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Why does my cake crumble?

Judy asks: When I bake a pound cake, it tends to crumble when I remove it from the pan.  Why does this happen?  And how can I prevent it?

Baking S.O.S. says:  You may be trying to remove the cake from the pan when it is too warm.  You can prevent this by allowing the cake to cool completely in the pan before removing it–at least a couple of hours.  It could also help to prepare the pan so that the cake does not stick to the sides.  Try using a baking spray that includes flour in the spray, such as Baker’s Joy.  Crisco also makes such a spray.  Both can be found in the baking aisle of a regular grocery store.  Finally, lining the pan with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit in the bottom of the pan can also help remove the cake from the pan easier.  Be sure to spray the pan also–even when using parchment paper.

53 comments to Why does my cake crumble?

  • Lidia Putz

    I used coconut flour instead of ref flour, is that why my apple cake did not even cook, it’s just crumbly the same way I put it in, I also used almond milk instead of reg milk, just tryin to be healthy

  • Lidia Putz

    My apple cake fell apart, is it because I used coconut flour instead of flour & almond milk instead of milk

  • Hi there, thanks for your question. Coconut flour does not contain gluten, a protein found in wheat. All-purpose flour contains gluten since it is made from wheat. Gluten gives baked goods structure–it helps hold them together. So when you substituted coconut flour for regular flour, it eliminated all the gluten that would have held the cake together, and hence, the crumbly cake.

    I don’t think that substituting almond milk for regular milk would have caused the cake to be crumbly. It would have given the cake a different flavor, though, and potentially a little less fat, which also contributes to flavor and “mouth feel,” or texture in baked goods.

    You mentioned that you were trying to be healthy with these substitutions. And so I want to take a moment to address the idea of “healthy” and baking because I have taught both Nutrition and baking for years.

    First, ingredients that are gluten-free (such as the coconut flour vs. all-purpose flour) and/or vegan (such as the almond milk vs. regular milk) are not automatically “healthy.” It is a common misconception that everything that is gluten-free is automatically healthy, and everything that is vegan is also healthy. But when it comes to baking, the nutritional profile doesn’t change all that much when you eliminate gluten or animal products. There is still fat and sugar in the baked goods, and from a nutritional standpoint, fat and sugar are much worse for our overall health. If you truly want to bake healthy, you should start by finding ways to lower the fat and sugar content of your baked goods. As for gluten, the only people who truly need to avoid gluten in their diet are people with Celiac’s Disease. For everyone else, it is not necessary to eliminate gluten from the diet to be healthy. But there are plenty of good gluten-free flour mixes on the market these days if you would like to bake gluten-free. I have tried several brands with good success, including Bob’s Red Mill.

    But when it comes right down to it, this is my bottom line: to be truly healthy, we should consume everything in moderation, and that includes desserts. Why try to make our baked treats “healthy?” Who really enjoys “healthy” desserts, anyway? Desserts that are made to be “healthy” don’t typically taste all that delicious, so it leaves us feeling unsatisfied. Why not enjoy a special treat on rare occasions, rather than every day or after every meal? I think we all enjoy dessert more when we allow ourselves to indulge in a truly delicious dessert. But remember the moderation rule. Dessert should be a “sometimes food.”

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