What Happens When You Overmix Cake Batter

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Cupcake recipes like my best vanilla cupcake recipe and chocolate cupcake recipe often contain the instruction “mix until just combined.” I want to talk about what that really means and what happens when you over-mix cake batter. The results aren’t pretty!

Two cupcakes next to each other, one mixed according to instructions and the other mixed for an additional 3 minutes

What Happens When You Over-mix Cake Batter?

Mixing batter until “just combined” means that you should stop mixing as soon as you can’t see the ingredient that you just added. For example, if you are adding flour to butter and sugar, you should immediately stop mixing once you no longer see any white powder.

You may have read that when you overmix cake batter, the gluten in the flour can form elastic gluten strands – resulting in a more dense, chewy texture. This can be beneficial in cookies, but it’s not so great in cakes and it’s an archenemy of flaky pie crusts. Until I saw a great visual of an over-mixed cake, I’d never thought to purposely make an over-mixed cupcake to see (and taste) what happens.

For my experiment, I mixed the batter of my vanilla cupcakes for an extra three minutes on high speed above what the recipe calls for.

Properly-mixed cake batter vs over-mixed cake batter in liners in a cupcake tin

Look how different the batter looks in each liner – the white liners’ batter is mixed correctly and the red liners’ batter is over-mixed. The batter in the red liner was much smoother and more dense (almost like cookie dough). I’ll admit that when that when the cupcakes came out of the oven, I worried a bit that my experiment was a bust. The over-mixed cupcakes looked nicer than their correctly-produced sisters. Both cupcake variations had perfect domes, but the over-mixed ones looked cleaner and had fewer crumbs. If they tasted better, it would have been over-mixed cupcakes for the win.

Once I tasted the two cupcakes, there was no contest. The over-mixed cupcake was dense as pound cake and gummy; it stuck to the side of my mouth as I ate it. The correctly-mixed cupcake was light and airy and, well, the ultimate vanilla cupcake. Also interesting was that by the time we took the photo (the next morning), the over-mixed cupcake had sunk and lost its dome while the properly mixed cupcake still looked perfect.

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  1. connie munozsays:

    wow, totally see the difference, thanks for experimenting and sharing…

  2. Ed Tiverdysays:

    Thanks to you I finally found out why my cake wouldn’t rise! I was over mixing my bundt cake batter and the cake would not rise and texture would be dense and doughy! I just tried your method and it WAS perfect! Thank you.

  3. Martha Ruth Maradiagasays:

    muchas gracia spor compartir sus conocimientos.

    Dios bendiga a usted y a los suyos.

  4. Patsays:

    I don’t like “airy” cupcakes so maybe I should be over mixing them.

    • Stefsays:

      Well.. probably you should just be adjusting the recipe. If you like your cupcake more dense, I suggest trying my vanilla cupcakes, but using additional butter instead of the oil and using less milk.

  5. Justinsays:

    Let’s say you have just realized that you over mixed your cake batter. *This is what I did as I was baking a chocolate cake last night*

    Are there any remedies or methods to salvage the batter? Would adding a few dashes of flour or baking soda help before the baking process?

    I am curious for future reference.

    Thanks !!

  6. Ravensays:

    This article, which I see due to specifically looking for this answer, doesn’t explain anything at all in regards to it’s title. For one thing WTF is a COMPLETED cup cake “sinking” even though it is a physical, solid item which cannot lose mass, nor is it a scientifically-dense special substance that can imprint your counter, and what the hell can “having a dome” or not have to do with whether a cupcake or any food item is good? Next, you say it “sticks to your mouth”, this is a baked desert, this is a cupcake, that is what cup cakes are supposed to do. Lastly you say it is “chewy”, so that is one single word of description in your entire “article” (which is in quotes because an “article” must be longer then one word or one sentence (“Makes it chewy.”), and additionally no one knows what that means if a cupcake is described as “chewy”.

  7. patience udohsays:

    Hello Good evening,

    Thanks a million for sharing.

    Best Regards and God bless

  8. Mariannesays:

    Hi…I wanted to take advantage of the free basic baking course that you mentioned on your blog. But when I clicked on the link, it’s saying I have to pay $14.99. Is there a code that I need to enter or has your offer expired? I’m really interested in taking the class. Thank you.

  9. KEKEsays:

    Definately siging up for the class! Thanks! And this post was very helpful. I’ve just decided to venture into cupcake making for events.

    I love baking, its my happy place, but I’m trying to learn as much as I can from the pros now. :)

  10. Christine Melesays:

    I wasn’t able to go to CRAFTSY, having been sick. The coupon ” has expired “,i am sorry.

  11. Edlyn Nunosays:

    This is great help thank you. I’ve been looking for something like this

  12. skylasays:

    i love to bake

  13. Debra Mullinssays:

    love your recipes

  14. bari'atusays:

    Thanks stef.a lot

  15. Carolynsays:

    I just discovered your blog. This coupon is expired, boo!

  16. Kirti Royalsays:

    I love this recipe! Do you think it would work to substitute some of the flour for cocoa powder and the cranberries for cherries and make chocolate cherry muffins? Thanks!

  17. Faithsays:

    Not free anymore :-(
    Coupon expired.. now $20.
    Thanks for the tips tho.

  18. Send Flowers To Punesays:

    Yes you are right. I Like that your post. I think helpful for somebody.

  19. Gladsays:

    About to watch it

  20. Yamile Barrazasays:

    Thank you Stefani, I’m just signed up (wich was really easy) and now I’m watching the class… :)

  21. Minhsays:

    Thanks for that Craftsy class! <3

  22. Barbarasays:

    Thanks so much for the free Craftsy class! I’m headed over to watch it right now!

    • Charlenesays:

      This I now 2018. I am a totally blind woman who has had no real teaching when it comes to baking. I have been very I have a strong desire to want to bake cakes for other people. If this baking basics is free for Project Cupcake subscribers, I fully intend to take advantage of that online class. I have needed something like this my entire life. I think I am probably going to have to do the leveling of dry ingreedients a little differentl because of my blindness. Thank you so much. I am looking forward to meeting all of you, online, of course. Finally, someone has explained to me what happen to cake batter when it is overmixed. s y s

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