This recipe needed a lot of alteration to make it work. Chiefly, it was far too dry as batter. I added 2/3 cup of sour cream for moisture retention and an extra half cup of half-and-half cream (totaling 1.5 cups half and half, instead of milk). I baked it at 325F instead of 350 and lined my baking tins fully (sides and bottom) with parchment/greaseproof paper. If you are baking this in one pan, 350 is far too hot unless you cover it for most of the baking time. It will catch the edges far before the middle bakes through. If you are using two 9" pans, it seems to work better, but still, 325 was safer rather than 350. The sides were well baked before the center was, even at a lower temperature. 3 tsp of baking soda was more than enough; it started to taste metallic, so I didn't go up to 4.
Also, don't wait until the last minute to mix your brown sugar; you need the agitation to remove any clumps of sugar and that will make the flour glutenous (tough and dry) if you wait until the last step. Cream the sugar with the butter until it lightens in color (whiped air into it) so there is air in your batter for a good rise and even bubble pockets. The directions on this recipe are the "biscuit" method of mixing, which yields crumbly baked goods with large air pockets and dense clusters.
With 50% more liquid and 2/3c sour cream, it was about as moist as a box mix ever is. I can understand why this would have gone crumbly if you followed the directions exactly!
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This recipe needed a lot of alteration to make it work. Chiefly, it was far too dry as batter....