Finding your cake dry and crumbly after spending all that time baking can be truly disappointing. Thing is, at this point, you would’ve done everything right and your cake would’ve even risen properly and you would’ve taken that big breath of relief, only to find that the texture’s not right.
Now don’t be too disappointed yet, more importantly, don’t you dare throw away all your hard work because there are ways to save it. You can soak your cake, reheat it, and if all else fails, make a trifle with it.
I’m Angie. I’m a self-taught baker who’s been baking for over 10 years. To me, serving dry cake is a crime that I refuse to partake in. Over the years, I’ve discovered ways to save my cakes when they come out of the oven dry, and I’m excited to share these tips with you!
Now let’s get baking!
1. Soak It
The most common way to moisten a cake after baking is by soaking it in a liquid. Think Tres Leches, but less soaked!
This is a trick practiced by a lot of professional bakers regardless of whether or not the cake turned out too dry. When you have orders coming at you left right and center, most of us have a bunch of sponges made ahead of time to be efficient.
Making cakes ahead of time means having to store them. Storing cakes means they will dry out. That’s why a sweet sugar syrup is generally brushed on or drizzled over every layer of cake to give it that extra bit of moisture and flavor.
Making a simple syrup cake soak is, well, simple. All you need is a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water, brought to a simmer on medium to high heat or until all the sugar has fully dissolved.
I suggest starting with ½ a cup of sugar and ½ cup of water if you’re making an 8-inch multilayer cake and scale up and down based on this amount.
Remember, you don’t need a lot, only two to three tablespoons per layer. Your cake already contains enough sugar so you want to add just enough syrup to moisten the cake without making it overly sweet.
If you’re like me and are against adding the extra sugar to your already sweet cake, try using a milk-based soak. I learned this trick from the one and only Christina Tosi, founder and CEO of New York’s renowned bakery Milk Bar.
Instead of simple syrup, milkbar cake recipes always come with a “milk/cake soak”. The basic cake soak for their famous birthday cake is a vanilla milk which consists of nothing but a few drops of vanilla mixed with milk.
I like this method a lot because you can easily change up the flavor of your milk soak to better bring out the flavor of your cake. For example, I would use a coffee milk soak for my chocolate cake to intensify the chocolate flavor.
Evenly dampen each of your cake layers with two to three tablespoons of your milk soak with a squeeze bottle or brushing it on with a pastry brush.
2. Reheat It
Reheating your cake is another way to make it moister. This is because when your cake is reheated, air pockets inside it expand which gives moisture another chance to reach inside.
Also, if your cake contains a lot of butter or chocolate, heating it will lead these ingredients to melt, softening and moistening the texture of your cake again.
Steaming is an obvious way to go about adding moisture to anything. When it comes to baking, cakes that are steam baked always retain moisture way better than a regular cake does.
To steam-bake a cake you want to first preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. fill a tray with water and place it on the bottom rack in your oven. Since air travel upwards, the steam created from the water evaporating will move up and fill the pockets in your cake.
You want to make sure to place your cake in a tray or an oven-safe plate before steaming it so that the barrier is there to prevent your cake bottom from getting too soggy. Leave it in for about five to ten minutes and before you know it, you’ll have a moist cake.
A quicker way to moisten your cake is by reheating it with a microwave. This will save you time preheating your oven. All you need is a paper towel and a plate to hold your cake.
First, dampen your paper towel and lay it on your microwave-safe plate. Place your cake on top and place another dampen paper towel on top of your cake, sandwiching it.
Now all you need to do is to “nuke” it a few times in 10-15 seconds intervals, checking between each time to make sure nothing is browning or burning.
The only downside to this method is the moistened effect will only last for a short while after you microwave it. So use this method just before you serve your cake for the best results.
3. Make a Trifle
If you’ve tried it all but still feel that your cake is too dry to be salvaged, you can always cut your cake sponge into smaller bite-sized pieces and use it to make a trifle!
There are lots of delicious liquids in the trifle and your dry or somewhat stale sponge will soak up all of those flavors and become moist again. I promise you, no one will know your cake was dry in the first place.
Here’s an easy vanilla berry cake trifle recipe for you to try out. Instead of vanilla cake, just swap it to whatever cake you’ve made!
Here I’ll answer some commonly asked questions about moistening cake.
What makes cake dry and crumbly?
Baking the cake for too long or at a temperature too high will result in your cake getting dry and crumbly. Not using enough wet ingredients such as oil, butter, eggs, sugar, and milk can also make your cake dry.
What ingredient makes a cake moist?
Wet ingredients in your cake make it moist. Fat, eggs, sugar, and any liquid or pureed fruit you add to your cake are all considered wet ingredients.
Will cake go dry in the fridge?
Generally speaking, your cake will go dry in the fridge. You can, however, slow down the drying by putting your cake in an airtight container or wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap before putting it in the fridge.
Moist, is a word that’s only acceptable when used to describe cakes. In fact, no one should eat cake that’s NOT moist.
If for some reason you failed to make your cake moist, you should know by now that there’s no need to panic. Just try one of the methods above to moisten your cake and you’ll be serving moist cake in no time.
Have you tried any of these methods? Which one’s been your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.About Angie