Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

cake sags in the middle -- why?


cognitivefun
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi,

Do you use an oven thermometer? Are you certain your oven was actually at the right temperature? Was it completely pre-heated before you put the cake into the oven?

Eileen

Eileen Talanian

HowThe Cookie Crumbles.com

HomemadeGourmetMarshmallows.com

As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I made a spice cake last night. You whip eggs and sugar until very light, add melted butter and then alternately add sour cream and the flour/spices/leaveners. Then into the oven.

The middle sags. High on the outside part of the cake, low in the middle.

What causes this?

My guess, too, is that the oven was not the correct temperature, hot enough. Or were the egg whites possibly overwhipped?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did you do that in that order??? It's kinda backwards. Wouldn't your egg whites be deflated after all that extra curricular activity?

We had a whole big deal going about egg whites & cakes in this other thread.

Melting the butter strikes me as a problem too for some reason.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had a similar problem with one of RLB's white butter cake recipes sinking in the middle when I was making it and I wrote to Rose to ask her about it. Her reply said that perhaps I should develop the gluten a bit more, and also to try reducing the baking powder a little. Well, I let the mixer go for a full minute more than I have in the past, and I'm a little light handed when measuring the baking powder, and I haven't had a problem since her advice. Maybe one of these suggestions (or both) may help you out.

...although, I agree with K8 too, adding melted butter to whipped eggs seems to defeat the purpose....

Don't waste your time or time will waste you - Muse

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm. But when I've made a genoise, it seems to me that I recall I've whipped eggs (over a bit of heat, just a bit) to three times their volume and then I've added melted butter. I'm confused as to why this is a bad idea...

I don't mean to change the topic, so just to tie back in...there is a possibility that this has to do with the eggs somehow...

Perhaps the temperature was too low in my oven. I do have a big stone in there and perhaps for baking delicate cakes, it throws the themostat off and then, the cake cooks too slowly, resulting in time for the interior to sag but meanwhile the perimeter has set...

Sounds plausible :wink:

Edited by cognitivefun (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps the temperature was too low in my oven. I do have a big stone in there and perhaps for baking delicate cakes, it throws the themostat off and then, the cake cooks too slowly, resulting in time for the interior to sag but meanwhile the perimeter has set...

Sounds plausible  :wink:

You are right. It is the occupational hazard of being a cake. That is easily fixed. Use an upside down rose nail or a heating core or a piece of aluminum foil stuck in there. Fold it flat like 4"x1", cut one end making two 'feet' than can be folded in opposite directions & plant that securely into the middle of the cake batter. To remove after baking, slide a butter knife down each leg to 'unfold' and remove.

Did you clarify your butter??? What is the formula??

Edited by K8memphis (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

How did you add the melted butter?

Though, I've had genoise issues aplenty, and usually the problem was that I didn't fold it in properly, but it never sunk in the center.

What size pan did you use?

I used an 8 X 8 pan, pyrex.

I added the butter with the mixer paddle attachment on low and mixed just enough to combine, as the recipe instructed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm. But when I've made a genoise, it seems to me that I recall I've whipped eggs (over a bit of heat, just a bit) to three times their volume and then I've added melted butter. I'm confused as to why this is a bad idea...

I don't mean to change the topic, so just to tie back in...there is a possibility that this has to do with the eggs somehow...

Perhaps the temperature was too low in my oven. I do have a big stone in there and perhaps for baking delicate cakes, it throws the themostat off and then, the cake cooks too slowly, resulting in time for the interior to sag but meanwhile the perimeter has set...

Sounds plausible  :wink:

You probably already knew this but I am throwing it in in case someone doesn't. When baking in glass (pyrex) ware or in dark teflon coated pans, you should reduce the temperature by 25F.

And yes, it is also possible that the baking stone created additional problems with this particular recipe.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah, but to throw a wrench in the works -- I specifically added a baking stone to my oven to keep my genoise from deflating. It kept the heat more even, as long as I preheat the oven for a LONG time before baking so the stone can absorb the heat.

But then had problems with another cake -- after experimentation I found it was that I wasn't whipping my egg whites perfectly. My flaw was with the baker, not the oven or recipe.

Could it be that the butter isn't mixing in thoroughly -- it can tend to sink to the bottom. When doing a genoise I was taught to take some of the egg foam, add it to the butter and stir until it was well combined. Then fold that mixture back into the rest of the foam to make the folding easier. Would that process work for this cake?

Did you open the oven door too soon for a peek? Another detrimental move to some cakes....

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would like to point out that Cog never said anything about beating egg whites.

I made a spice cake last night. You whip eggs and sugar until very light, add melted butter and then alternately add sour cream and the flour/spices/leaveners. Then into the oven.

The eggs are whole, beating them with sugar til it ribbons, most likely.

This cake mixing method mimics a genoise, for sure.

I'm fairly sure it has nothing to do with a baking stone in your oven, as I've baked cakes successfully in all kinds of ovens.....including pizza deck ovens, which are solid stone on the bottom.

It's either an oven temp problem or a mixing problem; the latter being more likely.

When it comes to cakes that are "genoisey", I do fold the butter and the flour in by hand literally. It helps to fan your fingers out a bit so that you can incorporate the ingredients better and use less folding action. :smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When it comes to cakes that are "genoisey", I do fold the butter and the flour in by hand literally. It helps to fan your fingers out a bit so that you can incorporate the ingredients better and use less folding action. :smile:

Do you also fold by hand at home, when working with small volumes?

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I made a spice cake last night. You whip eggs and sugar until very light, add melted butter and then alternately add sour cream and the flour/spices/leaveners. Then into the oven.

