the middle, the gas from the leavening chemicals builds up and escapes. This causes the core to collapse, causing your cake layers to sink in the center.

  • Why do sponge cakes sink when cooling?

    Under-cooked Cake Layers
    That is one of the most common causes of cake sinking in the centre. If you remove your cake from the oven before the center has finished cooking, it will sink as it cools. On the other hand, if the cake isn’t fully baked through, the centre doesn’t have a chance to set, and it will sink also.

  • How do you keep a cake from sinking when cooling?

    Don’t Open the Oven Door Too Much: opening the oven door over and over again, during the baking process, allows cool air to get in the oven and this affects the way the cake bakes. There’s no need to open the door until 75% of the baking time has gone.