4 Ways to Salvage a Sunken Cake So You Don't Have to Waste Your Work

It happens to everyone once in a while: You remove a perfect-looking cake from the oven, then after it's cooled, you notice the cake sunk in the middle. We're here to help you fix your sunken cake and offer tips for ways to transform it into something new that's still delicious.

So you've taken the time to make a cake from scratch only to find it sinking in the middle as it cools. Unfortunately, by the time a cake has cooled, its leavening ingredients have been deactivated and the air holes that create the cake's light texture have closed and stuck together, so putting the cake back in the oven will not save it. While you might not be able to achieve your original cake-decorating plan, you can still redeem your dessert course. Use our Test Kitchen's tips for turning a sunken cake into a new, beautiful creation so no one has to know about the mishap.

Dark Cocoa Buttermilk Cake with Cocoa Mascarpone Frosting
Karla Conrad

What to Do if Your Cake Sunk in the Middle

If you tested the cake's doneness with a toothpick that came out with just a few moist crumbs attached, chances are you baked a nice moist cake. If your cake is undercooked and raw in the middle, you can still use the edges that are baked through. Use one of these sinking cake fixes that will still impress everyone with your dessert skills.

1. Add Extra Frosting

When you're cake sinks in the middle, grab an extra can of frosting to disguise the low spot. Simply add a bit more frosting or whipped cream and smooth to an even level. You can also fill a pastry bag ($5, Walmart) fitted with a specialized tip to create a unique frosting design for your sunken cake.

Holiday Cake Pops
Jason Donnelly

2. Make Cake Pops

If you really don't like the idea of serving a cake that has a dip in the middle or wound up with a partially underbaked cake, use the baked portion to make cake pops. By mixing the crumbled cake with frosting and dipping in chocolate or candy melts, you'll have an entirely new dessert. If you don't have any candy sticks ($3 for ten, Walmart), serve them without and you've got cake truffles.

3. Make a Shake

There are all kinds of fun shake creations these days featuring everything from pumpkin pie to your favorite breakfast cereal. Our Test Kitchen recommends making your favorite milkshake and adding crumbled cake pieces to your blender ($30, Target) to create a cake shake.

Surprise Inside NYE Cake

4. Add a Filling

Have candy and sprinkles handy? Remove the entire portion of the cake that sunk and make a surprise-inside cake (pictured above) by filling it with candy and then topping it with frosting. Pie fillings or fruit jams would make a tasty addition to a cake that sunk in the middle. If you made a chocolate cake, try creating our black forest cake topper by adding a bit of cherry pie filling to the sunken cake spot before adding the whipped topping and finishing more cherries.

Why Did My Cake Sink in the Middle?

The most common reasons a cake sunk in the middle include the following:

  • The pan is too small
  • There's too much liquid
  • Opening the oven or moving pans during baking
  • Oven temperature is too low or cake not baked long enough.

You can't rebake a cake to fix it, but you might be able to save your cake if it's still in the oven. If you look through the oven window and the cake middle is sinking, give it some extra time before opening the door or removing the cake. Follow these extra steps to ensure the cake doesn't fall.

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