Dry Cake Emergency!

Decorating By Pinky Updated 21 Feb 2005 , 6:09am by tcturtleshell

Pinky Posted 16 Feb 2005 , 4:00am
post #1 of 28

Hi Everyone,

I made a cake from scratch last night, it was chocolate with 8oz. of sour cream. It is AWFUL!!!!! I was so embarassed, even my seven year old did not eat much! What could I have done to make it more moist? This is the second cake from scratch that turned out this dry. The last one was a four layer italian cream cake.

Pinky (Phlustered in Phoenix!) icon_sad.gificon_cry.gifthumbsdown.gif

27 replies
melissablack Posted 16 Feb 2005 , 4:12am
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Hi Pinky

How long/what temp did you bake the cake at? The instructor of the cake decorating classes I took told us to bake our cakes at 325 and up the baking time, instead of 350, which worked alright for cake mixes, but when I tried it with 'from scratch' cakes, they turned out SO dry, I was also embarassed to serve them!

Melissa icon_smile.gif

GHOST_USER_NAME Posted 16 Feb 2005 , 5:46am
post #3 of 28

This is why I stick to doctored cake mixes. It takes so little mess up a scratch cake. Did you add a minuscule extra flour? Two drops too few of butter or oil? With a mix you always get consistency.

Now if you insist on making form scratch... dry cakes are such as easy fix it's not even worth fussing over.

Simple syrup fixes most dry cake issues. Learn to use it. It will be your best friend.

Basic simple syrup is equal parts boiling water and sugar, allowed to cool and poured over a cake. Don't be afraid of using too much. You can honestly use 1/2 cup and even more on an 8-inch single layer.

Other simple syrups (but not all):

Coffee syrups (and they come in flavors... mm mm!)

Snow Cone syrups

Liqueurs- Kahlua on a chocolate cake is fantastic- of course, no kiddies allowed

As I think of more, I'll let you know.

tcturtleshell Posted 16 Feb 2005 , 5:51am
post #4 of 28

Hey Pinky,

Chocolate cakes are easier to me. I have a recipe that has buttermilk in it & also the hershey's cocoa box has a good recipe on it that always turns out very good! Good luck~

I haven't had any luck w/ a nice moist yellow scratch cake! I have turned to cheating... using mixes & adding things to them. I even bought the Cake Mix Dr. book for help. Someone on this forum suggested it. It's a good book. I have a wedding cake in April & the bride just wants yellow cake! So I'm looking for a good yellow cake mix. If you or anyone has a moist but not too moist yellow recipe please share.

Pinky Posted 16 Feb 2005 , 6:01am
post #5 of 28

Calidawn, thanks and thanks to all who answered my emergency call! I never knew how easy it was to screw up a cake from scratch! Thanks for the tips! I had a beautiful cake that tasted like the desert! Thanks for the syrup suggestions! I go to Cost Plus World Market for wine and will pick up the coffee syrups! They really are divine with all of the different flavors!


melissablack Posted 16 Feb 2005 , 3:42pm
post #6 of 28

I started out just using cake mixes, and they were working great, but I felt guilty charging people for a cake mix cake! As soon as I tried making them from scratch, finding good recipes, it was a nightmare! lol. From now on I think I am going to stick to the doctored cake mixes too.

Melissa icon_smile.gif

Pinky Posted 16 Feb 2005 , 5:07pm
post #7 of 28


You hit the nail on the head! I thought, if I am going to start doing these for money then I need to master scratch cakes! I thought more about it, they are paying me for my artistic ability. They are also paying for great tasting cake. They don't care how I get the cake to be the right flavor, right density or texture, they just want what they want!

Putting it in prospective, I know what my next purchase will be...

the doctored cake book!

Thanks for helping me get this figured out! What in your opinion is the best cake mix?

Pinky! icon_smile.gif

GHOST_USER_NAME Posted 16 Feb 2005 , 6:27pm
post #8 of 28

Yep- would you rather sell a moist great mix cake or a dry bland scratch cake? I admire that have the knack for scratch. but I must be honest and admit it's simply not me. Besides, my scratch cakes aren't going to sell anyway. AAAAAAnd.... how you arrive at the final product is NOT the customer's business at all. TRULY!!

