Why Do Boxed Cakes Crumble? Any Complaints About Your Cakes?

Decorating By Lucy0618 Updated 26 Jul 2011 , 5:05am by JanH

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Lucy0618 Posted 2 Jul 2008 , 10:31pm
post #1 of 26

I had a bride complain this past saturday that her cake was to dry and it was crumbling!!! I had adviced the caterer to slice the cake slowly not just chop it in a hurry.....I've been to events where they need us to cut it and we cut slowly and and its fine. We use boxed cakes and add 3 entire eggs, milk, a little more of oil that the box calls for, if we add to much egg to make it almost a pound cake then wouldn't it be dry?? Have any of you experienced any complaints with your fondant cakes?? Does anyone know something about boxes that someothers don't? Has anyone ever tried applesauce I hear that makes a cake moist. I've posted threds before about the same thing and I've tried all....even sour cream but same complaints....I feel I am not meant to do this.. icon_surprised.gif(

25 replies
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wgoat5 Posted 3 Jul 2008 , 1:04am
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I start with a mix for like white and chocolate cakes... because I can't stand (nobody flog me please) scratch white cake.... and haven't any trouble with dry cakes... I either do the WASC cake or wedding white... always adding either sour cream...pudding...and extra egg..what have you

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CakeInfatuation Posted 3 Jul 2008 , 1:40am
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I've found that the box mixes can tend to be dry. Try using a variation that adds pudding, sour cream, and an extra egg. It really kicks up the moisture and makes a YUMMY cake!

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armywifebryan Posted 3 Jul 2008 , 1:37pm
post #4 of 26

I used to use just the box mix (the kind with pudding already in it) and they weren't dry at all. I was told that I could add a package of pudding to the mix and it would taste even better so I tried it. I have had nothing but compliments about how great it tastes. They always come out super moist, but then again, I never had that problem before. Definitely get more compliments with the extra pudding added though.

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-K8memphis Posted 3 Jul 2008 , 1:47pm
post #5 of 26

Oil tenderizes so why are you adding additional oil?
How fresh is your cake--how much in advance are you baking?
Real freshly baked cake crumbles.
How fast you cut is not an issue it's the cake structure.
I mean a cake should be able to be sliced and served quickly--there's a lot of people to be served in a short time.

Are you doing high altitude baking?

How do you store the cake while you decorate?

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disneynutbsv Posted 3 Jul 2008 , 2:49pm
post #6 of 26

I always add 1 extra egg to whatever the mix says, plus double the oil and 1 cup water. Plus 1 box of instant pudding. Its sturdy and oh so moist!!

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auntsteff Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 8:44am
post #7 of 26

I use applesauce or pumpkin in place of oil in most of my cakes (also lowers the fat in the cake making it healthier). I also swap any liquid called for (water or milk) with buttermilk (usually non-fat buttermilk, I try to save fat grams wherever I can).

I also use a cookbook called "The Cake Mix Doctor" for 99% of my cakes. It tells you how to use the box cake mix and add other things to it to make it taste better. There is also a "Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor," and you should be able to find both on eBay.

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Mike1394 Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 10:21am
post #8 of 26

How long are you baking it for? When you say crumbling are you talking about it falling apart? I don't understand why the extra oil. That extra oil will actually detract from the structure of the cake. Check the temp of your oven.


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CakeRN Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 10:48am
post #9 of 26

If you add one extra egg and a box of dry instant pudding ( one that compliments the mix) and use milk in place of the water PLUS bake at 325 it will be very moist. Overbaking can make the cake dry and extra oil will make it crumbly.

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Heatherly30 Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 12:27pm
post #10 of 26

I use boxed cakes with this recipe that I found on this website!


It is very moist and dense, if you like that texture!

I also have found that Duncan Hines cakes are MUCH better than other brands...especially in chocolate!

Check out the recipes for doctored cakes and start trying some of those recipes. You'll surely find something!

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jamhays Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 3:34pm
post #11 of 26

I use DH boxed mixes & add 1 box of instant pudding. I've never had crumbly dry cakes...everyone always gushes about how moist and delicious my cakes are.

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Lucy0618 Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 3:49pm
post #12 of 26

when you guys add instant pudding...do you guys just add it with out the extra milk it calls for? For example I think for one box of instant pudding it calls for 2cups of milk...do you add what the box calls for or just the
1 1/3 of water the CakeMix calls for? I got the advice of extra oil in this forum. they said it would make it moist..

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-K8memphis Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 4:08pm
post #13 of 26

Just the cake directions. Don't go by the pudding directions. The box of dry pudding alone is an ingredient in the cake formula.

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indydebi Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 4:09pm
post #14 of 26

I've used cake mixes for 25 years (Betty Crocker) .... straight out of the box, no extra anything. (And don't all of the cake mixes have pudding in them these days? icon_confused.gif )

I bake on Wed or Thurs (usually Thurs) for a Sat wedding. Since I stay and cut my cakes, I can see personally that they are nice and moist, not 'crumbly', and practially perfect in every way! icon_biggrin.gif Agree with the above post that cutting it fast or slow makes no difference. The type of knife you use makes a diff, but the speed in cutting doesn't. I can cut and serve a cake for 100 in under 15 minutes.

Maybe if you explain a bit what you mean by "crumbling"? Do you mean there are lots of crumbs? Or is the cake literally falling apart, like a wall of cake falling over?

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Lucy0618 Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 7:41pm
post #15 of 26

It just crumbles...the cake instead of being served as a slice it's served as a crumble...Figured that it was the serves fault...The first few slices are okay then as the line gets heavier I would see the cakes passing by and they were crumbles!!!

So do you guys prefer Betty to Duncan Hines? And then just add dry pudding mix..add an extra egg....and lower my temp. on my oven right? I have to try that!!!

