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Thread: Brownies - Why did they cave-in?

  1. #1
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    Brownies - Why did they cave-in?

    I made the following brownie recipe from The Family Kitchen cookbook I picked up at the library. I baked in a glass 9x13 pan. When I poured the batter in, it filled maybe half the pan (so 1-inch deep). When the baked, the whole thing rose to the top of the pan, so 2-inch tall when baked. After they cooled though, the middle fell back down close to 1-inch, but the sides stayed closer to 2-inches. Why would the middle fall? I was reading baking 911, and she says she doesnít like to use glass for brownies, do you think that could be the only problem?

    Anyway, we really liked them. As best as I can remember, these are my first from scratch brownies. I know some of you say your favorite brownies are from a mix, but I thought these tasted better than any mix weíve ever tried at home. I made the caramel sauce without the pecans (I thought I had some, but what I had, had gone bad), and it was good too.



    TURTLE BROWNIES

    Ingredients:
    10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the baking dish
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1/4 cup water
    24 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
    5 large eggs
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    Caramel pecan topping:
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    2/3 cup light corn syrup
    6 tablespoons water
    Pinch of salt
    2/3 cup heavy cream
    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    3 cups pecan halves or pieces

    Directions:
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish with butter.

    In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

    Remove from the heat and add half of the chocolate chips. Stir until smooth.

    Whisk in the eggs one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the the next.

    In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Gently mix into the chocolate mixture and when blended, stir in the reamining chocolate chips and the vanilla.

    Pour the batter into the baking dish and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the center of the brownies feels just firm. Cool on a wire rack.

    Meanwhile, make the topping. In a heavy saucepan, bring the sugar, corn syrup, water and the salt to a boil over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring and let the caramel cook until it turns golden, 10 to 15 minutes.

    Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the cream and vanilla. The hot caramel may spatter when you add the cream, so wear oven mitts and stand back. This is not a task for kids.

    When the caramel stops bubbling excessively, stir until smooth and then stir in the pecans.
    Spread the topping over the cooled brownies in an even layer. Let cool, and then cut the brownies into 16 squares.

    Makes 16 brownies.
    The Creator, when he obliges man to eat, invites him to do so by appetite, and rewards him by pleasure.
    - Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin The Physiology of Taste 1825

  2. #2
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    My thought is maybe you over whisked the batter while incorporating the eggs creating too much air.
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  3. #3
    Did the part in the middle that sank back in seem as "done" as the ones on the sides? They didn't seem under-done did they? If so, I was thinking maybe the outside cooked faster due to the heat transfer from the glass?

    If they seemed done (just not as tall) then it's probably something else.

    -shannon

  4. #4
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    I think a combination of both the reasons post by sneezles and sage.

    Did you lower the baking temperature 25 degrees because you were using a glass pan?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by sage
    Did the part in the middle that sank back in seem as "done" as the ones on the sides? They didn't seem under-done did they? If so, I was thinking maybe the outside cooked faster due to the heat transfer from the glass?

    If they seemed done (just not as tall) then it's probably something else.

    -shannon
    I think that is what 911 was getting at. The middle was not as done as the outside, but wasn't underdone either. It was more dense for sure, but not undone.

    The instructions said 9x13, and I just grabbed a glass one, which is what we normally use for brownies. It doesn't seem to stick to glass like it does to metal, at least I don't think so. I didn't think about turning the heat down or anything like that. The first thing I thought of when I saw the results was I used glass, and the outside just cooked more. I'm really thinking that is it, but thought I'd ask to see if there might be other causes.

    I'm not sure what to make of whipping in to much air. I'm not a good enough baker to say one way or the other if that is the case or not. There wasn't any tunnels or anything like that. I would think too much air would cause pockets like that, no?

    I'll just have to try again with a metal pan and see what happens I guess.
    The Creator, when he obliges man to eat, invites him to do so by appetite, and rewards him by pleasure.
    - Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin The Physiology of Taste 1825

  6. #6
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    The photo of fudgy brownies in my new Martha Stewart Baking Handbook is of a whole slab of uncut brownies. They also have an indentation in the middle. It's not severe, but it is noticeable. They are still gorgeous brownies.

    Her brownies call for a square metal or glass dish with parchement paper. The temperature is 350 degrees for both metal and glass.
    If loving me is wrong, you don't want to be right.

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    JB

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ttubbs
    I'm not sure what to make of whipping in to much air. I'm not a good enough baker to say one way or the other if that is the case or not. There wasn't any tunnels or anything like that. I would think too much air would cause pockets like that, no?

    I'll just have to try again with a metal pan and see what happens I guess.
    There isn't enough flour for air pockets to form but over-whipping eggs in this type of recipe can cause it rise and then not have the structure to support. For most brownie recipes I find a wooden spoon works better than a whisk, less chance for voer beating and it should only take about 50 strokes for the entire batch and not worrying about any lumps...
    Though I also agree that reducing the temp for a glass pan and lengthening the baking time may be all that's necessary.
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  8. #8
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    Hmmm... I did use a whisk, not a wooden spoon. And you add 5 eggs, incorporating them one at a time, so it is possible I incorporated too much air.

    Given your help, I think you all have convinced me that a combination of both is most likely.

    I really have a problem with lumps. Pancakes or whatever, I just canít seem to be convinced that lumps of raw, unmixed flour will disappear during baking. Just doesnít seem logical to me. But, should I attempt brownies again soon enough to not forget the wisdom youíve shared, Iíll try to my best to keep mixing to a minimum.

    Thanks everybody!
    The Creator, when he obliges man to eat, invites him to do so by appetite, and rewards him by pleasure.
    - Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin The Physiology of Taste 1825

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ttubbs
    Hmmm... I did use a whisk, not a wooden spoon. And you add 5 eggs, incorporating them one at a time, so it is possible I incorporated too much air.
    One thing that might help is to gently whisk the five eggs together, just enough to break the yolks but not enough to make them fluffy or bubbly.

    Then add the mixed together yolks and whites to the batter in five additions.

  10. #10
    Yeah---I know---that lump thing.

    But I believe (and someone correct me if I'm wrong) but things like pancakes, cornbread, muffins, some quick breads, brownies only need to mixed just until the ingredients are incorporated. As little as you can get by with. I've seen some recipes that even say that some lumps leftover are OK---just don't over mix.

    I'm not a big baker---but I think the reason is that overbeating tends to make things tough? and maybe affect how much things rise?

    Maybe someone else with more expertise can help with the reason you don't want to overbeat and reassure you that lumps are OK sometimes.

    -Shannon.

  11. #11
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    I overbeat some blueberry muffins last night (distracted by phone or something), they came out flat as pancakes and with a pudding like texture.

    The birds loved them.

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