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5 Common Chocolate Cake Baking Mistakes & How To Troubleshoot and Improvise on Them

By Neelanjana Mondal
5 Common Chocolate Cake Baking Mistakes & How To Troubleshoot and Improvise on Them

Chocolate cakes are not too difficult to make, but a slight error in baking, ingredients, and time, and you have a mess on your hands. With our guide, you can fix your cake and eat it too.

Baking is almost like a chemistry experiment that results in works of edible art, and like those cartoon characters going nuts with their chemicals and causing an explosion, baking has its mishaps too. Especially if you are just starting out and relatively new to baking and love a good experiment.

Burnt, dry, greasy, too greasy—there’s a fix for every kind of cake accident there is! Make sure you follow the recipe to the tee to avoid making mistakes that will cost you your time, energy and precious ingredients.

1. Dry Cake


One of the most common baking mistakes is ending up with a dry cake. This usually occurs when too much flour is used in the recipe or not enough butter and eggs are added. The excess flour can cause the cake to absorb all the moisture during baking, leaving it dry and dense.

Fix: To remedy a dry cake, transform it into a layered cake or simply slather on a thick layer of creamy frosting or buttercream to add moisture back in. The fat and sugar in the frosting will help hydrate the cake. Another option is to crumble the dry cake pieces and mix them with frosting to make cake pops.

2. Flat-topped Cake


One of the most frustrating cake failures is when it emerges from the oven flat instead of pillowy. A few potential reasons for this include forgetting to add baking powder, using baking powder or soda that is past its expiration date, or attempting to bake the cake in a pan that is too large for the batter amount.

Fix: Be sure to use a proper amount of a fresh raising agent specified in the recipe. Also, always bake cakes in the size and type of pan recommended. If a cake ends up under-risen, cut it into pieces and serve as mini cakes with frosting to disguise its shortcomings.

3. A Dense Cake

This undesirable texture outcome often results from using too much liquid in the batter, over-mixing the ingredients, or not baking it at a high enough temperature. Make sure you are separating the wet and dry ingredients and not over-mixing anything. The oven temperature is also important here and it needs to be hot enough to allow the batter to rise fully and set properly before setting into the perfect texture.

Fix: If you have baked a dense cake, crumble the pieces and use them in a trifle with whipped cream and fruits, or remake them into cake pops by mixing them with frosting and rolling them into balls. The added ingredients will lighten up the dense cake texture.

4. Burnt Cake

Overbaked your cake and now it looks like something straight out of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares? This one is a tough one to resolve, as no amount of ingredients can settle this mess, because the entire cake has cooked past the point of being edible. The temperature might have been wrong or it was left in the oven for too long, leaving it hardened on both the inside and the outside.

Fix: There is no fixing this one because the product is highly likely to be inedible. What you can do in the future is use an oven thermometer to ensure the oven maintains a steady, moderate temperature. It is also a good idea if you are a novice to check the cake a few minutes before the expected bake time is finished. If it appears to be browning too quickly on top before the inside is fully cooked, cover it loosely with aluminum foil or parchment paper to shield it from further browning so the inside can finish baking without burning.

5. Cake Stuck to the Pan


Sticky and cake do not go together unless we are talking about hands after finishing off a delicious cake. Improper preparation before pouring in the batter in the baking tray is what causes this issue, where the cake sticks to the container instead of releasing cleanly after baking.

Fix: To make sure the cake does not stick to the bottom or the sides of the pan, and does not disintegrate in the baking dish, thoroughly grease the pan interior with butter, shortening, or line it with baking paper before adding the batter. After baking, running a heatproof spatula around the edges and gently tapping the bottom of the pan against the counter can help dislodge the cake cleanly once cooled slightly.


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