Am I Overbaking My Scratch Cakes?

Baking By JenLGAJ Updated 9 Jun 2009 , 10:38am by mombabytiger

JenLGAJ Posted 2 Jun 2009 , 1:58pm
post #1 of 18

I'm having trouble with vanilla/butter cakes.... they aren't as moist as I'd like, I hesitate to use the word "dry", just not as moist as they should/could be.
I'm thinking that I might be over baking them and that is my problem. I've tried a few recipes that have gotten great reviews and always get the same result. So far I've done Mermaid bakery's, Magnolia's, Sylvia Weinstocks. They dome scraps are YUMMY... but then once I get to the actual piece of cake the moistness is lost.
How do I know when a cake is done, before its over done. I test with toothpick and sides come away from the pan a little, top is golden.
Any suggestions???? I need to figure this out because it driving me crazy! lol


17 replies
cupcakemkr Posted 2 Jun 2009 , 2:05pm
post #2 of 18

the sides of your cake should not be pulled away before you take it out of the oven - they will/may pull away from the pan after it is removed and cooling.

even changing your cooking time by a couple of minutes can make the difference. when you test the cake are you looking for the toothpick to come out absolutely clean? it should still have a couple of crumbes on the pick but not be wet.

how long are you letting your cake sit in the pans after removing from the oven? they shouldn't be left in the pans more than 10 minutes.

Hope that any of this may help you.

Good luck!

confectioneista Posted 2 Jun 2009 , 2:06pm
post #3 of 18

Scratch cakes aren't going to be "moist" like a box mix cake. But if you're worried about overbaking, try baking your cakes on 325 degrees rather than the typical 350, like most recipes call for. It will lengthen your baking time but will lessen the chances of the cake becoming dry.

Also, a lot of cakers will use a simple syrup on their scratch cakes once they're baked to add to the moistness and flavor.


TamathaV Posted 2 Jun 2009 , 2:09pm
post #4 of 18

Hi Jen,

Have you tried testing your oven temp with an oven thermometer? Maybe it's running a bit hot? At home mine runs almost 15 degrees hot so I'll bake cakes at 325-335 instead of 350.

Also some have said that by the time the cake is pulling away from the pans it's overdone. I've been trying to take mine out just a smidge earlier and it's helped a bit.

Lastly, double check your measuring methods. Using ingredient weights rather than measures will give you more accuracy and help with the right moisture balance.

Hope that helps - it's SO frustrating to spend time and $$ on a cake and have it not be perfecticon_smile.gif

judyscakes Posted 2 Jun 2009 , 2:19pm
post #5 of 18

I have added a little extra liquid than the recipe calls for and I bake at 325 degrees than 350. If that fails, try brushing cakes with simple syrup.

Good Luck

JenLGAJ Posted 2 Jun 2009 , 2:27pm
post #6 of 18

Thanks all for the great suggestions!
I don't know why I thought the cake should start pulling away from the pan before removing it from the oven. And yes, my cakes do sit in the pans for over 10 minutes sometimes (just can't get to them some days)... I'll try to more diligent with that. I'll be checking accurate oven temp too... a good idea.
I haven't switch to weight measurements yet but have been thinking about it - I migt take that plunge too.
Thanks again ladies... trying a cake this afternoon to see how it goes with some adjustments made. icon_smile.gif

pattycakesnj Posted 2 Jun 2009 , 2:33pm
post #7 of 18

also try the bake even strips around the pan,once I started using them, the cakes are moister and no dome

JenLGAJ Posted 2 Jun 2009 , 4:34pm
post #8 of 18

hmm.... interesting... has anyone else experience that with bake even stripes? I was eyeing those up and wondering if they were worth buying. Thanks Patty. icon_smile.gif

delisa01 Posted 2 Jun 2009 , 4:43pm
post #9 of 18

I use self-made strips I learned here on CC. It is a towel cut up in strips, moistened and fastens with a metal binder clip. Others wrap theirs in foil It didn't cost me anything icon_smile.gif Do a search here and there are some great threads about it.

I use the Sylvia Weinstock recipe and the only time it came out dry is when I over baked it. I do weigh my ingredients and have an oven thermometer. Good Luck!

JenLGAJ Posted 4 Jun 2009 , 11:21am
post #10 of 18

thank you, thank you, thank you!

I made Sylvia Weinstock's Butter cake yesterday and used some of the suggestions... what a big difference!!! I'm waiting to see how it is after day2 and day 3, but so far I'm very happy!
So far the changes I made based on suggestions....
1-Reduced temp to 325 instead of 350
2-Removed cake BEFORE the sides pull away from pan.
3- toothpick was not completely dry and clean
4-cooled cakes in pan for no longer than 10 minutes

I'm still going to check for oven temp and try using homemade oven stripes. icon_smile.gif
My faith in scratch baking has been restored... thanks all!!!

cupcakemkr Posted 4 Jun 2009 , 12:41pm
post #11 of 18

GREAT! Let us know how the cake performed after day 2 & 3

maendings Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 1:22am
post #12 of 18

I've been having the same problems with my cakes; thanks for the suggestions. I do use the strips ( and buy them with coupons from Michaels or Joannes)and I've even started using them around my cheesecakes instead of the water bath. I do 2 of them around the pan for cheesecakes. Just make sure you soak them in cold water for a few minutes and I also glued on my own velcro; I hate those pins!

confectioneista Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 3:53am
post #13 of 18

Oooh, that's a cool idea for baking cheesecakes. Never thought of using strips before! Gonna have to give it a try. icon_smile.gif

psurrette Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 4:05am
post #14 of 18

I was watching alton brown a while ago and he said that cakes should be between 195 and 205 degrees for doneness. Now I have tried using this method and my cakes are much moister. I think I was overbaking!

JenLGAJ Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 10:37am
post #15 of 18

Day 3 now.... and I'm happy to report that the cake is still moist! Yay!

So happy to have figure this out!

cupcakemkr Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 1:10pm
post #16 of 18
Originally Posted by psurrette

I was watching alton brown a while ago and he said that cakes should be between 195 and 205 degrees for doneness. Now I have tried using this method and my cakes are much moister. I think I was overbaking!

Great info Paula!
I was just talking about this with my Mom the other day, she asked how I knew my cakes were done and I actually said "the only way to know is to toothpick it and watch closely, it's not like meat where you can temp it"!

I am going to temp it next time I do a cake! THANKS!!!!

confectioneista Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 1:36pm
post #17 of 18
Originally Posted by JenLGAJ

Day 3 now.... and I'm happy to report that the cake is still moist! Yay!

So happy to have figure this out!

Awesome! thumbs_up.gif

Temping a cake - gonna have to do that one as well! I'm learning stuff, too! icon_smile.gif They should have a "tip of the day" on the home page about things like these!

mombabytiger Posted 9 Jun 2009 , 10:38am
post #18 of 18

Thanks for the Alton Brown tip! I have a "take the cakes out of the pan now, fool" kitchen timer. The minute I take the cakes out of the oven, I set the timer for 10 minutes. When I hear that "ding", like a trained rat, I take the cakes out to cool.

I find that the older I get, the more I need little helps like this!

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