The 4 Best Ways to Fix a Dry Cake

published May 14, 2023
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Baking is a fun, therapeutic activity that lets us tap into our creativity and imagination. When we bake our favorite cake and it comes out just right, it is light, fluffy, and bouncy. Sometimes, though, despite our best efforts we end up with a dry cake; with its lack of moisture and crumbly texture, it feels like a huge let-down.

Thankfully, there are several ways to fix this, from dousing it with simple syrup to filling it with jam or mousse. Here’s a list of four ways to fix a dry cake. 

1. Brush the cake with a simple syrup glaze.

If your cake comes out too dry, you can still save it with a simple syrup glaze. Start by making the simple syrup from boiling equal parts of sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid has reduced and thickened.

If you’re making a layer cake, trim the tops and then use a pastry brush to coat the surface of the cake with the syrup. Alternatively, you can simply spoon the syrup onto the cake as well. If you’re making a sheet cake, you can also poke holes on the surface with a wooden skewer or a toothpick and then brush with the syrup before frosting the cake.

2. Soak your cake in milk or cream. 

The idea of soaking your cake in milk seems daunting, but trust me — I’ve tried this a few times when my sponge cake came out dry. Soaking your cake in milk or cream is one of the best ways to moisten a dry cake. Simply brush on a few tablespoons of milk or cream to the top of your dry cake or, for a truly indulgent finish, follow recipes like one-bowl tres leches poke cake, baked and soaked in a combination of whole milk, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk. 

3. Add frosting.

This is particularly relevant if you weren’t planning to add frosting to your cake to start with or if you’re making a cake that doesn’t typically always have frosting, such as a tea cake. Adding frosting to your dry cake helps improve the overall mouthfeel of a cake. You can use whipped cream, cream cheese frosting, or traditional buttercream frosting between the cake layers, as well as on top of the cake and all around the sides. Doing this seals in whatever moisture remains in the cake and prevents that moisture from escaping.

4. Fill your cake with mousse or jam. 

If you’ve got some jam in the refrigerator, use it to fill a cake. Not only does jam add flavor to any cake, but it is also high in moisture, so it’s a good way to revive a cake that’s been frozen or just sitting in the refrigerator for a few days. Mousse is also great to use, as it is high in fat, so filling your cake with it can also be a good option to save a dry cake.