How To Keep Cakes Moist
There is nothing worse to a baker than spending hours baking a delicious cake and having it come out dry. Especially when you are on a tight schedule or baking for someone else!
More often than not, we have heard people throw out the failed attempt and start from scratch. Not only is that wasting time, but also wasting money!
So, how do you save dry cake then? It is actually much simpler than you think! First, you can brush the cake layers with some simple syrup or fruit juice. This will directly add moisture and also soften the hard texture. Then, you can also use a moist filling and even frost the entire cake. Frosting the outside will help trap the moisture inside.
Today, we will not only be looking at the many ways you can moisten and soften a hard and dry cake but also how you can completely prevent it from happening!
Why Do Cakes Dry Out?
Cakes can dry out during a few stages of the cake-making process. The first has to do with the actual recipe you use and the entire mixing process. The second is when the cake is being baked, and the final is when the cake is stored.
If care isn’t taken during any one of these points or stages, then you will be left with a cake catastrophe!
When it comes to cake recipes, there are a few key factors that will affect the moisture in the cake batter (and ultimately the cake texture).
When there aren’t enough wet ingredients, your cake will be very dense and dry. This is also why it is crucial to accurately measure out your ingredients.
Now, cakes can obviously dry out during the baking process. This usually happens when a cake has been baking for far too long or when it has been baked at too high temperatures.
Both of these situations naturally will remove moisture, but the key is to control how much is removed.
And finally, your cake will dry out if you don’t correctly store it. Cakes can either be stored at room temperature, inside of the fridge, or even in the freezer.
But, there are a few factors that naturally dry out the baked cake. This is mainly oxygen (that makes the cake go stale) and a lack of humidity (like in a fridge).
So, you always need to take these things into consideration to completely prevent your cake from even becoming dry.
How To Prevent Cakes From Getting Hard And Dry
We have broken down every element to prevent dry and hard cake. By applying these tips, you don’t have to worry about trying to fix it later on!
Check Your Recipe And Measure Ingredients Accurately
First, you have to measure your ingredients accurately, especially the wet ingredients. Your moisture to dry ingredient ratio should be perfect to get a nice batter that isn’t too runny or too thick.
This ratio can also be affected when you use the wrong eggs. If a recipe calls for a specific size, you have to use it. If the recipe doesn’t specify at all, then you can assume that it is large eggs.
Naturally, different sizes have different volumes and will affect the moisture content of your cake batter.
Do Not Bake At Extremely High Temperatures
Now, most cakes bake between 320-350°F (160-180°C).
So, if your specific recipe calls for a temperature outside of this range, then you might want to go research similar ones. Just to make sure that the specific cake does actually have to bake at a higher or lower temperature.
Furthermore, you can test the temperature of your oven to make sure it is accurate. Some ovens, especially older ones, don’t produce stable oven temperatures.
So, you can test them by placing an oven-proof thermometer inside. You can then easily make any adjustments on the temperature dial to get the correct temperature reading on the thermometer.
Do Not Overbake The Cake
The time specified on a recipe is a fantastic indication of how long the cake will bake, but, it isn’t necessarily set in stone. Sometimes your oven’s temperatures fluctuate which will affect the baking time of the cake.
The size of your cake and the thickness will also have an effect. The thicker the cake is, the longer it will have to bake. And, the bigger the cake is (in diameter), the longer it will take to completely bake too.
Always check the doneness of the cake 10 minutes before the recommended baking time to ensure you don’t overbake it.
Store Your Cake Correctly
This is critical! If you don’t store your cake correctly after it has been baked and decorated, it will dry out.
Regardless of whether you are storing it in the fridge or at room temperature, you have to place it inside an airtight container.
When storing it in the freezer, it will naturally be a little drier when you thaw it. However, if you thaw it slowly in the fridge overnight, it will keep the majority of its moisture.
How To Make Dry Cakes Moist Again
So, if you weren’t able to prevent a dry cake, luckily there are still a few ways you can save it!
Brush It With A Syrup
This is a trick all bakers and bakeries use to make a cake moist. And, it also helps hide a dry texture.
Simply combine one part of the sugar with two parts of water and allow the sugar to completely dissolve. Then, brush it over the pre-frosted cake layers and make sure it soaks through.
After you have brushed the cake with simple syrup, you can continue frosting and decorating it as you would like.
And, if you don’t have the time to make a simple syrup, you can also brush the cake layers with milk or fruit juice. We actually regularly use fruit juice for our dry cakes as it also helps add more flavor.
Use A Moist Filling
This is another great way to add moisture to the entire bite instead of just the cake part. Use a filling or frosting that is very soft and creamy or just simply moist.
This can be anything from a jam, custard, whipped cream, meringue, or a soft buttercream frosting.
While these won’t help the actual texture of the cake, they will help to add moisture to every bite. Not to mention an additional delicious flavor!
Frost Your Entire Cake
This is more to help prevent further loss of moisture than it is to entirely fix it. Once you have applied some of our other tricks, definitely try and frost the entire cake to help lock in the moisture.
Using a buttercream frosting all around the cake will help keep the inside from being exposed to oxygen, which dries out the cake. If you don’t like the look of a regular frosted cake, there are a ton of beautiful ways you can decorate it.
These decorations can even just be done using frosting! However, you can also add sprinkles, candies, and chocolate garnishes.
How To Make Hard Cakes Soft Again
The hard cake is usually a step further than dry. When a cake loses too much moisture, it becomes stale and harder in texture.
This is extremely unappealing and you also instantly lose flavor! Here, there are also a few ways you can soften the texture of the cake.
The best way to soften hard cake is to brush some water, milk, of juice over the cake layer. Then, bake it in the cake for about 15 minutes at 350°F (180°C).
Another way is to steam the cake to essentially add moisture back into it. You can use a regular steamer or make a DIY one at home.
Place a wire rack inside of a roasting tray, fill the tray with a little bit of simmering water, then place the cake inside (it shouldn’t touch the water). Then, leave the cake to rest for a couple of minutes with a lid on.
And finally, once your cake comes out of the oven and you can already tell that it is too dry, immediately wrap the entire cake inside of its pan in a towel. This will help create steam that gets trapped inside and moistens the cake.
What Can You Do With Cake That Is Just Too Dry?
If the cake is beyond saving, luckily there are still some things you can do with it. The first is to turn it into a tiramisu. This dessert literally uses soaked cake! This will help moisten it and prevent you from throwing away your hard work.
The second use for dry cake is to make cake crumbs. These crumbs can be used as a garnish or coated in chocolate to make bite-sized treats.
To dry out cakes, break them into smaller pieces and bake them in the oven on low heat (280°F) until they become completely dry. Then, you can sue them as-is or break them apart even further.
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