Welcome to the Cake Decorators Q&A

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


I have baked this cake six times. The first attempt was perfect but unfortunately the later have been sunken so bad i've had to throw away. It is a delicious cake but too unreliable for me!


Hi, this is the Mud Cake we are talking about? I am looking for a recipe for my daughter`s wedding cake (I have never made a wedding cake before!) and this seems to be just what I need, but I have some questions.
1) It says that the shelf life is long. How long before the day can I make, fill with buttercream, ganache and fondant ice, please? I live in England and in August it could be quite hot - or not!
2) Why so much sugar in the recipe compared to other cakes?
3) Is the coffee, in the recipe, granules or made-up coffee?
4) Where can I find a formula for other sizes? I downloaded the calculator but cannot open it on my computer!

Thanks a lot - in advance.


Hi Tuppenyjoy

The cake being discussed in this thread is Paul's moist chocolate cake recipe which can be found in the free section of the tutorials. The shelf life is said to be five days for this recipe. However, many members have said it is good for at least ten days once ganache and iced and kept in a cool environment. Please also see David's answer in another discussion by scrolling down in the following link:

Lengthening the shelf life of cakes

Sugar in baking has different purposes. In this case it produces the moist tender structure of the cake. If you prefer not to use as much sugar, browse through this tread for hits and tips on how much you can reduce without compromising the taste or structure of the cake.

The coffee is optional so it can be omitted. It's function is to enhance the taste of the chocolate and cannot be detected in the final bake.

I am not sure why the calculator is not opening in your device. For technical queries please contact the site's customer service by emailing [email protected]
A member of the technical team will soon sort out any problems you are experiencing.

To see sizing charts, please take a peek at my blog here:
The data is the same as in the calculators.

Hope this helps clear your queries. If you need more information please post back. 🙂


An embarrassing admission that may help some people having trouble with sinking (if you’re as silly as me). For some strange reason, I was measuring the oil in tablespoons. The cake was still lovely, just slightly denser and stickier, And always sunken.

Now that i’ve read the recipe properly, and am using teaspoon measures for the oil, I always get a lovely rise, with a lighter and less sticky consistency.

I have taken to reducing the sugar by a third as even with a sweet tooth, I found the cake very sweet especially after all the ganache and fondant has been added.


hi ive just made pauls moist chocolate cake recipe and ive had no problems with it except for the aching wrists after mixing with the whisk 😉 im so used to using the mixer!!! i used the full recipe to bake a 10" square and a 6" round for a friends 70th birthday cake. the only thing i did different was i used homemade baking strips around the tins. they turned out lovely slight crusting nothing much no sinking, tasted lovely i filled it with orange flavoured butter cream covered it in dark chocolate ganache then fondant decorated with cats. this cake was still moist and being enjoyed over a week later never had a cake stay this good for so long before, will use this recipe again and again.


Hi Helen Thomas

Thank you for leavng such a lovely feed back. It is quite a big mixture which can be mixed by machine, just gently until everything is incorporated. 🙂


madeitwithlove- would you mind sharing pauls recipe with me - [email protected]


Hi Carolinehaw

Paul's recipe can be found in the free section of the Cakeflix tutorials. You can find it here:

Paul’s Firm and Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe

Scroll down under the video and click on the ingredients list. Before baking, gather all the ingredients together, line the cake tins and pre heat the oven. Follow Paul's instructions on the method. You can use a stand mixer but keep the speed on low as this recipe does not require a great deal of aeration. Mix it until just folded as you would when baking muffins.

This thread has over 250 questions and answers, many of which give helpful hints and tips to get the best results from this recipe. Perhaps take a peek at some of answers from the beginning of the thread. Members have been most kind by posting their experiences. It's a lovely recipe. I have baked it on numerous occasions but sometimes it can fall so, reading through the hints and tips will have you prepared! Enjoy baking the recipe and reduce a fan oven temperature by 20 degrees to 130c fan. Non fan oven 150c. Happy baking 🙂


I would like to ask how I can bake the recipes and be gluten free?


Hi western girl

Paul’s recipe can be adapted using gluten free flour measure for measure. ?


Hi there. I have added an extra teaspoon of baking powder to the chocolate cake recipe, and it didn’t sink. I’ve made this recipe a 100 times and its a firm favourite, easy to carve and sculpt. Esp after being frozen. There is always elephant skin and a touch of hard biscuit like crust around the top - this lessened when I lowered the temp to 120 fan, ( it often doesn’t need the full time.) and used 670g sugar. Just assume you’ll be taking the top inch off and make it a bit deeper. A truly lovely fudgy cake


Thank you for your lovely feedback Helen Thomas ?


Best chocolate cake till date.. Paul has Nailed it..
Baked a low temperature 110 c / 120 c..


Well, it's more opinion rather than advice, I really hope you have a successful bake this time. x


I think I may of had beginners luck, I've made loads of cakes but nothing like this one, and with a very bad oven which I am sure is around 30-40 degrees too hot (cant buy a oven thermometer) in a 10 inch square tin, I had bought from a cheap cheap shop (just doubled it up by putting another inside and then paper, I used a fan oven and put it down to 125. It came out very well though it sunk very little in the middle and also broke a little in the corner, but that was my fault as I didn't do the baking paper properly.
Can I ask I need other flavors that gives this type of results has anybody tried, for example instead of chocolate could I use golden syrup and putting extra flour instead of coca powder.
Also could I flavor the choco with other tastes such as raspberry instead of coffee.
Also any ideas for kid friendly cakes as I sometimes choco is too much for them have a strawberry Jello cake but never comes up to this height, thank you guys just had my first commissioned cake very very nervous, as having to learn so many skills in a very short time but I am lucky the cake wave is just hitting here in Spain and the area I live in has nobody doing things that are different so hopefully can build it up.