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I really like the chocolate cake recipe that appears on Hershey cocoa boxes. It's very rich and moist. It uses oil and boiled water to give you an idea of the type of recipe.

I always make it in a rectangular pan for a single layer because when I bake two round layers and try to stack them, I find that the cake is too tender and the top layer splits and the pieces slide off. This is without any handling other than assembling the layers. Note that it's not cracking/splitting in the pan during baking.

How can I prevent this? I've tried cooking the cake well after it's done, which it seems to tolerate, but that hasn't helped.

I've also considered adding less water, beating the batter longer or adding more eggs but haven't tried these ideas.

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    I guess this probably isn't the only problem, but from "the pieces slide off" it sounds like the bottom layer might be domed? – Cascabel Feb 13 '18 at 1:57
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As cascabel mentions, it sounds like the bottom layer may be domed - if so, that uneven surface can encourage splitting by having uneven tension along the bottom.

One possible remedy, then, is to level the bottom cake. you'll end up with scraps, from cutting to smooth the cake top, but it should help keep the level from splitting and sliding.

Another possible remedy is, flipping the bottom cake over before stacking the upper layer. This will give a smooth top, and the pressure should even out the rounded bottom without need for cutting. I've only heard of this, not tried it, so I can't say for sure it will work - but it was mentioned as a possibility for a for soft tender cake, which this is (I can see it not working for a denser or sturdier baked good).

One outside possibility... you might try cooling the cake before stacking. Hot, or even warm, cake tends to be more fragile, and warmer icing more slidy. If you are already waiting until the cake is fully cool before trying to stack, you might try going even further and chilling in the fridge (or even freezing) before assembly with the idea it can come up to temperature before serving - it'll be more likely to stay put warming up when already stably affixed, under the theory an object at rest likes to stay at rest :)

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    AFAIK it's standard practice among pros (I'm not one) to mercilessly slice off the top of the layer and then flip it over in order to have a structurally sound cake. You can of course eat the scraps, but as far as the assembled cake is concerned they are part of the cost of doing business. – Ecnerwal Feb 13 '18 at 2:17
  • My mom always does the "flip over the bottom cake" trick and it has always worked pretty well. She flips it as soon as it's cool enough to slide out of the pan. – 0xFF Feb 13 '18 at 14:52
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    Magi-cake strips do a nice job of preventing doming: they let the sides rise longer before setting. They're kind of a pain in the butt to work with, but they do produce nice high layers (on that cake in particular, which I'm also very fond of). – Joshua Engel Feb 13 '18 at 17:09
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    @0xFF: another nice thing about the flip-over trick is that it gives you a very smooth layer that produces fewer crumbs. If you do level the cake, you will almost certainly need a crumb coat. – Joshua Engel Feb 13 '18 at 17:10

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