4 Essential Tips To Make a Cake Rise Higher - The Great Bake (2023)

One of the biggest frustrations bakers experience is having a cake that flattens and sinks in the middle. Not only do these cakes look less attractive, but the deflation also affects the cake’s taste.

There are some things you can do that will make your cake fluffy and high. The best way to get a cake to rise is to make it from scratch. When you make a cake with fresh ingredients, you’ll use baking soda or baking powder, which causes the batter to rise. Other techniques will also make a cake high and light.

Keep reading to learn what makes a cake rise. We’ll also explain common reasons why a cake doesn’t rise. The ingredients and the processes you use will affect your cake’s ability to rise.

What Makes a Cake Rise

Cake batter contains multiple ingredients. Before you cook your cake, the batter will be a liquid. As the mixture bakes, it starts to take the shape of the pan, increasing in size. An ideal cake will be light and fluffy. Dense cakes will taste dry and heavy.

Multiple things can affect the way the cake rises (or fails to rise) and therefore tastes. If you’ve experienced a cake falling flat in the middle, you may need to adjust your process. Here are some factors that will affect the way a cake rises.


When you make a cake, the texture will depend on the ingredients you add to your mix. For the cake to rise and have an airy texture, you’ll need to include a leavener and ensure the ingredients are well incorporated using a stand mixer or KitchenAid. There are three types of leaveners – chemical, steam, and biological. Cakes require chemical leavening agents rather than biological ones, such as yeast, which is useful for baking bread.


Baking soda and baking powder are two types of chemical leaveners that act as rising agents. When combined with the starch, usually flour, these two ingredients create tiny carbon dioxide bubbles. As the batter cooks, these bubbles expand, making the cake rise.

Flour causes the batter to thicken. Most flour contains gluten, which is what allows the cake to form its structure. Gluten occurs as you mix the wet and dry ingredients, flour, leaveners, and sugar. Sugar adds flavor, breaks down gluten, so the cake stays light, and helps the batter turn brown.

Cakes also need a source of fat that will affect the gluten and keep the texture moist. Oil, butter, or shortening work the best to produce a tender cake. Eggs also provide a fat source, plus lecithin, an emulsifier that blends water and fat evenly for a smooth texture.


For a cake mixture to form the gluten needed to maintain its structure, you have to mix the flour with the liquid in the right-sized bowl. How you mix your cake will affect the texture.

When you overmix cake batter, it will cause the texture to become dense and heavy. Instead of melting in your mouth, the mixture will taste dry and crumbly. Instead of mixing, consider folding the ingredients together. This process keeps the batter aerated.

How you combine your fat ingredient (butter or shortening) with sugar – creaming – will also affect the way your cake rises. It’s essential to have a smooth mixture without separation. The process of creaming using a hand mixer adds air to the mixture.

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Without the proper aeration, your cake will fall flat. Butter should be at room temperature before mixing with sugar. Cold butter will not cream appropriately because the crystals of the sugar cannot blend smoothly. But butter that’s too soft, such as using a microwave, will cause the mixture to be too runny to blend.

Eggs are an excellent ingredient for making cakes fluffy. Some types of cakes won’t need a leavener if you use eggs. Other cakes require eggs beaten and added one at a time. Some recipes require the yolks and the whites beaten separately.

Each recipe should give the specifics on beating the eggs and whether they need to be cold or room temperature. Using too many eggs or doing them wrong can cause your cake to fall flat and taste dense.


Where you live can also affect the way your cake rises. The air pressure is lower at high altitudes. If you’re experiencing cakes that are dry and crumbly and you live above 3,500 feet sea level, you may need to adjust your recipe.

The lower air pressure causes cakes to rise higher, making the liquids evaporate faster, leaving the cake dry and dense.

There are a few things to try to solve this issue. First, set the oven to 375 instead of 350. You’ll also want to increase the amount of liquid ingredients by two tablespoons per cup.

(Video) How to Get Flat Cake Layers

Reduce one tablespoon of sugar (per cup), ⅛ teaspoon from each teaspoon of baking powder, and five minutes from cooking.

