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How To Fix Undercooked Cake (That Is Too Moist)

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There’s no worse feeling for a baker than hearing the oven ding, then taking their cake out, letting it set for a bit, only to find out it’s undercooked. Luckily, there are many solutions that can still help you achieve the results you want.

To fix an undercooked cake, generally, you need to put it back into the oven for about 5 to 10 more minutes. Often, it can help to lower the temperature and cover the top of the cake with foil to prevent it from burning. Make sure to check on the cake frequently to avoid overcooking.

In this article, I’ll take you through a comprehensive guide of everything you need to know about preventing, dealing with, and fixing an undercooked cake.

How To Fix Undercooked Cake

A less-than-ideal cook on a cake can be caused by a variety of factors; therefore, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to fixing this problem.

Common ProblemsHow To Fix them
Undercooked as a wholeCan be easily fixed by leaving the cake in the oven for some additional minutes while checking frequently to avoid overbaking and drying out the cake.
When checking, try using the light instead of opening the oven door, otherwise, you risk your cake not rising evenly.
Undercooked in the bottomLower the cooking temperature and, if possible, switch to the oven setting that only provides heat from the bottom rack.
If your oven doesn’t have this setting or the top is too close to burning, you’ll need to cover the pan with foil. Leave for 5-10 additional minutes and check frequently to make adjustments as needed.
Undercooked in the middleLower the temperature and cover the top of the pan with foil until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Uneven cookSome ovens don’t distribute heat uniformly, leading to some patches being thoroughly cooked and some still raw. 
If this is the case, try rotating the pan in the oven so the whole surface has a chance to cook at an even rate. If you see half of the cake starting to border on overcooked, lower the heat and cover that half with foil.

Keep in mind that most of these solutions likely won’t yield the ideal results, as you’d still need to open and check on your cake frequently, preventing it from rising evenly. However, as long as you’re not baking on a professional level, the texture and the cake will still turn out excellent, making for a mouth-watering cake.

Additionally, if you’ve just put your cake in the oven, I suggest checking it every five to ten minutes regardless of whether it’s supposed to be done by that point or not. By doing so, you’ll be able to prevent any of these problems as you’ll quickly notice if the batter is browning too early or not early enough, allowing you to adjust the temperature as needed before it’s too late.

Although following the recipe to a tee is often advisable to yield the best results, this isn’t always true when it comes to cooking time and temperature, as every oven is different. Therefore, it’s crucial to monitor the whole process if you want your end result to be perfect.

Some of my “perfect” chocolate cake.

Can I Microwave Undercooked Cake?

You can microwave undercooked cake if it’s fresh out of the oven. Doing so can help it cook all the way through in some instances. However, if the sponge has already cooled down to or close to room temperature, microwaving it would simply dry it out instead of cooking it.

If you’ve just taken the pan out of the oven and noticed some of the batter not cooking all the way through, microwaving it for a few minutes might be an excellent solution to help it set. The exact time you’ll need to leave the cake in the microwave will depend on the size of your pan and the model of your equipment; therefore, keep a close eye on it during this process.

For those who don’t have access to a microwave, it is possible to achieve a similar result using an oven as long as you make sure to significantly lower the temperature and cover the top of the pan with foil. Otherwise, your sponge will dry out, and there’s no guarantee that any amount of syrup will bring back its moistness. 

However, as some home bakers report, microwaving your sponge to help it set usually works better than putting it back into the oven.

However, if the cake has already cooled down, microwaving or subjecting it to any form of additional heat would do more harm than good.

Can You Fix a Sunken Cake?

Sunken cakes are one of the most common problems that bakers of all levels struggle with, and they’re not always easy to detect. You can take the most perfectly level cake out of the oven, only to find out it has sunken during the cooling process. 

Fortunately, there are several ways you can fix, or at least conceal, a sunken cake, including covering it with frosting or transforming your original cake into a filled cake or cake pops and other crumble-like desserts.

Cover With Frosting

This is probably the most intuitive solution. If you have enough frosting on hand and the cake hasn’t sunken too much, you can use it to make the sponge level again. Not only will your cake look good as new and ready to decorate, but the extra frosting can also improve its taste and texture, providing the sponge with longer-lasting moisture.

However, make sure your frosting isn’t too heavy or sweet, as you still want your end product to be light and airy. 

Make a Filled Cake

If the hollow space created inside the cake is too deep to fill out with frosting, try out a different textural and flavor profile; go for a filled cake. Many bakers hollow out their sponges intentionally to achieve this delightful variation; luckily, in your case, most of the work is already done for you.

Depending on the flavor of the sponge and the frosting, you can choose between a wide range of fillings, including sprinkles (for a funfetti cake), jams (for vanilla or black forest cake), lemon curd, and chocolate ganache (for an indulgent, triple-chocolate cake).

Turn the Cake Into Crumble

Worse comes to worst, if your cake’s shape is unusable for any layered design, you can still turn it into another mouth-watering dessert. Given that sunken cake still tastes amazing, you can make crumbles out of it and use them to make cake pops (by combining the crumbles with the frosting) or truffles. 

You can also add them to a milkshake or smoothie or fold them into ice cream for the ultimate dessert.

How To Check When a Cake Is Done

You can check when a cake is done by inserting a toothpick in the middle and seeing if it comes out clean. Additionally, you can tell a cake is done when the edges start pulling away from the pan and the sponge springs back to the touch. For a more accurate reading, you can use a food thermometer.

