As I have posted recently, I have run into some problems lately especially with a couple of the chocolate cakes in the new book.
Among your helpful suggestions was to check the oven temperature. I’m now convinced that the problem of shrinkage after cooling (note, they are not dipping in the middle but shrinking or shriveling at worst) is not being caused by a high oven temp. I’ve got two thermometers and they are both giving the exact same reading Albeit the oven is off by about 40 degrees but this has been true for years and I have baked mostly with success.
I’m wondering if it could be the flour. In my most recent (and third attempt) with the chocolate layer cake on page 104, I used bleached cake flour instead of bleached all purpose flour that I have been using on the chocolate tomato cake (made with tomato soup) or on previous attempts at the chocolate layer cake. I also reduced the baking powder by a 1/2 teaspoon from 2 to 1.5 teaspoons on the assumption that it might be a leavening problem.
The cake had a much better crumb than any of the previous attempts with either of these cakes and very little of the fudgey gooey density that marred previous attempts was present, if any really.
My previous attempts were definitely a structural problem of some sort, I am now convinced. The cakes in my previous attempts rose nicely but I could tell that even at the maximum baking time that although they were cooked through they never really got firm to the touch. There was just not a firm structure there.
In the latest instance the cake was done at the half way point between the minimum and maximum time and sprung back firmly. It may have been a shade lower than optimal height after cooling, and I am tempted to attribute that to the lessening of the leavening, not the oven temperature. All other variables were just as in the recipe: room temp eggs and butter measured with an instant read thermometer; mixing time precisely with a timer and as I said, the oven temperature checked with two thermometers.
I think that leaves the flour as the most likely culprit. Especially since a couple of the cakes baked in fluted tube pans for which I used the Safeway brand of bleached flour also had similar structural problems.
Has anyone on the west coast (not sure where else Safeway supermarkets operate) used Safeway bleached flour?
Thanks for your help, and I willingly stand ready to be corrected or contradicted.