Wednesday, 14 September 2011

That sinking feeling...

For a treat with our morning coffee at the flower course last week, we got served a delicious cake which Rachel said was a River Cottage recipe and she was thrilled to tell us it used honey from her own hives.  I always bake for my craft ladies on a Tuesday evening and so having the book decided to give them a honey wholemeal cake too.

Looks nicely risen in the photo above, doesn't it? Not the case... as soon as I took it from the oven it sank before my very eyes and dramatically at that!

It was almost as if it got sucked down!  After the suggested cooking time, I thought it still looked a little wobbly, but having four eggs in it I wasn't that surprised.  Nevertheless I gave it another 10 minutes.  Very frustrating, especially when you are all set to share with what are now almost professional cake-tasters!

The recipe said that the middle would be a dense, honey-filled sensation but I would say it was a soggy mess.  I wasn't too proud to offer a trimmed cake and it was delicious.

I'm curious though, as to what went wrong.  The recipe link above is from an article in The Guardian and I have noticed that there are a few dissimilarities from the recipe in the book.  It uses more butter  (and I thought 300g of butter was a lot, but this version says 350g!), more sugar and the oven temperature is 10 degrees lower.  Oh, and the tin size is 1cm bigger!  I'm tempted to try out this version and see what happens.

Any thoughts on that sinking feeling?  Answers in the comment box please.


  1. I don't have any suggestions at all I'm sorry as I usually follow cake recipes to the letter. So annoying when you go to the trouble of baking something and it misbehaves. I hope you find a solution to your sinking problem. It looks yummy though.
    Anne xx

  2. I usually fill the crater with cream but that one might have defeated even me! Failing that I turn them upside down and hope no one will notice - though it sounds as if your ladies would have ...

    How annoying - and expensively annoying too.

  3. The cake does look delicious, and it's so annoying when that happens. It's probably a silly question but did you remember to put in the baking powder? I've done that myself before! If you did it's probably the recipe.

  4. I know recipes with sweet additions (honey/marmalade) have a habit of sinking in the middle, because Mary Berry told me. She didn't say what to do about it though.

    And looking at your recipe, the honey goes on after, so ignore me. What do I know?

    Try a bundt tin?

  5. oh bother. well it still looks delicious, glad you managed to save some of it.
    oven temperature? phase of the moon? sometimes baking is a mystery.... x

  6. If you want a light texture like a Victoria sandwich you will need to use 8z fat; 8 oz sugar; 8oz flour/ ground almonds to 4 eggs. If you want a slightly denser cake more like a Madeira which would probably take the honey better you should increase the flour/almonds to 10oz.

    I see that Hugh uses baking powder with self raising flour and this may account for the spectacular collapse - I would only use baking powder with SR flour if I was using the all-in-one method which incorporates less air than the creaming method.

    Let me know how you get on!

  7. Oh noes! That sort of thing seems to happen to me all the time. Baking never seems to want to do what I want it to do.
    But, as long as it was delicious, I consider any baking endeavour to be a complete success!!

  8. What a pain, although it still looks tasty. I think cake baking is such a precise art the slightest difference in tin size or quantity of ingredients can make a difference.

  9. If I had to guess I'd say turn the oven down a notch so that the outer doesn't cook so quickly and leave the cake in for longer but since that happens to a lot of my cakes (especially when I make apple cake) I shouldn't really be handing out advice!

  10. I tend to be a recipe follower so no advice I'm afraid, but I have to say your cake does look rather nice despite the sinkage.

    Nina x

  11. It's so disappointing when that happens :( Like you, I always cut the cake up, if it does. I'm sure your 'ladies' have all been there, done that before. :)

  12. All I know is it's difficult to pinpont what went wrong. Too small a tin for the amount of batter, oven temperature too low, too much sugar, too much raising agent, over beating the mixture are all possible reasons. At least you were able to eat and enjoy some of your cake. Too many of mine have ended up in the bin.

  13. I hate it when that happens - I'm glad you managed to salvage some of the cake and it does still look delicious.

    I had a similar problem with a National Trust cookie recipe today. The recipe said to roll the mixture into mixture was runny and I'd followed it to the letter! Still, chewy floppy ginger biscuits are tasty anyway.

  14. If the outside is OK then the mixture is probably not too wet - sometimes it is better to be in for longer at a lower temperature to cook the middle right through, especially if it is a dense cake. You can always cover the top with a circle of baking parchment to stop the top from over cooking. If the oven is too hot it can also make a cake rise too quickly and then collapse in on itself.

    Pomona x


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