Can I leave the cake batter on the counter while the other one bakes?


I get this question almost everyday, “Can I leave the excess cake batter on the counter while the other one bakes?”
Now this question is asked for several different reasons.
Many of you are limited by the size of your oven; where you can only fit one pan at a time. Since I have jumped from apartment to apartment over the last few years, I can sympathize with this conundrum.

Others have the problem of not having the sufficient (2) pans required to bake all the batter at once. I call this the “one pan shuffle!”
For you folks I will say, “Buy another pan!” Easiest way to solve that problem! If you are someone who will possibly bake another cake again at some point in your life, honestly it is worth the expense to just go get another one!

As we get into baking several different sizes of cake from the same batter for let’s say making a Wedding Cake you may run into a problem of Oven Space as in the first scenario.

So, “can you leave the batter sit on the counter while the others bake?”

Here’s the deal. It is NOT a great idea, but some batters are more forgiving than others.

I have done this by accident actually, with many of the batters I demonstrate in my videos.  As many of you know, when I owned by bakery, I would film videos after hours and when the ovens were shut down.  I did not always want to fire up my giant oven just to bake a couple of cake layers, so I often “crossed my fingers” and left the pans of batter in the refrigerator for the next day.  My thought process was always, “If it works, Great!  If not, eh….no big deal.”  I would have spent more to turn the oven on than if I had a cake failure!

BUT- This has proven to be a good experiment because little did I know that I would get so many questions regarding this same process!

Let me first explain the “science” behind the cake batters and how each cake is different than the next and maybe you will be able to foresee which batters are OK to do this with and which ones are absolute “No- No’s”

From my blog post What is Cake I explain that there are different types of mix methods and ingredients used to create those mixes and each ingredient in relation to it’s specific mix method is what produces the outcome.

Sponge Cake – Also known as foaming method cakes or genoise cakes, rely primarily on trapped air in the foamed eggs which are the base bulk structure of the entire recipe which also provides the leavening. These cakes must be baked right away because over time (even minutes) the volume of the foam will start to deflate resulting in a dense cake that is no where near the light fluffiness that was intended with this method.

Butter Cake–  Also known as Pound Cake and some variations of the Devils Food Cake are mainly creamed butter cakes. Where the butter and sugar is creamed to create a fluffy matrix of air pockets trapping the sugars within the fat pockets which upon baking are melted and converted to steam, which in turn causes your batter to rise. Creamed cake batters have a closer, denser crumb than those recipes which require foaming.

These non- foaming recipes will require additional leavener such as baking soda or powder or both. And since we are talking about Baking Soda and Baking Powder it will be important to recognize what each of those ingredients does in the recipe.

Both baking powder and baking soda are chemical leavening agents that cause batters to rise when baked. Baking powder consists of baking soda, one or more acid salts (cream of tartar and sodium aluminum sulfate) plus cornstarch to absorb any moisture so a reaction does not take place until a liquid is added to the batter.

Most baking powder used today is double-acting which means it reacts to liquid and heat and it happens in two stages. Meaning an initial reaction takes place upon mixing with a batter, and then a second during the baking process. Because of the two stages, baking of the batter can be delayed for about 15-20 minutes without it losing its leavening power.

Do you see why it is necessary to understand your ingredients and what they are doing in your recipe??

For all of you NON science people, who just want answers rather than reasons…..well…Ok
In my experiments with my cake recipes I have found that the ones that will do their best upon waiting for you, your oven or your pans!

Fine to Sit out or in fridge for a few hours:
Chocolate Cake
Red Velvet Cake
Carrot Cake
White Cake
Golden Butter Cake
Vanilla Cupcakes
Pound Cake

Bake Immediately:
Sponges, Chiffons, Angel Foods, Genoise, Roulades (anything foamed egg method)

Now this is not the BIBLE of TRUTH, as with all recipes, baking has a lot to do with a lot of different factors!  Just because it worked OK for me in my oven, under my circumstances doesn’t mean you will have the same exact result, BUT this is a good place to refer if you are questioning if you have a safe window with your batter being left out for a bit or not.  At least you can now understand why things react the way they do and if indeed you have some room to play.

Happy Baking, and as always Trial and ERROR is the best teacher!

(believe me!)


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  1. Hi Gretchen. I have finally decided to follow my dream of making cakes, so here’s to a productive relationship as I love asking questions.
    If I wanted to store batter, to enable me to mix another batter to make the correct sized mix for a larger pan, what should I do, especially for larger sponge cakes?

