I have been baking at home for a while. Not really decorating until lately, but baking since I was 10. I have NEVER had too many problems with things turning out, but in the last 3 days, I have had 2 major cake failures. The first cake, I made some adjustments to the recipe I was using and it turned out crumbly and fell a little bit in the middle. I figured it was due to the adjustments and decided to rebake today following the instructions to the T..(I weigh EVERY ingrediant to the gram.) This cake is just falling apart crumbly again.
What is the deal? I have used the recipe before with no issues (Yellow cake from the Cake Bible), I am pretty sure the oven is proper, because it is taking the right amount of time, I followed the stupid directions. WTH!
I wish i could i help you with something. Perhaps its an ingredients itself has changed some way?
Have you moved?? Could you need a high altitude recipe, or not??????
The falling in the middle is usually because the ingredients aren't room temp before baking. I don't know why it would be crumbly, though.
What kind of adjustments were made?
Is there still the same amount of fat in the recipe?
If you go to Baking 911 website it can help give insight. There is lots of reasons why a cake may fall in the center. (Undermixing, overmixing, opening the oven, high elevation....etc.)
As far as the dryness and crumbling it sounds like it might be overbaked.
Have you checked your oven with an oven thermometer to make sure that it's still correct. Ovens usually flux 25 degrees above and below the temp you have it set for, almost like in a wave pattern. If your oven is off it could really screw a lot of things up.
"sinking in the center" ~ Have you checked the expiration date on your baking powder/soda?
I haven't moved and shouldn't need a high altitude recipe. (Heck, I am practically sea level here.)
The first time I made the recipe, I subbed a combo of orange juice concentrate and heavy cream for the milk called for in the recipe. That one fell a little in the middle and was crumbly. So I decided to forget the orange cake idea and just make a yellow cake. Measured the ingrediants exactly and still crumbly. (Although nice and flat.)
I use the cake bible constantly...and have found that the recipes are delicious...and usually work dependably well. Two reasons for the cake falling in the middle are too much baking powder or the cake being undercooked...as far as crumbly...there could be a million reasons. Have you changed flours? I know you weigh everything...and all of us neruotics do when we fall into the clutches of the seductive cake bible. ONe thing you might try is posting a question to Rose Levy Beranbaum. She has a blog/forum where she cheerfully and promptly answers questions about her recipes:
Are you using the correct size cake tin for the ammount of cake batter you are using?
Many a time a cake can rise and then fall at the end part of cooking because the tin is not large enough to accommodate the ammount of batter -
This can also cause drying out around the outter edges/over baking - and thus crumbling
This are all shots in the dark, unless you post your recipe and baking temperature / time, but here we go:
The first cake, sinking in the middle: This could be the orange juice. You added acid and didn't compensate. Let say this was it and you have one thing common -
a crumbly cake: Did you use another brand of flour, sugar or butter/shortening? Or did you perhaps notice any difference? How did the batter looked like? I use the same method - going by weight - but sometimes I have to add more milk, because some flour (and even an batch of the same brand of flour) works different. As for sugar - coarser sugar can mean much longer creaming to get the "normal" cake. Different brand of shortening / butter can throw the liquid ratio in the cake batter. Another one - were the eggs same size as usual?
And there are such culprits as
- ingredients not at room temperature - most problematic are eggs, because cold butter means simply more work when creaming
- faulty oven - baking too high without knowing and overbaking (you wouldn't necessarily see it, sometimes few minutes, without burning the cake are enough)
Good luck with your cake.
"creaming" butter not really an issue here...these recipes are mixed using the two stage method...but looking for changes is clearly the way to solve the mystery.
How old is your oven? Could it have cooler spots?