Scratch Choc. Cake Falls?

Decorating By Price Updated 3 Oct 2008 , 5:04pm by Price

Price Posted 28 Sep 2008 , 4:32pm
post #1 of 19

Hi all, I know there have already been plenty of threads on this subject, but I am totally puzzled as to what is making this cake fall. I'm hoping maybe some of the expert scratch bakers on here can help with some advice.

I do not like choc. cake made from a box mix. Love the WASC, but don't like the choc. mix at all. I have tried different recipes and the one I have used the most lately is the "Double Chocolate Layer Cake" from Everyone in the family seems to love the taste of it. It is very chocolately and moist.

My problem is this--- The cake looks beautiful in the oven until about 10 minutes before it is ready to come out and then the center slowly begins to sink (and so does my heart!).

I bake in an electric oven, with the rack in the center. I do not open the door. The recipe calls for a 300 degree oven for 1 hour, to 1 hour and 10 minutes. It also suggests 2 - 10" round pans. I have tried baking at 300, 315, and 325 and still have the same problem. I have tried different size pans. Today I used a 9x13 with 2 flour nails in the center and baked at 315 for about 1hour. The cake was looking beautiful! I thought - oh this time it's going to be perfect and then it started to sink! I might also mention that when I test the cake for doneness it seems to be a harder crust towards the center of the cake then around the edges. What is going wrong?

Here are the ingredients:
1 1/2 c. hot brewed coffee, with 3 oz. of choc. melted in it.
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 teasp. baking powder
1 /14 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. butter milk
3/4 tsp. vanilla

my baking powder and soda are fresh.
Any suggestions or thoughts on what else can be done? Like I said everyone loves the taste of this cake. I would love to be able to figure out what I need to change to keep this from happening. Oh, and forgot to mention, in the past I have also tried clipping wet towel strips around the outside of the pan and that didn't make a difference either.

Thanks for any help. Sorry this was so long.


18 replies
ceshell Posted 29 Sep 2008 , 5:57am
post #2 of 19

How funny, I was having a problem recently with a white scratch recipe falling, it's the same dilemma: best white cake I've ever eaten, but always falls. I have also tried your alternate methods (different oven temps, add flower nail, add baking strips, cook for longer time, don't open the oven door, measure and mix the recipe with ultimate precision, etc.) to no avail.

When I went to the CC archives to try to find some answers, I came across a post with this question about the SAME cake that you just posted about! I even remember txkat responding that she has used the recipe before and "it's a sinker". LOL. I don't recall her suggestion to remedy the sinking though, but you should go into the archives and see if you can find that thread. I can't remember my search terms but it was something obvious like "sunken center" or "fallen center" or something. I know it's there, it was literally 5 days ago I was looking it up.

Good luck and I am anxious to see your results. For what it's worth the members of made several alterations to that recipe to perfect it. I made their altered version and I did not experience any sinking problems, it baked up perfectly. So if nothing else works you might want to try the revised version of the recipe; it's found on this thread - it's halfway down in a post by "steven blaski"

Personally I prefer the egullet doctored version of the Scott Clark Woolley fudge brownie cake (which they discuss in the first half of the thread) over the Epicurious cake, but that's just me icon_wink.gif

eagerlearner Posted 29 Sep 2008 , 6:25am
post #3 of 19

I use that recipe too ( made it's first appearance in my penguin Christmas cake). Ain't it dreamy? No idea whats wrong though, It turns out fine for me. Maybe something's off with your oven's internal thermometer?

Mike1394 Posted 29 Sep 2008 , 1:16pm
post #4 of 19

My .02 it looks low on the flour. I would up the flour a 1/2 c, and see. There is 4.125 c of liquid in it. The flour & cocoa powder is a total 4c. A 1/2 might be to much. If it is it will be a lil more dense. That should give you the structure though.


pastrylady Posted 29 Sep 2008 , 1:28pm
post #5 of 19

If you have too much rising agent in the batter the cake will rise too quickly, before the starch has time to set in the batter, and then the structure cannot support it's own weight.

Looking at your recipe it seems like the amount for the baking powder and baking soda should be switched. Baking powder is a less concentrated rising agent because it is actually made up of two parts acidic ingredient (cream of tartar) and one part baking soda. Baking soda is more concentrated so usually shows up in smaller proportions in the recipe.

