How to Fix Dry Cake

Dry cake is every baker's worst nightmare. Learn how to fix dry cake and how to keep this common cake mistake from ever happening in your kitchen.

When done right, cake is the best kind of dessert: it’s moist, flavorful and piled high with your favorite frosting. However, not every cake turns out perfect. Sometimes the worst happens when making a cake: It turns out dry. Yikes! But learning how to fix dry cake isn’t hard to do. Check out the easiest fixes for dry cake and how to prevent this common cake mistake from happening in the first place.

How to Prevent Dry Cakes

The easiest way to fix dry cake is not to make one in the first place! There are a few steps you can follow to ensure that your cakes turn out perfectly moist.

  • Check your oven temperature: Bakes often turn out dry because the oven is just too hot. Use an oven thermometer to ensure that when you program your oven to 350ºF, it actually is 350ºF.
  • Measure your flour correctly: Cakes can become dry when you add too much flour. Make sure you’re measuring flour correctly so you’re not accidentally adding too much. Weighing your ingredients is the most accurate way to measure.
  • Follow the recipe: While you can make some easy baking substitutions, never omit important ingredients entirely. Ingredients like milk, sour cream, oil and eggs give your cake batter moisture, so don’t cut back on them or omit them.
  • Mix your ingredients properly: While it’s important not to overmix cake batter (overworked batter can make for a chewy, tough cake), it’s also crucial to mix the ingredients until well combined. If your batter is blended properly, it can cause your cake to bake unevenly and come out dry.
  • Don’t overbake: Seems simple, right? If a recipe says to bake a cake for 25 to 30 minutes, start keeping an eye on it at the 20-minute mark. If it looks golden brown or firm, give it a quick test with a toothpick.
  • Use the right size pan: Make sure you’re using the correct pan for your recipe. Cakes baked in pans too large for the amount of batter can be dry. You can swap out pan sizes in baking, however, keep an eye on the clock. Bakes made in different pans can take less time to bake. Watch the clock.

How to Fix Dry Cake After Its Baked

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a cake turns out dry. But these cakes are not a lost cause! Here’s what you can do to fix the problem after the cake is out of the oven.

  • Brush on a simple syrup: If you find your cake is a little dry, an easy fix is to brush syrup over the top of the cake. Simple syrup adds moisture and sweetness to any dry cake. You can also add a touch of flavor to this syrup with extracts or a squeeze of juice.
  • Use a milk soak: If your cake is already fairly sweet, try brushing on a milk soak the way Christina Tosi does with her signature confetti cake. To make a milk soak, just grab some milk and add in a small amount of vanilla extract (or almond or whatever flavor you like). Brush this over the top of your cakes with a pastry brush to give it instant moisture and flavor.
  • Turn it into a trifle: When all else fails, you can turn a dry cake into a trifle. With plenty of cream, fruit and liqueur, trifles add instant moisture and flavor to any cake mistake.

Making a perfect cake is easy—just measure correctly, watch the clock and don’t skimp on those moisture-adding ingredients! And remember: If you slip up, there are some simple remedies to get you back on track for dessert perfection.

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.