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Why did my cake collapse? Overmixing?

Wouldn't you know--making a requested chocolate cake for a St. Patrick's day celebration (I know, I know, but that's what he wanted) and it has always turned out before.

The only difference this time is that I used my new Bosch Compact mixer and didn't know what "Medium" speed was when there are 4 speeds, so I did on 3--and boy, did it mix the heck out of it! Never having had one before, it's a bit hypnotizing watching it.

The other thing I did was open up the oven door to take a peek at the progress about 10 minutes before it should have been done because I was curious as to why it wasn't rising as high as it normally does. Next time I looked, I could see it had collapsed in the middle.

This is Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake, and I'm making it in a bundt pan.

I'm going to try again, but tell me what I may have done wrong. (The bundt cake is much prettier, but think I should play it safe and go with a 9x13 pan?)

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  1. The opening of the door caused a draft and that made your cake fall.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ruthie789

      Really? I don't bake much (obviously) and thought you only had to worry about that for souffles. Oh well, live and learn. But I still wonder why it didn't rise up as high as usual...

      Can I ask another question: to save myself more disappointment, I'm going to do it in a 9x13 pan. I have nonstick metal and glass: if I give them the cake in the metal pan, I'm afraid they're going to scratch it up on me--but do I need to make adjustments for glass?

      1. re: Thanks4Food

        It may well have to do with the structure of your cake re the draft. Sometimes you can open the door, but for light cakes with whipped egg whites it might not be a great idea.

    2. Does the recipe state that it makes enough batter for your bundt pan? Should you have used a smaller pans, two 8" or 9" pans? (Mind you, I've never used a bundt pan for anything, but they always look so big.)

      1. The recipe list all the various Pan sizes that can be used did you follow for the Bundt Pan?
        Are you sure that your measurements where correct? skimping on the Flour or too much Liquid can undermine the structure of the Cake.
        A 9x13 is no "safer" than Bundt Pan.
        There is no special adjustment to made for using a Glass Pan.
        If you did over mix it, it would inhibit the rise.

        4 Replies
        1. re: chefj

          That's all I can think was different--I'll try the slower 2nd speed next time.

          I only mean "safer" in that it's very iffy as to whether it's going to stick to the pan or not. Looks gorgeous when it comes out clean, but not so easy to disguise if the edges stay behind in the pan. To Jay F, I've made this many times before no problem--except for the occasional sticking.

          I just tasted it and it's gooey brownie-like on the inside and sort of spongy on the outside. I used my brand new Superfast Thermoworks thermometer and got a temp of 212 as Alton Brown recommends.

          I think the real reason it failed is because I promised it to someone...

          1. re: Thanks4Food

            This really sounds like there was too much Liquid or too little Flour.

            1. re: chefj

              You know, the adding of the 1 cup boiling water at the end always takes what looks like a decent cake batter to a very watery batter. I don't know why this recipe calls for that, but it has always worked.

              But I'll try once more with a 9x13 pan just to take out the stress of striving for beauty as well as good eats. If it doesn't work, I'm going to a grocery store bakery to see what could fit in my cake keeper. ;-)

              1. re: Thanks4Food

                I find that recipes method a bit strange but I have never used it.
                Here is a recipe from Rosy Levy Beranbaum that uses that Reverse Creaming Method. IMO the best way to put a Butter Cake batter together. It yields a moist cake with a beautiful crumb and is very hard to mess up.
                I often convert traditional Cake Recipes to the reverse method because it works so well.
                http://communityfoodcoop.wordpress.co...

        2. Could old baking soda have done it? Started to make a new cake and noticed that my TJ's baking soda says best by Aug 2012. Oops.

          Should I stop the proceedings till I can get some new soda?

          Later: just did the "bubble test" with warm water, 1/4 t vinegar, 1/4 t baking soda, and I got nothin'. Did it twice to make sure. Nothin'.

          So could just that ruin a cake? If so, I have renewed courage to try again with new baking soda.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Thanks4Food

            I would absolutely blame the baking soda! Especially if you've tested it and it's not reacting - there's not much hope it can provide the lift the cake needs.

            1. re: tacosandbeer

              Thanks for the confirmation! I may even go for the bundt again now that my courage is back.

              Just called a neighbor who is going to provide me with the necessary amount so I don't have to wait till evening (don't have a car today).

          2. Hey, everyone, thanks for your help: I now have a beautiful chocolate bundt cake with vanilla and chocolate drizzle and a finish of green and white sprinkles to make it suitable for St. Patrick's day AND St. Joseph's day. (Irish and Italian)

            1. I have a copy of an article that says it's either underbaked or overleavened. Since it was still in the oven when it fell, that means it was possibly overleavened. It goes on to say that 1-1/4 t. of BP OR 1/4 t. of BS per cup of flour is ideal.