Why are my cakes so stale?

The worst kind of cake is dry cake. It’s an age-old issue, particularly when you’re just starting out creating cakes. It is feasible to produce moist scratch cakes; you only need to understand how dry cakes form and how to prevent them.

A variety of factors might contribute to dry cakes. They might vary from incorrect measurement to overbaking, among other things. Yet, there are methods to avoid it.

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2128 This article was last updated on August 8.

In this article, we’ll go through some of the reasons your cake is dry, how to avoid it, and how to possibly cure a dry cake.

Let’s get this party started!

Measuring incorrectly:

When you measure flour, do you pack it down? This may result in an accidental increase of flour in the recipe.

Many individuals are unaware that they are measuring incorrectly until they hear someone explain it to them. That occurs to everyone.

Sometimes we just forget to include an ingredient. I can’t tell you how many times it has happened to me.

What to do: Instead of scooping and packing down the flour, pour the dry ingredients into measuring cups.

You may also check off the components as you add them to ensure that nothing is forgotten.

I have a complete page and video dedicated to correctly measuring your ingredients here: Baking Cake Ingredients Measuring

Not enough liquid ingredients:

This might be due to a number of factors. Either the liquids were mismeasured, or the recipe was incorrect.

Now, I must warn you that just adding additional liquid is not a good idea. If you use too many liquid components, the ratios will be thrown off and your cakes will be thick and rubbery.

What to do: Retry the recipe and be very cautious while measuring your liquids. Don’t add any more liquid than the recipe asks for, believing it would only make it wet; this might create problems.

If the recipe does not work out properly, you may need to try an alternative one.

Using substitutions:

Did you make any substitutions for the ingredients? Be truthful here. Don’t feel guilty if you did; we’ve all done it.

The truth is, although we may believe that making a change isn’t a big deal, it often has a significant impact on the final product, particularly sugar, which we’ll discuss shortly.

Substituting ingredients may create all sorts of problems, particularly if you’re substituting a light version for a full-fat one, or omitting eggs or leavening ingredients.

What to do: It is sometimes OK to substitute some components (for example, sour cream, yogurt, or buttermilk), although it does not always work.

Be sure not to substitute baking soda with baking powder. That are two distinct concepts. Here’s a post about it: When Making Cakes, What Is the Different Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder?

Make sure you’re utilizing full-fat items when they’re asked for. It can make a significant impact. Cakes, as much as we try to be healthy, are not healthy, and they need fat to keep them moist.

Hence, don’t use light yogurt in place of full-fat yogurt, 2% milk in place of full-fat milk, light buttermilk in place of full-fat buttermilk, or light sour cream in place of full-fat sour cream. That may come out well, but the full-fat ones will be far better and moister.

Instead of margarine, use genuine butter. You never know what you’ll get if you use margarine.

Check out this article for much more information on baking alternatives and a cheat sheet: Cake Baking Substitutions with Free Printable Reference Guide

Batter was mixed too long or not well enough:

A dry or dense cake may result if the batter was not well combined or was over-mixed.

Most people overwork their cake batter. They want to get rid of all the small microscopic bumps. That’s OK if you’re using a mix, but not if you’re making a cake from scratch.

What to do: You just want to mix scratch batter until the ingredients are fully incorporated, not for many minutes.

I have a whole movie on this that shows you how long to mix cake batter in real time (its probably less time than you think). You may read about it here: How Long Does It Take To Make Cake Batter?

The amount of sugar was lowered too much:

We discussed this before when I offered alternatives, but sugar is essential in cake recipes. It really aids in moisture retention.

If you leave out half of the sugar, the texture and moistness of the cake will suffer.

What to do: Try not to reduce the quantity of sugar called for in the recipe since sugar is used for more than simply sweetness. If you need to reduce the quantity of sugar for health reasons, keep in mind that it will impact the texture and wetness of the cake.

Baking temperature and time issues:

The cake might have been overbaked, or the oven could have been too hot.

What to do: Keep an eye on your cake and be aware of the signals of a completed cake. Vanilla cakes have a reputation for being easily overbaked. There’s a narrow line to walk with them.

