The perfect fudgy brownie in hand

Cake & Pastry

Why do my brownies crack on top?

There are a few common causes of cracked brownies. Usually it’s related to either an incorrect oven temperature. Or sometimes it’s the technique used when mixing has caused too much air to be incorporated into the batter. Here are some tips and a recipe for getting perfect brownies every time.

Is there anything more exciting than the smell of a chocolate brownie batter baking in the oven? The combination of melted chocolate and chocolate chips which come together to make a batch of fudgy brownies. It can be so tempting to try the mixture before baking. But all the chocolatey goodness is even better once cooked into a batch of baked brownies.

What is in the brownie batter?

A brownie mixture contains few overall ingredients compared to other cakes. However, the batter can often be temperamental in comparison. Brownies can either be described as fudgy or cake like, depending on their density. We have created the perfect brownie recipe for you to try for yourselves. Keep reading for the recipe instructions below.

To make the perfect chocolate brownies, the recipe includes melted butter, melted chocolate, flour, cocoa powder, sugar, eggs and the correct cooking time and oven temperature. Make sure you have a good quality brownie pan before you start. This ensures you make the best brownies for the perfect baked good.

Mixing bowl with whisk and eggs
Mixing bowl with whisk and eggs

Why do people struggle with chocolate brownies?

There is a fine balance with baking brownies. Underbaked brownies are done very simply by taking the brownie batter out of the oven too soon. This creates an overly fudgy brownie which can stick to the parchment paper and can still resemble your wet ingredients.

The cooking process still continues whilst letting your brownie batter come to room temperature. The best thing to do is waiting until the mixture is completely cold before serving. Don’t panic if you have taken your brownie mixture out too soon. This technique of waiting can often rescue you from a big gooey chocolate brownie mix mess.

Making homemade chocolate brownies can feel very rewarding. Especially if you get the perfect brownie crust. Once you find a good brownie recipe, you can be sure to use that same recipe again. Need to take some baked goods to a friends house or a bake sale? Making gooey brownies is a big crowd pleaser. You’ll have everyone asking for the recipe.

Why do brownies crack on top?

There are a few reasons why your brownie batter might crack on top. They could be over-baked or you might have selected the wrong recipe. Another reason is the ingredients could be over-mixed. Also, you could have problems with the temperature of your oven. A few cracks on top of your brownie are nothing to worry about. It’s worth considering the reasons below if you want to ensure you make good brownies.

Baked brownie in tin
Baked brownie in tin

Over beating or over mixing the batter:

The crackly top in your brownie batter can be made worse by over-beating the mixture. When you beat your mix, the air is introduced into the eggs, flour and sugar creating more air bubbles. The air will then want to escape during the cooking process. This causes multiple cracks on the top of your brownie crust by the air releasing.

It’s best to start off by beating the butter and sugar together first. We recommend creaming together on a medium speed in your stand mixer. Then, you will need to add your eggs one at a time by thoroughly incorporating them into the mixture before adding another egg.

The more you over-mix or beat your ingredients, the more air you are incorporating into the batter. This will create more cracking during the baking process.

Spatula mixing brownie batter
Spatula mixing brownie batter

Over baking the brownie mixture:

When keeping your brownie mixture in the oven for too long, the batter can dry out and become crumbly. This can happen with any baked good. The excess heat removes all the moisture from the mixture during the cooking process.

As over-baking causes the mixture to become dry, this will eventually shrink in size and create more cracks in the top of your chocolate brownie. If you still have batter residue on your cake tester, then it’s a good time to take it out of the oven. If the cake tester is clean, then there’s a good chance you have baked it for too long.

Incorrect oven temperature

Making chocolate brownies with the perfect top crust is heavily dependent on the temperature of the oven. If the oven is too hot, then your brownie batter dries out in the pan. This also risks the top becoming crusty and hard. It’s important to follow the recipe’s instructions accurately to ensure prevent cracks on your baked goods.

When you bake brownies, the correct temperature is very important. It’s vital to make sure the oven is fully preheated before putting in your brownie tin. Too high a temperature can shock the batter. If the temperature is too low, then the brownie will struggle to cook properly. We usually keep a fan-assisted oven between 150C-160C.

Make sure you have your oven at the correct temperature before attempting to make your brownies. It‘s worth double checking your oven temperature with an infrared thermometer.

Incorrect brownie recipe

Make sure you choose a tried and tested recipe to follow. Some brownie recipes may not have their measurements perfected and you may end up with cake like brownies. Too many cracks might appear if the recipes suggest a longer mixing time. This can increase the air content in your batter. Leaving your chocolate batter to cool at room temperature in the pan is preferable. Some recipes may suggest to put the pan straight into the fridge to cool. Many recipes also suggest to cut your brownies whilst still warm. We suggest to cool the mixture completely prior to cutting your squares.

