They say baking the perfect cake is a talent – not a skill; I, for one, haven’t quite mastered the art yet, as my cakes still sometimes turn out greasy. Have you ever wondered why your cake is greasy?
A cake turns out greasy at the top, middle, or sides due to different reasons. These reasons vary between the temperature of ingredients, the lining of the cake tin, and the actual mixing process. There are some precautions one can follow to avoid ending up with a greasy cake.
If you want to improve your baking skills next time ‘round with a lip-smacking, grease-free poundcake, or loaf cake, stay tuned.
Why Did My Cake End Up Greasy?
A cake ends up greasy on the top, in the middle, or at the sides because of different reasons:
1 – The Ingredients Are Not at Room Temperature
If your ingredients are not at room temperature, you might end up with a greasy cake. The temperature of the butter, for one, is extremely important.
Butter that’s too cold will not sufficiently cream when mixed with sugar. The opposite is also not ideal: butter that’s too soft will turn into an oily mess during the mixing process.
Eggs should also be at room temperature; otherwise, the mixture will curdle, resulting in a greasy cake.
2 – You Used Too Much Butter or Fat
All recipes are carefully prepared, most by seasoned bakers. If you add more butter to your mixture than stipulated in the recipe, your cake will turn out oily and greasy.
Sometimes, the reason for your greasy cake might just be that you’ve used too much butter or fat to grease the tin. Applying a thick layer of grease to the baking tin will lead to more oil on top or too much crispness on the edges of your cake.
3 – There Is Not Enough Gluten in Your Mixture
Gluten plays a vital role in the overall structure of a cake. Without gluten, there is nothing to support the air and height of the cake, which will lead to your cake falling and sometimes turning out greasy.
4 – Something Went Wrong with the Mixing Process
If you overbeat the ingredients or beat them at too high a speed, the heat generated by the mixer will overheat the mixture.
The sugar and butter mixture can also start to liquify if they are overmixed; overmixing will result in the butter becoming too soft, which will, in turn, lead to a greasier cake.
5 – You Substituted Butter with Oil
According to The Spruce Eats, emulsify means ‘to combine two ingredients that do not ordinarily mix easily.’ The ingredients, in this case, are sugar, butter, and eggs.
Some recipes are delicate, and if you use oil instead of butter, the emulsion process can quickly go wrong as it might prove difficult to incorporate eggs into the oil properly. The result is quite often a curdled mixture leading to a greasy cake.
How Can I Avoid Ending Up With a Greasy Cake?
November, 26th is National Cake Day: it’s just around the corner! If you’re passionate about baking, then this is the perfect day for surprising your friends and family with a delicious home-cake that’s not greasy.
How am I going to achieve this, you might ask?
- Plan ahead by taking out all cold ingredients from the fridge a few hours before you start baking. You can even put chilled eggs in warm (not boiled) water if you are pressed for time.
- Follow the recipe to the tee. If you add more butter than necessary, you will probably end up with a greasy cake.
- Don’t over-grease your baking tin. Less is more. Consider using parchment paper or baking spray instead.
- Add enough gluten, or else your cake will turn out either flat or greasy or both. If you are baking a gluten-free cake, be sure to compensate by adding an extra ingredient (egg, xanthan-gum, ground chia/flax, etc.) to support the cake’s structure.
- Never overmix the sugar and butter. It will make the mixture too runny.
Undermixing them will also pose problems as it will make your cake too dense. You should beat your butter and sugar for 2 to 3 minutes at a moderate speed.
- Never substitute one ingredient with another unless the recipe states otherwise. For instance, if you replace butter with oil, your cake will for sure turn out too oil.
For instance, in Nigella’s polenta cake, she warns not to replace polenta with ground almonds as this decision will result in only one thing: a greasy cake.
How to Soften Butter to Avoid a Greasy Cake
Butter is undoubtedly one of the most essential ingredients when it comes to baking a delicious butter cake or pound cake. For a non-greasy cake, though, there are certain things you should know and do before throwing your butter into a bowl.
Any recipe needs softened butter. While the sugar grains move through the fat of the butter, it produces air bubbles.
It’s these air bubbles that ensure your cake turns out fluffy. But when the butter is not soft enough, the air bubbles will not form, or they will collapse.
Soft butter should easily dent when you press it while still holding its shape. You should remove butter at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before using it, as you should always use it at room temperature.
A quicker method to soften butter involves popping it into the microwave, but this often turns into a disaster; you’ll know what I mean. Other alternatives for softening up butter are the following:
- Roll it with a rolling pin or pound on it with a meat pounder. The friction will warm it up.
- Warm it up in a bowl over a saucepan filled with heated water.
- Grate it with the largest holes on your cheese grater.
- Cut it. By cutting it into cubes and leaving it near a warming stove, you will have softened butter in no time.
Whether you’re the next Nigella or Duff Goldman, have the learned skills or the natural talent, ending up with a greasy cake is always possible.
But practice makes perfect, so if you respect your ingredients, follow the recipe, and treat butter like a princess, the only grease you’ll need to worry about is the grease stuck on the baking utensils.
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.