What Causes Cakes to Sink in the Center? (How to Avoid It)

If your cakes keep sinking in the centre and you’re not sure why, here are some possible causes and solutions.

This is a typical difficulty when baking cakes, therefore I’ve included all of my recommendations to assist you in resolving this baking issue. There might be many reasons why your cake sinks, so let’s look at why and how to avoid it.

This page is jam-packed with information regarding sinking cakes. This is something I see a lot on Facebook. People publish pictures of their cakes that are completely sunken in the centre.

Either they don’t see a problem, they recognize a problem and seek assistance, or they instinctively believe it’s the recipe’s fault.

In any case, it’s a vexing occurrence. You spent all that time and work, not to mention the money for the supplies, and now you have a sunken cake!

I’m not going to name names since I’ve had my fair share of sinking cakes. But I would say that 8 times out of 10, it is not the recipe.

Yes, it is conceivable that it is the recipe, however most recipes are tested before they are uploaded. (At least, it is on my blog and the blogs of many other bloggers I know.)

Mistakes can occur while testing and putting up recipes, so it is a possibility; after all, we are human, but Ive discovered that there are many times where there is something else going on.

That is not to say that anybody should feel awful. Seriously, it’s a simple repair, and I’d want to discuss a few possible causes. And I guarantee that if you have this difficulty, almost everyone else (including myself) does as well.

There are a few possibilities, but first I’d want to point you that just though it sank, it may still be edible, so you don’t have to throw it away, but we’ll get to that later.

There are affiliate links in this post. I earn money as an Amazon Associate by making qualifying purchases.

Ok, lets get into it.

The heat leaves the oven, and when it is closed, the oven has to work to get the heat back up, and then you open it again to check.

Furthermore, if you slam the door or shut the oven door too quickly, it may disturb the cake, causing it to tumble. A sharp shock to the cake will bust all of the wonderful little tiny air bubbles in the batter that have enabled it to rise.

You’ll notice your cake sinking quite quickly once you shut the oven door.

How to avoid this: Be very cautious while opening the door. Try to inspect the cake around five minutes before it’s meant to be done. When checking it, take cautious not to keep the oven door open for too long and close it gently.

Adding too much leavening or just not measuring correctly:

It’s possible that too much leavening (such baking powder or baking soda) was used, causing the cake to rise too rapidly and then fall. The leavening agent might have also been measured incorrectly.

To avoid this, level out your measuring spoon before adding it to the batter. Never mash up the baking powder or baking soda on the measuring spoon.

I have a number of advice on how to properly measure ingredients at the following link: How to Measure Cake Mixing Ingredients

The moisture level is off:

If your cake is overly dry, it may sink in the center. At the same time, you don’t want to merely add more liquid since too much liquid will throw the ratios off and produce the same problem.

To avoid this, make sure you follow the recipe precisely the first time you prepare it. It is critical not to just add additional liquid because you want the cake to be more moist. If you’ve never made that cake before, it could already be moist enough.

Always test the recipe exactly as described before attempting to make changes. Changing the components may easily throw off the ratios of the cake mix.

Oven temperature is too high or too low:

Your oven temperature might be too high or too low. Even if you precisely adjust the oven temperature, your oven may be slightly off.

How to avoid this: Purchase an oven thermometer (such as the one shown below) and set it in your oven. I like to put mine to the test on a regular basis. The temperature may be slightly inaccurate, but it’s better to know so you can make adjustments.

Thermometer for the Oven (affiliate link to oven thermometer)

Also, I know you already know this, but make sure your oven is preheated. It really makes a difference.

Also, be certain that you are not altering the temperature specified in the recipe, since this might lead to serious issues. Increasing the heat to bake it quicker does not work.

You’ll get a cake that’s overbaked on the exterior but underdone on the interior.

It may be the altitude:

Is this your location? If you reside in a high-altitude region, you will need to make certain adjustments in order for your cake to bake correctly.

I’m not an expert at baking at high altitudes since I’ve only ever lived in Texas. In addition, there is no actual way for me to evaluate baking processes for high altitudes.

How to avoid this: I normally direct folks to the King Arthur baking website, where they propose changes for baking at high altitudes.

