Look, We’ve all been there before: You’ve spent a long time, maybe even hours, trying to make the perfect batter for a birthday or holiday cake, only for you to take it out of the oven, and find that you have made a bone-dry cake!
Alternatively, you have a slice of cake that you have been saving in the fridge, only to find that as it warms up, it is drier than a snake in the Sahara!
However you end up with a dry cake, chances are that you want to try and moisten a dry cake up a little. After all, no one wants to eat a dry birthday cake, do they?
This is why we have created this guide for you here. Here, not only do we explain how you can often get a dry cake, but also how you can soften your dry cake up as well, salvaging what may have otherwise been a total disaster!
How/Why You Get Dry Cake
So, before we start getting to the solutions that you can try out for your dry cake, it will be helpful to understand why exactly your cakes may be ending up drier than you would like.
Not Enough Moisture In Ingredients
Cakes are practically synonymous with the phrase ‘greater than the sum of their parts’. As anyone who has collected the ingredients for a cake knows, from milk to cake flour, it’s kind of a miracle that this favorite dessert and confectionary comes out of so many different food items.
However, it is these same ingredients that also determine what exactly the consistency of the batter and the final product will turn out like.
For example. butter that has been well whipped before and as cake batter is made will often result in a final cake that feels much spongier to bite and chew into.
Add to that the fact that many other ingredients like milk and oil are used as binders to make sure that the batter holds together, and it’s very easy to end up with a dry cake that has too much flour or too little milk.
Cake Batter Baked Too Hot
Anyone who has had any experience with baking will know just how important it is to have the temperature just right in your oven thermometer, as well as how long you should keep your cake batter in there.
Having your cake inside your oven at too high of a temperature is a surefire way to not just dry out any moisture that it may have had, but to also completely burn the batter, making the dry cake go from unappetizing to inedible!
The same applies doubly to a cake that is cooked at too high of a temperature too fast. This can often leave the outside of the dry cake burned to a crisp, while the inside is still made of batter and runny.
Hopefully, we shouldn’t have to tell you why either of these options should be avoided!
Cakes Going Hard In The Fridge
This primarily applies to cake that has already been baked and that someone wants to save for later in a cold place, such as a fridge.
Part of the reason that fridges are so effective at keeping food fresh for longer is that they are also usually very dry, stopping moisture that bacteria need from sticking to food, and keeping it edible for longer.
However, this is unfortunately a two-way street. Any food that does have a large amount of moisture is liable to lose it through osmosis, as any water or other molecules of moisture leave areas of high concentration to the drier area for better dispersion of water.
So, what does this mean? Well, a cake that is simply placed in a cold area will lose moisture to the surrounding cold, leaving you with nothing but dry old stale cake to try and snack on.
How To Soften/Moisten A Dry Cake
So, now that you know what can cause a cake to turn out dry, we can start to come up with ways to moisten up a dry cake
Choose Reliable Recipes
If you find that your cake batters are always on the drier side, it may be due to you using a recipe that just isn’t giving you enough wet ingredients to help balance out the cake flour and other dry ingredients.
Fortunately, most verified or popular cakes will have thoroughly tried and tested recipes that you can use. Stick to these recipes, and follow the instructions thoroughly.
(As an extra note, make sure that you’re using room temperature butter in your mixes, as it will better mix and bind batter together.)
Make sure your cake recipe mix is nice and smooth, and make sure that you’re putting it in the oven for the correct baking time!
Using Spreads Or Jellies
This is a strategy that you can employ if you find that the recipe that you have made has already made a dry cake, and it’s already been baked.
Using some kind of spread or moist filling can often not just add flavor, but also help bring a little moisture back to a dry cake.
Slice across the center of the cake widthways, or between your cake layers, and use a pastry brush to spread your jelly or spread of choice across the dry cake surface.
For our money, whipped cream and/or strawberry jelly are great options for adding both flavor and extra moisture.
However, depending on the type of cake, you can use many different spreads, from sour cream!
Use Simple Syrups
This principle works well for dry cakes if you don’t want to add extra flavor. Simple syrup can often be found with few or no extra flavors, making them a popular option for bakers.
Once again, using a clean pastry brush, spread your simple syrup across your dry cake
Microwave Your Cakes
This is a simple method you can try for a leftover cake that you have.
Place the slice of cake on a wet piece of paper, and burst heat up your dried cake in the microwave a few times, using 10-second intervals.
We wouldn’t recommend this for freshly baked goods, though.
Turning Your Cake Into Trifle
This one is going to be kind of a stretch, as you aren’t exactly saving an old or dry cake as much as you are salvaging whatever of your cake could still be good to cook with. Even if it’s not quite caked anymore.
However dry cake does make an excellent filler for a good trifle recipe, so it’s worth trying out!
Now bake that cake, baker!