Dream Cakes Sink In Middle

Baking By we2texans Updated 7 Feb 2010 , 7:29pm by we2texans

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we2texans Posted 25 Jan 2010 , 3:43am
post #1 of 13

I have been baking and decorating cakes since the 80s and have used the cake recipe given to me by my first instructor. It's a dream cake that uses a boxed cake mix without pudding, 1 small box of instant pudding, 1 package of Dream Whip, 4 eggs, 1 1/4 cup water, and 1/4 cup oil. I've been using this recipe for over 20 years but the past few years I every time I try with this recipe I end up with sunken middles. As soon as I take them out of the oven, regardless of how long they bake, they start to sink in the middle. It doesn't matter what size or what depth cake -- it even happens with cupcakes and mini cupcakes.

I've adjusted temps from 325 to 350, I've adusted baking time. Still sunken middles.

I have loved this recipe -- moist, just right denseness, and great crumb.

I got to thinking tonight, after another failed batch of lemon cupcakes...have the boxed cake mixes changed their ingredients over the past five years or so that is just not accepting of pudding and Dream Whip?

I'm open to the possibility that I'm really screwing something up, but it just doesn't make sense to me that a recipe that I've used for years is not produce the same results it has in the past.

Has anyone else experienced this?


12 replies
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cakesrock Posted 30 Jan 2010 , 4:19am
post #2 of 13

I'm thinking maybe it's the pudding? Did you always use instant? Did you before? Or is it fat-free or sugar-free? They have changed the pudding mixes over the years and there are also so many more variations now. I would check to see if I was sure I was using the same one. I dont' think dream whip has changed. What about your oven? Temp changes over time. Do you have issues with any other cakes. Maybe even try bake strips. Good luck! Very frustrating... icon_smile.gif

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JanJess Posted 30 Jan 2010 , 4:29am
post #3 of 13

Could it possibly be that one of the ingredients has had the trans-fats removed and changed its structure, cake mix, dream whip, pudding...just a guess. I know a lot of products are trying to reduce/eliminate trans-fats. HTH

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dandelion56602 Posted 30 Jan 2010 , 5:03am
post #4 of 13

Duncan Hines & store brands (Walmart---yuk & Save a Lot) are the only ones I know of w/ out pudding. Betty Crocker & Pillsbury both have pudding in the mix. Too much sugar will cause sinking, as will too much flour, too little liquid, undermixed & if the oven wasn't preheated enough. Do you have an oven thermometer?

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Melchas Posted 30 Jan 2010 , 5:25am
post #5 of 13

I also used to use a whole package of instant pudding and would get sunken middles. I switched to two tblsp and they now come out perfect.

Are you sure the mixes you are using don't have pudding in them already?

I use Betty Crocker and occasionally Duncan Hines, both have pudding already in them so adding a whole box of pudding will make them sink.

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JanH Posted 30 Jan 2010 , 5:32am
post #6 of 13
Originally Posted by Melchas

I use Betty Crocker and occasionally Duncan Hines, both have pudding already in them so adding a whole box of pudding will make them sink.

Betty Crocker and Pillsbury have pudding added to the cake mix but Duncan Hines does not. icon_smile.gif

Here's a link to a photo of DH cake mix:


Pillsbury cake mix:


Betty Crocker cake mix:



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Melchas Posted 30 Jan 2010 , 8:22am
post #7 of 13

I did not realize that Duncan Hines does not have pudding in their mix, good to know.

However, yesterday I made Red Velvet using Duncan Hines and added two Tblsp of choco pudding to the mix. Today I made a French Vanilla cake using Betty Crocker and also added two Tblsp of pudding to the mix.
Both cakes had the same density, texture and crumb and neither one sank in the middle.

The only time I have ever had a cake sink in the middle is when I have added too much pudding to the mix. Not to say that there can't be another reason why this would happen, I just haven't had it happen to me.

I too wonder what the ingredients are in DH cake mix, without pudding, that make it behave the same as BC cake mix, with pudding, using the same "doctored"recipe for both. If anyone knows, I would be interested in the answer as well.

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we2texans Posted 4 Feb 2010 , 9:06pm
post #8 of 13

Thanks so much for the replies...I actually forgot to check back for replies after there were none for the first three days.

I do not have an oven thermometer -- I have a Jennaire that is about 10 years old. This may be a problem, but I think it's unlikely because when I baked a scratch cake it came out fine. That's what made me think it was a change in the cake mix, instant pudding mix, or Dream Whip.

Is an oven thermometer available at most stores? Or just specialty stores?

I honestly can't remember which brand of cake I used -- but I know it did not have "pudding in the mix" anywhere on the box that was obvious. I'm not at home right now, or I'd check the unused boxes I still have. Is it possible that pudding may still be in the boxed cake and not be clearly stated on the front of the box?

I do use the regular small package of instant pudding -- do not use the sugar free. The tips of using only 2 TBS of the pudding is a good suggestion -- one I will try this weekend to see if I get better results.

I appreciate the replies and possible reasons for the sinking cupcakes...I will experiment more and will check my oven temperatures.


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Melchas Posted 5 Feb 2010 , 12:56am
post #9 of 13

Do you have a metal meat thermometer? That is what I used to check my oven...it was off 50 degrees!

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dandelion56602 Posted 5 Feb 2010 , 4:48am
post #10 of 13

You can find an oven thermometer in the kitchen section of Walmart, Kmart, Target, kitchen stores etc. Mine will sit on the rack or hang from it. I usually sit it b/c I move my racks a lot. My oven is just 5 yrs old & it's 10 degrees off. My mom's is about 50 off, but hers is older

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we2texans Posted 5 Feb 2010 , 11:38am
post #11 of 13

I bought one at Walmart like dandelion has. Tested the temps last night and it was right on -- preheated to 350 and that's exactly what the thermometer read as it sat on the middle rack (were the cakes/cupcakes sit).

I guess it has to be the whole small package of the pudding. I will know more this weekend.

Thanks again -- it's nice to know the temps I thought I was baking with are accurate.


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cheatize Posted 6 Feb 2010 , 12:06am
post #12 of 13

It probably won't matter in this situation, but try putting the thermometer in various places in the oven. My oven is 5 degrees warmer on the middle right.

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we2texans Posted 7 Feb 2010 , 7:29pm
post #13 of 13

I've experimented a bit this weekend and found that it seems my problem is what others have suggested -- too much instant pudding in my batter. My last batch of lemon cupcakes turned out just perfect -- in flavor, density, and nice domes (small, what I was looking for to decorate with roses).

I'm posting my recipe below, and will also post on the recipes section -- as this is a delightful lemon cupcake recipe, now that it's how it's supposed to be.

1 box DH Moist Deluxe Classic White Cake mix
1 pkg. Dream Whip
2 TBS lemon instant pudding (not sugar free)
4 large eggs
2 TBS vegetable oil
zest of one large lemon
Juice of large lemon, plus thawed frozen lemonade concentrate to equal 1 1/3 cup of liquid

Preheat oven to 325-350 (I actually find that somewhere in the middle of these two work best for my oven when baking cupcakes).

Mix all ingredients on high speed for about one minute -- batter will be slightly whipped. Place paper baking cups in cupcake pan and fill each with 1/4 cup batter.

Place one tray in center of oven and bake for 16-22 minutes -- turning pan about 8 minutes. Begin checking for doneness after 15 minutes until you are familiar with the proper baking time for your oven.

Recipe yeilds 25 cupcakes (I baked one cupcake as a test for time/temp before baking two complete cupcake tins).

Very nice fresh lemon-y flavor.

Thanks again to all who helped me determine the cause of my sunken cupcake centers!


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