I did write a post about it, which you can see here: How to Determine if a Cake is Ready

You should also check the temperature of your oven. Check the accuracy of an oven thermometer. If it’s off, at least you’ll know and can make adjustments.

If you had to bake your cake for considerably longer than the recipe allowed for, something was probably wrong with your oven, which leads us to the following issue.

If you set the oven temperature too low, the cake may take longer to bake, which is sometimes OK, but if it bakes too low and slow, the cake will dry out on you.

The mixing method was improper:

Maybe the recipe’s mixing procedure was incorrect, or you did not follow it completely. Methods of mixing are quite significant. They aid in the complete mixing of all the elements.

If you mix by pouring everything in and not following the instructions, you will get a more thick, heavy cake with a rubbery feel, which may make a cake seem dry.

Don’t be too harsh on yourself if you didn’t follow the mixing process. We’ve all done it at some point in our lives.

I remember when I first began baking and not understanding why everything had to be mixed so precisely, but it truly does make a difference.

Follow the mixing directions at all times. There is a good explanation for them.

I also notice that employing the reverse creaming procedure results in a softer cake, and a softer cake seems to be more moist.

To utilize the reverse creaming technique, just combine the dry ingredients in one dish and the liquid components in another. Next, chop the butter into the dry ingredients and stir until the butter coated everything. After coating, add the liquid components in two or three pourings.

This technique may occasionally be used in lieu of the traditional creaming method (which involves first combining the sugar and butter together, then alternating adding the dry and liquid components), although it cannot always be used.

This reverse creaming procedure is used in many of my recipes, including this one: Recipe for Vanilla Bean Cake

If you want to learn more about mixing techniques, see this post: Varieties of Flour for Baking Cakes Including Mixing Ways.

The recipe might be off:

It might sometimes be the recipe: Maybe it’s simply the recipe. If you’ve done all you can, such as measuring precisely, without substituting, and trying the recipe a number of times, that’s all you can do!

I would advise you to try the recipe a couple of times since sometimes we don’t notice we’re doing anything wrong or measuring incorrectly, but if you’ve tried and tried, it’s possible that the recipe isn’t working for you.

What to do: It may be time to try a different recipe. On this blog, I have a few traditional cake flavor recipes that I find moist and delicious and would love for you to try:

  • Cake with Vanilla Beans
  • white moist cake
  • cake with chocolate buttercream
  • cake with marbles
  • cake made with red velvet

Other tips to prevent dry cakes:

Try using recipes that call for sour cream:

I enjoy adding sour cream in my cake recipes because I believe it improves the moistness of the cake. You may also employ recipes that call for buttermilk since they are often wet as well.

Use cake recipes that call for whole eggs:

Using whole eggs in cake recipes simply results in a more moist cake (although this isnt always the case.) I’ll also mention that cake recipes that just use egg whites may be a bit drier than other cakes, although this isn’t always the case.

Oil cakes are usually moist cakes:

Cake recipes that use oil are often moist. However, although I wouldn’t strictly recommend a vanilla cake recipe that uses just oil and no butter (since I believe butter adds more taste), I do use oil in my vanilla cake recipe.

But, using full oil works well for chocolate cakes (although I use both butter and oil in my recipe.)

Just make sure you don’t add more oil if the recipe doesn’t ask for it, since this might screw up the texture and make it overly thick.

It’s a thin balance between adding enough moisture and being overly thick.

Use a cake mix based recipe:

This is a controversial advice, but using a cake mix as a basis may result in a moist cake. Several individuals prefer to make from scratch, while others prefer cake mixes.

There are a number of cake mix-based or doctored recipes online, and they typically turn out very moist. Here’s one from my website: Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Don’t refrigerate your cake unless it’s perishable:

If your cake does not include a perishable filling or icing, you do not need to preserve it in the refrigerator, which might cause it to dry out.

It also hardens butter cakes, making them seem dry even when they are not. When you eat a cold and solid cake, it will seem dryer to you. As it reaches room temperature, it will seem considerably more wet.

I have a whole article devoted to cake storage with plenty of advice on how to keep various types of cakes. That post may be found here: How to Keep a Cake

Follow the recipe exactly:

Make every effort to follow the recipe precisely. It’s not always about the ingredients you use to make a moist cake. It is crucial how the components are combined.

