Baking Disasters Solutions

Avoid these common baking blunders — and find quick fixes for the inevitable mishaps.

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Photo by: Marcus Tullis

Marcus Tullis

There aren't many baking accidents that can't be fixed with a dab of whipped cream here or a smear of frosting there. We've identified some common baking blunders so you can try to avoid them (and if all else fails, quickly fix).

Burned Cookie Bottoms
Cookies can go from chewy to burned in a matter of minutes. Choose the right baking sheet (thinner and lighter is best), keep a close eye on them and bake them on the middle rack. If your cookie bottoms end up a little brown, just sandwich the bottoms together with some whipped cream, ice cream or frosting. If they're too dark to salvage, cut off the tops and sprinkle over or in between layers of ice cream—who doesn't like cookies 'n' cream?

Heavy Cake
Cakes can be very delicate—the less you mix, the fluffier they'll be. Mix together the ingredients only until just combined and your cake will rise to a light, airy texture in the oven. Overmixing develops gluten, creating unwanted volume. If your cake is a little leaden, slice it into pieces and soak each in simple syrup, whipped cream or liqueur to moisten.

Deflated Cake
We know the cake smells good, but don't open the oven door until the end of baking; you'll lower the oven temperature, causing your cake to sink. Instead, use an oven thermometer and quickly insert a toothpick into the center of the cake to check for doneness towards the end. Cool your cake properly to avoid sudden temperature changes. Luckily, a sunken cake will still earn you a round of applause from your guests.

Burned Pie Crusts
If your pie crust looks like it's getting too dark early on, cover it with tin foil or a pie-crust protector. For a pie that comes out of the oven with a perfect middle and burned edges, just neatly trim them off. As beautiful as the edges may be crimped, you don't want your filling to be overshadowed by burned flavor. Your pie will still look beautiful and taste exactly the same!

Runny Frosting
Too much liquid can lead to a frosting that won't stay put. Mix in more confectioners' sugar—or cocoa powder if it's chocolate—until the frosting thickens. As much as you want to eat your cake immediately, wait until it cools completely before frosting. Refrigerate your frosting if your kitchen is especially warm. For a layer cake, frost the layers and then refrigerate until set before frosting the outsides.

Cracked Cake Top or Pie Crust
Cracking can mean that your batter or dough was too dry. For pie: Add a little more water into your pie dough or brush with water before refrigerating and rolling out. Cut extra dough scraps into shapes and bake separately; you'll be able to cover any cracks on your crust later with a decorative touch.For cake: Mix a little water into a dry cake batter. Cake is almost always better with frosting or whipped cream anyways, so pipe some on as "cement."

Broken Cake or Cookies
An overcrowded and too-hot oven can cause cakes and cookies to break. Don't let your pans touch and keep them at least one inch from the sides of the oven. When life hands you broken baked goods—make trifle! Cut your broken cookies or cake into chunks and layer with fruit, pudding, ice cream or whipped cream and refrigerate to chill. The possibilities are endless, but a delicious dessert is guaranteed.

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