Baking a pound cake requires patience, attention to detail, and a healthy dose of trial and error. Sometimes, even when we follow the recipe to a tee, we still find ourselves scratching our heads and asking: why did my pound cake run over?
If this happens to you, there are a few things you might’ve done wrong. Maybe you’ve overfilled the pan, overbeat the eggs, overmixed the butter, added too much leavening, or didn’t set the oven temperature hot enough.
Keep reading to learn about some of the culprits that cause your cake to overflow and how to avoid them in the future.
Pound cake is a classic dessert made with four primary ingredients: Butter, flour, sugar, and eggs. Its name comes from the traditional recipe, which called for a pound of each main ingredient.
A well-made pound cake is dense and moist, with a rich, buttery flavor. Modern variations of this dessert can have different flavors and call for slightly less than one pound of each ingredient for a more manageable-sized cake.
Some recipes also call for additional ingredients like vanilla extract and milk. However, the basic recipe of equal parts butter, flour, sugar, and eggs remains the same.
While the recipe is simple, creating the perfect pound cake can be tricky. One of the most common problems beginner bakers face is the cake spilling over the sides of the pan while baking.
So, why does this happen?
The cause of the problem can be as simple as you’re overfilling the pan. Sometimes, people use pans that are smaller or shallower than the recipe needs.
Pound cake rises during baking, so when you use a pan that’s too low, it’s likely that the batter will spill over the sides of the pan as it rises.
To avoid this, read the recipe carefully and use the correct pan size noted there. Additionally, even with the right pan size, experts recommend filling it up until ¾ full.
The oven’s temperature can affect how your pound cake turns out. When the temperature is too hot, the batter will set too quickly before it rises to the correct height.
On the other hand, if the temperature isn’t hot enough, the batter will rise too much without setting. This results in your cake collapsing in the middle or running over the sides of the pan.
You should set the oven temperature following the directions in the recipe to avoid this.
The pound cake batter is made using the creaming method, which involves beating butter and sugar for a few minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
The process incorporates air into the batter, which helps the cake rise during baking. Creaming the butter and sugar is crucial when making pound cake.
This is because these recipes usually don’t include leavening agents like baking powder or baking soda.
However, you shouldn’t overmix it as well. Mixing it too long or too fast can make the cake rise too much while baking, resulting in an overflow.
Overbeating eggs is another common mistake that can cause your pound cake to overflow. When you beat your eggs, you create air pockets in the mixture that help the cake rise.
Like overmixing butter and sugar, overbeating eggs can also result in your cake rising too much. Your cake will end up collapsing in the middle, having a domed top, or overflowing.
As we’ve mentioned, traditional pound cake recipes typically don’t include leavening agents like baking soda or baking powder. They usually rely on the creaming method to help the batter rise.
However, some recipes add baking powder to pound cakes as an insurance policy to ensure the cake isn’t too dense.
Nonetheless, too much leavening is bad news. It’s another possible reason why your cake runs over.
If you’ve made some of these common mistakes that led to your pound cake running over, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to avoid this frustrating baking disaster in the future.
Sometimes, when your cake runs over, you can easily cut around the edges and pipe it with frosting to cover the imperfections. The most annoying part when this happens is the mess the spilled batter makes in the oven.
To avoid the mess, experts recommend baking on top of a sheet pan. So, when your batter overflows from the loaf pan, it won’t drip down your oven.
Opening the oven door too soon can make the temperature drop inside the oven. Control the urge to open it until it’s time to check if your cake is done.
This will help maintain the right temperature in the oven and prevent your batter from rising too much.
You should cream your butter and sugar properly to make the perfect pound cake.
To do this right, mix the butter for a few minutes before adding sugar. The recommended time is around three to seven minutes or until the butter is fluffy and creamy.
Use the standard mixer attachment at medium speed to incorporate the air slowly. Next, when adding the sugar, do so gradually to keep the butter from deflating.
Lastly, mix the two ingredients just until they’re blended. Doing more than that will result in overmixing.
The best thing to do is add the eggs to the batter one by one. You can crack each egg in a small bowl first, so you can easily remove egg shells.
Once you’ve added an egg to the batter, mix it for 20-30 seconds just until the yolk has disappeared before adding the next egg.
Pound cake is a classic and delicious dessert, but it’s tricky to get right. If you’ve experienced a pound cake running over, you know how frustrating it can be.
Fortunately, if you follow these simple tips, you can avoid this baking mishap and enjoy a delicious, perfectly baked cake every time!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.