Help! My Yearly Frustrating Cake Fell Again!

Baking By bearbuster Updated 6 Feb 2011 , 5:18am by auzzi

bearbuster Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 10:53pm
post #1 of 9

I inherited this cake recipe as my husband's birthday cake ... 40 years ago. Almost every year I have problems with the cake. Does anyone have a suggestion as to what the problem is. It almost always falls. It's a chocolate swirl cake with the chocolate being two squares of unsweetened chocolate. The chocolate is not mixed with the batter before being swirled in. The very thing that makes this cake so good is also the thing that I think makes it fall.

This is baked in a 9 x 13 pan. The recipe calls for 1 3/4 C sifted flour, 1 1/2 C sugar, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 C shortening, 1 C evaporated milk, 2 eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla, and the 2 squares of unsweetened chocolate.

The dry ingredients are sifted and mixed together and then the shortening and 3/4 C of the milk are added and mixed at low speed two minutes. Then the eggs and remaining 1/4 C of milk and vanilla are added and beat 1 more minute. The chocolate is melted and then poured in four even rows across the batter and then cut through the batter in a circle with a knife.

It gets baked 35-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven. After the cake is cooled, it's supposed to be cut in half and then each half sliced in half making a four layer cake with fluffy brandy frosting in between. When it falls .... like it always does icon_sad.gif it's impossible to slice and make the four layers.

Can anyone help or have ideas of what I'm doing wrong? My husband's mother claims she never had a problem with it .. Grrrrrrrr.

8 replies
eatdessert1st Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 11:18pm
post #2 of 9

That is very frustrating... here's a link with some possible answers:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/596081

HTH,
Melanie Mc.

Sangriacupcake Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 11:20pm
post #3 of 9

Try mixing some of the batter with the melted chocolate before swirling it in with the rest of the batter.

becca_224 Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 11:21pm
post #4 of 9

From a chemistry standpoint (my 'day job') I would think that 2 eggs may not be enough. The egg white is what helps make your cake 'stick' together. You may want to try adding an extra egg white to your recipe. Also, you might want to try beating the eggs with the milk and shortening. The egg yolk would then act as an emulsifier with the fat in the shortening and milk to also help hold it together. I hope you have time to test this recipe before the next birthday! icon_smile.gif

GL79 Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 11:21pm
post #5 of 9

Hmm that recipe sounds delicious!!
Could it be the type of chocolate you're using?

FromScratchSF Posted 31 Jan 2011 , 5:18am
post #6 of 9

The amount of eggs sounds OK to me...

Your reverse creaming seems to have some missing steps, that could be your problem. So I've filled in how it should be:

In a cup add your eggs, vanilla and 1/4 cup of your evo milk, beat lightly with a fork.

In one bowl, sift 1 3/4 C flour (I'm assuming APF?), 1 1/2 C sugar, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt. Beat with paddle attachment on low to aireate. Then add your 1/2 C shortening, and remaining 3/4 C evaporated milk at the same time. Beat with a paddle attachment on medium low for 180 seconds. This gives structure to the cake and coats the gluten in the flower to keep it tender. Add your milk mixture in 2 batches, beating on medium low, waiting 30 seconds between each. Scrape bowl, beat another 10 seconds.

Pour into pans and do the rest as you've indicated with the chocolate.

If this does not work, I think your sugar/flour ratio might be a little off. I wouldn't think evo milk from 40 years ago is the same today, I wonder if it has a higher sugar content now? The original recipe has compensated for some sugar content (having 1/4 c more flour then sugar) but I wonder if that's enough now? So maybe try increasing your flour by 1/4 c. or try cutting the evo milk with some whole milk.

Good luck, and let us know how you do!

debbief Posted 31 Jan 2011 , 6:27pm
post #7 of 9

Since I don't know where you are from, I'm just going to throw this out there just in case. If you live in a higher altitude area, you may need to adjust some of your ingredients. I live at a higher altitude and used to get so frustrated because I would follow a recipe exactly and my cakes would fall all the time. I did some research and found this information very helpful.

Adjustment for 3000+ feet:

Add an additional egg to rich cakes to help keep them from falling.

Increase flour: For each cup of flour increase by 1 tblsp

Decrease fat: For each cup of fat, decrease 1 to 2 tblsp.

Reduce baking powder: For each tsp., decrease 1/8 tsp to 1/4 tsp

Reduce sugar: For each cup, decrease 0 to 1 tblsp.

Increase liquid: For each cup, add 2 to 4 tblsp.

Increasing oven temperature 15 to 25°F more will help set the batter before cells formed by leavening gases expand to much.


So...if you're at a higer altitute, maybe give these modifications a try.

vtcake Posted 4 Feb 2011 , 11:36pm
post #8 of 9

LOL, this sounds to me like what I've read some cakers on here suggest to do to people who ask for their special recipes...perhaps your MIL left out a key step or ingredient so that her son will always remember HER cakes as being the best!!

Maybe it's time to make up your own special recipe!

(apologies if your MIL is the salt of the earth...mine has shared her recipes w/o guile)

auzzi Posted 6 Feb 2011 , 5:18am
post #9 of 9

With this method, it is all in the timing!!

The dry ingredients are sifted and mixed together and then the shortening and 3/4 C of the milk are added and mixed at low speed two minutes.
[My method says:- Medium speed for 3 minutes, scraping the bowl thoroughly.]

Then the eggs and remaining 1/4 C of milk and vanilla are added and beat 1 more minute.
[My method says:- Add slowly to ingredients in mixing bowl while mixing in slow speed. Scrape bowl down again. Mix for 3 minutes in medium speed.]

The chocolate is melted and then poured in four even rows across the batter and then cut through the batter in a circle with a knife.
[This is fine]

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