My cakes are too dense

Hi, Bakers,

I’m looking for a good vanilla cake recipe from scratch – I’ve tried several, but for some reason, the texture of my cakes always seem too dense. The flavor is great, but I can’t quite get the texture right.

I’ve tried All Purpose Flour, Cake Flour, sifting, not sifting, measuring exactly as the recipe indicates, having all ingredients at room temperature, using ingredients out of the refrigerator, etc. – but the end result is still a cake that is too dense and flourey (probably not a word)!

Is there a special trick to making scratch cakes that rise and are nice and light?

I’ll welcome all advice!

:))))

DJ - Fun Fiesta Cakes

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9 Replies

Nikki Belleperche ...

I’m not really knowledgeable with some of the science of baking but maybe trying a different fat in your recipe? I read an article while back comparing using butter vs oil vs shortening (and I think there was one more item they tried). Some of the cakes turned out more light and some turned out more dense. I wish I could remember which ingredient did which! But it might be worth looking into? If I come across it again I will post it for sure!

Elisa Colon ...

Try adding a cup of Yoplait Vanilla yogurt and a small box of vanilla instant pudding…. This will affect your moistness in a yummy way!

3DSweets ...

I would agree with CorpseQueen on checking the fat. Butter tends to make a denser cake unless you whip the heck out of it, but of course it tastes better than shortening. (Can’t speak to using oil in a yellow cake, haven’t done it.) However, I’d definitely look at your acid/base ratios. It’s possible that you need to adjust by adding a bit of baking soda if you’ve got acids in there such as sour cream, lemon juice, etc.

You can also spend a little more time beating in your eggs; a couple of minutes each on a stand mixer adds a ton of air and helps incorporate the ingredients. Finally, you can try splitting when you add the eggs: beat yolks into butter/sugar and then fold in the whipped egg whites.

Good luck!

Maria @ RooneyGirl BakeShop ...

I have developed my own recipes and I use canola oil almost exclusively in all my cakes (no butter, no shortening) because it yields a moister cake. You might want to try to check the ratio of your leavening to the flour. You have to be sure it is 1 tsp of baking powder per cup of flour used in the recipe (or if using baking soda – you need only 1/4 tsp soda per cup of flour. When recipes say to alternate flour and liquid when adding to the mixing bowl, I will add all the flour in at once, mix it slowly until the flour is incorporated, then add the liquid slowly, stopping and starting the mixer to let it incorporate. I do this because this lets the flour mix with the oil and get coated, thus preventing the gluten from developing too much. Just barely mix at the end until the flour and liquid (in my case, I amost always use buttermilk exclusively) are incorporated into the cake and then stop mixing, you are done.
Hope this helps – I learned this from a book called Bakewise which I know some people live by and others hate but it totally works for me and my clients love my cakes’ taste and texture. good luck.

Nikki Belleperche ...

I found the article I mentioned! Someone posted it on fb again :P
http://www.thecakeblog.com/2012/05/is-butter-better.html

Hope you have had some luck with this!

Tiffany Palmer ...

I use sour cream and milk in my cake recipes, definitely yields a moister cake I think. I have not found the perfect vanilla cake recipe yet though. I hear a lot of great things about sweetapolitas vanilla cake recipe though, maybe give that one a try?

Wicked Goodies ...

Make sure your ingredients are all at room temperature when you mix – eggs, butter, milk, and all. Cold ingredients will prevent the batter from properly aerating during the mixing stage.

Test your leavener to make sure it’s still active. Test baking soda by adding vinegar and baking powder by adding water. If the mixture fizzes, the leavener is still good. If not, buy a fresh new can/box.

If you are doing anything that involves folding with the batter, careful not to overmix.

Hope this helps :)

Fun Fiesta Cakes ...

Thank you all so much. I appreciate all the advice – will put it all to good use!