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why does my cake deflate?

it seems like 75% of the time i make a two layered cake the middle sinks down in the middle. i wait till the cakes are cooled before taking them out of the pan, i follow all the recipe's but this is driving me nuts!

why is this happening and what can i do to stop this?

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  1. There are any number of reasons causing this to happen.......
    From personal experience: any shaking of the kitchen floor will cause a rising cake in the oven to fall.

    Also try reading up on the subject at these websites:

    http://www.wisegeek.com/what-causes-c...
    http://www.cooks.com/rec/story/89/
    http://easysoutherncooking.com/perfec...
    http://askville.amazon.com/SimilarQue...

    1. Hmm... are you baking them thoroughly? What kind of cake? Too much icing? Are the cakes REALLY cool or are they just kinda cool before you start icing them? Have you tried leaving the cakes out for an extra hour before icing them?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Fuller

        Yeah, underbaking would be my concern. If the structure isn't thoroughly set by heat the air can escape from whatever liquid batter remains.

      2. Can you post the recipe? Perhaps the culprit is the leavening--amount or possibly whether it has expired.
        Is your oven at the correct temp? It could be baking the edges too fast, pushing the gas from the leavening into the uncooked center which will rise higher and then fall.
        Are you using the correct size pan? Putting the batter for a 9in recipe into an 8in pan can affect your cooking time.

        5 Replies
        1. re: iluvcookies

          OP says he "follows all the recipes" - plural. But your suggestion of expired leavening is a good one. Some experts recommend replacing leavening annually and suggest marking the date of purchase/first use on the canister. I think it's good far longer than a year, but I did adopt the dating tip.

          If the OP has a functioning oven thermometer, to rule out the temperature question, I'd advise making a cake from a boxed mix, to compare. If that one doesn't fall, it rules out equipment and mixing technique. If it does fall, the oven itself is the likely culprit. There are strips (Magic Bake?) that can be put around the outside edge of the pan to insulate a bit and avoid overbaking of the edges before the interior is done. I've read this can also be done by wrapping the pans in strips made of newspaper folded into narrow strips, then soaked in water.

          1. re: greygarious

            This is from Nicole Weston. Sorry can't find the actual link.

            "The procedure for testing baking soda and baking powder is simple. Get out two small glasses or bowls and fill one with 3-4 tablespoons of white vinegar and fill the other with 3-4 tablespoons of room temperature water. Add about 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to the bowl containing the vinegar and the same amount of baking powder to the water bowl. Each mixture should fizz up, with the soda/vinegar producing a bigger reaction. If they both work, mark the containers with the date and check them again in 6-12 months (if you haven't used them up by then) to make sure they're still active. And if they don't fizz up, you better stop by the store before the next time you want to whip up a batch of cookies."

            1. re: rainey

              And of course, if the baking soda is flat, you can still freshen the drain or the cat litter with it.

            2. re: greygarious

              Does he follow the recipe?
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/679525

              I'm just saying... if he gave an example the answer might be easy to figure out.

              1. re: greygarious

                I've had falling cakes as well. I like the idea of comparing box to home made. I also mit try covering the edges during cooking. i have some shields for pies that might work. ,y edges DO seem to be more "crisp" than the rest of the cake. Thank you very much for the ideas.

            3. It could be many factors but the most common problem is underbaking. Since it happens often, you might want to take the temperature of your oven to make sure it's hot enough. How do you test for doneness?

              1. Most cakes, especially light sponge types, will sink a little in the middle after it is baked. Most recipes have instructions to trim off a little of the top to make the cake even before frosting and finishing. If your cake layers sink a lot in the middle and it happens frequently with your recipes, it might be due to under baking, inaccurate oven temperature or lack of structure by the way you measure the flour.

                1. the most recent recipe was one i found here on chowhound ( http://www.chow.com/recipes/12230 ) for a birthday the other day.

                  we replace our leavening agent at least once every month or so (we bake a lot, just not a lot of cakes), i'm guessing it's because of being undercooked. we replaced our old too hot oven last year, and are probably still taking things out too early because of fear of burning.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: andrewpb33

                    Do you test the cake when you think it's done? No matter how accurate your oven is, you want to check it before you take it out to cool.

                  2. Also, how do the cakes taste? heavy and dense, gummy, a little wet in the middle? If they taste good, you don't have a problem. If it rises during baking, then falls while cooling, it is not due to your leavening agents being stale. As I posted before, it is the nature of some cakes to sink a little in the middle. Just trim a little off the top if it makes it easier for frosting and finishing.