Age of Ingredients

When baking a cake, you want to use ingredients that have not expired. This tip is especially true for leaveners. Once baking soda or baking powder expires, it will not react appropriately, resulting in a dense cake that falls flat instead of rising.

Using stale flour can cause your cake to taste old and dense. Many people get confused about the expiration of flour. Flour can last anywhere from three to eight months, depending on storage and type. In rare cases, moldy flour can cause dangerous levels of mycotoxin compounds.

Attempting to determine flour’s freshness by referring to the expiration or best-by date printed on the package can be deceptive. If you store your flour in a cool, dry place in an airtight container, you can continue to use flour past the date on the label.

Good flour will have a neutral scent, even past the best-by date. If you notice a sour smell or if the flour has started to clump, discolor, or grow mold, do not use it. Wet flour can often attract insects. Always examine old flour before using it.

Why Did My Cake Not Rise

Most bakers have experienced a cake that doesn’t rise properly. Instead of having an even, flat surface to ice and decorate, you’re stuck with a cake that has high sides and a sunken middle.

(Video) Top 10 secrets to light and fluffy cakes! | Cake Chemistry

One reason that cakes don’t rise properly is if the batter sets too fast while cooking. Once the edges get fixed, the cake will not rise any higher. If you notice the edges setting after you’ve put it in the oven, reduce the temperature 15 to 25 degrees. Increase the cooking time if needed.

Another option is to wrap the sides of the pan with insulated baking strips or aluminum foil. This barrier will allow the cake to rise higher because the edges don’t set.

Not following the recipe is also a significant reason that cakes don’t rise properly. If you don’t use the right amount of each ingredient or prepare the cake using the correct steps, your cake can fail to rise. Always use the proper types of ingredients and prepare them according to the recipe. Items like butter and eggs may need to be at room temperature.

The final answer for why did my cake not rise is not using enough batter in the cake tin. Once you fill your cake pans, the batter should cover the pan at least halfway to three-quarters. You may have to mix up more than one batch of batter to fill one pan or use a smaller size. When there’s not enough batter in your pan, the cake won’t become light or fluffy.

In Closing

Cakes rise due to the chemical reaction when leaveners like baking soda or baking powder mix with the starch and liquid ingredients. Leavers produce carbon dioxide bubbles that add air to the batter, creating a light texture. Multiple things can cause a cake to fall flat or fail to rise. Try our tips to get cakes that rise properly and taste great.


How can I make my cake rise higher? ›

Add a leavening agent to the flour. Most cakes will call for a leavening agent like baking powder or baking soda. These create the bubbles you need for the cake to rise. If the flour you use is self-raising, it already has a leavening agent in it.

What makes a baked good rise? ›

Baking soda and baking powder are both leaveners made from a chemical called sodium bicarbonate. When sodium bicarbonate is combined with an acid, it produces a gas (carbon dioxide, C02, the same gas we exhale when we're breathing) that lifts cakes, cookies or other baked goodies while they're in the oven.

What factors determine how much a cake rises? ›

Correct oven temperature is necessary to allow the cake to rise before the structure sets. If the oven is too hot, the cake will set too fast before the air bubbles have formed. If the oven is not hot enough, the cake will rise too much, then fall in the center before it is set.

How do you make a cake rise evenly? ›

In order to bake cake evenly, you have to insulate its edges. Preventing the temperature of batter at the edge from increasing quickly allows the cake to rise longer before it sets.

Does baking soda help a cake rise? ›

Baking soda becomes activated when it's combined with both an acidic ingredient and a liquid. Upon activation, carbon dioxide is produced, which allows baked goods to rise and become light and fluffy (1).

Does baking soda raise cake? ›

Both baking powder and baking soda are leavening agents, which cause baked goods to rise.

What is the key to a successful baking? ›

To be a successful baker, you need to have the right ingredients. They need to be combined in the right order. Then they need to bake at the right temperature. Change any of these things, and you may end up with tough bread, a fallen cake or runny cookies.

What makes a cake dense vs fluffy? ›

Room Temperature Butter / Don't Over-Cream

Butter is capable of holding air and the creaming process is when butter traps that air. While baking, that trapped air expands and produces a fluffy cake. No properly creamed butter = no air = no fluffiness. Aka a dense cake.

