Pulling hair out.....the bald pastry chef

Joined Aug 19, 2009
I have been baking pastries for 45 years....and have had a problem that I can't figure out....any advice would be welcome. I have been using the same recipe for about 20 years and this last month for the first time the cake comes out sunken in the middle and does not rise to the usually height. I have now tried this cake 6-7 times this month. I bake and sell cakes on a regular basis so none of the ingredients are out of date. Cake is a basic poundcake....12oz butter, 2 1/4c sugar, 6 eggs, 3c flour(use reg unbleached), 3/4c milk, 1T b.powder, 1t vanilla, 1t almond ext, 1T lemon zest. I am sooooo frustrated. When I'm mixing the ingredients the only thing i have noticed is after adding the milk the mixture seems to break a bit, but beating seems to bring it back together.
Joined Apr 3, 2010
Verdonne. Only 3 of the ingredients could really effect cake.1 baking powder which you say is fresh. 2 . Butter which the manufacturer could have altered with the addition of more water, this is what I suspect.3. The eggs , how old  are they? .Since in the past you have achieved consistency and a good product  many times ,, It's not you .You have to approach this problem by process of elimination. Good Luck
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Kitchen Dork
Joined Jun 15, 2006
Has anything changed recently, such as the brand of a certain ingredient or perhaps the heat in your oven? Do you have a thermometer in your oven to make sure it's baking at the right temp? Is it possible you may be over creaming your butter/sugar mix before you add the other ingredients?

I've been in your shoes. I had a butter cake recipe I swore by for years and one day it stopped working for me. I never figured out the problem either. My solution was just to try a different recipe. Try a different pound cake recipe and see how it comes out, just for comparison.
Joined Aug 19, 2009
I too was wondering if they were adding something different in the milk.....didn't think of the butter, I use land o lakes as usual...maybe I'll email them and ask....we never seem to know what the manufacturers etc are doing with our ingredients do we? I always liked the texture of this cake....guess i'll have to start using  one of my others, maybe one with sour cream and give it a whirl....thanks for the help
Joined Feb 13, 2008
100 times more likely than "different butter," or "different milk" is that your baking powder, fresh by date though it may be, got damp and lost some of its potency. 

Stop and think.  It's not like everyone in the world who ever baked the recipe was restricted to your old dairy. 

Double acting baking powder contains two types of leaveners.  One is activated by heat, and the other by "acid."  It also contains a dry acid, which, when wet, activates the leavener.  CO2 released in the bag, is not available to raise the cake. 

Try a new sack (or tube) of baking powder, and see if it works for you.

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Joined Aug 19, 2009
I had thought of baking powder first, but since I bake about 25 cakes a week using the same baking powder I figured it was okay. After sleeping on it I'm now beginning to wonder if it might be the latest almond extract I bought that is the only other thing besides milk in this recipe that I don't use in the others.......
Joined Aug 19, 2009
I bake pastries and cookies etc all week, every week.....thats why I'm soooo stumped never had a problem w/anything else.........the only thing different with this poundcake is milk, lemon zest and almond extract. I purchased a new bottle of extract about a month ago, so the last 6-7 of these cakes I baked which have messed up have been with this extract.........the whole cake does not get half the height it should, it is very spongy looking with very small even holes throughout the cake, and in a tube pan it becomes concave all the way around. I'm seriously thinking about wasting the time and ingredients to make it without the extract and see what happens........just hate deliberately wasting stuff, especially with how many have messed up already.
Joined Mar 3, 2007
maybe get someone else to bake one of these cakes for you and see how that one comes out? I doubt that it would be an extract doing that to a cake, but if nothing else, it'll put your mind at rest about it.
Joined Aug 18, 2010

I too was wondering if they were adding something different in the milk.....didn't think of the butter, I use land o lakes as usual..

.thanks for the help

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