Why are my cupcakes sinking?

Why are my cupcakes sinking?

There’s nothing worse than hearing the timer ding and opening the oven door to your freshly baked cupcakes being ruined by having sunk in the middle. If you’re frustrated by your failed bake and want to understand how to prevent a cake from sinking, you’ve come to the right place! 

Here we are going to go through five common mistakes that people make when baking cupcakes that can lead to them looking more like a sunken mess than light and fluffy! No longer will you be racking your brains over why your cupcakes are sinking in the middle - don’t worry, you can thank us later.

Opening the oven door too early

One of the most common causes for cupcakes sinking in the middle is the failure to resist the urge to open the oven door and take a quick peek at how the cakes are doing. Opening the oven door allows cool air into the oven, which can cause the cupcakes to condense or collapse. 

Sometimes, opening the oven is unavoidable - for example if you need to rotate the trays or if you’re batch baking and need to add another tray of cakes in (Great British Bake Off fans we see you). In this case, make sure to wait at least 10 minutes before opening the door, and keep it open for as short a time as possible. This rule is true to prevent most cakes from sinking in the middle! 


In a similar vein, if you opened your oven door and took your cakes out of the oven too early, this can also cause them to sink.

The two types of rising agents in cupcakes - chemical (baking powder) and physical (hot air) need to have long enough to react with one another, or else your cupcakes won’t be properly baked. 

Underbaking can be caused by a few things, including baking at too low of a temperature, baking for too short of a time, or opening the oven door too often (or for too long). All of these things prevent the cupcakes from baking all the way through, meaning that the middle of the cupcake won’t have had time to rise and set properly. 

There are a couple of things that you can do to ensure that your cakes are baked all the way through, such as using the toothpick test (where you insert a toothpick into the cake and see whether or not it comes out clean), or by testing the springiness of the cupcake - lightly - with your fingers. 

Overfilling the tin

Overfilling the cupcake tin is another surefire way of having sunken cupcakes at the end of your baking adventure. If you add too much batter to the tin, the mixture will rise too much, and ultimately deflate in the centre. 

Most recipes will tell you how much to fill the tins, so make sure to follow these instructions. If your recipe doesn’t say how high to fill the tins, it’s usually best to fill your tins about ⅔  full, as this should give the cakes enough space to rise properly. 

Over mixing the batter

Another cause of sunken cupcakes is batter that has been overmixed. When you over-work your cupcake mix, you risk adding in too much air into the mixture or or large air bubbles which the cake can't support, causing it to collapse. Overmixing also runs the risk of creating too much gluten, which will produce a dense, chewy cake - who wants that?!

When you’re mixing cupcake batter, if using an electric mixer, keep it on a low speed and stop as soon as the wet and dry ingredients are combined. Ideally, you should mix your cupcake batter by hand, using a slow folding motion and stopping as soon as all the ingredients are incorporated. This should only take a few minutes!

Your raising agents have expired

Cupcakes need the chemical reaction between the leavening agents and the rest of the ingredients in order to rise. If your baking soda/ baking powder has expired, it won’t allow the chemical reaction to occur. 

If your raising agents have been sitting around in your cupboard for a while before you dug them out for this particular bake, it might be worth testing them before you start. 

If you’re baking with baking powder, add half a teaspoon to a small cup of warm water and mix. If it fizzes or bubbles, it’s fine to use. If nothing happens though, chuck it away and head to your local shop to grab another tub. 

For baking soda, replace the warm water with white vinegar and add half a teaspoon of baking soda. If, again, nothing happens, it’s time to throw it away and buy a replacement.

How Gaya’s Cakes can help

Hopefully, by following the tips in this article, you have perfected the art of baking cupcakes that look as good as they taste. 

If, however, you’ve tried everything and still can’t get your cupcakes to have that perfect dome, we offer a range of cakes, cupcakes and tasty treats that you can wow your loved ones with instead.

Through meticulously tested recipes, we bake cakes that not only taste amazing, but also look the part! We only use the best ingredients to ensure that our customers enjoy every last bite.

In addition to our delicate cupcakes, we also offer a wide range of other cakes and treats for every occasion. From picturesque wedding cakes to hearty dessert pies, we have a sweet treat to suit everyone. 

Browse our range of cakes, desserts and postal treats on our website, or contact us today.