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Welcome to the Cake Decorators Q&A

56
asked July 17th 2012

‘Paul’s moist chocolate cake’ My feed back

Recently Paul posted his chocolate cake recipe for us all to try. Many members have had various difficulties baking it up. The most predominant 'failing' is that the cake sinks in the middle. We've all at some point answered with feed back and suggestions as to why this may be happening, sooo with great trepidation I baked 'The Cake' this morning. My cake was scaled down to 8" square, using my hubby's conversion chart, which is posted on the site under 'ingrediants' (spelled this way to find in search). I baked in a dark heavy duty tin, greased and floured fairly generously then lined with parchment paper, exactly as shown on the cake tutorial. I have a fan assisted oven which I set at 135c. Once the mixture was in the tin I reduced the heat to 130c and baked for a complete two hours.  After an hour, through the oven glass door, I could see that the cake had risen but, had also become wrinkly, like elephant skin,towards the middle. I realised this was the prelude to the 'sink'! However, I just continued baking for a further hour, then opened the oven part way to check the cake for doneness, which it was, thoroughly. The cake had sunk slightly, and formed a hard crust only around the outer rim which resembled ginger snap biscuits. After the cake had cooled completely I turned it out,  to find a beautiful deep, moist cake with no hint of the dip present on the other side. This evening at 10.30 we cut the cake 'proof of the pudding' style and have enjoyed a very pleasant dessert. Prior to turning the cake out,and quite soon after removing it from the oven, I prematurely posted under 'Paul's chocolate cake, timing' (in search), that I had doubts whether this cake would hold up to carving and stacking. Having cut, inspected for structure and sampled it, I can conclude that it definitely will to both.

I hope this feed back will help members who may want to attempt baking the cake again. Finally, Jayess has posted many times to try and solve the concundrum of 'the chocolate cake sinking in the middle'. She has raised a salient point about the amount of sugar used in the recipe which may, or may not be a contributory factor to some of the problems experienced, although on tasting, sweetness is not excessive, and baking science is some thing I understand not! Happy baking folks x

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Hi Cashwo

There are many hints and tips throughout this thread from members who have had successful results with this recipe. As you will read, some members have reduced the sugar and found this gave better results. Another member placed her baking tins inside a larger tin for further insultation. I think Paul mentions that it should be like a muffin mix so try not to overbeat the batter. It doesn't need aerating in the same way as a sponge cake.
Just as a reminder, the cake bakes at 150c or 130 fan oven. Hope you have a better result next time.

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Hello. I made this cake also , this is what I thought. First in watching Paul make the cake he adds water, in the written recipe it doesn't say. My cakes did not sink . Move the batter to the sides a little , sprinkle a little sugar on to the batter. I baked 150 fan for 2 hours. They looked like Paul's cakes and that gave me confidence in them , as for the elephant look to me it was if the hard crust was protecting the cake inside, when it was time to decorate I just cut the crust off leaving the best moist chocolate cake ever , tip never open the oven door do as he says the oven is low and the outer crust protects the cakes . He let us see the results he is what you see and doesn't hide any faults . But you see they are not faults , look at the finished cakes they are amazing. So thank you.

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Hello. I made this cake also , this is what I thought. First in watching Paul make the cake he adds water, in the written recipe it doesn't say. My cakes did not sink . Move the batter to the sides a little , sprinkle a little sugar on to the batter. I baked 150 fan for 2 hours. They looked like Paul's cakes and that gave me confidence in them , as for the elephant look to me it was if the hard crust was protecting the cake inside, when it was time to decorate I just cut the crust off leaving the best moist chocolate cake ever , tip never open the oven door do as he says the oven is low and the outer crust protects the cakes . He let us see the results he is what you see and doesn't hide any faults . But you see they are not faults , look at the finished cakes they are amazing. So thank you.

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Hi Lilyquinn1

Thank you so much for your feedback!

