Baking a cake for a special occasion is a common thing to do, and it’s fun to make delicious homemade cakes that you can share with your loved ones.
If you’re kind of new to baking, it’s normal to make mistakes from time to time. When baking a cake in particular, things can go wrong if you make a few mistakes that might throw the entire cake off.
What does it mean when the cake comes out of the oven and it’s very sticky on top? Is that an indication that you did something wrong?
Continue reading to learn why this happens and what to do to get better results in the future.
You Covered the Cake Before it Fully Cooled
Typically, having a cake that is sticky on top is related to what you did after the cake finished baking rather than something going wrong during the baking process.
If you don’t allow the cake to cool down after baking it, you’re making a mistake. You see, some inexperienced bakers might think that covering the cake quickly after it gets out of the oven is a good idea.
It’s likely that you want to cover it for good reasons. You might be trying to prevent your cats from messing with it while it’s on the counter or you might be paranoid about bugs.
Covering the cake before it has fully cooled will be a poor choice. This will trap moisture in the container or inside the covering.
The trapped moisture will cause the top of the cake to become rather sticky. This can make it difficult to frost the cake without tearing it a bit.
Allow the cake to cool before you cover it with aluminum foil or place it in some type of container. You don’t want to accidentally make things harder on yourself by causing the top of it to become sticky.
Use a Cooling Rack
Using a cooling rack to dry the cake is a very good idea. You can remove the cake from the pan and place it on a cooling rack.
This gives it a chance to cool off completely. It’ll ensure that you can wrap it without having to worry about moisture issues.
Cooling racks will come in handy for many different reasons. You’ll wind up using a cooling rack for many purposes outside of allowing cakes to cool.
One potential issue with using a cooling rack to cool your cake is that it might take some of the moisture away from the cake, and you do want it to have a moist quality.
This can be remedied by brushing the cake with some type of sugar syrup. That will ensure that it’s very moist and ready to be eaten.
Of course, you’ll also likely frost the cake. Buying a cooling rack is worth the money and it’ll help you to get better results if you bake things often.
It’s great that you can get cooling racks without spending much cash. Go buy one at a department store or order one online.
The Cake Wasn’t Baked Long Enough
Sometimes cakes might be a bit sticky if they aren’t baked long enough. You always want to ensure that you bake them for the right amount of time so that they’ll turn out properly.
Check the recipe that you’re following and see how long the cake is supposed to bake. Did you take it out of the oven a bit too soon?
Ideally, the cake should bake for the amount of time that’s recommended in the recipe. When it’s done baking, the sides of it should be slightly pulled away from the pan.
When the cake is sticky on the surface, it could be an indication that you needed to let it bake for just a bit longer. Perhaps you didn’t set the time right or the temperature was a bit off.
Sometimes the temperature in your oven will be a bit different than what you set it to. You can determine the true temperature of the oven by using an oven thermometer.
If your oven is accurate, then you simply need to be sure to use a timer to bake the cake for the proper amount of time. Take it out when it’s done and all should be fine.
Why Is My Cake Gooey on Top?
What about when your cake comes out of the oven and it’s gooey on top? When this occurs, you’re likely unsure what is going on.
Cakes can be a bit gooey on top or they might have damp streaks on the top. This happens when the cake settles after it finishes baking.
This is a regular occurrence when you’re baking pound cakes. With most types of cake, having a gooey top is a sign that you made a mistake.
You likely creamed the butter, sugar, and eggs too much. It’s best to take things slowly when creaming the butter, sugar, and eggs to avoid overdoing it.
When using an electric hand mixer, you’ll want to use a speed setting that is no higher than medium. Cream the ingredients together slowly and then gently fold everything into the dry ingredients.
If you do things right, it’ll be less likely that you’ll have your cake turn out with a gooey top. It’s mostly about being patient and taking the time to do things carefully.
What Causes Cakes to Sink in the Middle?
A cake sinking in the middle is a completely different problem. This can be one of the most frustrating issues to have with a cake.
Generally, a sunken center is a sign that you used too much baking powder. Using more baking powder than usual likely caused the cake to rise fast and then deflate.
The cake wound up deflating in the middle and that’s why it appears to be sunken. It’s possible that something else could have gone wrong, too.
For instance, you could have caused the cake to fall in the middle by opening the oven. Opening the oven door during the wrong time can lead to this common problem.
Cold air will enter the oven and cause the cake to collapse. This is something that you want to avoid doing if you wish for your cake to turn out properly.
You shouldn’t open the door to look at the cake until the last 10 minutes or so of its baking time. Be patient and try not to open the oven door at an inopportune time.
What Causes Cakes to Crack?
Cakes will crack when you bake them too fast. You might have baked it at a higher temperature than you’re supposed to.
Trying to bake a cake faster by using a higher temperature will lead to cracks. To avoid this, bake it for the recommended amount of time at the right temperature.
If it has a few cracks, it doesn’t have to ruin everything. Since you’re likely going to frost it, it’ll be simple enough to cover the cracks with frosting.
Even so, it’s good to do your best to avoid cracking the cake. Cracks won’t be a huge problem so long as there aren’t a lot of them.
You should also know that filling the baking pan too full can cause cracks. Use an appropriate pan size for the amount of batter that you have.
Why Is My Cake Undercooked?
It’s frustrating when your cake appears to be done on the outside yet it’s undercooked. What makes something such as this happen?
You can’t always rely on how the cake looks on the outside to determine if it’s done. To test if the cake is ready to be taken out of the oven, it’s best to use the toothpick method.
Take a toothpick and poke it into the middle of the cake. When you remove the toothpick, it should come out relatively clean if the cake is finished baking.
It’s fine for the toothpick to have a few cake crumbles on it. If the toothpick is gooey, the cake still needs to be baked for a while longer.
Using this method will allow you to determine if a cake is really done. If you don’t have a toothpick that you can utilize, it’ll be easy enough to accomplish the same thing using a butter knife.
Getting your cake to turn out properly should be easier now. You know how to avoid problems with it being sticky on top.
Be sure to allow it to cool completely before you cover it. Never cover it with aluminum foil before allowing it to cool.
It’d be wise to let the cake cool on a cooling rack if you have one. Otherwise, just leave it on the counter and let it cool naturally before covering it.
So long as you keep this in mind, you shouldn’t have to deal with sticky cakes, and you’ll have a much easier time frosting it when it isn’t super sticky.
Enjoy your cake and be sure to share it with friends and family. Keep the other advice in this article in mind if you happen to run into any other pitfalls.
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.