You’ve just finished slaving away in the kitchen, trying out that new cake recipe for an upcoming event. Perhaps you’ve whizzed up a red velvet cake, angel food or a glorious chocolate ganache masterpiece. You pull the magnificent baked centerpiece from your oven, set it atop your stove, and your heart sinks: there’s a chasm-like crack across the top.
But all is not lost! My top tips for how to fix a cracked cake are just an arm’s length away!
Why Is the Top of My Cake Cracking?
Before exploring the ways to fix a cracked cake, it’s important to know why this pesky imperfection happens. What exactly makes a cake crack?
A cake may crack for two main reasons. The first may be that your oven temperature is too high. If an oven is too hot, the outside of the cake will cook before the inside. A crust may form too early, and as the inside of the cake continues to bake (and rise) the top of the cake cracks.
Similarly, this can happen if you place your cake on the wrong rack. When baking a cake on a single rack, you should position the rack just below center in the lower third of the oven. If baking multiple pans, rotate them from front to back a touch over halfway through their bake time.
If forced to bake cakes on two racks, try to place the racks in the upper third and lower third of your oven and switch the pans just over halfway through their bake time.
If you used the correct rack and you think your oven may be the culprit, use an oven thermometer to check if your oven temperature is off. Also, try not to open your oven too often while cakes are baking – this can cause uneven baking due to temperature fluctuations.
Another reason why cakes can crack is that you used the wrong pan size when baking. Did you deviate from the recipe? Bake your cake in one large pan instead of two smaller pans? Baking a cake in a too-large pan can mean the batter is deeper, increasing the chances of a crust baking before the inside of the cake.
To combat this, try to bake cakes in two shallow pans instead of one deep one.
There are a few other factors that can increase the chances of a cake cracking. One is that you used too much raising agent (baking powder or baking soda). Using too much raising agent will cause the cake to expand too much and then sink when it comes out of the oven.
If your cake cracks when removing it from the pan, remember, a cold cake is easier to remove than a warm one. To prevent cracking or breaking cakes from occurring, allow cakes to come to room temperature, then cover and chill overnight in the refrigerator. Remove it from the pan the next morning when its cold.
Also, be sure to grease pans before baking to make sure nothing sticks! Old, dented pans are more likely to cause cakes to stick as well. If your cake pans are looking shabby or malformed, it might be time for an upgrade.
How to Fix a Cracked Cake Top
Well, it’s all nice and dandy to know why cakes crack and how to prevent it, but your cake already cracked, so now what? Well, we fix it, of course!
Slice the Top
The first way to fix a cracked cake is to simply slice off the top, just as you would to fix a domed cake. Use a serrated bread knife to do this, then stack as usual!
If the crack is too deep, or your cake is severely broken, try a frosting fix.
One of the best ways to repair a broken or cracked cake is with thick buttercream frosting. Buttercream can be used like putty, filling in holes and gluing cake parts together.
To use buttercream frosting to repair a cake, allow cakes to cool first. If cakes are super crumbly, wrap them in cellophane and freeze them for about two hours. This will keep them from falling apart any further.
Now, use buttercream between layers to fill in any holes or cracks, flattening any remaining cream against the sides of the cake and apply a crumb coat to keep crumbly cakes from ruining frosting. Chill the cake briefly and apply your final buttercream layer – no one will ever be the wiser that a cracked or broken cake lies beneath!
Is buttercream too much hassle? Try mascarpone instead. This thick, slightly sweet frosting is super thick which is great for repairing broken cakes and filling cracks.
It is mild, with a subtle-sweet taste and an uber-thick consistency. Use it as a cake filler between cake layers or slather it on top and adorn with other cake decorations like fruit or flowers.
You can even turn a broken cake into a tiramisu-inspired dessert. Cut the cake into rectangles and drizzle a coffee syrup mixed with sugar, espresso powder and amaretto atop the pieces, then layer with mascarpone or custard.
Make the Crack Bigger
Really, we’re not kidding. Try making the crack bigger and turning it into a geode cake, filling the chasm with rock candy and paint the edges of the crack with edible gold paint. Marbled fondant can cover the rest of the cake or simply crown it with your favorite frosting.
How to Fix a Broken Cake Without Frosting
We get it – sometimes you just don’t want to slather a cake with frosting to hide its flaws. In this case, you can try to slice off any cracks with a serrated bread knife to get an even cake top. However, if the crack is too deep you may have to explore other options.
If you’re reluctant to use icing to cover a cracked cake, there’s always ganache. Ganache can work well on certain cakes like sponge cakes to hide smaller cracks. Simply melt butter, double cream and chocolate in a bain-marie and pour it over your cake so it drips down the sides. Even it out with a palette knife for a smooth, shiny result.
Turn It Into a Trifle
If cracks are too deep or a cake is just too broken, consider turning it into a trifle. These creations can be as beautiful as they are delicious. Layer bits of cake with custard or whipped cream, and fruit, chocolate or meringue in a clear trifle dish or glasses. Looking for a healthier option? Try Greek yogurt.
If you’re willing to completely deconstruct your broken and cracked cake there are dozens of options at your fingertips to turn that catastrophe into a new culinary treasure.
Consider turning a broken cake into cake pops, cake truffles or any number of creative cake fixes. You can even slice a cracked cake, toast and dollop with fruit and ice cream for perfectly sized dessert portions.
For more innovative ways to fix a cake disaster, check out these ideas:
No More Cracked Cakes!
We’ve covered all the bases, so you can walk away knowing how to fix a cracked cake. A failed cake is not a failure anymore. You can turn that cake calamity into a cake showpiece!
You’re prepared with the knowledge of why cakes crack, so check your oven temperature, make sure you place your cakes on the correct racks and use the right size pan to lessen the chances of cracking cakes.
And if that beloved cake does crack, don’t fret. You know how to fix it with or without the help of frosting. Be it buttercream, ganache or making an entirely new creation out of your broken cake, you have options. So get fixing!