The middle sags. High on the outside part of the cake, low in the middle.

What causes this?

You also may have too much leavener. The leavener could react too quickly and puff the center before the structure is set by the heat. How much leavener did you use? You could try cutting down the baking powder.

Added note: if the oven temp is too high, you could have the sides cooking too fast. Try using damp kitchen cloths wrapped around the cake pans.

Edited by JayBassin (log)
He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My first thought too was whether the cake was actually done. Did you test the center before you took it out of the oven?

Another observation from my own cakes: I have a baking stone in my oven and have for several years now. It's never had an effect in terms of the issue noted here, and in fact it seems to distribute the heat overall in the oven, or something. I've just noticed everything bakes more evenly and consistently with it in. I only discovered that after I got tired of putting it in and then taking it back out again every time I baked bread.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When it comes to cakes that are "genoisey", I do fold the butter and the flour in by hand literally. It helps to fan your fingers out a bit so that you can incorporate the ingredients better and use less folding action. :smile:

Do you also fold by hand at home, when working with small volumes?

Thanks for the reply. I guess my question was whether you used your hands due to large volumes in a production environment.

My kids will think I'm nuts, but I'll try your method next time. I can certainly see how hands would be better. I've never been completely satisfied with folding in egg whites using standard methods.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
Link to comment
Share on other sites

When it comes to cakes that are "genoisey", I do fold the butter and the flour in by hand literally. It helps to fan your fingers out a bit so that you can incorporate the ingredients better and use less folding action. :smile:

Do you also fold by hand at home, when working with small volumes?

Thanks for the reply. I guess my question was whether you used your hands due to large volumes in a production environment.

My kids will think I'm nuts, but I'll try your method next time. I can certainly see how hands would be better. I've never been completely satisfied with folding in egg whites using standard methods.

yeah, I think it's a cool idea! I use my hands when I make bread, why not for folding in egg whites? I like it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 8 months later...

Just adding to the library of knowledge here -- I had this problem earlier this week and came to this thread for guidance. I was doing everything right: not overbeating the eggs, folding in the butter and thrice-sifted cake flour gently, baking in a calibrated oven, etc. but still got sunken middles.

The culprit? I was using a smaller pan than called for. Going from an 8" to 9" pan resulted in a perfect genoise with no sinking or doming. The pan was also a bit darkened, which I think helped to set the center along with the sides.

Hope this helps someone down the road!

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

My eGullet blog

The Renegade Writer Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Similar Content

    • By cteavin
      I posted this on YouTube the other day and thought I'd post it here. Personally, when I make them for me I only use Erythritol (a sugar substitute) but depending on the friend sugar or a blend of the two. Unlike other zucchini brownies, these don't use egg white, so they're not cake-y, but dense and fudgy. 
       
      Oh, and because I use whey protein, they're higher in protein and good for post-workout bite. 
       
       
      Ingredients
      300 -400 grams zucchini 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup sugar or sugar substitute 1/2 cup cocoa 1-2 tablespoons flavoring (brandy, rum, vanilla, etc) 2 shots of espresso (or instant, 60ml/2oz) 2 egg yolks 1/2 cup flour 1/2 cup oatmeal 1 cup whey protein (or milk powder) 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional, but adds nice flavor)   1. Mince the zucchini in the food processor with the salt.
      2. Add the sugar or sugar substitute and process until the sugar is dissolved.
      3. Bloom your cocoa: In a separate bowl, combine the cocoa with HOT espresso and your flavorings (including cinnamon). Stir until mostly dissolved.
      4. To the food processor add the cocoa mixture and two egg yolks and blend together.
      5. Add the whey protein or milk powder to the mixture and blend together.
      6. Add the oatmeal and blend.
      7. Add the flour and pulse to incorporate (in other words, try not to over mix).
      8. Pour into a brownie pan and bake for 20-30 minutes at 180C/350F
    • By ShylahSinger
      Hello! I'm fairly new to this site so I don't know if my search was weak. I'm trying to find a way to make Mandarin orange puree at home, but I couldn't find anything even similar in the forum. I am a home cook, but I have been making chocolate bonbons and other confections for over 4 years (intermitantly). It is too expensive for me to purchase this online- not because of the price of the puree, but the cost of shipping makes it prohibative. The recipes I've seen online are all differant and don't seem to be what I need. 
      I would love any help with this! I look forward to hearing and learning from those who have much, much more experience than me. Thanks!
    • By Darienne
      In hopes of sleeping better, etc, etc, I have currently given up gluten, dairy and now sugar.  The gluten and dairy pose no problems...the sugar does.  I am not happy using mannitol or erythritol or any of those artificial sweeteners...they give me severe digestive problems.   But I can tolerate stevia very nicely.  The only problem is that there doesn't seem to be much sweetened with this ingredient.
       
      I do have a carob/coconut oil/peanut butter/stevia candy of sorts.  I don't really like it all that much, but it does work.  That's about it.
       
      Has anyone any recipes for desserts using stevia?  Thanks.
    • By Janet Taylor
      Ever since Todd talked making cupcakes I have been cupcake crazy. Although, I am not a cake maker but more of a pie person.
      My first dessert that I love that I make is my Coconut Cream Pie w/heavy whipped cream. I don't use low fat anything and probably angioplasties is necessary after this baby.
      My second is Peach Cobbler w/rich vanilla ice cream. I never met a cobbler that I didn't like, but peach is my favorite.
      I don't make these often because I wouldn't be able to get through the front door if I did.
      How about yours?
      .....Janet
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...