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Revive a dry cake

3 bottles of sugar syrups different flavours and colours

Have you ever been let down by a dry, overbaked cake? If so, you’re not alone. During a recent Zoom session on making Sponge Cakes, some attendees expressed this concern. While we strive to prevent this from happening, if you do find yourself with a dry cake, don’t panic! You can still salvage it and make it delicious.

Here’s a remedy I talked about if you have accidentally overbaked it. Of course this isnt the only remedy, but this is a simple and delightful solution: simple syrups! This post will explain how to create and use simple syrups to add moisture and flavour to your cakes. We’ll also cover other ways to use simple syrups, how long they last, and how to tell if they’ve gone bad.

Classes if you are local (Melbourne) or Zooms from anywhere πŸ™‚
Sugar syrup being poured into a glass bowl.

What is simple syrup?

Creating your own simple syrup is a simple process that you can personalize to suit your tastes. First, combine equal parts sugar and water, then heat to boiling until the sugar dissolves. Once done, let it cool to room temperature. With this base, you can experiment with different flavors. Additionally, you can also try using other liquids such as cream, milk, coconut milk, apple cider, or flavored liqueurs to add moisture and enrich the flavor of your cakes.

How to make a simple syrup

  • Basic 1:1 Simple Syrup: Mix 1 part sugar to 1 part water and boil until sugar dissolves. Cool to room temperature.
  • Rich Simple Syrup: A denser option, made with 2 parts sugar to 1 part water.
  • Flavoured Simple Syrups: Add extracts like vanilla, almond, or lemon, or use fruit-flavoured syrups like cherry or raspberry to match your cake’s flavour profile. I love coffee-flavoured syrup to turn a dry cake into an instant Tiramisu Cake.
Slice of cake with chocolate topping on a white plate.

Applying simple syrup to cakes

Applying simple syrup is a technique that can rescue overbaked, dry cakes. You can apply it while the cake is still warm from the oven or leave it to cool.

  • Brushing: Brush the syrup onto each layer of your cake.
  • Poking Holes: Use a fork or toothpick to poke holes in the cake, then pour the syrup over the top.
  • Dampening Layers: A mixture of milk and vanilla extract can also moisten each layer.

Storing simple syrup and determining shelf life

Proper storage ensures the quality and longevity of your syrup:

  • Store in the refrigerator in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Basic 1:1 syrup lasts around 2 weeks in the fridge.
  • Rich simple syrup can last up to 1 month in the fridge.
  • Flavoured syrups have a shorter shelf life of 1-2 weeks.
  • Syrup stored at room temperature will generally last for 1 week.

How to Tell If Simple Syrup Has Gone Bad

Pay attention to these signs:

  • Off-odor or discolored appearance.
  • Cloudiness or mold growth.
  • Changes in texture or consistency, such as crystallization or separation.
  • If in doubt, it’s best to discard the syrup to avoid any health risks.

Other Uses for Simple Syrup

Aside from cakes, simple syrup has other culinary applications such as:

  • Sweetening cocktails, iced tea, lemonade, or other beverages.
  • Adding flavor to coffee or tea.


Simple syrup is a versatile ingredient that can be used for more than just baking. It can also add flavor to cocktails and is easy to make. If you enjoy cooking or experimenting in the kitchen, we encourage you to give it a try. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below. Happy cooking and sipping!

I have some very popular cake recipes on my blog. They are not dry, but if you accidentally over bake them, you can use simple syrup to revive them.


  1. I often see segments on Facebook, where people have some liquid in a bottle with multiple holes in the top. They liberally spray it over cake layer to keep the cake moist. Would this be the type of liquid they are using?

  2. Thanks for the tip Bec. – I do this for fruit cakes when they look a little dry using rum or sherry (depending on what I used in cake) Great to know it would work in other cakes tooπŸ’™

    1. Had a fruit cake for Xmas, but due to Hospital Stay not used, so my son put it in the Fridge, now ‘what to do?’ Its rock hard

      1. It’s common for fruit cakes to harden when stored in the fridge. One way to soften it is by gently steaming it for a few minutes. Placing the cake in a steamer on gentle heat will help moisten it without making it soggy. After steaming, wrap the cake in foil and let it sit for 48 or longer hours to even out the moisture. If it’s really hard, you can also brush over a simple sugar syrup or boiled strained apricot jam before wrapping. I hope that helps.

        1. Will give it a go! + hope the ‘steaming’ works. It seemed a pity to ‘chuck’ thanks

          Maria x

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