Baking Tips - Why Do Cupcakes Sink In The Middle

Susula By Susula, 6th Jan 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Recipes>Baking

There is nothing more annoying than following a cupcake recipe to the letter, only to find that when you take them out of the oven your cupcakes sink in the middle. Luckily there are some simple baking tips you can follow to reduce the chances of this happening.


Cupcakes are pretty much the ultimate in baking versatility.

They are as suitable for a wedding as they are for an afternoon activity with the kids. They can be made in a range of flavours, have a variety of toppings, and create gasps of amazement from onlookers.

Which makes it all the more of a disaster when you spend all that time making your cupcakes only to find that within a few minutes of taking them out of the oven the start sinking quicker than the economy - and of course by that time it's too late to put them back into the oven s they've started to cool.

The good news is that it's perfectly possible to stop this happening, and the first step is understanding why cupcakes sink in the first place.

Why Cupcake Sink In The Middle

Cupcakes are small, light, fluffy, mini sponge cakes. The lightness comes from using a raising agent in the mixture i.e. baking powder, which reacts with other ingredients when cooked to form air bubbles around which the cake mixture sets.

Cakes sink because either the cake mixture isn't strong enough to support the air bubbles, or because the cake isn't cooked in the middle so the cake mixture hasn't had time to set around the air bubbles.

Cake Mixture Consistency: Cupcake mixture needs to be thick enough that it won't pour and you can easily take a spoonful of it, but loose enough that that same spoonful will easily drop i.e it doesn't stick to the spoon like porridge. Ingredients can react differently depending on age and temperature so it's possible to use the same mix of ingredients and get a different consistency of mixture. In this case don't be afraid to add a little water to thin the mixture or add flour to thicken it if necessary.

Oven Temperature: One of the main reasons cupcakes sink is that the middle hasn't cooked properly. Often, and it may sound counter intuitive, this is because the oven is too hot. Cakes bake from the edges in, meaning the middle is the last part to cook.

With cupcakes you also have heat coming from the oven to the top of the cupcake so this crusts over which means visually the cupcake may look cooked when it isn't. You can test the cupcakes by inserting a skewer into the centre and if it comes out clean the cake is cooked, but if you're doing a large batch of cakes that could take a while.

A better way would be to experiment slightly with cooking cakes for longer at a lower temperature - this will encourage the cakes to cook more evenly and visually the cakes are less likely to look like they're ready until they are.

Can You Save Cupcakes Which Have Sunk In the Middle

It depends how bad the sinkage is.

If they've only sunk a little you could simply cover it up with butter-cream. Chances are no-one will ever know as the cake will only sink as far as the uncooked mixture goes, so if there is only minimal sinkage it means the majority of the cake is cooked and it won't make a difference to the taste.

If the cakes really have sunk like a stone you have 2 options:

1. Start again

2. Scoup out the centre of the cupcake and fill it wil buttercream / fruit / cheesecake mix and pretend it was what you meant to do all the time.

In these situations confidence is everything ...


Baking, Baking Tips, Cupcakes, Cupcakes Sink, Cupcakes Sink In The Middle, Sinking Cupcakes, Why Do Cupcakes Sink

Meet the author

author avatar Susula
I live and work in the UK, currently as a writer and cake designer and decorator, but also with a 15 year HR career behind me. This means I can find myself writing on anything from employment contracts to cupcakes ~ though not generally at the same t...(more)

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