Checking a Sponge Cake for Doneness With a Toothpick
A tried and true method.

There are several ways to check when your cake is done; therefore, I suggest trying out each to determine which method (or combination of methods) works best for you.

The first cue a cake will give you once it has fully cooked through is its smell. A fragrant aroma that hovers over the line between batter and burnt will alert you before anything else that the cake has finished cooking. However, smell is an unreliable indicator when it comes to taking your cake out of the oven at the right time, especially for beginners.

Most home cooks can tell the doneness of a cake by looking at it. The sponge is fully cooked when the surface has turned a golden hue, and the edges have started pulling away from the tin. Overall, the cake should have a matte finish.

If you’re still unsure, you can try a touch test. The sponge’s surface should be soft but dry to the touch. Additionally, it should be able to spring back when pushed gently because if your fingers leave dents on it, the cake will still be underbaked no matter how matte its finish is.

However, the most fool-proof method to check when a cake is done remains the toothpick test. There’s a reason why bakers of all levels often prefer this approach, as it’s arguably the most reliable. Take a toothpick or knife and put it in the center of the sponge; if they come out clean, the cake will be ready to be taken out of the oven.

Lastly, those looking for the most precise results can use a food thermometer, although I don’t think it’s necessary. If you choose this approach, always opt for an instant-read thermometer, as keeping the oven door open for minutes on end can negatively affect your cake’s bake. 

If the thermometer reads between 200 °F to 210 °F (93.3 °C to 99 °C), your cake should be cooked through.

Why Are My Cakes Not Cooking in the Middle?

Your cakes aren’t cooking in the middle either because you’ve filled the pan too much, set the temperature too high, added too much baking powder, or haven’t left the sponge inside the oven long enough. Additionally, sometimes it’s the oven that doesn’t work properly, leading to an uneven bake.

Here are some other reasons why your cake is not cooking in the middle:

  • The cake hasn’t been baking long enough. If the middle of your cake isn’t cooked all the way through, the first thing you need to do is leave it for some additional minutes using the method I explained in the first section. 
  • You’ve overfilled the pan. When overfilling the pan, it’s harder for heat to reach the center of the cake, leaving it undercooked.
  • The temperature is too high. Setting the temperature too high can burn the cake’s surface while leaving the inside runny and undercooked.
  • You’ve added too much baking powder. Adding more baking powder than necessary will lead to over-rising, which means the pan will be filled too much for its capacity, leading to the same problem I previously explained.

Although chances are you won’t be able to get a perfect bake, by covering the pan with foil and lowering the temperature, you’ll ensure the cake will cook through without burning. However, if you’re using a commercial home oven, there’s a high chance the uneven cook is caused by the equipment itself.

Therefore, I suggest experimenting to learn your oven’s hot and cold spots and rotating the pan throughout the cooking process as necessary.

How To Prevent Undercooked Cakes

Three Pieces of Undercooked Chocolate Cake on a Plate
There is a such thing as too moist.

Here are several measures you can take to prevent an undercooked cake:

  • Follow the recipe to a tee. By adding each ingredient as intended, you’re giving yourself the best chances of creating a texturally perfect end result.
  • Adjust the oven temperature as necessary. As I mentioned, the only part of a recipe you want to adjust is the cooking temperature. Each oven is different; therefore, it’s best to learn how to use yours to optimize its performance.
  • Keep an eye on your cake. By frequently checking the bake, you’ll be able to slow down or speed up the cooking process as necessary. Additionally, if your oven has hot spots, you’ll want to rotate the pan from time to time.

Can You Save an Undercooked Cheesecake?

You can save an undercooked cheesecake. You have the best chances of doing so when the cheesecake is fresh out of the oven, as you can promptly put it back to bake for some additional minutes. If the dessert has cooled down, you’ll need to try letting it rest or putting it in a water bath.

If you’ve noticed your cheesecake is underbaked after it has cooled down, the first approach you can take is to let it rest as these types of desserts continue to cook even when they’re out of the oven. After they’re done cooking, they still need to be refrigerated overnight to fully set; therefore, a slight sign of undercooking isn’t always a cause for worry.

Using a water bath to fully cook a cheesecake is an excellent, highly-efficient method. Here you can learn more about how this process works.

Can You Get Food Poisoning From an Undercooked Cake?

It is possible to get food poisoning from an undercooked cake, but it’s not likely. The risk of eating undercooked cake depends on the internal temperature it has reached in the oven and the quality of ingredients used in the batter.

Given that most cakes are made out of flour and eggs, cooking them through is essential to ensure your dessert is entirely safe to eat. However, if the ideal internal temperature for cakes, as I’ve mentioned, is around 200 °F to 210 °F (93.3 °C to 99 °C), most harmful bacteria are killed at 160 °F (71.1 °C). This means that slightly undercooked cakes are still likely safe to eat.

However, if you want absolute peace of mind, I suggest always using pasteurized eggs and heat-treated flour.

Final Thoughts

If your cake has turned out undercooked, there’s no need to worry, as there’s no shortage of simple, effective ways to still get the fluffiest, most delicious cake possible.

For more, don’t miss Does Cake Need to Be Refrigerated? | How to Store All Types.

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