What do you call it when a piece of pastry, usually leavened, subsides? Goes down after going up basically:

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  • 1
    is that pastry, or souffle (or something else?)
    – James K
    Commented Jul 25, 2022 at 21:31
  • Mix it with custard, sherry and fruit, and we'd call it "trifle" :)
    – Criggie
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 22:16
  • If there's fruit under there, it's a slumped slump (cobbler).
    – Mazura
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 2:23
  • @JamesK This is cheesecake. Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 5:42
  • The oven temperature was too high, I think, the air that was incorporated lifted the cake mixture too quickly and almost immediately, the "dome" collapsed onto itself, which is why there are also cracks. Still, I wouldn't refuse a slice. It does look appetising.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 10:10

4 Answers 4


In US English, we would usually say the cake falls or sinks. For example,

Cakes fall when they are cooked at a temperature which is too low, or too high.

The most common reason why cakes sink in the middle is that they’re underbaked.

  • 3
    I think ''fall'' is US English, I live in the UK and used to bake a lot of cakes and have never heard this. Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 15:58
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    @Tom I wasn't familiar with that US/UK split, but it looks like you might be right; if you google "cake falls site:.uk" you don't get much back, but if you google "cake sinks site:.uk" you get substantially more. If someone else can confirm this, I'll gladly update the answer.
    – stangdon
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 16:24
  • 2
    As a Brit I would understand both of these, but would probably not choose to use them, I would generally use the term "collapsed". Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 16:41
  • 1
    I have never heard fall used for this (southern England) but sink is, in my view, the most common usage here.
    – mdewey
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 13:36
  • Cakes rise and fall, like empires. They also collapse and for some they even deflate.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 14:09

I believe you say that the pastry collapsed. This is often used when describing a souffle.

Other words you might use include "sunk", "folded" and "imploded".

  • 2
    My mother always said a failed soufflé had sagged. The term is often used in recipes. "Sagging soufflés? Failed fajitas? Avoid kitchen burnout with a cooking class" (Washington Post). Commented Jul 25, 2022 at 22:02
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    @MichaelHarvey That particular example is clearly reaching for alliteration rather than idiomatic phrasing, so isn't particularly good evidence.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 17:17
  • @IMSoP - 'no soufflé will be left waiting (and sagging) in the kitchen', 'when you cut into it, it should be light and firm throughout, without obviously sagging', crossword clue: Unhappy about rising soufflé ingredient – sank in the middle! solution: SAGGED, Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 18:07
  • 3
    @MichaelHarvey In that crossword clue, the part defining SAGGED is just 'sank in the middle' (like a rope being supported at either end); the 'soufflé ingredient' part of the clue refers to the word EGG. (The whole breakdown is EGG backwards ('rising' in a vertical clue) with SAD ('unhappy') surrounding ('about') it.)
    – dbmag9
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 20:57

You can use the word deflate.

For example, from a cooking web site:

Removing the choux pastry from the oven too early is another reason why your choux shells will be flat. If they were soggy to start with, then they will not rise properly. But even if they do rise, they will deflate when they cool down, due to too much moisture inside the shell, especially if you take them out of the oven too soon. The shells didn’t have enough time to form a stable crust, so they collapse as they cool down.

  • I'd use deflate only with foods like a soufflé or a choux (i.e., something that was mostly air to start with). I wouldn't say a fallen cake had deflated
    – Flydog57
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 14:47
  • "Deflate" can be used for cakes too: google.com/search?q=%22cake+deflated%22 Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 15:05

With respect to cake, the word is “fall.”


  • The dv really annoyed me. So, I upvoted.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 15:04
  • @Lambie Thank you. Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 16:55
  • 1
    You're being downvoted for failing to cite sources or provide examples.
    – arp
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 21:00
  • @arp It took me less than 5 seconds to find a source for what is a common term. delightedcooking.com/what-causes-cakes-to-fall.htm Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 21:30
  • 1
    The solution "fall" is also included in the most upvoted answer. An answer that was posted an hour before this one. Why would users upvote an answer practically consisting of a single word when the top answer provided two solutions, two example sentences in two embedded links?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 21:56

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