General Cake Problems, Please Help If You Can (Long!)

Decorating By AKA_cupcakeshoppe Updated 16 Aug 2008 , 6:14am by AKA_cupcakeshoppe

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AKA_cupcakeshoppe Posted 15 Aug 2008 , 5:01pm
post #1 of 16

I am baking my most ambitious cake ever for my mother's birthday this coming week and I wanted to see if you guys can help me out. I mostly bake cupcakes and I think I've gotten them "down" but cakes are a hit and miss for me.

1. My cakes always get a moist and sticky top. The cake would cook well, toothpick would come out clean. I would take it out of the oven, turn it out into a rack, cover it in plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge. After letting it cool for hours, sometimes overnight, I would take them out and the top of the cake would be sticky and moist. This happens with ANY recipe (chocolate, vanilla, carrot, with oil, with butter). It also happens when I let the cake cool on the rack and then wrap with plastic or with wax paper. It frustrates me to no end because I don't know what I'm doing wrong.

2. Cakes are sometimes too heavy and, again, sticky. If I hold it with my hand, it would stick to my hand and parts of it would fall off. Again, it happens with ANY recipe.

3. I think I am doing something very wrong. I can count the few times I've actually made a decent cake. Most of the time it's like this. So it must be me.

Please help me out. I'm thisclose to pulling all my hair out in frustration and trust me, I can't pull off a bald hairstyle.

Thanks! and sorry for the long post.

15 replies
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tracycakes Posted 15 Aug 2008 , 5:06pm
post #2 of 16

I think that all of your problems are being caused by wrapping your cakes in plastic wrap while they are still hot. The excess moisture is condensing on your plastic wrap and then seeping back into the outside of the cake - that causes the stickiness, weakness, etc.

When I turn my cakes out onto rakes, I let them cook to room temperature and then wrap them. Try letting them cool first and then wrap them. Hopefully, that will fix your problems. icon_wink.gificon_biggrin.gif

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CakeWhizz Posted 15 Aug 2008 , 5:07pm
post #3 of 16

The following could be the reasons why:
1. Excessive sugar - sugar, as well as being a sweetener, tenderizes or causes a softer crumb in baked products. It helps with the shelf life because it absorbs moisture. Too much sugar attract airbourne moisture making a sticky top

2. Improper storage - make sure that they are absolutely cold before storing in a tin or plastic container - condensation!

3. the batter may be too "wet" - bake 3-5 minutes longer depending upon temperature and timings

4. Improper mixing - the sugar is loose and attracting moisture - cream butter/sugar very well before adding other ingredients
I got these answers by doing a search on the internet and I hope it helps.

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CakeWhizz Posted 15 Aug 2008 , 5:09pm
post #4 of 16

Here's another answer I found:
This is an issue (not really a problem) with the amount of sugar in your recipe, and ambient humidity. Sugar (especially honey and corn syrup, but any sugar) attracts moisture from the air, making your cake/muffin sticky. You can try reducing the amount of sugar in the recipe 2 tablespoons at a time, and this might reduce the problem.

The other possible solution is that your muffins are too moist, and so moisture migrates from the inside of the muffin to the exterior (top). To solve this, bake the muffins for a few minutes (3-5) longer.

Baked goods should be completely cooled before wrapping or storing covered, as steam can cause them to become sticky.

So here's how I'd tackle the problem. 1. cool them completely before storing. 2. bake 3 mins longer. 3. reduce sugar 2 tbsp.

Sticky tops are a common problem with muffins that have crumb toppings on them. The high sugar content causes the crumb to absorb moisture from the air and the muffin, and become sticky. I don't think there's a solution to this, other than to freeze the muffins when they're cooled, and re-heat them from frozen.

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jibbies Posted 15 Aug 2008 , 5:27pm
post #5 of 16

You didn't mention if your cakes are from scratch or a box mix.
If scratch I can't help, but if it's a box mix wrapping while warm is causing this. Why are you wrapping? If I need to hold my cakes til the next day to decorate I bake, cool 15 minutes, level in the pan, turn out, cool completely, put back in pan and cover with a clean kitchen towel. When I'm ready to decorate I put it on the cake board and decorate. No worry about fridge space and they rest well and hold up to being handled. If you feel like they are too dry, you can brussh with a simple syrup for more taste and moisture.


