Kate Sullivans Chocolate Cake

Decorating By melysa Updated 13 Apr 2008 , 2:38am by melysa

melysa Posted 22 May 2007 , 9:28pm
post #1 of 28

...i am using the chocolate cake recipe in kate sullivans book : fun and fancy cake decorating. the first time i made it, it tasted amazing, but sunk in the middle. i thought it was because i added the coffee and melted butter while hot. second time i made it...cold coffee, room temp melted butter...still sank. has anyone experienced this with this recipe? i hope i can get it right, because the taste and texture are perfect...i just dont want a hole in my cake! even if you have not used this recipe, perhaps you know a ton about baking- any ideas why? i followed the recipe and steps, used a scale, oven preheated etc....

27 replies
LGL Posted 22 May 2007 , 9:32pm
post #2 of 28

I had the same issue -- a small crater that I ended up filling with frosting.

melysa Posted 22 May 2007 , 9:35pm
post #3 of 28

did you bake the recipe more than that one time?

JoAnnB Posted 22 May 2007 , 9:37pm
post #4 of 28

If you use a flower nail for a heating core, the center will bake better.

melysa Posted 22 May 2007 , 9:38pm
post #5 of 28

it was only an 8" round cake. ...

melysa Posted 22 May 2007 , 9:42pm
post #6 of 28


2 and 1/3 c (290 gm) all purpose flour, plus more for pans.
1 and 1/2 c (150 gm ) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 and 1/4 tsp salt
1 tb baking soda
1 tb baking powder
3 c (675 gm ) granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 tb pure vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 c BUTTERMILK , room temperature
1 and 1/2 sticks (170 gm) unsalted butter, melted
1 and 1/2 c strong coffee (cooled)

1. position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 350' F (180' C). grease the sides and bottoms of the cake pans with shortening and dust with flour, tapping out excess. set aside.

2. in the large bowl of a mixer, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

3. stir in the sugar.

4. in the small bowl , combine the eggs and vanilla. mix into the dry ingredients.


6. devide the batter between the two nine inch pans. bake until set around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

transfer pans to wire cooling rack. let the cakes cool completely in thier pans before removing. loosen sides of the cakes by running the flat side of a knife blade around the sides of each pan. (OR SKIP THIS- AND USE A NON STICK SPRAY WITH FLOUR AND YOU CAN REMOVE THEM AFTER 5 MINUTES- MELYSA) . invert onto wire rack top side down and remove the pan. reverse the layers by turning them top side up again for cooling, to prevent layers from splitting.

cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to one week, or add a layer of foil over the plastic and freeze up to two weeks.

melysa Posted 22 May 2007 , 9:43pm
post #7 of 28

ok, so you see here, that i posted this recipe to another thread recently to share the recipe with someone else...and i noted what i thought was a one time mistake....hot coffee...deflated eggwhites....now i dont know about that.

anyone else?

ladyonzlake Posted 22 May 2007 , 9:54pm
post #8 of 28

I have not made this cake but when I made the chocolate cake off of Epicurious (awsome as well), the first time I made it I opened the oven 45 minutes into the baking to check on it and the middle fell. The next time I baked it I waited until closer to the finish time of 60 minutes and it was perfect. I think my cake is a little sensitive to temperature flexuation and this could be the same with this one.

melysa Posted 22 May 2007 , 9:55pm
post #9 of 28

i didnt open the oven either time...no loud thumps in the house either....hmmm.

HollyPJ Posted 22 May 2007 , 9:56pm
post #10 of 28

I've never made that recipe, but from my experience and from what I've read, it's actually better to have room temp or warm ingredients. That way it takes less time for the batter to heat and rise and set in the oven.

I have problems with cakes sinking in the middle all the time (I'm at high altititude). One thing that's helped me is to start the oven 25 degrees higher than the recipe states, bake for 20 minutes, then (without opening the oven!) reducing to the stated temp. To prevent the outside getting overdone, I'll often bake the last 10 or 15 minutes at 25 degrees lower.

You could use a flower nail as a heating core, too, even if the pan isn't big. That's something that helps me with sinking middles, too.

melysa Posted 22 May 2007 , 9:56pm
post #11 of 28

what about ingredient chemistry?

it cant be the oven off temp because my other cakes since then and today are rising/ baking just fine.

HollyPJ Posted 22 May 2007 , 9:59pm
post #12 of 28

You could try reducing the amount of leavening. It could be that there's too much, causing the cake to rise very rapidly, then fall.

It could be any number of things. The question is, do you want to take the time/ingredients to experiment?

melysa Posted 22 May 2007 , 9:59pm
post #13 of 28

holly, thanks for your stab at this...this is strange. i am in tx, so not high altitude. i will try the flower nail, guess it cant hurt. today when i did the recipe, all the ingredients were room temp..i made sure of it cause i thought that was the culprit last time.

melysa Posted 22 May 2007 , 10:02pm
post #14 of 28
Originally Posted by HollyPJ

You could try reducing the amount of leavening. It could be that there's too much, causing the cake to rise very rapidly, then fall.

It could be any number of things. The question is, do you want to take the time/ingredients to experiment?

now see, thats the kind of answer/possibility i was looking for... icon_smile.gif i had a suspician about the powder or soda but couldnt put my finger on it.

i may want to try this another time or two..its so hard to find a chocolate scratch recipe that is moist and tastes good! this is both...its just that stupid crater in the middle .

would you have a suggestion as to which one to cut back on and how much????? i havent a clue.

aupekkle Posted 22 May 2007 , 10:14pm
post #15 of 28

I googled cake sinking problems and here's what one website stated:

Fault cake sinking in the center


1 Too much aeration. This may be caused by: (a) Too much sugar used in the recipe. This can be detected by excessive crust color and a sticky seam running in the shape of a U.