You may learn more about it by clicking on the following link: Conversion Chart for King Arthur’s High Altitude

The cake was under-baked:

It’s possible that the cake wasn’t cooked long enough. It might have been taken out of the oven too soon while the centre wasn’t completely cooked, causing it to fall.

This is a frequently asked question: Why does my cake sink after baking? Your cake may seem to be flawless, but as you take it out and place it on the counter, the centre sinks.

Essentially, if you took your cake out too soon and the centre wasn’t fully cooked, it may collapse on you. When it comes to making cakes, there is a narrow line to walk. It dries out if you bake it for too long.

How to avoid this: I have an article all about how to tell when a cake is done baking, which you can find here: How to Tell if a Cake Is Done Baking

Essentially, my best rule of thumb is to double-check the following items before taking the cake out of the oven:

  • If it’s a vanilla cake, make sure it’s golden brown.
  • Check that the edges have separated slightly from the pan.
  • Check that the top isn’t too soft by lightly touching it.
  • When you open the oven door, check to see whether the cake is jiggly.
  • Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. Take it out and look for cake batter. You don’t have to wait until the tootpick is completely clean; a few damp crumbs on it would suffice. There should be no raw batter on the toothpick.

Using the wrong size cake pan:

This one may not always result in a sinking cake, but it may create a slew of other issues.

You don’t want to alter the pans specified in the recipe. If you use a larger pan, the cake layer will be thinner and may burn if you bake it for the recommended time.

If you use a smaller pan, you may need to reduce the temperature slightly and bake for a little longer to ensure that it bakes all the way through and does not over-bake on the exterior before it is done.

To avoid this, try to use the suggested size of baking pans specified in the recipe, and if you’re unsure, simply ask or research it to find out if you need to make any alterations.

I’m often asked about utilizing various pan sizes, and I’m always happy to assist.

The mixing method was changed up:

If you missed an ingredient and simply tossed it in afterwards, or if you didn’t believe it was necessary to beat the butter and sugar until frothy, or if you changed the mixing technique, the cake may have texture difficulties and sink.

Methods of mixing do matter. Some methods, like as the creaming technique, need the butter and sugar to be beaten up first in order to include more air, which aids in the rise of the cake.

Other techniques are utilized to create a cake texture that is delicate and sensitive.

There are reasons behind different methods. If you want more details on that, I have a post all about it at the following link: Cake Flour Types and Methods of Mixing

Different approaches are used for a variety of reasons. If you want more information about it, please see the following link: Cake Flour Types and Methods of Mixing

Waiting too long to bake the batter:

This is especially problematic when using baking soda in a recipe since it is not really double-acting. (More on it at the link below).

If you do not bake the cake batter shortly after mixing it, it may not rise properly since the chemical reaction from the leavening chemicals has already begun long before you bake the cake.

So, if you delay baking mixed cake batter, it may not rise correctly and may come out thick, causing the center to sink in.

How to avoid this: It is usually ideal to bake cake batter as soon as it has been combined. If you really must, I recommend choosing a recipe that does not call for baking soda, since it is not double acting and the boost you would receive from it would be long gone by the time you bake it.

In this article and video, I go into a lot of depth and experiment with how long cake batter lasts: How Long Will Cake Batter Keep?

The cake batter was over-mixed:

Now we’re getting serious: the most frequent mistake I encounter is overmixing the batter. This may result in a variety of cake texture concerns.

How to avoid this: First, always follow the recipe completely since each cake has a distinct mixing procedure and should specify how long to combine the batter.

Unless unless specified in the recipe, stop mixing after the ingredients are thoroughly blended for most scratch cakes. Many people beat cake batter for many minutes to get an ultra-smooth texture. That is acceptable for cake mix, but it will ruin a scratch cake.

Mixing the cake mixture for an extended period of time can result in a thick, rubbery cake that may topple.

The most essential thing to remember is to stop mixing after all of the ingredients have been well incorporated.

I have an article with additional information and a video showing how long to mix cake batter in real time. I don’t speed it up so you can see what I’m talking about.

That video is available at the following link: How to Prepare Cake Batter

More FAQs and Tips:

Can I still eat a cake that sunk in the middle?

