If I am baking cake or cookies in the oven and I lose power, what should I do?

Does it make to sense to leave the cake/cookies in the oven until the power comes back on, or should I take them out?

When/why would I need to leave them in the oven vs. take them out?

  • 4
    For cookies, if you are stuck in the middle (too far along to just pull and start over and not far enough along to coast to a finish) take them out, let them cool, break them all up and make a batch of Ice Cream with the bits. It doesn't get you to cookies, but it does get you to tasty ;)
    – Cos Callis
    Apr 9, 2012 at 16:01
  • 5
    Install a gas oven.
    – Chloe
    Apr 9, 2012 at 21:16
  • 2
    Cookie dough is just as nice as baked cookies--just eat it! :)
    – jontyc
    Apr 10, 2012 at 0:48
  • @Chloe - you'd have to install an old gas oven, or find the rare bird that is new but old-style - specifically, one with an oven pilot light. Most modern gas ovens have an electric igniter and simply do not work without power (you can't even light them with a match.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 23, 2015 at 3:08

4 Answers 4


Removing things from the oven halfway through is not very friendly to baked goods. In general, they'll collapse as they cool off since the structure isn't cooked and set, and the leavening (baking soda/powder in these cases) will be spent, so there's no way to get what you originally wanted. It might be something like what'd happen if you forgot the leavening in the first place.

In general: if there's only 5-15 minutes left, just leave it in, and the heat retained by the oven will take care of things. If it's barely started - just beginning to get warm, not bubbling/rising much - probably best to take it out and wait to bake later, especially if it's something that can survive waiting at room temperature. Anything else, leave it in and hope the power comes back; it's going to be ruined if you take it out and ruined if the power doesn't come back on so you might as well go for it.

So for example, cookies could probably survive this by leaving them in. They don't have very long baking times - somewhere in the 5-15 minute range. Your oven won't cool off all that much in that time without power. So if you leave them in for a little bit longer than the original baking time, they'll probably be fine. If your oven has a window, look in with a flashlight to check on them - you don't want to open it to check them.

A cake is iffier. If it's 15 minutes into a 45 minute baking time, you may just be out of luck. I think I'd still leave it in, hoping that the power comes back within 5-10 minutes, in which case it'd probably make it. As I mentioned earlier, if you lose power early and for long enough, the cake will have spent its leavening and collapsed. You could finish baking it, but it'll still be collapsed - it probably won't have a terribly palatable texture (definitely dense, maybe chewy).

The only time this has actually happened to me was with some cornbread muffins, around 2/3 of the way through their baking time, and the oven didn't have a window. I wildly guessed how much extra time to add, pulled them out then, and they were great. So there is hope!

  • Leaving cookies in will work okay. I had a friend who was baking cookies with a ladyfriend, and got distracted by other activities. However they had the foresight to turn the oven off. Both of them swear the cookies tasted better than normal, and having tried one I'm inclined to agree.
    – BobMcGee
    Apr 10, 2012 at 15:24
  • "A cake is iffier. If it's 15 minutes into a 45 minute baking time, you may just be out of luck." Thanks for the answer. What will happen to cake if the electricity comes after an hour? May 23, 2012 at 4:37
  • @AnishaKaul: If you lose power early on when baking a cake, and it stays out for at least say 15-30 minutes, it's going to collapse since it's not fully cooked and doesn't have the strength and structure to hold up. You won't be able to salvage it later; you can cook it the rest of the way, but it'll still be collapsed - the leavening is spent.
    – Cascabel
    May 23, 2012 at 6:57
  • No I meant, what would happen to it if I leave the cake "inside" the oven and electricity doesn't come in one hour. May 23, 2012 at 7:01
  • 2
    @AnishaKaul: Texture means the internal structure. Cakes normally have at least some air in them; there's the whole range from dense things like pound cakes to very light things like angel food cake. When I say collapse, I do mean it won't be light and fluffy, and it will be flattened - and that means the texture inside won't be what you wanted. How bad it'd be of course depends on how much too soon it stopped baking, but it could end up being pretty dense and chewy.
    – Cascabel
    May 23, 2012 at 17:36

My main considerations would be:

  1. How long does the power regularly go out for? I live in an area where power outages are typically quite short, but once in a while they're hours or days long; as the power typically comes back on within 5-10 minutes, I'd leave everything in the oven.

  2. How much time is remaining? If it's just a few minutes, leave it in, and check on it a few minutes after you think it would be take, as when you open the door, you're going to let the remaining heat out.

  3. Do you have some alternate way to cook it if you take it out now? For example, if it's cake and you have a grill or firepit and the right tools, you might try one of the camping suggestions. But I'd leave it in the oven to continue baking while you prepared the alternate cooking source, so it's not coooling off (as much) before you transfer it.

  • I had to say something about power outages in my area ... today's was ~3 minutes. (and they haven't been as frequent since Pepco did a major tree-trimming campaign last year)
    – Joe
    Apr 9, 2012 at 20:33
  • Any chance the item being baked could be transferred to a utensil used for steaming? There are some recipes which allow cakes and bread to be made by steaming it in a pressure cooker. I once made bread like that, using a pressure cooker. Turned out to be the softest and tastiest bread I've ever eaten.
    – Nav
    Dec 17, 2023 at 16:25

I just had put a dish in the oven when the power went out. Now the dish is warm, but I don't think the cooking had started. So it's better to take it out immediately and put it in the fridge to stop cooking, then when the power's back on, bake it again.

  • but the gluten formation will being, and the resultant cake will be hard? Aug 3, 2012 at 9:03
  • And the fridge will also have lost power, thus getting warmer.... Aug 4, 2012 at 18:18
  • Yes, probably not a good idea to open the fridge when power is out. Leaving the door closed will let it hold the temperature better and maybe throughout the outage.
    – citizen
    Oct 3, 2012 at 1:19

Follow your nose to determine how long to finish baking an item where the power failed. Baking is often finished by the familiar aroma caused by the "Dry Heat" that happens as the moisture evaporates leaving behind carbohydrates that begin to caramelize, or experience polymer thermal break down. Some times the fillings and crust do not always finish at the same time though; which leaves a delicious mess to enjoy at home rather than at a social event.

  • 1
    Actually, from personal experience, by the time you can smell a baked good (particularly cookies), it's overbaked.
    – Catija
    Jun 16, 2016 at 20:20

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