Brownies Collapsing! Arg! Please Help!

Discussion in 'Professional Pastry Chefs' started by Ashlee, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. Ashlee

    Ashlee

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    Okay, so originally at my shop, we used to bake sheet trays of each of our bars, then cut them to refill the cases as needed. In trying to streamline and make things easier (apparently not everyone can cut in straight lines :() I found these awesome 3x3 square cups for baking.

    Annoyingly enough, our perfect brownie recipe for sheets now collapses in the center when baked in these cups. It forms a beautiful crust, we temp the inside so it's clearly fully cooked, however when taken out to cool the center collapses and the inside turns more fudge-like than brownie like. We've attempted changing oven temps, room temp batter, cold batter, longer bake times, shorter bake times, filling more & filling less and still can't come up with a solution.

    Does anyone know how to fix this?! :(
     
  2. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    Hi Ashlee and Welcome to CT! :)

    I'm not a pastry chef by any means and I will certainly defer to the pastry experts in this forum, but what you describe sounds like an issue of too much air in the batter for the amount of flour involved.

    I would theorize that baking brownies in large sheets will allow more air to escape before and during baking because the weight of the batter on a large sheet is heavier than the amount of batter contained in a 3x3 square cup. Therefore, the larger sheet will squeeze out the air under its own weight or not overexpand while baking and therefore, not collapse when cooling. Again, this is just a guess.

    Here are some things you can try:

    1. Try reducing the amount of air in the batter by adding the eggs one at a time or if a few at a time if you are making large volumes of batter and beat the eggs between each addition;

    2. Since you are using smaller cups, try beating the mixture less or at a lower speed on the mixer. If you are using a commercial mixer, try using a more broad based attachment such as attachments you would use to make breads. They tend to introduce less air to the batter.

    I hope this helps. :)

    Good luck!
     
  3. chefpeon

    chefpeon Kitchen Dork

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    Well, first I must say, that if I had a perfect brownie recipe and the only issue was that employees couldn't cut or score them in straight lines, the easy and cheap solution would be to buy a yardstick or a t-square. I've never worked in a bakery that didn't have a yardstick or a piece or equipment to make cutting bar items quick and easy, like one of these: https://www.webstaurantstore.com/6-...PRHKqacb96lWcs1VpzwQcR-wWzCnJVtEaAgZpEALw_wcB
    Certainly you must bake more than one bar type item than just brownies.....using a yardstick, t-squares or specialty cutters would solve the whole "employees can't cut straight" problem across the board.

    Since you didn't go that route and bought specialty square cups instead, you need to re-tool your recipe a little because of the collapsing issue, and because of that, your whole perfect brownie might not even be the same animal that you were happy with when you baked it in the full sheet pan. Personally, I think solution one above, is best. Less headache. But if you've got your heart set on the square cups, like @sgsvirgil said above, you might want to reduce the amount of air you might be whipping into your brownie batter. It would be nice to see your recipe so as to give more specific advice on ingredient adjustments. You might also try using less leavening agent, if you use any, such as baking powder or soda. Even though you said you experimented with baking temps and times, I would think that baking them at a lower temp (like 25 degrees lower) might help as well. Just remember though, if you tweak a recipe, it's gonna end up a bit different than the one you started with. And my philosophy has always been, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
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  4. sgmchef

    sgmchef

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    Hi Ashley!

    Welcome to Cheftalk!

    Sorry I'm not a Pastry chef either, I also hope one comes along with better answers!

    Don't you remember the story of the Tatin sisters? Tarte Tatin?

    Your confection may not be what you expected or wanted but if it is delicious why not just go with it! I'm guessing that they are still sumptuous, right?

    Drop half an oz of ganache in the center before baking and make them Reeeeeeally fudgey centers.

    Get your staff a straight edge for your folks that can't cut straight on your normal brownies and Market your 3x3s as "Ashley's incredibly, spectacular, fudge center, toasted hazelnut, white chocolate, something, something, something"...

    Just brainstorming...
     