The history of brownies:

The beloved chocolate brownie was developed in the United States at the end of the 19th century. Brownies can come in either a square or rectangle shape. They are typically eaten by hand. Traditionally, brownies are common homemade treats. They are now more popular in restaurants and coffeehouses. Serving accompaniments include a glass of milk, ice cream, whipped cream or topped with icing sugar.

More recently, a food science journalist in 2021 decided to investigate why most brownies tend to form a glossy “skin” on their upper crust. According to the findings, the “skin” was the result of a high viscosity batter, with low levels of moisture and sugar well dissolved into the mix.

What’s the secret to the perfect chocolate brownie?

We recommend choosing the correct recipe. If you follow this properly, you shouldn’t have any issues with how your brownies turn out. As well as all of our recommendation points to follow above, we suggest to let your brownies cool before cutting them. This is because the cooling process helps to bind the mixture further with the residual heat. Also this ensures they are at the perfect gooey consistency. If the mixture is too firm, then they will be more cakey than fudgy.

Good quality ingredients

Make sure you select the best quality ingredients for your chocolate brownies. We recommend using the highest quality chocolate. In our recipe, we use 70.5% dark Callebaut Belgian chocolate chips. You can really taste the difference in the quality of the brownies. Using free range eggs instead of barn eggs will also mean your ingredients will be more fresh. You’ll also be helping to look after the welfare of the chickens too.

Callebaut 70.5% dark chocolate
Callebaut 70.5% dark chocolate

The best ever chocolate brownie recipe

This is our absolute favourite brownie recipe. These homemade brownies are fudgy, super chocolatey and easy to follow the recipe. It’s everything you want to make the perfect brownies. Making brownies can seem like a challenging task. We reckon you’ll fall in love with our recipe once you try the baked brownies.

Ingredients:

185g unsalted butter

275g caster sugar

185g dark chocolate

3 free range large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

85g plain flour

40g cocoa powder

Method:

Before you start to prepare your ingredients, preheat the oven to 150C fan. Line your 8” square loose bottomed baking tin with parchment paper. Tip: rub some butter underneath the parchment paper to help it to stick to the pan.

Lined brownie tin with parchment paper
Lined brownie tin with parchment paper

In a large sauce pan, gently melt together the butter and sugar together over the hob. Once melted and fully combined, take off the heat and add your chocolate. Stir the mixture until all of the chocolate has melted. Leave to cool for a few minutes.

Melting the wet ingredients together
Melting the wet ingredients together

In a large metal bowl, beat in the eggs together with a whisk. Once your chocolate mixture has cooled slightly, slowly pour this into the metal bowl with your eggs. Continue to whisk whilst pouring the mixture in. Add the vanilla extract. Mix in your dry ingredients of the flour and cocoa powder to the wet ingredients in the same bowl. Be careful not to over beat your mixture. You just want the flour to be fully incorporated without introducing too much air.

Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan. Using a rubber spatula can help to scrape all the goodness out of the mixing bowl. Spread the mixture to all four sides of the pan and smooth the top. The mixture will look thick, but don’t panic as this is expected.

Brownie batter in baking tin
Brownie batter in baking tin

Bake the mixture for 30-35 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven. Keep an eye on the brownies. It’s worth checking that the top of the mixture is just firm, but there is a gentle wobble in the middle.

Take the pan out of the oven. Leave to cool fully in the tin on a cooling rack. Once completely cool, turn the brownies out onto a chopping board or butchers block. Cut the brownies into 2” squares with a sharp knife.

The brownies are best eaten fresh. They can also be stored in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days. You can also freeze them for up to a month if you’re not going to eat them all in the first few days. We like to have our brownies on hand for an afternoon treat for an unexpected visitor, or a quick desert in the evening.

Recipe tips:

The main tip to making the best fudgy brownies is to not over bake them. As we have already mentioned, take the brownies out of the oven and allow them to cool at room temperature. The residual heat will help to continue to cook the brownies for a further few minutes.

Cut brownie pieces with knife
Cut brownie pieces with knife

How can I adapt this recipe?

You can easily make this recipe gluten-free by switching in gluten-free flour. Extra toppings can be placed on top of the brownies. We recommend toppings such as melted biscoff sauce, baby marshmallows, caramel sauce or decorated with chocolate chips. You can also make these brownies for Easter, by adding mini eggs or creme eggs on top of the mixture at the end of the baking process.

This recipe uses a square loose bottomed pan for ease of turning out the brownies. You can use an oblong or round tin, provided it’s roughly the same size. We’d recommend keeping an eye on the brownies as using a different style pan may affect the baking times.

You may be wondering if the recipe can be just as good as that well known pre-made box mix from the grocery store. The answer is yes! We have had this recipe on repeat since we first created it. Eggs, butter and sugar are basic pantry ingredients which when put together are hardly more challenging than using a box mix. As for the taste, there is no comparison when you think about the fresh ingredients that will keep you wanting to make more brownies. Happy baking!