Getting the perfect cake texture a cake is no easy task. After years of trial and error, I like to think I know a thing or two about what works, and what doesn’t, when it comes to creating the perfect cake consistency.
Making a great cake is not as easy as just throwing a few ingredients together and hoping for the best. Baking requires precision and accuracy when measuring ingredients. If you mismeasure something, it can completely change the composition of your cake. Even a small change can result in a dry and crumbly cake.
If your cake crumbles more often than not, don’t fret. Fortunately, Cake is pretty forgiving, and there are plenty of tricks you can employ to save a crumbly cake, as well as things you can do to prevent it from happening in the future.
Keep reading to find out my top tips on how to make sure your cake is never crumbly again and if it does, how to fix it.
What Is Crumbly Cake?
I’m sure we all know what a crumbly cake looks, and tastes, like. A good cake should be able to hold itself up without needing support. Even when the cake is sliced, it should retain its shape and not fall apart into a million crumbly pieces.
If a cake is too crumbly, it will fall apart when you take it out of the tin or when you cut it. If this sounds familiar, then something has gone wrong in your baking process and the ingredients have not bound properly.
Why Is My Cake Crumbly?
There are a few common reasons why your cake might be crumbly and not hold its shape when you cut into it.
Overbaking your cake is probably one of the most common reasons why cake can be crumbly. When a cake is overcooked, the moisture has evaporated and all that is left is a dry, overcooked sponge. This is why it’s so important to keep an eye on your cake and not let it bake for too long. Every oven is different, so it’s worth getting to know yours and how long it takes for a cake to cook through.
When you mix the batter for too long, you run the risk of overworking the gluten in the flour. Gluten is important as it has the ability to hold the cake together, giving it structure.
If you overmix the batter, the gluten will become overdeveloped and this will result in a tough and dry cake. A dry cake is not ideal as it will crumble as soon as you cut into it.
When you overmix cake batter you are essentially beating too much air into it and that air will cause the cake to collapse in the oven. So not only will you have a dry and crumbly cake, but you will also have one that is very dense and not very pleasant to eat.
If you don’t mix your cake batter enough, then the ingredients won’t have a chance to properly combine and bind together.
When it comes to mixing cake batter, I always say that undermixing is better than overmixing. An undermixed cake will not look or taste as bad as an overmixed cake, but it will turn out very crumbly with large air pockets as the ingredients have not had time to properly combine.
As I mentioned before, making a cake is not as easy as just throwing a few ingredients together. Baking is a science and every ingredient has a specific purpose.
When you don’t measure the ingredients properly, it throws everything off balance and can result in a dry and crumbly cake.
If you have too much flour and not enough fats, eggs or sugar, there will not be enough moisture in the batter and your sponge will come out dry.
Be sure to follow the recipe to the letter and measure out each ingredient carefully. Don’t be tempted to add more flour if your batter looks runny. Trust the process!
How To Fix a Crumbled Cake
If your cake has crumbled and broken into pieces, there is no need to panic just yet. There are a few things you can do to salvage it.
Regardless of whether you think your cake is going to crumble or not, make sure you let it cool down completely on a wire rack. Cutting into a warm cake will not help keep its structure. A cold cake is not only easier to cut, but it will also crumble less.
Another thing you can do to mask a crumbly cake is by frosting it. A thick layer of buttercream or ganache can do wonders for a crumbly cake. It will not only add moisture but it will also give the cake some stability.
If your cake is completely crumbled and there is no way to save it, then you can always make cake pops! All you need is some cream cheese and your crumbled cake and you can make the most delicious cake pops. There are also plenty of other great things you can do with a dry sponge cake, take a quick look at this video for some more failed cake inspiration!
How To Prevent a Crumbly Cake
Now that you know how to fix a crumbly cake, let’s take a look at how you can prevent it from happening in the first place.
As I mentioned before, one of the main reasons cakes can be crumbly is due to overbaking. Be sure to set a timer and keep an eye on your cake while it’s baking.
When the timer goes off, insert a skewer into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, then your cake is done. If there is batter or crumbs stuck to the skewer, then your cake needs a few more minutes.
Oven temperatures vary from oven to oven. The temperature on the dial might not reflect the actual temperature inside the oven. If you think your oven temperature is off, it might be worth investing in an oven thermometer.
Another way to prevent a crumbly cake is by measuring the ingredients properly. As I mentioned before, baking is a science and every ingredient has its own purpose. When you don’t measure the ingredients properly, it throws everything off balance and this can result in a dry and crumbly cake.
Be sure to follow the recipe and don’t substitute any ingredients unless specified. I find that measuring my ingredients with kitchen scales is much more accurate than measuring with cups. So for accuracy, opt for recipes that use grams or ounces.
When it comes to mixing the batter, be careful not to overmix or undermix it. Overmixing can result in a dense cake while undermixing will result in a dry and very crumbly cake. If you are going to do one over the other, I suggest undermixing it as opposed to overmixing. A dry and crumbly cake is a lot better than a dense one! Plus, you can frost a crumbly cake to add some structure and moisture, whereas a dense cake cannot be saved.
Take a look at this sponge cake 101 videos from Cupcake Jemma. It shows you how to make the perfect sponge each time and also gives you examples of sponges that have gone wrong.
By following these simple tips, you can make sure your cakes turn out perfectly moist and fluffy every time! And if by chance you do end up with a dry and crumbly cake, there are always ways to salvage it.