ok, so I'm make a 10" square chocolate layer cake and I'm now on my 2nd one and everytime, it "domes" in the center and even though I let it cool for sufficent time, everytime I go to take it out of the pan, it cracks right down the center and then branches off from there...WTH? any help would be greatly appreciated...
Are you flipping it from the humped/domed top back over to the flat bottom immediately after removing it from the pan?
Is it cracking because it's sticking to the pan? How are you prepping your pan? Are you lining it with parchment? That will help with turning it out. You shouldn't let it cool in the pan longer than 10 minutes. After than the cake will start to stick. Greasing the sides and lining the bottom will help with turning it out.
your dome is causing it to crack. Try using the push down method on the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.
I dont know if you are familiar with it, so here is instructions. (well, what I do, anyway. others do it differently) Take cake circle the size of your pan, and when the cake is done, you lay the cake circle on top, and press it down so that it is even with the top of the cake pan. You may have to adjust the circle a little to get the cake to press down all the way around. The let is sit for a minute or two then turn out onto cake circle.
Another method is to just take a knife and level the cake before removing from pan.
Anything bigger than a 9 inch, I've not mastered the art of flipping it back onto the level side quick enough, so I generally have to press down with a cake board as I flip it out of the pan and then quickly flip it back over onto the cooling rack. I usually use a piece of wax paper to cover the board that I use when I have a very moist cake that will stick a bit. HTH