What Makes Pound Cakes Sag?

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Pound cakes get their name because traditionally they call for a pound each of flour, fat, eggs and sugar. While recipes have their variations, a well-made pound cake has the same result: buttery, moist and delicious. The perfect pound cake is all about technique. To get that perfect, buttery flavor and fine texture it comes down to proper ingredients, measuring and baking. If you don't get these right, your cake might sag.

Room Temperature Is Key

  • Room temperature ingredients yield more volume and allow you to incorporate more air into the batter. Without the right amount of air in your batter, your pound cake will be flat, dense and not have a crowned center. Take the butter, eggs and milk that you’ll be using out at least 30 to 60 minutes before mixing the cake to ensure they’re at room temperature.

Use the Right Ingredients

  • Never substitute ingredients in your pound cake recipe. If the recipe you’re using calls for cake flour, use cake flour. Cake flour yields a lighter texture and a taller cake. Substituting it with all-purpose flour could cause your cake to sag in the center. If you don’t have cake flour on hand, make your own by using 1 cup all-purpose flour, minus 2 tablespoons and 2 tablespoons cornstarch for every 1 cup of cake flour in your recipe. Be cautious about using store brand ingredients. Store brand sugar, for example, may be more finely ground, which means it yields more sugar by weight per cup -- which can cause a cake to sink in the center.

Measure Carefully

  • Too much leavening agent -- such as baking soda or baking powder -- can cause a cake to sag in the center. Too much sugar can also cause the cake to sag. Use measuring cups and spoons for every item -- don't guess or estimate.

Monitor Oven Temperature

  • If the oven temperature is too low, the pound cake won’t rise like it is supposed to -- leaving you with a sunken center. Preheat the oven before putting your cake in to bake. Use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is at the right temperature before you put the cake in.

Checking In Too Early

  • A cake baking in the oven relies on consistent heat. Opening the door causes a temperature change that can make the center of your pound cake to sink or sag. Avoid opening the door for the first 30 minutes of baking and if you can, use the oven light and peek through the glass door.

Mixing Too Much

  • While beating incorporates air into your batter, too much air can cause the cake to rise rapidly and then deflate. Only mix your ingredients according to the times in your recipe. Stick to the speed of mixing listed in your recipe as well, because mixing on high speed for three minutes adds more air than mixing on medium for three minutes.

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