A sunken cake may still be eaten. First, check to verify whether the cake is completely cooked. Second, inspect the texture of the cake. Cut a chunk or a tiny area and experiment with it. The texture might be overly spongy, rubbery, or thick. Third, examine the flavor. This is self-evident, but if an ingredient is missing or too much baking soda is used, the result may be unpleasant.

After you’ve evaluated all of these factors, if the cake texture is nice, it’s cooked all the way through, and it tastes well, you’re set to go.

What can I do with a cake that’s sunk?

First, assess if it is still edible. You may find instructions in the first FAQ here. If it isn’t edible, it must be discarded. You don’t want anybody becoming ill as a result of eating an underbaked cake.

If it’s still edible, just take a cake leveler (or a knife) and level off the sunken-in top region. Serve with a dollop of frosting or a glaze on top. You’ll have to work with a lot thinner cake layer, but at least you’ll get to eat part of it!

If it seems to be too thin to serve that way but is still edible, break it up and create cake pops, cake balls, or cake popsicles. You could also cube it and create a trifle with it.

Why do cakes sink after cooling? It was fine when I took it out of the oven!

This occurs often because the cake was underbaked. In general, a cake will shrink after being removed from the oven, but if it shrinks excessively, there was a problem with the mixing procedure, the materials used, or it was simply taken out of the oven too soon.

I hope you found this article useful. If you’re still experiencing problems with sinking cakes, let me know and I’ll help you figure out what’s going on!

Links to other posts you might like:

  • Why are my cakes dry?
  • How much cake batter do I need?
  • How to store a cake
  • 15 things I wish I had known before I began baking from scratch


Why do my homemade cakes sink in the middle?

Underbaked cakes are the most prevalent cause of sinking in the centre. If a cake is not completely cooked, the center does not have a chance to set and sinks. This results in a thick, doughy texture in the core of your cake layer.

How do you stop cake sinking when it comes out of the oven?

4 of the baking time and are almost done. To reduce the possibility of sinking, avoid opening and shutting the oven door too quickly, and move the pans around gently.If you need to flip the cake pans during baking, do so after the cakes have cooked for about 3 minutes.

How do you make a cake rise evenly?

In order to bake a cake evenly, the edges must be insulated. By preventing the temperature of the batter near the edge from rapidly rising, the cake may rise for a longer period of time before setting. A cake with sides that rise at about the same pace as its center will have a flat top, excellent for stacking and frosting.

Why does my cake deflate after cooling?

A cake that puffs up during baking and deflates as it cools has frequently had too much air beaten into the batter. Here are a few pointers to avoid sinking cakes: When mixing the eggs and butter, use a medium speed rather than a high speed. Your air bubbles will be more stable.

Why did my cake rise and then fall?

If your cake isn’t moist enough, the middle may sink. However, too much moisture might spoil a cake. This is especially common in humid settings, where additional moisture may naturally gather in products like wheat. It causes cakes to rise rapidly and then crater while baking.

Why didn’t my cake rise in the middle?

If the oven temperature is too high, the cake will set too quickly before the air bubbles have formed. If the oven isn’t hot enough, the cake will rise too much and then collapse in the middle before it’s done. Bake a cake mix cake as a test to determine your oven temperature. (Make sure your oven is also preheated.)

Does opening the oven door make a cake sink?

We understand how tempting it is to check on your cake, but here’s one of our best tips: don’t open the oven door during baking. This is a typical error that may cause your cake to collapse because the surge of chilly air prevents the cake from rising.

How do you keep a layered cake from sinking?

Mixing Rate

However, after you begin adding the dry ingredients (including the leavening agents), reduce the mixer speed to low and mix only until the dry components are combined. If you overmix your cake mixture at this stage, your cake layers will sink and have a thick texture.

How do you get moisture back in a cake?

Here are five suggestions for moistening a dry cake that has already been baked.
Glaze with a basic syrup glaze. If your cake layers come out too dry, Velez suggests glazing them with simple syrup.
Let your cake soak in milk.
Make a mousse or jam filling for the cake.
Ice the cake.
Place it in the refrigerator.

Why do you put water in the oven when baking a cake?

It keeps everything wet.

The vapor from the water bath moistens the interior of the oven. This is critical for delicate baked goods such as cheesecakes, souffles, terrines, and chiffon cakes. Without extra moisture, the surface tends to dry up while the interior continues to expand, resulting in ugly fissures.

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