What is your best trick to keep a cake from falling?

I make a pretty mean coconut cake that everyone loves because it is so moist. The problem is that it almost always "falls" or "sinks" in the middle. It happens whether it is in an 9 x 13 pan or cupcakes...(although the center drop is easier to hide with icing in the cupcakes).



Shalini November 14, 2011
I'm also wondering if the use of cake flour with the pudding mix is causing there to be too much moisture and not enough firmness in the cake.
Might it make a difference to use partly or all-purpose flour?
boulangere November 14, 2011
It's likely falling in the middle, as rapearson explains, because it is rising faster than the proteins can set up to hold the rise in place. You may need to sacrifice some of that moistness for some additional protein. I'd boost the flour by 1/4 cup, add an egg, and decrease your leavening by 20%. I wouldn't bang it around, as you want to retain all those lovely little air pockets you created during the butter-sugar creaming phase; in the heat of the oven, in tandem with the chemical leavener, they'll expand and produce that lovely rise, which you need to protect with some additional protein. Please let us know how that works for you.
boulangere November 14, 2011
Oh, and increase your oven temperature by 15-25 degrees.
Greenstuff November 14, 2011
It's maybe important to note that the Peter Barham book suggests the cake drop for after baking, not before. What he says is that a cake falls when the structure isn't strong enough to hold up when the the air in the pockets cools. His claim is that the force opens little cracks in the pockets, allowing additional air in without collapsing the structure. Not that I've tried this myself, but his description of doing it in front of a university physics class makes me want to give it a go.
mrslarkin November 12, 2011
Without seeing the recipe, my first guess would be there's too much leavening. Also, have you ever tried cake strips?? Here's an old foodpickle thread were betteirene, the resident cake queen, instructs us on how to make your own cake strips. They're awesome. http://www.food52.com/foodpickle/4580-cake-pans-straight-sided-vs-slant-sided
Greenstuff November 12, 2011
Cooking the cake a little longer is the usual answer to this question. But I've heard of a novel approach: In his book The Science of Cooking, physicist Peter Barham says that if you drop the cake 30 cm onto a hard suface (about a foot), it won't fall. Dropping the cake opens connections between the little bubbles that form during baking, letting more air in to replace the the air in the bubbles that shrinks with cooling.
amysarah November 12, 2011
That's really interesting because my mother used to bang the bottom of the pan on a counter a couple of times before removing the cake. I figured it was to help release it, but she said she really didn't know why - she just did it because she'd always seen her mother do it when she was growing up. I wonder if that was a homespun kitchen-wisdom version of this same idea.
Janice L. March 13, 2016
I have that book, and I just tested his theory last week, comparing dropped and undropped cake heights after cooling, and I found the dropped cakes collapsed more than the undropped cake. If you are curious, I wrote about it on my blog ;) http://www.kitchenhealssoul.com/2016/03/10/cake-collapse/html
drbabs November 11, 2011
In addition to creaming the butter and sugar well as sdebrango said, I've found that if I use whole milk or even half and half for the liquid in a cake batter, and/or full-fat (instead of low fat) yogurt in recipes where yogurt is called for will make cakes rise higher.
lorigoldsby November 11, 2011
I'm in Indiana so there isn't an altitude problem. Using cake flour and a pkg of instant pudding....does it require less leavening? I use cream of coconut and butter...with my sugar...I will pay more attention when creaming them today. Hadn't thought about using a bundt pan...actually don't own one! But I'm always up for another gadget if it's useful and I bake this cake at least once a month. I'm about ready to give up and use a box mix...so thanks for the ideas!
boulangere November 11, 2011
sdebrango is right. Too, where do you live, Lori? Do you need to boost the flour and eggs a bit and decrease the leavening to adjust for the effects of altitude?
sdebrango November 10, 2011
If you cream butter and sugar do you do it long enough? I have found that if I don't my cakes will sometimes sink in the middle.
rapearson November 10, 2011
Make it in a Bundt or tube pan. Also usually when it falls is because it rises too fast but doesn't set in time so you could try using less leavening.
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