What chemical reaction makes a cake rise? ›

Baking powder is mixed with an acid to produce carbon dioxide. This gas is harmless when eaten. As it becomes hot in the oven the gas expands and makes bubbles in the cake mixture. This makes the cake rise.

What affects the height of a cake? ›

A higher baking temperature caused the cake to rise more rapidly. Baking at high temperature produced cakes which shrank the most (P < 0.001) during cooling.

What is the raising agent for rich cake? ›

A common chemical raising agent used in food is baking powder, which contains two active ingredients, bicarbonate of soda (sodium bicarbonate - something called an alkali) and cream of tartar (potassium hydrogen tartrate - something called an acid).

What makes cake rise and fall? ›

If your cake isn't moist enough, it can sink in the center. But too much moisture can also ruin a cake. This happens most often in humid climates, where extra moisture can collect naturally in ingredients like flour. It causes cakes to rise quickly and then crater during the baking process.

Why doesn't my cake rise evenly? ›

An oven that is too hot can also cause uneven baking. Test the oven temperature when preheating the oven by using an oven thermometer and adjust as necessary. Opening the oven door during baking causes uneven heat distribution and abrupt temperature fluctuations which can also cause the cake to rise unevenly.

Why does my cake rise like a dome? ›

The cake pan is heating up much faster than the rest of the cake. This causes the edges to set before the cake has risen fully, and as the rest of the cake cooks the centre rises and creates a dome. To stop your cake from doming, line the outsides of your cake tin with a double layer of foil.

Why do you put water in the oven when baking a cake? ›

It provides moisture.

The steam from the water bath creates a moist environment inside the oven. This is important for delicate bakes like cheesecakes, souffles, terrines, and chiffon cakes. Without added moisture, the surface tends to dry out while the inside is still expanding, which leads to unsightly cracks.

How much baking soda do you use to raise a cake? ›

Good rule of thumb: I usually use around 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per 1 cup of flour in a recipe. Baking soda CAN leaven a baked good when exposed to heat. However, unless it is neutralized with an acid, your finished baked good will likely have a metallic aftertaste– like I mention above.

What happens if you put too much baking soda in a cake? ›

Too much baking soda will result in a soapy taste with a coarse, open crumb. Baking soda causes reddening of cocoa powder when baked, hence the name Devil's Food Cake.

Does cornstarch help cake rise? ›

Cornstarch is a thickener that is used in baking to make cakes and other pastries rise. Cornstarch absorbs moisture from the air, which causes the cake or pastry to swell. Baking powder is a leavening agent that is made of baking soda and cornstarch.

What happens if you use baking soda instead of baking powder in a cake? ›

If you accidentally add baking soda instead of baking powder to baked goods, they won't rise because there is not enough acid. Using too much baking soda will cause the baked goods to have a soapy flavor and a metallic aftertaste.

What makes a cake dense and heavy? ›

Cake Is Heavy or Dense

Possible reasons your cake is heavy/dense: Too little baking powder. Too many eggs. Batter is overmixed.

Is baking soda or powder better for cakes? ›

Baking soda is most commonly used in cookie and muffin recipes. Baking powder, however, already contains an acid and a base and has a more neutral taste, which works great when baking cakes and bread.

What is the golden rule in baking? ›

Always start with the shortest recommended baking time (a slightly moist cake is always better than an overdone one). Don't open your oven until at least the minimum time has elapsed. It changes the air temperature and circulation and can collapse the whole cake.

What are the 5 baking principles? ›

There are 6 main principles of baking: wet ingredients, dry ingredients, leavening agents, flavoring, heat, and different mixing methods. When combined correctly, they create a delicious and perfectly baked dish every time.

How can I make my cake fluffy and airy? ›

Whisking butter and sugar together is one essential tip to make the cake spongy, fluffy and moist. Whisk butter and sugar for a long until the mixture becomes pale yellow and fluffy because of the incorporation of air. The process is known as creaming.

