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Ensure Your Cake Will Rise to the Occasion

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As Julia Child once remarked, “a party without a cake is just a meeting,” and for all intents and purposes, she was right—a cake, especially a really good-tasting, classic cake—can really make the ordinary situation into an occasion. While any cake that meets these criteria would do (honestly, it is cake), a confection that looks just as perfect as it tastes makes things even more special.

Photo by James Ransom

Lorigoldspy can bake a pretty mean coconut cake that is more than sure to please. While it tastes great, there’s still one problem: it keeps sinking in the middle, no matter what size or shape she tries to make it.

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Being the smart Food52-er she is, she promptly turned to the Hotline for help. Here are your best tricks to avoid a cake collapse:

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Sdebrango said that if the cake is made using the creaming method, it's best to make sure you cream the butter really well to make sure you're incorporating enough air into the mixture for a nice lift.

Drbabs seconds this, and adds that using whole milk, half and half, or another full-fat dairy would help the cake rise higher over all.

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Rapearson suggests using less leavening, and mrslarkin agrees. This would be a good idea, says boulangere, because too much leavening would cause the cake to rise faster than the proteins can set up to hold the rise in place.

Boulangere goes on to suggest cutting back on the moisture to add some needed protein, as well as (in this particular case) adding about a 1/4 cup of flour as well as an egg, and decreasing the leavening agent by 20%.

Shalini agrees, but speculates that using a flour with higher protein levels, rather than low-protein cake flour, may also help the cake rise.

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On the other hand, Greenstuff thinks leaving the cake in the oven a little bit longer will do the trick, but also points out a novel trick found in The Science of Cooking by Peter Barham: dropping the finished cake about a foot onto a hard surface. Supposedly, this will allow more air into the cake structure created during the baking process.

This was interesting to amysarah, who had always seen her mother doing this when she was growing up.

But Jan @ Kitchen Heals Soul has tested this and warns that the results showed a cake that has been dropped actually causes it to collapse even more.

How do you ensure a good rise? Keep the conversation going over on the Hotline or share your tips in the comments below!


Tags: Your Burning Questions, Hotline, Cake, Baking, Tips