How to Prevent Cupcakes From Sinking in the Middle

The tiny holes or spaces in cupcakes are caused by air bubbles. Photo by SliceOfChic.


It’s always disappointing when a baking project doesn’t go as planned, but when you’re baking for a wedding, a birthday party or some other event, a problem with your cupcakes can be an absolute disaster.


One of the most common problems with cupcakes is sinking in the middle, so we thought we’d do an entire blog post about preventing sinking and how to fix cupcakes that sank in the middle.


Why Do Cupcakes Sink in the Middle?


To understand why cupcakes sink, you first need to think about the cake itself. When you take a bite of a cupcake and look at its consistency, you’ll notice that the cake isn’t solid. There is space between the tiny pieces of cake that make up the cupcake. This space is what gives cupcakes a fluffy texture, and it forms in the cupcakes due to the presence of air bubbles.


Cupcake mixes and recipes typically contain baking powder, which causes a reaction with the other ingredients in the recipe and produces air bubbles. As they bake, the air bubbles rise to the surface all around the cake, giving the cupcakes a light consistency. If your cupcakes aren’t strong enough, the force of the air bubbles rising can cause them to collapse.


Preventing Cupcakes from Sinking in the Middle


Cupcakes can sink for one of two reasons, and fortunately, it’s rather easy to prevent both.


– Get your batter to the right consistency. For cupcake batter to be strong enough to stand up to the rising air bubbles, it must be the right thickness. You want your batter to be thick enough to not easily pour, but still thin enough to be spoon-able. Make sure that you mix your batter enough. If it seems to wet, add a little flour, and if it seems to dry, add a little water to the bowl.


– Check for done-ness. Before you take your cupcakes out of the oven, insert clean toothpicks into the centers of one or two cakes. You want the toothpick to come out clean, as this is an indication that the cupcakes are cooked through. If you take the cupcakes out too soon, the centers will not be strong enough to support the tops as they cool, which leads to sinking.


How to Fix Cupcakes that Sunk in the Middle


Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to make the middles rise once they’ve sunk, but you can disguise the problem. If the sinking is not prominent, ice the middle with butter cream to level the cupcakes. For very noticeable sinking, spoon out the middles and fill them with icing, jam or fruit filling. No one will suspect you had a kitchen mishap.

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