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Hi all, I made this cake yesterday and only afterwards realised that I should have read all 11 pages of this thread before posting a question on a new thread - which madeitwithlove very kindly answered. Before posting my question (which was related to whether I had to mix by hand or could get away with using my mixer), I had read several other relevant threads that came up when searching so I was aware that this recipe seems very hit and miss. I decided to go ahead with it anyway. After all, just because I already have three chocolate cake recipes that I love, that's no reason not to add to my level of indecision of what kind of chocolate cake I fancy in the future.....

As I plan to use lots of ganache as well as sugarpaste, the finished cake is going to be very sweet. So I reduced the golden caster sugar from 720g to 600g. I baked it in a 10" square invicta tin, lined with parchment paper but not lagged. The cake was baked for 1 hour 30 mins at 140 degrees C then I lowered the temp to 130 degrees C for the last 30 minutes as I was worried about the cake burning but didn't dare open the oven door. When I took the cake out, it had risen by a good couple of inches and there was no dip! I left it to cool in the tin for an hour or so before turning it out to cool properly. Then wrapped it in foil , put it in the fridge and said good night to it. This morning, took it out of the fridge, unwrapped it and it still looks good without a hint of dippiness.

Thank you again madeitwithlove for the quick advice yesterday regarding using the mixer only on a slow setting and only for as short a time as possible. Also thanks to everyone else who has commented on this gigantic thread with so much feedback and advice! If only I had bothered to read the whole thing rather than just a few pages before posting 🙂

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Apologies, I've just realised I made a mistake in my feedback regarding actually baking times and temps. I actually baked the cake for 1 hr 30 mins at 150°C then 40-45 mins at 130°C.

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Hi GloriousFood

Thank you so much for taking time to post your very detailed feed back. It is very much appreciated and will, indeed be incredibly useful to other members. I'm always sending members to this thread because of the immense feedback that has been contributed by the site community for this recipe. Unfortunately because the thread is so big, most people find it quite a trawl and miss out on useful information. I'm so pleased you did trawl through eventually and found something here of help.
Since you are collecting chocolate cake recipes, I thought it may interest you to have a peek at an extended shelf life recipe. The recipe was given to me by member HeadRabbit to share on the site in my blog here:

How to Make Chocolate Mud Cake


It's another lovely recipe which I've baked on many occasions. My three go to choco cake recipes are, Paul's moist chocolate cake, Jane Hornby's chocolate wedding cake and the HeadRabbit's contribution to the site.

Thanks again for your contribution! x

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Thanks so much for the latest temptation to my waistline! 😉

Unfortunately, I have been hit with that old saying "pride before cake fall". I've realised too late that once my chocolate cake had settled, it hadn't risen anywhere needs as much as it needs to for Paul's Quilted Handbag. Fingers and toes crossed as I'm trying Paul's recipe again. Amusingly, I forgot the sugar which I remember you and a couple of others also forgot. Thankfully I checked the recipe list before pouring it in the tin. So now the cake is in the oven and hopefully, I will again escape the dreaded dip and also, the cake will rise properly.

I think perhaps next time, I will go back to one of my chocolate cake recipes which uses coke. The carbonation of the coke does something magical and the cake rises really well and is very moist and sticky. An alternative is guinness I think.

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Ooooops! we still ate our sugarless moist chocolate cake. Of course without the the precious sugar it wasn't as moist as it should have been and neither did it rise. Your coke and guinness cakes magically rise because the carbon dioxide which is dissolved in the liquid is released on heating. Carbon dioxide dissolves well in cold water but as water is heated it becomes less soluable and bubbles out of solution. This is the same idea as putting baking soda into a mixture and as the mixture is heated the carbon dioxide is released. A lot of eggfree recipes use carbonated water to rise cakes. Beer is used in beer batter to make it puff up when it hits the hot fat.
Good luck with your next bake. x

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This time I have baked the cake (10" square again) for one hour at 150°C for one hour then at 130°C for 1 hr 20 mins. Again, no lagging. I've just got it out of the oven and the second cake doesn't have a dip but again, not risen enough. It's actually risen less than last night's cake although of course, once it settled, last night's cake did deflate slightly.

