Dried-out cake: it's a bummer. It's also a fact of life. But that doesn't mean you have to panic because your cake's a disaster and your guests are already on their way over. There are a few sneaky (but tasty) things you can do to save that dried-out cake.
Good to Know
These hacks are temporary fixes. You can't keep reviving dry cake forever, so whatever method you try, do it once and serve the cake pronto.
1. Nuke It
Place the cake on a microwave-safe plate on top of a moist (but not dripping wet) paper towel. Zap in 10-second bursts twice. This method has a fairly short window of effectiveness, so do it right before serving the cake.
2. Steam It
Put your cake in an oven-proof container that's tall and wide enough to allow the sides of the cake to clear. Place the container inside a roasting pan, making sure the sides clear. Without getting the cake wet, fill the roasting pan with simmering-hot water; the water should reach halfway up the sides of the pan. Let the cake sit for several minutes in this steam bath (aka a bain-marie). You don't want the icing to melt, so keep an eye on it. Remove the cake and wrap in plastic to seal in the moisture.
You can get the same results with cupcakes by placing one in a tea strainer and setting it over a simmering pot of water.
3. Spray It With Simple Syrup
Boil equal parts sugar and water together until they reduce to a thick liquid. Pour the syrup into a spray bottle and spray the surface of the cake wedge or slice. Then prick the cake all over with a toothpick or fork and either drizzle or spray the syrup until it's absorbed.
4. Seal It With Bread (or an Apple)
Photo via UnicornLove
Place the cake in a sealed container with a slice of white bread. After a few hours, the cake will absorb the bread's moisture. This is slower than microwaving, but the cake will stay moist longer. (Still, serve it the same day).
You can also try this with an apple slice. The cake may absorb a bit of apple flavor along with moisture, so it's best to do this when you are reviving spice, carrot or apple cakes.
5. Pair It With Ice Cream
It doesn't get much simpler than this: top a slice of cake with ice cream, custard or whipped cream. No one will ever notice that the cake is parched!
6. Reinvent It
Dried-out cake is actually the ideal for trifle or bread pudding . Hey, why not live your best life and turn your cake slices into French toast?
7. Stop It From Getting Stale in the First Place
Obviously this is the best way to go (though not always an option). There are a few ways you can store your cake effectively to keep stalenss at bay:
- Seal in moisture by spraying freshly baked (but not iced) cake with sugar-water syrup.
- If you're not going to frost the cake on the same day you baked it, let it cool to room temperature, wrap it completely in plastic and store in the freezer. It will keep for quite some time this way. (Don't pop it in the fridge as that will dry it out.)
- Frost every inch of the cake's surface. The icing acts as a seal to lock moisture in.
Hurrah, you've saved the cake!
Learn More Now
Get a crash course in baking succulent cakes (plus a ton of other sweets) in our class Startup Library: Baking and Pastry .