Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Out of the flames...comes a rubbish phoenix

Major, impressively terrible, disasterous cake fail at the weekend.

For my dad's birthday, I thought a chocochino cake would do well. Deep chocolate sponge, with a cappuchino cream frosting...bitter, sweet, and creamy all at the same time. Brilliant. I chose a recipe from Mary Berry's brilliant book. All the ingredients were spread over the kitchen, apron was on, oven was hot and ready....

It was one of Mary's "bung it all in the bowl and stir all at once" recipes, which I've never been a fan of - I much prefer the creaming butter and sugar approach. I just don't trust recipes where you just throw everything together and hope for the best. But, in Mary we trust. Bung it all in the bowl I did, and stirred until it looked presentable. Into the prepared tins it went, tucked into the oven they disappeared...

Checking on the sponges halfway through the cooking time, I thought they looked a bit odd. A bit flat, and a bit greasy on top. Hmm. Curious. My panic went into overdrive somewhat, and I pretty much stayed staring at them for the remaining cooking time. I gingerly took the tins out of the oven. Nope, they're not right at all.

Flat, brown, circular house bricks. I think they would have tasted nicer.

I grasped Mary's book in desperation. Surely I followed every step? I didn't use the wrong flour again, did I? No, no, definitely self-raising. Checking the list of ingredients one by one, tick, tick, yes, did that....


Here's a great baking tip for you: when making a cake, ALWAYS REMEMBER THE SUGAR. Every ingredient counts. A cake that's meant to have sugar in, which doesn't, will be terrible.

It tasted like bitter, weird bread, sort of. It certainly didn't taste like a cake.

This disaster pre-empted the longest-lasting bake-related bad mood for a long time. However, I don't like to be too much of a defeatest, and so thanks to an idea from the brilliant Karen Burns Booth of Lavendar and Lovage fame, I set out about turning this fireball of a cake fail into a phoenix in the shape of a trifle. I soaked the chocolate house bricks in a bit of sherry, topped with a tin of cherries, poured over some jelly, and let it all set. On top went custard, then cream, then some shaved dark chocolate.

Shouldn't have blummin bothered. It was the worst trifle in the world. Cue several expletives. None of it set, the 'cake' was ridiculous even when soaked in alcohol, and I couldn't eat it. Yes, I wrote that - I couldn't eat a trifle. That's never happened before.

Utter cake bake fail. I didn't even take a photo of the trifle, it's too embarassing. The next bake will be successful. It will. I promise.


  1. Thanks for being so honest and sharing a 'flop' with us. Sometimes we forget that excellent bakers have bad days,too. You've made us all feel better about our cake failures. The moral of this story, cut your losses and start again from the beginning. : )

  2. Thanks Debs - your comment is so lovely - I don't think I'm a good baker most days, I seem to have more mess-ups than successes!!

  3. Oh dear, well its looks really quite good (cept for the rise)...In later life *cough* I have started to weigh EVERYTHING out before I start...it helps me anyway. xxx

  4. Reminds me of the time when I put out a bowl of bulger wheat thinking it was demerara sugar and my dad couldn't understand why his coffee was so bitter! My last culinary disaster involved yeast when I tried to convert a recipe using fresh to dried - the resulting Danish teabread was like a thin brick with a cinnamon/brown sugar topping and had involved a lot of work. Have now discovered a local baker who will sell fresh yeast so must get back in the saddle so to speak.


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