(b) Too much baking powder. Difficult to detect because it can be confused with (c).

(c) Overbeating of fat/sugar/egg batter prior to adding flour.

2. Undercooked. This can easily be detected by the presence of a wet seam just below the surface of the top crust.

3. Knocking in oven prior to cakes being set. If during cooking when all the ingredients are in a fluid state, a cake gets a knock or disturbance (such as a draught of cold air) some collapse may take place which will result in the center of the cake caving in.

4. Too much liquid. This is easy to detect because, firstly the sides will tend to cave in as well as the top, and if the cake is cut a seam will be discovered immediately above the bottom crust. Cakes containing too much liquid do not show this fault until they are removed from the oven. During baking, the excess moisture is in the form of steam and actually contributes to the aeration of the cake. On cooling, this steam condenses into water which sinks to the bottom of the cake, collapsing the texture by so doing.

I hope this helps.

ladyonzlake Posted 22 May 2007 , 10:16pm
post #16 of 28

If you want to try another really good moist chocolaty recipe you've got to try this one! I love it! I do have everything at room temperature when I make scratch cakes and I have a convection oven so I bake my cakes at 325.

FromScratch Posted 22 May 2007 , 10:21pm
post #17 of 28

I don't think it's deflating eggwhites because you are not whipping them before adding them into your mixture. If you had to beat them to soft peaks before folding them in I might think that, but not if they are just tossed in with all the wet ingredients. I would also try tinkering with the leavening.. you aren't over mixing it are you? You could be getting too much air into the mixture and that can make it call too. I'll have to make it now.. LOL. A cake experiment with chocolate cake???? Oh.. it's on! icon_wink.gif

johnniekake Posted 22 May 2007 , 10:21pm
post #18 of 28

reduce the baking powder to 2 tsp

loveqm Posted 22 May 2007 , 10:28pm
post #19 of 28

I had a problem w/ sinking cakes inthe middle too and I found out that I had bought the wrong flour and was using self rising flour on accident. When I caught that I changed it to all purpose flour it solved the problem. hth. =)

melysa Posted 23 May 2007 , 2:03am
post #20 of 28

aupekkle, thank you for that list. thanks everyone else for the suggestions and input too! it is not being overbeaten...hardly any beating at all with a paddle attachment for less than a minute, just to mix it really. no egg white stiff peaks...so jkalman, you were right. loveqm, using the right flour....aupekkle, out of the entire list, i checked, the only thing that seems to make sense is POSSIBLY the sugar but there isnt a crusty crust and no u, so that leaves the leavening! johnniecake, i will try 2 tsp of b. powder, should i also reduce the soda? sheesh, you gotta be a chemist to bake dont ya? thanks again everyone, i will let you know if and when i try it again.jacqui, i think i'll give your recipe a try, thanks! how does it rise?

ladyonzlake Posted 23 May 2007 , 2:27am
post #21 of 28

It rises great, just don't open the oven until it's done.

Housemouse Posted 23 May 2007 , 8:05am
post #22 of 28

sheesh, you gotta be a chemist to bake dont ya?

Apparently so, if the list of ingredients on a shop-bought cake is anything to go by!!!!

melysa Posted 23 May 2007 , 7:23pm
post #23 of 28

i just thought of something else...i am just above sea level...so would THAT affect the amount of the rising agents? maybe thats why it sinks? cause apparently this recipe works perfectly for kate...she mentioned that she never thought she'd find the perfect man or the perfect chocolate cake...she ended up finding both. so....elevation????

LGL Posted 26 May 2007 , 8:41pm
post #24 of 28

#3 from the prior post, knocking or moving the cake . . . I guess that would mean that rotating your cakes 1/2 way through baking is NOT a good idea?

I thought it helped bake the cakes more evenly.

melysa Posted 6 Jun 2007 , 5:35am
post #25 of 28

jacqui, i think i will be trying your recipe. i tried this one again for the third time and for the third time ...it has also deflated. i had reduced the baking powder to two tsps this time...but oh well. i see your recommended recipe has only two tsps soda and three quarters tsp powder (as compared to one tb each in the one ive been using)...also two less eggs. i prefer butter to oil, but i am happy that yours has buttermilk in it....so i will let you know how i like it next time i do a chocolate cake! thanks!!!

craftyone65 Posted 12 Apr 2008 , 12:19pm
post #26 of 28

Trying this cake today and sorta nervous now.

craftyone65 Posted 12 Apr 2008 , 4:37pm
post #27 of 28

Ok....I won't be making this one again. They didn't rise and made a mess of my oven. I followed all of the suggestions and they didn't sink in the middle but the batter was so runny and they didn't rise above the pan but just spilled over. I'll stick with cake extenders instead. Ingred. are too expensive to experiment.

melysa Posted 13 Apr 2008 , 2:38am
post #28 of 28

i've been sucessfully using this recipe for quite some time now. i suspected it had to be my altitude so i played with it and around the sixth time, i got it perfect. i'm near sea level...i now use 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder and soda and it works great. i'm so glad i didnt give up on it, its too delicious! as a matter of fact, i just did a wedding today for 130 and used this recipe! went over very very well.

craftyone 65, the batter is runny. you should fill no more than 2/3 full and it wont overflow. sometimes i do only half..then again, it may be an issue with your altitude also. sorry it didnt work out for you.

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