What is the secret to a moist cake? ›

How to Keep Cake Moist
  • Use cake flour. Making a moist cake starts with the cake mix. ...
  • Avoid overmixing. ...
  • Maintain the right baking temperature. ...
  • Avoid overbaking the cake. ...
  • Soak the cake. ...
  • Add moisture between the cake layers. ...
  • Frost the cake right away. ...
  • Store the cake properly.
Dec 20, 2021

Does over mixing a cake make it dense? ›

When you overmix cake batter, the gluten in the flour can form elastic gluten strands – resulting in a more dense, chewy texture. The white batter looks airier, while the red looks thick and dense. You Can Taste The Difference: The overmixed cupcakes were gummy.

What makes cake fluffy chemistry? ›

Due to the release of Carbon dioxide (CO2) gas, the cake becomes fluffy.

What chemical reaction makes cake fluffy? ›

Baking soda when treated with acids, produces hydrogen gas that provides fluffiness to the cakes.

What makes the cake mixture rise and become spongy? ›

Baking powder is mixed with the flour. When water is added to this flour to make dough, baking powder undergoes a chemical reaction during which carbon dioxide gas is produced. This carbon dioxide gas gets trapped into the dough and bubbles out which causes the cake to rise making it soft and spongy.

Does sugar help cake rise? ›

Leavening. Cake and quick bread batters rise during baking and sugar helps make this happen. When you mix up a cake batter and beat sugar into fat, eggs, and other liquid ingredients, the sugar crystals cut into the mixture, creating thousands of tiny air bubbles that lighten the batter.

How does sugar affect height of cake? ›

Excess sugar could weaken a cake structure so much that it collapses. A successful recipe balances adding enough sugar to tenderize and sweeten, but not so much to make the cake collapse.

What makes a cake more appealing? ›

Baking- A good cake is the one that's baked with proper steps. The cake should rise completely and should not look like a batter. It should be fluffy, spongy, and moist. Having fewer ingredients and proper baking methods make the cake more appealing.

What are the 4 raising agents? ›

Types of Raising Agents Used in Baking | 4 Types of Raising Agents
  • Hi there Bakers and Foodies; today I'll be sharing four types of raising agents used in baking.
  • Baking Powder.
  • Bicarbonate of Soda/Sodium Bicarbonate/Baking soda.
  • Eggs.
  • Yeast.
Oct 18, 2021

What is a natural raising agent? ›

A natural leavening agent is a yeast substance that produces fermentation in bread dough or batter, making the dough rise. Naturally leavened bread is easily achieved by letting flour and water ferment. The most common types of natural leaveners include chemical, biological, physical and mechanical.

Do eggs make a cake rise? ›

Aeration: Eggs can be whisked up or beaten into a cake mixture to incorporate air into the mix, helping you achieve that perfect rise.

What happens if you add too much leavening to a cake? ›

As Joy of Baking explains, a surplus of baking powder will turn your treat's flavor bitter. And that's not even the worst part. Adding in too much baking powder could cause your dessert to rise too fast and fall apart.

Why did my cake stay flat? ›

If you've got a flat cake on your hands, you may have overbeaten your ingredients. Overmixing ingredients can create a dense batter that doesn't get that same airy rise. Mismeasured baking powder (too much or too little) may also give you a flat cake.

What does too much flour do to a cake? ›

Any baked good — especially cake —with too much flour will be dry, hard, crumbly …

Do you level a cake when it's hot or cold? ›

Leveling works best on a completely cool cake; a warm and fragile cake will shed a mountain of crumbs as it's sliced. It also depends on having the right tool for the job—not a senseless, unitasking cake cutter, but a 9- or 10-inch serrated knife.

Why does my cake rise like a mountain? ›

This happens when a/ there's too much raising agent, b/ the cake tin's too small or c/ the oven temperature is too high.

Why does my cake crack and dome on top when baked? ›

The oven temperature is too high. If the top crust forms and sets before the cake has finished rising, the middle will try to push through the crust as it continues to bake, causing it to crack and possibly dome. Check your oven with an oven thermometer and reduce the temperature accordingly if it is running hot.