How to fix a dry cake:

If you’ve already cooked your cake and realized it’s simply too dry to consume, I’ve got a number of suggestions to help you rescue it.

Add a simple syrup:

The only technique I know of to remedy a dry cake is to add simple syrup to each cake layer and allow it soak in before icing it. I don’t usually use simple syrup, although many others do and swear by it.

Yolanda Gump does this all the time, and her recipe may be found here: Simple Syrup Yos

Make your dry cake into a trifle:

You could cut the cake into squares and create a trifle by stacking the cake pieces with a simple syrup, cool cream, pudding, fruit, chocolate chips, chocolate syrup, caramel, cookies, and anything else you can think of. Yum!

Make it into an ice cream cake:

Place the cake layer in a springform pan and cover with softened ice cream before placing in the freezer to harden up. When covered with a thick layer of ice cream, you won’t notice a dry cake! Extra points if you use chocolate syrup!

Use for cake balls or cake pops:

You may always crumble the cake and combine it with a couple of tablespoons of buttercream to create cake balls or cake pops.

Wrapping it all up:

I hope this article was useful in providing some reasons why a cake may come out dry as well as some recommendations for what to do with a dry cake!

Please remember to have fun when making your cakes and that we will all make blunders at some point!

  • What causes cakes to sink in the middle?
  • How to Make a Homemade Cake
  • The most common cake blunders you don’t want to make
  • 15 things I wish I had known before I began baking from scratch


How do you make a cake less dry?

Various Liquid.
Further information…•August 25, 2019 Don’t over-cream…. Add a little of baking powder or baking soda…. Pour in the oil.
Do not over-mix.
Don’t overcook…
Brush With Plain Syrup
How to Avoid Dry or Dense Cake
Make use of Cake Flour. Use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour.
Pour in the sour cream.
Butter at Room Temperature

What can I add to a dry cake to make it moist?

Simple syrup, made from equal parts sugar and water and boiled until the sugar dissolves, is the most popular cake soak. This extra liquid and sugar make the cake more moist and keeps it wet for longer. A milk soak, which is milk or cream splashed into the cake, is also used by professional bakers.

What makes a cake more moist water or milk?

Milk does aid in the moistening of cakes. It also improves the texture and flavor of cakes.

What makes a cake more moist oil or butter?

Since oil stays liquid at room temperature whereas butter hardens, vegetable oil delivers moisture significantly more consistently. Since liquid adds to the impression of moistness, cakes produced with oil frequently seem moister than their butter-based equivalents.

What is the trick to moisten cake?

After baking, pastry chefs often soak cakes in a simple syrup comprised of equal parts granulated sugar and water. This step may add sweetness to the cake while also moistening it. You may use coconut milk, evaporated milk, or flavored liquor for simple syrup.

How do I make sure my cake is moist?

Apply simple syrup on the brush.

To keep cakes wet until they are constructed and frosted, many experienced bakers use simple syrup (equal parts water and granulated sugar boiled and mixed until the sugar dissolves, then left aside to cool).

How do you know if cake is overbaked?

A well-baked cake is exquisite. It’s soft and juicy, with a wonderful crumb. A cake that has been overbaked, on the other hand, might be dry and tough. Worst worse, an underbaked cake is gummy and thick.

Why do bakers soak cakes?

A cake soak is a simple procedure pastry chefs use to flavor a cake, moisten a dry cake, and keep a cake exceptionally wet. Cake soak is a basic syrup that may be flavored in a number of ways and is applied to cooked cakes.

Do you put cake wet to dry or dry to wet?

First, combine the dry ingredients. They’re all going in the same baking dish, right? Indeed, indeed. However, whether you’re preparing cookies, muffins, cake, or pancakes, the basic rule of baking is that the dry ingredients must be well mixed in one dish BEFORE adding the liquid components.

What happens if you make a box cake with milk instead of water?

When your box mix specifies for liquid, add MILK, not water. The milk gives your combination solidity, fat, and, most importantly, taste. WHITES: Leaving out the yolks makes the cake fluffy and whiter!

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