I have now realised that I am a complete numpty. I've just checked and naturally my bicarb is out of date. I hadn't noticed as I've baked more bread and pastries this year than cakes so can't think when I last used it.

madeitwithlove - thanks so much for the info about how the carbon dioxide in the coke works on the cake. I knew that it didn't make a difference whether I used coke zero or regular coke and had wondered about the chemistry behind it but hadn't gotten around to looking into it. .

Enjoy the long weekend.

Kind regards

Numpty

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Just made Pauls chocolate cake followed EVERYTHING to the letter and yip it sunk in the middle ... Gutted.. Just hope there's enough to now to make the ice skate..

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Just made Pauls chocolate cake followed EVERYTHING to the letter and yip it sunk in the middle ... Gutted.. Just hope there's enough to now to make the ice skate..

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Hi lizziemackay

This recipe can have it's challenges. However, as you mayhave read in this thread, many members have successfully tweeked it for better results. If you bake it again, try reducing the sugar by 100g or read through what others have done. I'm sure you'll get a better result next time. Good luck with your ice skate!

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I can't find brown castor sugar in South Africa, I substituted with normal castor sugar, and the cake took much longer to cook and seemed to fall flat while cooking
I also tried normal brown sugar and the same outcome, please help

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I can't find brown castor sugar in South Africa, I substituted with normal castor sugar, and the cake took much longer to cook and seemed to fall flat while cooking
I also tried normal brown sugar and the same outcome, please help

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Hi Mariaanfb

Use which ever sugar is available to you or even a combination. I use dark brown and get lovely results. You may find that reducing the sugar may help the end result of your cake. Many members have experimented with the sugar and have found a satisfactory conclusion. Please take a peek at their comments and have another go!

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I too have had comments on this cake "The best cake I ever tasted" etc, no doubt it is a winner & one I make time & time again.
It does tend to sink but I have an answer to that....the cake is so moist, that if you trim the high sides, you can put that into the hollow & press down slightly - viola!- no dip.
Happy caking <3

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Hi CaseyGreen

Thank you so much for your feed back and your little tip! Great job!! 🙂

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I have just used Paul's chocolate recipe.I used a 10"square tin,put plenty of newspaper around the outside of the tin, baked it for two hours in my fan assisted oven at 130 , tested it, it seemed cooked, took it out of the oven and it just sank before my eyes,I am very disappointed I bought the cocoa solid chocolate as recommended (which was'nt cheap) and I feel that I have wasted my day,apart from the cost of the ingredients, can anyone tell me how I can use the cake rather than waste it.

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Hi a14cut

How disappointing that the cake collapsed. As you've used all of the mixture in one square tin the greater volume may have required baking on a little longer. The outter covering of the tin may have also slowed the baking process and causing it to be slightly underbaked, You may find the following blog useful as it explains how pan size and volume affects cake outcome: https://www.cakeflix.com/baking-problems-solutions
The cake doesn't have to be wasted. It can be used to make cake pops or small individual cakes.
For ideas please have a look at Paul's tutorials here:

Christmas Cake Pops

Mini Chocolate Wraps


If you didn't want to use it up in the suggested ideas, it could also be used as a delicious cheese cake or for
tiriamisu base. If you don't need it straight away it can be frozen for up to three months and used for another project later

There are many hints and tips in this thread which you may find interesting. I would highly recommend reading through all of the comments. Members have tweeked the recipe and have found a successful outcome. There is another mud cake recipe on the site. To see it, please look here: https://www.cakeflix.com/how-to-make-chocolate-mud-cake

Hope some of the information will help with your next bake.

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