Saturday, January 23, 2010

A bad cake day

The intended cake.

I've been warned several times by my mother (and by Sean since we started dating) never to try out something new when having guests over or taking something over to a friend's place. I heed the advice quite willingly but have been stubborn on some occasions resulting in a cake that has gone completely deflated or a main course that even a dog wouldn't touch. I have to admit - today is one of those days.

Sean celebrates his 30th birthday today and and asked me to make him a plain sponge cake iced with whipped cream and pineapple. But no! I wanted to surprise him with a different  - and kind of elaborate - cake to help him mark this big milestone. So instead, I chose a recipe for a Brandy Snap Gateau from The Cook's Encyclopedia of Chocolate by Christine McFadden and Christine France, which Sean had gifted me for Valentine's Day a couple of years ago. He loves Brandy Snaps and obviously since they are off his indulgence list with the high sugar content I though it would be a nice way to treat him on his big day.

The cake seemed fairly easy to mix. The only substitute I made was using ground cashew nuts instead of hazel nuts because none were available at the store I get my baking supplies from. I had to bake the entire cake in a  single tin because my mother didn't have two separate 8" ones like the recipe indicated. I guess that was the first sign that things were going to go wrong. The cake baked like a souffle and came about a quarter inch up the sides. It looked great until I took it out of the oven and in a few minutes - poof - it deflated like a balloon.

Undeterred I carried on mixing the ingredients for the Brandy Snaps and placed the first batch in the oven. I then pulled them out and try to get them off the butter paper and that's when I started to mentally kick myself. It just wouldn't budge. I tried to be gentle, like a surgeon to carve it off with a palette knife - nothing. Same process repeated for the second and third batch. Trying to console myself (I was very annoyed by this point with my stupidity) I thought I could maybe crush up the brandy snaps and decorate the sides with it. However, the paper still wouldn't budge.

Still struggling fifteen minutes later I gathered all the broken snaps together in frustration and put them into the garbage. The bowl of ganache was waiting to cloak the cake and that was going to have to cover the crumbly mess that was sitting in front of me. I toasted some almonds, coated them in chocolate and stuck them on the side and now have the cake ready to go. Until our friends read the blog, no one will know this evening that the cake was supposed to be a lot more decorative. Keep your fingers crossed for me that it tastes better than it looks. If I had just listened and made the pineapple and fresh cream cake...

The cake started out okay. It baked almost like a souffle but then collapsed.

Extremely grainy but delicious from the crumbs I tried.

The paper would just not come off!!!

The final product - definitely not what I intended.


  1. I am sure it tasted yummy Bev....Waiting to hear the update.

  2. I recently tried to bake a Coconut Meringue Cake and tried to be very clever and split the mixture into two separate tins, even though the recipe didn't say that! I also substituted the coconut in the recipe with orange zest......big mistake! The recipe stated that I use 'egg whites' - obviously there was some sort of chemical reaction when the egg whites met with the orange zest......the cake did rise well, but as soon as I turned the tins over...the sponge sank from the middle and deflated! Baking is indeed a science! Mev

  3. Like they say "Mother knows Best" but the finished product did look very yummy as well.I would grind the snaps and dusted it around the cake border.

  4. That still looks absolutely lovely to me. Belated Happy Birthday to Sean!

  5. Happy birthday Sean! I bet the cake tasted divine. Loving loving loving your blog :)

  6. so how was it?? update your post with a slice! i do exactly the same thing, always more willing to experiment when unsuspecting bakras come home ;) i wanted to make a chocolate torte on my daughter's b'day and cake was fine but completely screwed up the meringue, charred it to bits. i was actually beating egg whites all the way upto 2 am!! to get the meringue done, it was great the second time. but the thing is the next time i'll just bake my usual chocolate cake, which is far faaar better and a lot healtier. sometimes all they really want is the spnge cake with pineapple topping!! ;)

  7. I don't think it was as bad as I thought it was. Sean and his friends loved it (I think the ganache did the trick) but I just couldn't get myself to eat a slice.I guess the disappointment was still too fresh.