  5. DJ Friedman

    DJ Friedman

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    Hi Ashley!

    Frustrating, isn’t it?

    As other have mentioned, I HIGHLY recommend going back to your original recipe and cooking method and purchasing a metal or plastic yardstick at Lowe’s or Home Depot to use as a cutting guide. If that’s not a route you’d like to take then here is an explanation of what’s happening and how to address it. Without the specific recipe I can only give you general suggestions.

    So, the basic reason your brownies are now deflating after cooking is pretty simple. They’re not fully cooked even though your probe says they are. They’re cooking faster on the outsides because you’ve increased the surface area exposed to the heat of your oven. You have also trapped more moisture against non-porous pan edges meaning it stays inside the brownie and essentially weakens their structure. That moisture condenses as they cool but the centers always cool slower than the edges and so you end up with a fudgy center after they collapse. It’s like taking your beautiful brownie and dunking it in a bowl of water.

    To fix this you have multiple options. A combination of them will be needed. You can reduce the amount of water and/or oils used in the base recipe. Especially in the case of oils, they will help to retain moisture within your brownies. If you use less then you will eventually find the right amount to get the same result as your original recipe. This is true for oil substitutes like applesauce as well as they serve the same function. (Though, admittedly, I’ve never heard of applesauce in a brownie recipe. Just covering my bases)

    Next, you may need to drastically reduce your cooking temperature. My standard sheet pan brownies cook at 300 degrees for 20-25 minutes. They’re not very think so yours may take longer. We’re i to try them in a muffin pan, being at least twice the depth as a sheet pan, I would reduce my oven temp to 250-275 degree and also need to add almost twice the cooking time. The added surface area exposed to the heat but the thicker result would require the additional time and lower temp to thoroughly evaporate the same amount of water.

    Lastly, you may need to increase your support structure within the brownies. This can be accomplished in one of three ways. First, more flour. The added flour will result in more gluten strands. This will, however, produce a denser result. Second, more egg. While this will make the batter thinner the resulting structure will be firmer. This method only goes so far as more egg means more water from the egg and a “foamier” texture. Lastly, more mixing time. I don’t particularly care for this option but it does work. The more you mix, the longer the gluten strains produced from the flour/water reaction become. I don’t like it because it makes for a tougher end product.

    Final thought... make sure to remove your brownies from the pan as soon as possible and finish cooling on a wire rack. By taking them out of the pans you remove your biggest barrier to evaporation. This may be the simplest thing you can do. But be gentle. If your brownies have the light, airy and tender texture of my mother’s cake style brownies then they can easily break apart when removing them from the pan.

    I hope this helps you solve your problem. If you provide your original recipe I can offer more specifics after doing some testing. Either way, GET YOURSELF A YARD STICK... it is an invaluable kitchen tool and costs you next to nothing.

    Good luck,
    DJ
     
  6. fatcook

    fatcook

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    This ^^^^^

    Specifically get some of the rollers. They come with varying numbers of wheels, so figure out how many brownies you want per row and order that size roller. If you flip the brownies out of the pan before cutting, a pizza knife is great for nice straight lines all the way across.
     
  7. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Tweak the fat (less) and make sure the batter covers the mixer paddle (as well as mix at a slower speed).
    Altho I totally agree with the others re using a straight edge or pastry wheel is the best fix.
    Not everyone likes all that crust on their brownies.
    That's all.

    mimi
     
  8. panini

    panini

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    I agree with most above. Lot's of talk about air. The cups are probably coated or sprayed. Air is H2O.
    I personally feel it's just a matter of the cups holding in moisture instead of it dissipating through the full sheet bake. Just my 2 cents
     

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  9. jcakes

    jcakes

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    We have a quilter's ruler that is clear, about 6x24 and it works for us when we are cutting full sheets of marshmallow. It's more expensive than a yardstick but it might be useful for you. For your brownies, you can score cut lines and then cut straight lines...
     
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  10. fatcook

    fatcook

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    Preach!!

    :)
     
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