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-K8memphis Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 8:19pm
post #16 of 26

Lucy, Instead of tweaking your recipe, I recommend starting over completely.

Find the wasc in the recipe section and use that. It works. (I use self rising flour and eliminate the additional bkg powder & salt but even using all purpose will be fine) Or just make it as it's written on the box it will be fine. Get it down to a science first then try tweaking.

Cake baking thoughts for you.

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indydebi Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 8:49pm
post #17 of 26
Originally Posted by Lucy0618

It just crumbles...the cake instead of being served as a slice it's served as a crumble...Figured that it was the serves fault...The first few slices are okay then as the line gets heavier I would see the cakes passing by and they were crumbles!!!

Are they cutting the cake too thin? 1x2x4 is the standard and one inch is thicker than a lot of people think it is.

What are they "catching" the piece of cake with after they cut it? See my website page on how to cut a wedding cake .. http://cateritsimple.com/_wsn/page9.html .. I use the cake cutting comb to "catch" the piece of cake when it's cut ... so it retains it's shape. Trying to catch a rectangle piece of cake in your hand that is kinda oval shaped and pointed at the end (i.e. your fingers) could cause the cake to break before it gets to the plate, especially if they are cutting it too thin. Non-professional cutters (what I call "cake civilians") tend to get nervous about not having enough cake, so they tend to start cutting it thinner as the line gets longer.

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Heatherly30 Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 12:45pm
post #18 of 26

My best luck is with Duncan Hines! I have used a generic Aldi brand and they taste like DH, but that's it.

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gscout73 Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 1:11pm
post #19 of 26

I never had problems with boxed cakes until DH changed their choc cake. what a disappointment. Other than that, they've been fool proof.

The 2 times I did have probs was first-overbaking. that's when I knew the thermostat in my oven went. icon_cry.gif :and the second was I when I didn't cover a cake while cooling. In Florida the air conditioning runs all year so carefull steps need to be taken that cooling pastries do not dry out. So I cover with either napkins or paper towels. As soon as they are cool, I ice or wrap in plastic wrap. thumbs_up.gif

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tmassey5 Posted 6 Jul 2008 , 2:18am
post #20 of 26

I am with indydebi , I too use Betty crocker straight by the box directions. I have so many compliments on my cakes.....especially the moistness. I am a firm believer in " if it ain't broke, then don't fix it." I am sure there are tons of great tasting cake recipes out there, but I just can't seem to break away from BC mixes.(although I have tried other mixes).
Just make sure that you are not overbaking the cakes or underbaking icon_rolleyes.gif
I don't know what others do, but when my cakes come out of the oven, I immediately wrap them in foil until they are cool. I was once told that if you let the steam rise out of a cake, then you are letting all of the moisture out also. It stuck with me, and I have always had really moist cakes!
Hope some of this helps and wasn't just rambling! icon_wink.gif

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lisascakes Posted 6 Jul 2008 , 6:18pm
post #21 of 26

I have used only BC for 16 years & my mother used BC for over 30 years before she passed away. No problems for us. After removing from the oven let the cake cool till I can handle the pan with out a pot holder & then dump it onto the plate or cardboard & let it cool and then ice or freeze. If it's a wedding cake & will only be in the freezer a couple of days - I don't wrap in plastic. I crumb coat while frozen but wait till it is completely thawed before I will smooth coat.

Like the others - if it's not broke no need to fix

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BakerSteph Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 2:07pm
post #22 of 26

I am not sure why "crumbly" needs to be explained. I know exactly what you mean! It is so frustrating to work so hard on a cake only to cut into it and watch it crumble. I recently made a wedding cake for a friend, something I have only done a few times, and the cake cracked on the way to the wedding and then crumbled when I cut it. I am in search of a way to remedy this and came upon this forum. I am going to try all of the suggestions and see where it gets me. Good luck and I hope these suggestions work for you as well!

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carmijok Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 2:27pm
post #23 of 26

I agree that really fresh cake is very crumbly. It's moist, but it can fall apart easily.
I've found freezing in saran wrap for a few days actually makes it sturdier and does not detract from the moistness.

I use Betty Crocker as did the bakery I worked for and they used their french vanilla constantly for wedding cakes, carved cakes...any cake that needed to be 'white'.

The only time I ever had a problem like yours was when I was stacking a cake and accidently crushed the middle tier and had to make a new one immediately and didn't have time to freeze it. It seemed to just fall apart when cut...it was tasty and moist...just very crumbly.

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inspiredbymom Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 2:44pm
post #24 of 26

I use Pillsbury box cake for my chocolate and white. I don't have to add anything extra to it. I have had so much positive feedback from them. However, as someone else suggested here, I bake at 325 and I also use baking strips around my pans. I think that helps a lot!

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m_willford Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 3:07pm
post #25 of 26

When I used boxed mixes, I found that if I torted them fresh, they were a lot more crumbly - and crumby. I started popping them out of the pan and letting them cool a bit, and then putting them back in and covering with foil to sit overnight, and they would dense up. They would torte beautifully, and not crumble when I served them.

I do scratch now, but that's because there are a lot of home bakers in the area and they all do boxed mixes. Nothing wrong with that, it's what I grew up on, but I needed to have something that set me apart here. But I still let them sit overnight before doing anything to it with a knife, or decorating them. Works wonders! (I also freeze if I'm baking early in the week.)

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JanH Posted 26 Jul 2011 , 5:05am
post #26 of 26

Something else to consider:

If the cake cutting knife isn't thin and sharp, but rather wide and/or dull - the cake layers will be compressed or crushed rather than cut through cleanly.... icon_sad.gif

This compressing of the layers will result in a crumbly looking cake slice even if the cake itself is moist (because it's been crushed)!


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