    1. Great! Well, I think this blog post explains that question pretty well….and its not a great idea for foamed egg cakes since the rise is dependent on the eggs which are fragile and can deflate severely if left to sit too long

  2. I would like your opinion some clients would require the doukissa cake which is the biscuit chocolate cake no baking required just a simple question have you ever covered this type of no bake cake with fondant?

  3. Hi Gretchen
    I would like to introduce myself first . My name is Anu and i live in India in a place called Vadodara which is in the state of Gujarat .I am very fond of baking but my cakes always turned out dense .After reading your blog What is Cake i understand where i have been going wrong.Its been a great help.Thank you for sharing. I am your huge Fan.
    Today i am going to bake your basic Sponge Cake after watching it on you tube. Where i live i only get Self Raising Flour and not cake flour.I was wondering if this will give same results…
    will surely keep you posted.

    1. you can make ur own cake flour by removing 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour from 1cup all purpose flour and adding 2 tablespoons of cornflour to it

  4. Hi, i was trying to replicate gordan’s recipe of blondies when electricity went batter had to sit out for approx 5 hours. And now finally its in oven.
    Dont know if i will b able to make it

  5. Hi there

    I Enjoy baking alot . I enjoy it alot

    I need some advice , I have a problem with my vanilla sponges , when I bake them they are fine , but when I ice them in butter cream and leave them in the fridge, it becomes dense and raw looking ( like a eggy texture, no crums), I don’t know why. I cool my cake propely. I do use imitation cream for the filling. I don’t know what to do, I need to put them in the fridge so that I can cover them with fondant. I have tried many recipie, all showed the same results, this only happens when it’s left in the fridge. I don’t leave them more than 30 min. Please help

  6. Thank you for sharing this great info. Really valuable, new to baking 🙂 I was looking for this info everywhere and finally found it in this page!

  7. Hi Gretchen, my name is Shannon and I live in Ontario, Canada. I do a lot of baking, I make and decorate cakes for people and just this year have started selling muffins and coffee from my cottage. I have an anniversary cake to bake and decorate for a 50th wedding anniversary this weekend and wondered if I had extra batter could I keep it refrigerated in a freezer bag and use it for carrot cake muffins on the weekend, no doubt won’t be actually making the batter until this evening or tomorrow morning. From reading your blog carrot cake was one of the cakes that would be ok for a few hours before baking, just wondered about a few days! Thank you

    1. Yes should be ok, won’t know until you try! Do a small test batch to see, you can always add a pinch of baking powder to the batter before baking

  8. Hi Gtretchen, I found your chat on keeping batter educative. The sponge cake recipe I am following today uses only three eggs, with 2 teaspoons baking powder and 2 teaspoons soda bicarb for 400 gm plain flour and 90 gm cocoa powder. So would that be a foaming egg sponge or a chemical rise sponge. Question is about keeping batter for say 1 hour while the sponges go in one by one (x3) in my small oven?
    Thanks for your advice!

  9. Hi Gretchen, i would really like to know how i can get the measurements for a 1kg cake. Appreciate if you could help me out

    1. Hey there, Im sorry I am not really schooled in making cakes per weights, we do it by layers because once you fill them and ice them it will weigh something different everytime

  10. Hi Gretchen. I’ve read this post but am still unsure as to what the solution is with regard to leaving a sponge batter on the counter if your oven is too small to bake both simultaneously. Please advise. Thank you.

  11. Hiiii !! Pls help me out here .I hav baked brownies a couple of times now…they turn out pretty decent almost always…!! But this time..! I left the batter out for a lil longer i got pulled in for an urgent situation …so the thing is my brownie never came out from the baking pan! I had to literally spoon them out they r all broken (like my heart :() did this happen bcoZ i left it out too long? around an hour to be exact

    1. Seems like maybe the fat from the pan grease ended up melding into your batter rather than keeping the barrier from the pan and the batter. I always use parchment paper liner in addition to the pan grease though just to make sure this doesn;t ever happen

  12. Hi Gretchen, I am doing a naked layer cake, and am using lemon curd, and raspberry buttercream filling, should I do the lemon curd and raspberry buttercream on alternate layers, or both on the same layer. I am just learning how to do cakes.

  13. I love to making cake. I am searching the how to make I found the best recipe for making the cake. I mad the delicious cake. thanks for your amazing article it is really very nice.

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