For practice cake #1, I used a modified cake mix recipe. Normally I bake from scratch, but chose to use a mix for two reasons: mixes are harder to screw up and deliver a more consistent product. This particular recipe involved extra eggs, coffee instead of water, and a cup of sour cream. I won't give the extra recipe, because it was not successful for me.
Everything I read suggested that heavy greasing of the pan was necessary. Posters on cakecentral suggested a homemade concoction called "cake release," made from 1/2 cup of shortening and 1/2 cup of flour mixed together to form a paste that is then wiped into the crannies of the pan with a paper towel.
I filled the larger side of the pan with 3 cups of batter, and 2.5 cups on the smaller side. This left me with enough batter to make six cupcakes.
After baking the cake at 325 for about 35 minutes with the smaller section toward the front of the oven, I opened the door to check the cake and rotate the pan. Big mistake. The cake fell in, and never recovered. After about 50 minutes I pulled my now deflated but done cake out of the oven, and let it cool in the pan for about twenty minutes before flipping it out to cool further. The cake did not come out cleanly and was very dense. I didn't take a picture because, frankly, it was embarrassing. My cakes never fall.
Disappointed, I let the cake cool on the counter all afternoon, then wrapped it up and put in the fridge, intending to ice it Wednesday to bring to my office staff meeting on Thursday.