Sinking Cakes...

Baking By michalmari Updated 30 Mar 2011 , 4:22pm by michalmari

michalmari Posted 28 Mar 2011 , 5:57pm
post #1 of 14

I finally found a great recipe for a Carrot Cake - people can't stop raving about it - but I have one problem with it. As it is cooking it looks wonderful and has a nice rounded top. When I take it out of the oven and let it cool, the center sinks about 2 inches. I have made it several times with the same result. I am following the recipe I was given exactly - no deviation.

Anyone have any thoughts as to what I am doing wrong or how I should alter the recipe to make the center, at least level?


13 replies
cakegirl1973 Posted 28 Mar 2011 , 6:09pm
post #2 of 14

Usually a sinking center means that the middle is not done. You could try baking at a lower temp, using a heating core or using a flower nail.

cakegirl1973 Posted 28 Mar 2011 , 6:13pm
post #3 of 14

Usually a sinking center means that the middle is not done. You could try baking at a lower temp, using a heating core or using a flower nail.

LindaF144a Posted 28 Mar 2011 , 7:28pm
post #4 of 14

What is the recipe and how long are you baking and what oven temp?

michalmari Posted 29 Mar 2011 , 5:29pm
post #5 of 14

Here's the recipe and directions - I used 9" pans with flower nails in the center. The odd thing is that the center was indeed done but just sunk... I was going to post this recipe for others to try out but want to figure out the problem first... Thanks for the help.

Spiced Carrot Cake


2 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger, ground
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves, ground
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, dark
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cup carrots, grated
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 325. Prepare pans.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and cloves.

Beat the oil and eggs in large bowl with mixer on moderate speed for 3 minutes. Add sugar and brown sugar - beat for 3 minutes longer.

Blend in the vanilla.

Scrape down sides of bowl to keep batter evenly textured.

On low speed, add the sifted mixture and beat just until the particles of flour are absorbed.

Beat in the carrots. The batter will be moderately thin.

Stir in walnuts

Pour batter into pans.

Bake for approximately 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Baked cake will pull away slightly from the sides of the pan.

LindaF144a Posted 29 Mar 2011 , 8:46pm
post #6 of 14

Sorry, one more thing to ask.

The cake domes, but the sinks 2" somewhat top of the cake is flat? Or is it concave after it sinks?

If it sinks so the cake top is flat, this is a good thing. You want a flat top and you do not want to have to trim anything off. A scratch cake made and baked properly will come out flat. That is one that is formulated correctly.

If it is sinking til it is concave after baking, it is a sign of underbaking, even if the toothpick is coming out clean.

But my guess is it is sinking out to flat, especially if everybody is raving about it.

michalmari Posted 29 Mar 2011 , 10:44pm
post #7 of 14

It is actually concave - it domes nicely while cooking though. The outside of the cake was definitely done - it was actually a bit overdone. The center of the cake was cooked all the way as well - it was not at all doughy. The toothpick was clean, as you stated and since the outer edges were beginning to show signs of being overcooked, I pulled it out of the oven. The first time I did this cake the center was definitely under cooked and I did not use flower nails. This time, I made sure it was cooked completely, but it ended up still concave. I am already cooking it at a low temperature - 325 - but should I lower it still? Should I try increasing an ingredient and if so, which one do you think would help and how much? Other cakes I cook dome and then flatten out the way they are supposed to. This seems to be the only recipe that I have the concaving issue with...

LindaF144a Posted 29 Mar 2011 , 11:19pm
post #8 of 14

The only other thing I notice is the weight of the sugar and the flour. The sugar is roughly 14 ounces and the flour is 9 ounces. This is 155% of the weight of the sugar to flour. You could reduce the sugar to bring it to about 125% of the weight of the flour.

Given the recipe uses AP flour, it can't take that weight of sugar and all the moisture too. It will collapse like you describe. You can see an example of this in the book How Baking Works if you want.

If you don't want to reduce the sugar, you can raise the flour too so that it is about 125% difference between the two.

Where did you get the recipe? I'm just curious.

michalmari Posted 30 Mar 2011 , 12:16am
post #9 of 14

Thanks LindaF144a. How much would you suggest I reduce the sugar by? If I reduce the sugar should I increase the flour as well?

I was given the recipe when I attended a one hour cake decorating/baking class a couple years ago from a local cake supply store that does classes. I fell in love with how it tastes so I really want to use it but I need to get it to stop sinking.

Another thing I forgot to mention is the recipe calls for dark brown sugar, but I used light brown. Could that have been the problem? One of the substitutions I was given at the class was if I used light brown sugar then I should add molasses, but I forgot to add it in.

Thanks for all the help.

LindaF144a Posted 30 Mar 2011 , 12:24am
post #10 of 14

Either increase the flour by 1/2 cup OR decrease the granulated sugar by 1/2 cup. They are different weights, but coincidentally work out to the same measurement.

I personally would decrease the sugar. Given there is no liquid except what you get from the carrots and the eggs, this would be the best thing to do.

Let me know how it works for you. The kind of sugar should not make a difference. You might get a slightly, ever so slightly richer flavor. But I doubt 1/4 cup will make a difference.

LindaF144a Posted 30 Mar 2011 , 12:34am
post #11 of 14

Sorry, I just rechecked my math. You should lower the granulated sugar by 1/4 cup to 1 1/2 cups sugar. The amount in my last message was wrong.

michalmari Posted 30 Mar 2011 , 12:54am
post #12 of 14

Ok - so increase the flour by 1/2 cup OR decrease the granulated sugar by 1/4 cup? Do I have that correct? Also, do you think it makes a difference on light or dark brown sugar?

LindaF144a Posted 30 Mar 2011 , 2:51am
post #13 of 14

Yes that is correct. Do not do both. Do one or the other. Your brown sugar choice should not make any difference.

michalmari Posted 30 Mar 2011 , 4:22pm
post #14 of 14

Thanks so much LindaF144a. I will give it a shot and see what happens.

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