I prefer Pillsbury, but I'm not faithful to any brand. I've noticed when I doctor them, they behave about the same way.

m0use Posted 16 Feb 2005 , 6:48pm
post #9 of 28

I usually use the store generic brand of cake since I do doctor my mixes as well. (not to mention it's the cheapest and I still get good results) (Our store is Pick 'N Save, Roundy's being the store brand) I've also used Pillsbury since it's the most likely to be on sale or a free with purchase item.
Hope this helps!

tcturtleshell Posted 16 Feb 2005 , 11:12pm
post #10 of 28

I use different types of cake mixes. No favorite kind, like mouse said whatever is the cheapest! I baked the Coke Cake (cake mix dr) for my mom's bday this past weekend. ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh it was sooooo good!!! You have to try it!! I haven't tasted a wonderful chocolate cake like that in a long time!! It was so moist, cut so beautifully, & didn't fall apart!! It melted in your mouth!!!! I also baked the hummingbird cake. That is wonderful too!! My scratch recipe called for at least 15 ingredients.. This one only had about 6!! I think it was actually better!!
Like everyone said "as long as it's good doesn't matter how you got it!!" Try them & let me know how you like them!

The mom of the bride emailed me today & asked me if I've tried the Duncan Hines French Vanilla mix. I bought one today to see how it tasted. I'll let ya'll know. The bride just wants yellow cake.. she's pretty easy icon_lol.gif !! I'll probably wind up making that for her wedding cake. See noone really cares if it's homemade anymore icon_biggrin.gif

GHOST_USER_NAME Posted 17 Feb 2005 , 12:39am
post #11 of 28

Let me tell you, it's really really great!!

VickiC Posted 17 Feb 2005 , 12:58am
post #12 of 28

to my surprise, the yellow cake recipe from Martha Stewart is really, really good. It has a very nice buttery flavor and texture with that true homemade taste.

I have found that my scratch cakes don't retain their moistness as long as the doctored cake mix cakes do. I use doctored mixes most of the time for this reason.

My hands down favorite is Duncan Hines cake mix thumbs_up.gif . I stock up on them when they go on sale-virtually clean out the shelves of the basics yellow, dark chocolate fudge and white.

Pinky Posted 17 Feb 2005 , 2:18am
post #13 of 28

Just got back from the store...Albertson's has Duncan Hines on sale, 10 for 10 dollars! I bought three, thinking of going back!!!!

I have a doctored cake in the oven as we speak. My first doctored, it is the Enchanted cake on this site.

Has anyone had it? Sounded good. Made enough batter to make two 8X3 round cakes.

Also...for a treat I have been soaking sliced strawberries in champagne for three days, just drained them and put a little granulated sugar on them for the filling! Should be yummy!

Pink! thumbs_up.gif

tcturtleshell Posted 17 Feb 2005 , 4:08am
post #14 of 28

Pinky~ I'm coming to your house for dessert!!!! Sounds yummy!!!

Vicki~ can you email me the Martha Stewart recipe or just reply on this board for me? Thanks

OHHHHHHHHHHh.. the french vanilla mix shrank!!!!!!!!! What's up w/ that???? I mean shrank big time!! I'm disappointed icon_cry.gif It tastes good, nice & moist but it's teeny tiny!!!!! I guess I mixed it tooooo long??? Wonder what happened??

GHOST_USER_NAME Posted 17 Feb 2005 , 8:32am
post #15 of 28

I haven't had that happen--- that's horrible for you!!

MrsMissey Posted 17 Feb 2005 , 2:30pm
post #16 of 28

OHHHHHHHHHHh.. the french vanilla mix shrank!!!!!!!!! What's up w/ that???? I mean shrank big time!! I'm disappointed icon_cry.gif It tastes good, nice & moist but it's teeny tiny!!!!! I guess I mixed it tooooo long??? Wonder what happened??

I have had the same thing happen with the Duncan Hines, even though I've tried various times and temp! It was still delicious! I've had great success with Betty Crocker! I can get them for .88 cents at Walmart!

tcturtleshell Posted 17 Feb 2005 , 2:54pm
post #17 of 28

oh, I got over it!! icon_lol.gif We ate it!! It was very good! Just don't know why it shrank! Oh, well life goes on. icon_lol.gif I'll try it again another time. icon_smile.gif

Pinky Posted 17 Feb 2005 , 3:54pm
post #18 of 28

What do you do if it finally is moist but it is crumbly? I made the super enhanced doctored cake on this site last night and it was super moist and I added my icing dam with the champagne soaked strawberries for the filling and chocolate buttercream icing. I thought I maybe needed to chill the cake and it would get "together". I got it out of the fridge this morning and sliced a little (*for my "coffee time") and it was still crumbly...

Any suggestions???


tcturtleshell Posted 18 Feb 2005 , 5:09am
post #19 of 28

I'm not a professional but I think you add more oil when it is tcrumbly?? Do you Calidawn? The cake making part is not my favorite part of doing cakes!

sgirvan Posted 18 Feb 2005 , 5:41pm
post #20 of 28

I use the French Vanilla all the time and have never had a problem with it shrinking. I cook it at 325 and use buttermilk instead of water and it is so moist and yummy. My MM fondant cake was made with the French vanilla this week and everyone loved it.

