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How to Fix Flat Cupcakes

Mickie Gee is a retired librarian and a grandmother. She knows a little bit about a lot of topics. Life experiences are wonderful.

No, these are not cookies. They're cupcakes. Why are they flat?

No, these are not cookies. They're cupcakes. Why are they flat?

Got Flat Cupcakes?

Cupcake disaster! Call the cake paramedics!

So, your cupcakes are flat. What can you do? Thankfully, there are a few tricks that might just save the day.

Flat cupcakes can be saved!

Flat cupcakes can be saved!

Saving Your Cupcakes

Can you fix your already-flat cupcakes? Can they be saved once fallen?

My cupcakes went flat in the blink of an eye. I left the kitchen for the briefest of moments, and when I returned, they had fallen. What now? I didn't want them to go to waste. I didn't have the time (or money) to get more ingredients.

Why did they go flat? I changed the temperature of the oven just before I put them in. I also switched from regular baking to convection baking. I could not fit all the pans on one shelf of the oven. Turns out, those small changes were a big mistake. I take full responsibility.

Side-view of my flat cupcake

Side-view of my flat cupcake

Reasons Cakes Fall & Mistakes to Avoid

I remember that my grandmother used to tell me not to stomp on the floor in the kitchen or to slam doors when she had a cake in the oven. One time, I wanted to see what would happen if I did either of those things. I got a whooping!

  • Temperature: Cakes fall when they are cooked at a temperature that is too low, or too high. The oven should be preheated all the way before inserting the cake pan—that is the mistake that I made!
  • Subtle Differences in Air Pressure: Baking at altitude—not attitude. According to The WiseGeek, "As a general rule, you want to increase the liquid, decrease the sugar, and decrease the amount of baking powder included in a recipe. If your cakes fall frequently when you are baking at altitude, you may want to ask a local baker for tips."
  • Ingredients Used: One important thing you can do to prevent falling cakes is to use fresh ingredients. Also, using insufficient liquid, for example, or not enough oil. An excess of sugar or flour can also create problems with the batter which may lead to a falling cake. So measure carefully! Do not "guesstimate" if you want to make sure your cakes do not fall.
  • Cake Is Jostled as It Cools: Avoid slamming a door!
  • How the Cake Is Mixed: Both over-mixing and under-mixing can cause cake failure!
My completed cupcakes. I saved the day!

My completed cupcakes. I saved the day!

Step 1: Trim the Edges

I used a pair of clean kitchen scissors to cut the flat sides (the edges of the top that are sticking past the cupcake liner cup) off the cupcakes. This can be tricky because you do not want the paper cup to come away from the sides of the cake.

Step 2: Add Icing and Decorations

My rescued Easter cupcakes looked pretty good!

I got a baggie and put in some pre-made icing. I cut a small portion from one corner of the baggie. I then "piped" the icing on the cupcakes. Since I was making these cakes for Easter, I sprinkled on some green sugar (grass) and put some jellybean eggs in the middle (remember, that was the low part of the cupcakes!).

The result can be seen in my photo above.

You could also visit the Wilton website and find some really fun decorating ideas using their "piping" tools. I think making green "grass" would have helped my "Easter" disaster.

Use a Decorating Kit to Save the Day

Decorating tips are a must-have for anyone who makes cakes of any kind. They are not hard to use, and it is actually fun to experiment with. If you make a mistake, just smooth the icing out and add sprinkles or some other decoration.

I had the tips for a "bag" that I could have used to pipe icing on my flat cakes, but no bag to pipe from!

I used a zip-lock baggie. Not perfect, but it will do in a squeeze!

If you are a perfectionist and have a set of decorating tips but do not know how to use them (that is me) you can find instructions on the Wilton website.

Share Your Ideas

Feel free to share with us your ideas in the comments for rescuing cakes that have been ruined or have had a disastrous beginning. I was so surprised and disappointed that my mini cupcakes had fallen, but quick thinking saved me. I was also lucky to have my piping tools handy.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Mickie Gee