This is an olive oil cake (with gluten free flour). It baked in this completely crazy way. The entire cake lifted up and there was a large bubble under the cake that shifted the batter to the sides before it cooked.

Here's how it cooked in the pan with half removed (we used a conventional oven, the toaster oven is just for scale):


Turned the cake up in this following photo -- you are looking at the bottom of the cake this time:


A couple of questions:

  1. What happened?
  2. How can we make sure this doesn't happen again?
  3. Have you ever seen anything so crazy happen before?
  • 4
    Are you sure someone didn't turn it upside down on you? It looks more like the "bottom" is the top and it just sunk in the middle.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 21:05
  • Did you bake it in that toaster oven there? That would give massively uneven heating, and who knows what could happen. Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 21:21
  • 1
    @Catija, The texture sure looks like collapsed then flipped. I would expect the rougher looking side to be the pan side, and the smoother, being shown as bottom, would look like the air side. I could see a big bubble like this potentially occurring with trapped water and a pizza stone with a pre-heated pan, but the texture even then would be hard to explain.
    – dlb
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 21:27
  • @Catija it didn't collapse -- I added some text to the question, top photo is how it came out of the oven. The bottom photo I turned it over so you can see what it looked like underneath.
    – JBWhitmore
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 22:38
  • 2
    You could always turn it upside down and fill with cream and fruit and claim that it was meant to turn out like that. Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 5:34

5 Answers 5


I'd lower the temperature. You'll have to experiment. I think what happened is that the bottom quickly cooked and sealed. As your liquid ingredients turned to steam an air pocket was created, which would further slow the cooking of the middle.The still fluid batter would flow to the sides and provide more liquid, as the bottom rose.

  • 1
    I wonder if there's a bit of an expansion of the bottom crust happening, too, to cause the lift -- note the bit of radial rippling on the left side of the second image.
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 1:50
  • 1
    I think there is. If you flattened it out, I think it would be wider than the pan. Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 2:16

This looks very much like a bad recipe, which has trouble leavening.

You say you used gluten-free flour. The problem is that there is not a gluten free flour, there are multiple mixes and none behaves like the others (and also none behaves like standard wheat flour). So this is the most likely culprit. Try using a recipe which is made for your brand of gluten-free flour or directs you how to make your own mixture out of specified starches and binders, not one which just says "gluten-free flour". Don't use baking recipes meant for standard flour with gluten-free - the results are patchy, if they work at all.

If you insist on continuing with this recipe and this flour, try a bit less leavening agent (to prevent the too strong gas production) and more fat (to make the dough more tender and hope that the bubbles will be able to move throughout the dough). If you see it doming during baking, just go in with a fork and make some holes to release the steam. Still, this is mostly a shot in the dark. Tweaking the recipe to a working state (or kinda-working) will take several rounds of trial and error, if it works.


It looks to me like the "huge bubble" was not one bubble but lots of little bubbles like you would get from the action of the leavening agent (maybe baking powder). That would be normal, unless the leavening action was excessive (sounds like maybe that was the case if it looked like a huge bubble in the middle of the cake) and produced too much gas for the strength of the solid structure of the cake to support. That would cause the cake to collapse in the middle as it cooled (or maybe even before). Whatever the cause, it looks like your cake was structurally too weak for the amount of leavening.

Not sure where you got your recipe, or whether you followed it exactly ... did you make any minor modifications? Was your recipe designed to be specifically gluten-free, or did you take a standard recipe and just substitute in gluten free flour?

Cake recipes are super touchy, and reside in the fine line between too fluffy and not fluffy enough; too tender and not quite tender enough. So they don't tolerate a lot of tweaking. I can only imagine gluten free cake recipes must be even more sensitive.

Very often when I get "creative" [ha ha] & try to make up my own cake recipes, this sort of thing happens to them. A couple possible causes could be too much of the wet ingredients in the batter or too much leavening.

  • A couple of things: 1) the bubble didn't appear within the cake, it's somehow underneath the cake. 2) It definitely didn't collapse, it was quite a surprise as we cut into it after we pulled it from the oven that it's almost entirely empty inside.
    – JBWhitmore
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 22:40
  • @JBWhitmore : I wonder if the top crust formed, and then because gluten-free flour doesn't hold in bubbles well, that they escaped through the bottom. And I have no idea how you'd even test something like that.
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 1:47

It's suggested that when baking cake with gluten free flour, sift all of your dry ingredients together, also use a binder (xanthan gum) and don't over mix the batter.


Couple of reasons, either you kept it on a very high temperature, or the door of OTG was opened repeatedly during the baking time or your baking powder was expired. Anything above if true, the cake will sink.

  • 2
    It wasn't baked in an OTG.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 15:56
  • 3
    ...and the cake didn't sink. According to the OP, it domed.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 18:56

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