A lot of people have asked me how my cakes and cupcakes are so moist. While I can honestly (and proudly) say that this is almost always true, there are some times when I end up with a cake that just misses the mark. As the old adage goes, “practice makes perfect”, and trust me, I have had a lot of practice when it comes to baking! There are countless ways to increase moistness of a cake, but I am only going to report on my personal favorites. There are also many techniques I probably haven’t heard of, so feel free to share your favorite tricks! The following are some of the best techniques that I use to ensure a moist cake (or cupcake, I don’t discriminate):
1. Never overcook your cake. Okay, I know a lot of your are thinking “DUH!” but this is actually a really common mistake that people make. Whatever time limit your recipe (or even boxed cake mix) calls for, bake according to that, but start checking for doneness during the last 5+ minutes of baking time. You will know when your cake is done when a toothpick in the center comes out either clean or with only a few crumbs attached. Similar to steak, your cake keeps cooking a little bit after it is removed from a heat source, so it is best to undercook it slightly and take it out to rest.
2. Introduce additional moist ingredients. I use sour cream in almost all of my cake recipes for moistness (reference my Banana Cupcake recipe here). The amount of sour cream will vary especially for homemade recipes, but if you are using a boxed mix, I would go with adding in about 1 cup of sour cream per box. Note that this is in addition to all other ingredients, not as a substitute. You can also use apple sauce or yogurt (either plain or vanilla) for added moistness. Be careful when adding these moistening agents that you do not create a mix that is too wet. You still want a thick mix, not some horrible soggy mess.
3. Use brown sugar over white, granulated sugar. Brown sugar holds more moisture for a longer period of time than white, granulated sugar. If you replace white sugar with brown sugar, the cake will be less likely to dry out and more likely to maintain its original moisture. If you decide to use this trick, use the same amount of brown sugar as you would white sugar, or maybe a little bit less. I have found that brown sugar is a little bit sweeter, but even so, the taste difference is minimal.
4. Use an extra egg. An egg is just another moistening agent, but I wanted to separate it out from point #3 since eggs are already part of most cake recipes whereas sour cream and apple sauce usually aren’t.
5. Add a box of pudding mix. The pudding mix really increases the level of moistness. One year for my dad’s birthday, I made a lemon cake with pistachio pudding mix and marzipan cream cheese icing (drooling) and the cake was so incredibly moist! I didn’t follow any of the other tips except for number 1 and it came out great. It also introduced a fun new flavor, so this is something that I will continue doing.
And with that, thank you for reading and happy baking!