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AKA_cupcakeshoppe Posted 15 Aug 2008 , 5:36pm
post #6 of 16

I bake from scratch. I wrap them because that's what I've read on this forum icon_sad.gif maybe I misunderstood? icon_sad.gif

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Tashablueyes Posted 15 Aug 2008 , 9:22pm
post #7 of 16

Yeah, I have seen that many people here do wrap their cakes still warm to keep them moist, but I think that's because their cakes lean to the drier side. It varies so much from recipe to recipe! And I live in Colorado, which makes things even trickier! I'm glad you asked this and I'm thinking I'm going to stop wrapping mine so soon too!

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indydebi Posted 16 Aug 2008 , 1:12am
post #8 of 16

The confusion about wrapping may be in whether the cake is being frozen or not. Many wrap the cakes when warm or slightly warm because the cake is going to be stored in the freezer for a few hours or a few days. But not just for the cooling process.

Some things that I do that might help:
- when I flip the cake out on the cooling rack, I then take a 2nd rack and flip the cake over on it. Now the cake is sitting on it's bottom. The top of the cake is not upside down on a cooling rack.

- If you leave the cake on a cooling rack on the counter, elevate the cooling rack (I would turn 4 coffee cups or small juice glasses upside down and set the rack on these). This gives the steam space to escape out from under your cake. If you've ever moved a cool cake and found a pool of water under the cake, this is why.....the steam had no place to go so it condensed under the cake ... this excess moisture seeped back into the cake, causing it to be moister and gooey-er.

- I never refrigerate my cakes.

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AKA_cupcakeshoppe Posted 16 Aug 2008 , 4:22am
post #9 of 16

oh thanks tasha and indydebi!

indydebi, if i understand correctly, you only freeze your cakes, not refrigerate them? i think that could be my problem 'cause we never have freezer space and when I wrap my cakes warm they go to the fridge, not the freezer.

so if i just put them in the fridge, should i let them cool on the rack thorgoughly and then wrap them?

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joy5678 Posted 16 Aug 2008 , 4:45am
post #10 of 16

OK, help me out here. On you tube there is a lady who takes her cakes out of the oven & places a towel on the top and gently presses down on the cake to release the air so that the cake will come out level. Then she immediately "while still hot" flips the cake out onto plastic wrap & covers it. She says that it makes the cake very moist because the steam is trapped inside. I believe she then freezed it. What do you think about this??? Has anyone else seen this video or tried this technique? Gooey mess or moist cake?? Thanks

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Tashablueyes Posted 16 Aug 2008 , 4:57am
post #11 of 16

yeah, Joy, I saw the video and I've smooshed the air out of my cakes ever since. It works beautifully, but I have always wondered if immediately wrapping was a good idea or not. I've done it, mind you, but I didn't know if it was helping or hurting.

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AKA_cupcakeshoppe Posted 16 Aug 2008 , 5:07am
post #12 of 16

I guess if it goes to the freezer it helps. if it doesn't (like what I did), it doesn't. i guess i should let my cakes cool completely on the rack then.

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Mac Posted 16 Aug 2008 , 5:19am
post #13 of 16

You should let your cakes cool completely before wrapping in plastic wrap. And I don't refrigerate my cake if it will be decorated the next day.

As soon as my cake comes out of the oven--I let it cool no more than 10 minutes in the pan, level if I need to, turn out onto wax paper on cooling rack. I let my cakes cool about 20 minutes then immediately crumb-coat while it is still warm. Leave out until completely cooled.

As I have said, I don't refrigerate. I just lightly cover with wax paper, but the crumb-coat kind of seals it so it doesn't dry out.

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AKA_cupcakeshoppe Posted 16 Aug 2008 , 5:25am
post #14 of 16

oh wow. That's the first time i've heard of crumbcoating without any kind of refrigeration first. i'm so glad i started this topic. i'm learning a lot of different things from all of you.

thanks mac!

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FromScratch Posted 16 Aug 2008 , 5:43am
post #15 of 16

I bake from scratch and I bake.. let cool in the pan on the rack for about 10-15 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack and immediately invert it onto another rack so the top is up and the bottom is on the rack and let cool completely. Then I will level and torte then and then I wrap them in plastic wrap and pop them in the fridge. I like chilling them because it makes them easier to handle.

I never have sticky tops partly because I cut them off icon_lol.gif and also because they are allowed to cool before I wrap them.

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AKA_cupcakeshoppe Posted 16 Aug 2008 , 6:14am
post #16 of 16

thanks jkalman! icon_biggrin.gif i am going to keep in mind everyone's suggestions. I just want this cake to work out and frustrate me LOL

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