GHOST_USER_NAME Posted 18 Feb 2005 , 6:36pm
post #21 of 28

I'm not sure, honestly (see I don't know everything!!). When my cake appears as though it may turn out this way, I just bake it another 3-4 minutes.

tcturtleshell Posted 18 Feb 2005 , 10:54pm
post #22 of 28

I will use buttermilk the next time I bake it! Thanks Sgirvan!

smiling1809 Posted 21 Feb 2005 , 4:16am
post #23 of 28
Originally Posted by tcturtleshell

Hey Pinky,
& the bride just wants yellow cake! So I'm looking for a good yellow cake mix. If you or anyone has a moist but not too moist yellow recipe please share.

I used the bride's cake in Cake Mix doctor. It is technically a white cake, but mine turned out light yellow and MOIST, MOIST, MOIST. I sifted it first, and that made it have an awesome texture. I cut the tops off of the cake and gave them to the bride (my sil.) She went crazy. It was really yummy.

tcturtleshell Posted 21 Feb 2005 , 4:36am
post #24 of 28

Well thank you Smiling1809! I have been trying the cake dr recipes. I haven't got to that one yet. I will try it. I guess you could add more vanilla to make it more yellow right. I made the basic sour cream yellow cake today. It was very tasty. I used milk instead of water. It was very moist & didn't fall apart. It was a very pretty golden yellow. I'll try the wedding cake & choose from the 2. I'm tired of looking for the best yellow cake! I need to get the leveling & smoothing down! I'm pretty good but I need to be alot better! Thanks for the tip!

GHOST_USER_NAME Posted 21 Feb 2005 , 4:50am
post #25 of 28
Originally Posted by tcturtleshell

I need to get the leveling & smoothing down!


(Only works with cakes mounded above the top of the pan)

The second the cake comes out of the oven, place it on the counter and immediately place a paper towel then a cutting board or other large flat object over the top of the cake (still in the pan and still hot). Place something heavy (like a skillet) on top of that. It will moosh the cake down level with the pan. leave like this for 5-10 minutes. Remove the board and paper towel. Your cake layer is not only flat and exactly two inches tall (important when stacking wedding cakes) it will be so much more dense and moist.

It really works!! Here is a picture I took for my cupcake tutorial, but it's the same concept:


tcturtleshell Posted 21 Feb 2005 , 5:17am
post #26 of 28

Calidawn YOU ARE THE QUEEN OF CAKES!!!!!!!!!!! I will do the laying something on top of the cake technique!!! Is there something you don't know?? I'm so glad you are here!!!!!! You have helped me so much!! THANK YOU QUEEN DAWN! Since I have your attention... I'm sure you've had millions of questions......

I did your frozen transfer today. I liked it! BUT.. I messed up icon_sad.gif .. First I think I filled it in too thick. I used a tip 2 to fill in. Are you suppose to keep the fill in lower then the outline? And should your icing consistency be thick? Mine was a little thin.

2nd when I got to step 8 I really screwed up! How do you get the icing spread so your not mashing & spreading your outline all out of sink? If you could please give me a few more tips on that. I'm a hands on person... I have a hard time following directions... When I was taking my cake courses I had to stand behind the teacher to learn everything! I couldn't just follow the books. I'm special shhh.gif Thank you!!!

GHOST_USER_NAME Posted 21 Feb 2005 , 5:40am
post #27 of 28

LOL- You're too funny.

OK- Your outline icing should be thick. Especially while you're learning the technique. I found using thick fudge icing was better than buttercream.

Your filling icing should be thin-medium consistency. The #2 tip for filling should be good.

It may take you a couple of tries to get the "feel" of it. Just try some basic circles and figure 8's for practice. It will come to you.

But honestly, I like the BC Glaze technique better. Have you tried that? No down time waiting for it freeze- and nice and shiny!!

tcturtleshell Posted 21 Feb 2005 , 6:09am
post #28 of 28

Thanks again~ I will keep practicing! My friend got it right on her first time! NOT FAIR!! I haven't tried the glaze yet but I will!! Maybe tomorrow! I've got so much syrup in my cabinets I need to use some!! We have 4 pecan trees on our land & I'm always making pecan pies but didn't this year because I've been so involved in the cakes! Which I would rather do cakes then pies... too much humidity in La. OOPs got off the subject Sorry!! icon_lol.gif ANyway I will practice more & try the glaze! I'll let you know how bad I did~~~~~~ icon_cool.gif Later~

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