Baking Troubleshooting - Common Mistakes

So many things which can go wrong in baking, and everyone makes these errors at some point.

The best thing to do is learn from it and hopefully next time you won't make the same mistake!

  • Not using room temperature ingredients 
    This can cause your cake batter to not combine completely or to curdle, and can lead to other problems like overmixing or an unrisen greasy cake. Take your ingredients out of the fridge a few hours in advance for best results

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If you're a real baker I guarantee you'll be able to identify with most of the things on this list! Have a read and let me know your baking traits :)

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Easy and simple, this yummy cupcake recipe is great for beginners and can be used to practise your cake making technique! You can use this recipe as a base for your own creations, add and tweak things to your own tastes!

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  • Not measuring the ingredients properly
    It is SO important to measure your ingredients properly and accurately. Too much flour or butter can have a huge impact on the turn out of your cake. A teaspoon (tsp) measurement refers to a calibrated measuring spoon and not one that you use in your cup of coffee. It is definitely worth investing in a set of measuring spoons and some quality digital scales to give you the best results

  • Using too much, or out of date raising agent 
    Bicarbonate of Soda and Baking Powder both have expiry dates, and if past this date, they could have the opposite effect and cause your cake not to rise. Also using too much raising agent, can make your cake sink and give it a funny taste. Make sure to follow the recipe exactly and invest in some measuring spoons to be even more accurate

  • Not preheating your oven
    There is a reason that this step is always at the beginning of the instructions! If your oven isn't preheated and you put the cake in, it will end up melting the ingredients before it starts to bake them. Also if you remember too late to preheat, and your cake is sitting around for a while, the raising agents in the batter will begin to react, causing big air bubbles to form and it may not rise properly, or have an uneven surface covered in little holes

  • Not greasing/lining or preparing your tins 
    Again, preparing your tins will always be one of the first steps. This is so you can make the batter and put it straight into the hot oven, which prevents it from sitting around on the side for longer than it needs to.
    Even if you're using non-stick baking pans, I still recommend greasing the sides and bottom, otherwise the cake might stick making it difficult to remove. Personally, I only line my tin when I'm not using a loose bottom tin, and even then I only line the bottom with a baking paper circle fitted perfectly. Always run a knife around the sides of the cake before turning it out out which helps it to loosen

  • Not creaming' the butter and sugar 
    This step is really important and I always do it first before adding any other ingredients. Most recipes require it to be 'pale and fluffy', as it's the first stage which helps to incorporate air into the batter. The best way to do it is using an electric mixer and beating on high power for a few minutes 

  • Overmixing your cake batter 
    make sure everything is completely combined before you add your flour to the mix. Once the flour is added you should only mix till no more streaks of flour are visible. If you overmix at this stage you will cause the gluten to build up which will give your cake a more dense and chewy texture

  • Opening your oven too early 
    This causes a rush of cold air to enter your oven and it will lose its heat. This will extend your baking time and worst case scenario; your cake will sink in the middle!! Try to resist the temptation to check on your cake until at least 3/4 of the baking time has passed

  • Your oven is the wrong temperature 
    This is why most recipes always give an approx. baking time as it can take a while to really get to know your oven. The best way to know for sure is to use an oven thermometer which can bought online or in any food store. Fan ovens usually bake at a lower temperature and in almost all cases the cake should be placed in the middle shelf at the centre of the oven

  • Overbaking or underbaking your cake
    This is probably one of the most common mistakes to be made and can be simply avoided by using a timer! Check your cake is done by inserting a skewer into the centre and if it comes out clean then your cake is done

  • Not waiting till your cake is completely cool before decorating
    If your cake is even slightly warm, it will be quite fragile and hard to work with, and can make buttercream frosting melt. Cold cakes make less crumbs which will mean neater and easier icing. To make sure it is completely cold before you decorate it, leave it overnight in an airtight container

  • You're using the wrong recipe
    Sometimes you've just got to say its not you it's the recipe! If you've read through all these problems and you're still confused, then it's quite possible that the recipe you're following just isn't reliable. There are millions of recipes out there, and if the recipe is on an obscure website, in some random book noone has ever heard of, or has some bad reviews online, then it's probably not a very good one. The best recipes have all been tried, tested, and retested by many people before they are released into the world, so try to choose one from a well known source or one which has many good reviews

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions, advice, or can see anything I have missed out or got wrong please let me know! I love your feedback :)

Louise x