How to make a cake less crumbly

hhirenoApril 23, 2011

Hello Cooking Forum,

I don't think I've ever posted here, I'm usually over in Home Decor, but I do read the posts.

I have a white cake recipe that my family loves & requests for every possible occasion. It is delicious but also very crumbly when it comes out of the pan. Even when I make it as cupcakes, with cupcakes papers, it can be crumbly removing them. I do grease the top of the muffin pan with the butter wrapper.

I was wondering if I don't grease & flour the pans sufficiently or if there is something else I should/could do to avoid this. I do grease the bottom of the pan, line it with parchment paper, and grease & flour that. Maybe I'm not treated the sides enough? or too much?

Maybe the recipe is the culprit? I'll reprint it here as it was originally given to me.

Mix together: 2 cups flour, 1.5 cups sugar, 1/2 c crisco, 1 tsp salt, 2/3 c milk.

Stir in: 3 tsp baking powder, 2 eggs, 1/3 c milk, and 1 tsp vanilla.

I use butter but have also tried it with crisco and both get very crumbly. I bake it in a convection oven.

Any advice on how to get it out of the pan with fewer crumbly edges? Once frosted it's okay, and it is so loved I could serve it as a pile of crumbs with Red Velvet Icing as the dipping sauce and it would be gone in no time.

Thanks for your help,


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Try lining your pans with parchment and also greasing and flouring the parchment....that should help.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 2:18PM
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Thanks but I do line with parchment and grease & flour. I was wondering if there were other things I could try.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 7:18PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Are you letting it cool for 20 minutes in the pan before removing?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 8:03PM
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Are you using convection to bake the cake? Cakes don't like the air movement in a convection oven, and you may be drying it out too much if that's the case.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 10:47PM
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I tried to read all the comments, so I hope I'm not repeating anyone's tips.

The only thing in the recipe that jumps out at me, is the huge amount of baking powder. Too much baking powder will create a very fragile crumb. And this is why your cake has been falling apart.

I would reduce the baking powder by half. Please try it with 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and this should solve the problem.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 12:35AM
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A crumbly, coarse texture:
- Often a sign you didn't take enough time with the mixing. If the fat and sugar are creamed together, make sure you spend enough time on this step to thoroughly incorporate these ingredients.

- Too much flour. If the original recipe calls for cake flour and you use all-purpose flour which has more gluten and absorbs more hydration, reducing the amount of flour by 1 T. per cup may be all the adjustment you need.

-The ratio of ingredients may not be correct. The proportion is commonly one-third as much fat as sugar; two-thirds as much milk as sugar; and about three times as much flour as liquid.

-Oven temperature inaccurate. Check your oven and have it calibrated if it's wrong. What rack you use in your oven can also make a difference - a different temperature closer to the top of the oven, in the middle, or closer to the bottom....

-Bake cake to an internal temperature of 205-210-degrees F.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 11:50AM
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Thanks for all the ideas.

I guess I'll just have to bake a couple versions, implementing the various comments and suggestions, to determine the best method.

I'll have to throw parties to help get rid of all my practice cakes. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.

I'll report back with my findings (and my weight gain update). Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 12:21PM
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Hello again,
I wanted to update you on my crumbly cake situation. So far, I've only made the recipe as cupcakes, but the results were excellent.

Although I intended to test the various ideas one at a time, I ended up making a few changes all at once. I cut the baking powder amount in half, removed 1 tbspn of flour per cup, gave the butter & sugar plenty of time to mix, did not use convection to bake, and confirmed the temp in my oven was accurate.

The texture & crumb were perfect so I think the changes will work well using regular cake pans, too. Someone even said she thought the cupcakes were more moist than before.

Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 8:48AM
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Jean, I'm glad it worked for you, and welcome to the Cooking Forum!

Sol is the "professional cake baker" of course, so I knew she wouldn't steer you wrong.

So, what do you frost this marvel with, usually? And isn't it funny how a family grows to love something so much that they are forgiving of our every mistake with it? My family has become that way about Pixistix Hot Milk Cake. A couple of times I've underbeaten it and gotten an almost rubbery texture. Doesn't matter, they inhale it. (grin)

Too bad you nailed it on the first try, though, all that experimenting could have been delicious!


    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 10:27AM
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Family can be funny - every time I make it at least one person claims it's the best I've ever made. I made cupcakes three times in the past 2 weeks and, each time, someone said it!

I frost it with the frosting from a Red Velvet cake recipe. Cooked flour & milk, cooled and then blended with sugar, butter & vanilla. I end up with leftover frosting if I make cupcakes. And then I make more cupcakes to use it up. And then I need more frosting. It can be a dangerous to the waistline but delicious cycle to get caught in.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 1:46PM
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Yum, Jean, I loved that cooked frosting. Not so wild about Red Velvet cake, it seems like a chocolate cake "wanna be", but I love the frosting!


    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 5:28PM
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Hello, I usually hang out in the harvest forum. (Hi Annie!) I had the same crumbling problem with this Key Lime Coconut Cake from epicurious. I made it for my mother's birthday which is right before thanksgiving. The flavor was great and it was nice and light tasting which was what I had in mind. However it just fell apart into crumbs. We ended up eating with spoons. Since we liked the flavor I'd like to make it again so that it will hold together but still be light. I don't usually keep self rising flour around so I'd rather use AP or cake flour and my own leavenings. I actually "borrowed" SR flour from Mom. She asked me what I was making. It was funny to say, "Your birthday cake." The neighbors tree is loaded with limes so no shortage of those. I'm sure the family would be happy to try out my experiments. Does anyone have any idea where to start? I thought about using coconut milk but that would a lot more fat than whole milk. Also, I added a half teaspoon of coconut extract to the batter. Thanks for you help!

Oh, also the reviews said it would overflow a regular cake pan so I used a spring form and it did need the extra space.

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated Key lime zest
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups self-rising flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup fresh Key lime juice, divided
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon rum (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F with rack in middle. Generously butter a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan and line bottom with a round of parchment paper.

Toast coconut in a small baking pan in oven, stirring once or twice, until golden, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool. Leave oven on.

Beat together butter, granulated sugar, and zest with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Stir together flour and 1/2 cup coconut (reserve remainder for topping). Stir together milk and 2 tablespoons lime juice. At low speed, mix flour and milk mixtures into egg mixture alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour.

Spoon batter into pan and smooth top. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool to warm, then turn out of pan and discard parchment.

Whisk together confectioners sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice, and rum (if using) and pour over cake. Sprinkle with remaining coconut.

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    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 10:30AM
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