When Cakes Go Wrong

Remember the cakes of yesteryear? The pink and white fondant fantasy? The butterfly bouquet basket? The world’s largest beach towels on the world’s tiniest island? Yeah, those were good times. This is not a post about those types of cakes.

Making the mistake twice as bad
Making the mistake twice as bad


I had a cake to make as a belated birthday cake for two friends at work. Everyone was looking forward to it. Me included. I hadn’t made a nifty cake in a while. So I, apparently, decided to be stupid.

Why not try out a new recipe for a chocolate cake? Sure, it didn’t involve a mixer and I’ve never cooked with applesauce AND sour cream before, but the name of the recipe was “Very Good Chocolate Cake.” Names don’t lie. Besides, the finished batter tasted pretty awesome. And when the cake came out of the oven on Tuesday night, it smelled good, felt moist and looked great.

the crappy, just-for-me cake
the crappy, just-for-me cake

If you’ve never made a cake, you may not know that you have to let it cool down completely before icing it. Having pulled the cake out of the oven around 10 p.m., I knew I’d be icing it on Wednesday. No worries. I’d done this before many times.

After sleep and a day of work, I checked the cakes. The edges felt stiffer than I remembered. Had I overbaked it? Again, no worries. I’d simply cut off the outer rim and proceed as planned.

Cakes trimmed, I started to make the filling. Plan was a white chocolate mousse. By the time the chocolate was melted and folded into the cream and vanilla, the cake again felt a little dry. The cut off edges were downright brittle. My kitchen table was obviously caught on the other side of a rift in the space-time continuum and was aging my cake right before my eyes.

Crap.

the offical, yet crappier, birthday cake
the offical, yet crappier, birthday cake

I can’t serve a stale cake to friends. I just can’t. Sure, the possibility existed that icing and mousse would rehydrate the remarkably dense cake, but I wouldn’t know if it had until someone bit into a piece and then spit it out. Was it worth a shot?

Maybe. Until I continued to make the mousse. Do you know how butter is made? You whip cream quickly for a long time. Do you know what a high-powered KitchenAid mixer can do to mousse? Yeah, I ended up with a white chocolate runny buttery thing that could never go back to mousse. As a side note, my favorite part of cookie dough to eat is the butter-egg-sugar-vanilla mixture. I’ve got a couple ramekins in the fridge now of something that’s pretty close.

To further complicate matters, after deciding to make two small cakes, have a piece of one for breakfast tomorrow and make the final decision about serving the other to friends, my plan for an abstract winter design failed on the birthday cake. The suggstions of icicles worked. The snowflake-esque bottom border worked. The interpretation of frost on top of the crap cake worked just fine. But when it came time to do that on the official cake, not so much. The tip clogged and I couldn’t get a steady stream of icing to come out of that or the pin holes I punched in the icing bag. Nor could I snip a small enough hole in the plastic bag I transfered the icing into.

So, now I’ve got these two cakes I’m not proud of. Even the photos came out crappy. Wonder if my friends will like an ice cream cake instead?

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