Try using 2tsp baking powder and 3/4 tsp baking soda. Personally, I would also even lower the baking powder to 1tsp. Maybe try switching them first and if your still not happy with the results then try lowering the baking powder to 1tsp.

lainalee Posted 29 Sep 2008 , 1:51pm
post #6 of 19

ceshell, thanks for sharing the link. I'll have to try this one, mine are not at all reliable. I love to use only scratch cakes, but just when I think i'm safe with one, the next one fails. icon_cry.gif

CakesByLJ Posted 29 Sep 2008 , 2:07pm
post #7 of 19

Perfect timing for this thread! I love that cake, and...... lo and behold.. it did the same thing to me last week icon_surprised.gif Thanks for the link Ceshell.. I will try the changes they suggest.
Perhaps someone can answer me this question.. I cannot for the life of me figure out the scaling differences in recipes.. The Cake Bible has one amount for 3 cups of cake flour (300 grams) and Toba Garrett says 3 cups of cake flour is 330 grams??? Which is it?? icon_cry.gificon_cry.gif

sugarlove Posted 29 Sep 2008 , 8:14pm
post #8 of 19

I also use a tweaked version of this recipe. I would not touch the flour but instead decrease the sugar by a 1/2 c. Increasing the flour would make for a more dry cake. Depending on the type of cocoa powder used (dutch or natural) I would change the leavening either since the original recipe as written called for undutch cocoa powder. With the acid from the buttermilk and cocoa powder the 2 tsp of baking soda would be finef or this recipe.

Mike1394 Posted 29 Sep 2008 , 9:31pm
post #9 of 19
Originally Posted by sugarlove

I also use a tweaked version of this recipe. I would not touch the flour but instead decrease the sugar by a 1/2 c. Increasing the flour would make for a more dry cake. Depending on the type of cocoa powder used (dutch or natural) I would change the leavening either since the original recipe as written called for undutch cocoa powder. With the acid from the buttermilk and cocoa powder the 2 tsp of baking soda would be finef or this recipe.

What's your theory about the sugar?.


ceshell Posted 29 Sep 2008 , 11:02pm
post #10 of 19

I am loving all of these theories people. I am going to try these solutions with the white cake I have problems with. Although, let me ask you this, in my case the cake definitely does not rise too quickly, it takes its time and looks normal baking-wise till it deflates. (It's the Rebecca Rather white-on-white cake, best white cake I've ever eaten and a big hit at the party this past weekend...but I had to do some major trimming to account for the sinkage). Recipe in case you're interested Not to hijack the thread but I am hoping the falling issue is relevant!

Price Posted 2 Oct 2008 , 7:33pm
post #11 of 19

Thanks for all of the suggestions. For some reason, I didn't get any notices of posst to this thread. So guess what? I just put another cake in the oven right now. I just tried raising the temp. a little more. We'll see what happens with it. I will go to the other thread and check it out. If the cake doesn't turn out this time, I'll tried the revised version next. Thanks again for all of the interesting answers. I too was wondering about the ratios of the ingredients. icon_confused.gif

Price Posted 2 Oct 2008 , 7:37pm
post #12 of 19

It's been in the oven for 30 minutes and so far looking beautiful. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. This is what happened last time and at the last few minutes it fell. Wish me luck! thumbs_up.gif

Price Posted 2 Oct 2008 , 7:43pm
post #13 of 19

OH NO!!!!! It's sinking! icon_sad.gificon_sad.gificon_sad.gif

Price Posted 2 Oct 2008 , 8:22pm
post #14 of 19

It's out of the oven and although it did sink a little, it's not a disaster. It didn't sink as much as the last one, so maybe raising the temp. did help a little. Oh, another thing I did was strain the coffee when I poured it in this time. The recipes calls for melting choc. in coffee. I use choc. chips and although they do melt, they don't really all dissolve, There is a fair amount of just melted choc. in the bottom of the cup. so this time I strained the liquid and didn't let all of that melted choc. go in.

ceshell Posted 2 Oct 2008 , 11:30pm
post #15 of 19

For what it's worth here's the thread I was mentioning about the cake being "a sinker"

Try the egullet modification of the recipe, I have made that version twice and it never sunk on me. As I mentioned my white cakes have sunk so I am not immune to sinking!! So I figure, if *I* can get that cake to bake without sinking, it must be a solid recipe icon_biggrin.gif. If you didn't find the modified recipe (and you want it), let me know and I'll PM it to you. At the very least, if it sinks again you will know it's not an ingredients issue.

sugarlove Posted 2 Oct 2008 , 11:45pm
post #16 of 19

I've mentioned this previously but reducing the sugar by 1/2 a cup should eliminate your sinking problem. The egullet modified version also calls for 2 1/2 c sugar instead of the 3 cups that the original recipe listed. I also had problem with Silvia Weinstock's Classic Yellow cake sinking then I reduced the sugar in that as well and now there's no more sinking. I'm almost certain the orignal professional versions of these recipes called for some type of emulsifier or emulsified cake shortening without those emulsifiers you are faced with the problem listed therefore adjustments to the formula is needed.

ceshell Posted 2 Oct 2008 , 11:57pm
post #17 of 19

Sugarlove do you think that fix is worth trying for my white cake? The recipe only calls for 2 1/3c sugar to 3c cake flour.

Mike1394 Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 8:07am
post #18 of 19

This is why you up the flour. There is a lot of moisture in the above recipe.


Price Posted 3 Oct 2008 , 5:04pm
post #19 of 19

Thanks so much everyone. I had already mixed up the original recipe again before I came on and realized I had replies to this thread. The next time I need to make the Choc. cake I will definitely try modifications and see what happens. I did think that 3 cups of sugar seemed high.

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