Is it better to use milk instead of water when baking a cake? ›

Should I use milk or water in a cake? First, it's always best to use what the recipe calls for, otherwise, milk is usually a better choice over water. Milk contains things that water doesn't, like sugar and fat, which can also help with the taste and texture of the cake.

What does adding milk instead of water do to cake? ›

Milk: Add MILK, not water, when your box mix calls for liquid. The milk adds density, fat and, most importantly, extra flavor to your mix.

Why do they spray sugar water on cakes? ›

Using sugar syrup on cakes is far from a new or novel idea, pastry chefs have been doing it for years. Probably for as long as there have been pastry chefs. They do it both to help keep the cake moist, and to add extra flavour.

Why does my cake not raise? ›

Why do cakes not rise? A: No or insufficient raising agent, mixture too stiff, mixture overbeaten or air knocked out, or insufficient whisking (whisked sponge). Too cool an oven.

How do you fix a cake that didn't rise? ›

If you check a cake and it still has batter in the middle, it may just not have had time to rise yet. Put it back in the oven for 5-10 minutes, keeping an eye on it to make sure you don't overdo it. You may still get your cake to rise. Crumble the cake and mix it with frosting to make cake balls.

Does milk help a cake rise? ›

Milk (and other liquids) actually activates other ingredients in the cake batter like leaveners (baking soda, baking powder). And just the same as any other liquid in a cake recipe, it helps everything mix together well and provides steam to help the cake rise.

Why is my cake flat and dense? ›

As mentioned in tip #3, over-mixing cake batter produces too much air. That trapped air expands then deflates in the oven. A deflated cake is a dense cake! Only mix the wet and dry ingredients together JUST until combined.

How do you make a cake fluffier? ›

7 Secret Tips and Tricks to make a cake fluffy
  1. Use buttermilk as a substitute. ...
  2. Use oil as a substitute for butter. ...
  3. Beat the eggs slowly. ...
  4. Temperature is the key. ...
  5. Do the sifting. ...
  6. The right time to frost. ...
  7. Let the sugar syrup do the magic.

What temperature do you bake a cake? ›

Make sure you follow the recipe's instructions carefully. Cakes typically bake between 325 to 450 degrees F (see chart with Tip #9). Most convection ovens require lowering the temperature by 25 to 50 degrees F, as well as turning off the fan.

Should you beat eggs before adding to cake mix? ›

Whisk first: To absolutely ensure my eggs incorporate slowly, I whisk all my eggs together and then slowly drizzle it into the running mixer. I've found this very gradual approach really helps to create a nice emulsion. You'll find the mixture will be thick, creamy and not curdled.

Can you over beat cake batter? ›

When you overmix cake batter, the gluten in the flour can form elastic gluten strands – resulting in a more dense, chewy texture. The white batter looks airier, while the red looks thick and dense. You Can Taste The Difference: The overmixed cupcakes were gummy.

Is it better to use water or milk in cake mix? ›

Milk: Add MILK, not water, when your box mix calls for liquid. The milk adds density, fat and, most importantly, extra flavor to your mix. Egg WHITES: Not adding the yolks to the cake makes the cake fluffy and whiter!

Does sugar help cakes rise? ›

Leavening. Cake and quick bread batters rise during baking and sugar helps make this happen. When you mix up a cake batter and beat sugar into fat, eggs, and other liquid ingredients, the sugar crystals cut into the mixture, creating thousands of tiny air bubbles that lighten the batter.

Is oil or butter better for cakes? ›

Vegetable oil contributes moistness far more reliably, a result of the fact that oil remains liquid at room temperature while butter solidifies. Liquid contributes to the sensation of moistness, and therefore cakes made with oil often present as moister than their butter-based counterparts.

What makes a good cake? ›

A good quality cake should have a texture that is smooth and pliable. They measure this by touching the cake. The texture of the cake completely depends on the physical condition of the crumb and the type of grain. A good quality cake will have a soft, velvety texture without weakness, and it should not be crumbly.

What does adding pudding to cake mix do? ›

Put some pudding in the mix: Add a small box of pudding mix in with the cake mix. (Don't make the pudding.) The mix adds additional flavor, moistness, and a denser texture.


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