Thursday, 31 May 2012

Domestic Fail



I had such high hopes for this post. I'd found the perfect recipe, bought the ingredients, set aside a free morning for stress free baking and Angus was playing happily... I'd imagined showing you my splendid, triple layer cake, standing tall and beautifully decorated on my glass cake stand... But it was not to be. I made a cake that collapsed under it's own weight.




Tomorrow is John's birthday and I decided to make him the Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake from The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days, a much loved and well used baking book. The recipe called for, in total... 750g/1lb 10oz butter, 840g/1lb 13oz sugar, 450g/1lb chocolate, 540ml/19 fl oz cream, cocoa, golden syrup.... It's sounds like delicious heart attack in cake form. But it is a birthday cake, a cake for celebrating, not an everyday cake, and so I think it is well deserved.





First you make some salted caramel. Then you make another batch of caramel, beating in chocolate and butter to make the frosting. Then you bake three chocolate sponges for the cake. Layer cake, caramel, frosting, until you have a triple tier cake wobbling in front of you, then cover top and sides with the chocolate frosting. Easier said than done! The sponge is moist and crumbles when you so much as look at it. My caramel was too runny and my frosting too firm, so when I tried to assemble the cake it just fell apart. 


But I think I managed to pull it back from the brink...what do you think?




I used the two salvageable cakes and a lot less caramel and hoped for the best. I think it looks ok. It will still taste good. Bella and Angus got lucky today - they have three friends coming over for tea tonight and instead of the fruit and yogurt I had planned, I will feed them some of the mangled cake for pudding. Maybe with some fruit on the side.


Lastly, thank you so much for all your comments about pottering. I really enjoyed reading them all, and hearing about all the different things you do to relax. Thank you Rachel, for telling me about "pootling", which is a more leisurely form of pottering. I did not know that!





40 comments:

Jen Walshaw said...

I think that sometimes we have to fail in order to learn. I have just made a three layer cake and my top tip would be to use straws through the cakes to hold them up and to pop the sponge cakes in the freezer, so the icing is easier to apply. You can also add the whole cake in when you have a thin layer of icing (I think it is called a crumb layer) and then finish it off. You can see my cake here http://www.frugaliciousfood.com/2012/05/red-white-and-blue-layer-cake.html

Hazel said...

hurray for domestic fails! :) I am always keen to hear about the stories when things didn't go right as so much of blogland is cake perfection! I have had so many disasters, that everyone loved nevertheless! The mushed up bit looks so yummy as does your "salvaged" cake ;) Enjoy!

Also- hurray! I can see you again :) I don't know what was happening... something glitchy with blogspot I reckon! I still can't see your "little you" in my followers list but hey, if you say you there, then you are! :)

Thomasina Tittlemouse said...

Gillian, if you can rescue such a wonderfully professional looking confection from a collapsed cake, you can do anything! I have to say that your first pic still looks exceptionally delicious but to have turned that into such a smartly turned out cake complete with candles is very impressive. If it's any consolation, this sort of thing happens periodically here and it's always when I want it to be presentable as well as delicious. And it's no good people saying it doesn't matter what it looks like when I wanted it to look right! Having said that it IS the taste that counts and John will love it that you made something so special and went to such trouble for his birthday. And your two little ones and their friends are in for what looks like a rare treat this afternoon! I would happily join them if you need any help consuming the "mangled cake" as you put it! Next time I have a culinary disaster, I am shipping you in to fix it! Now is there any of that salty caramel that may have fallen by the wayside spare?! Hope John has a wonderful birthday with you all and that he enjoys his fabulous cake. It's a cert that he will from the look of things! E x

Anna said...

Oh no! Well done for being so honest though. You could have just photographed the finished cake and we would never have known.
The collapsed cake looks so tasty. Pour some custard over or warm it up and serve with some nice icecream and hey presto, a wonderful dessert! I'm sure John will love the cake.
I made some flapjacks this afternoon which are tasty and so easy but not as exciting as your cake adventures!
I love the flowers in the Kilner jars. Very cottage garden style and so pretty.

Rainbow Vintage Home said...

I am so impressed with your salvage job Gillian. I totally know how frustrated you must have felt at the collapse, similar things have happened to me many times! Personally I would be delighted to eat the collapsed cake, it looks delicious - but I do love gooey, squidgey food; and I understand it doesn't quite have the photogenic, 'look honey, I made you a cake!' qualities of the other one! I hope he has a great birthday and that he enjoys the cake, I'm sure he will. Rachel x

Rachel said...

awesome rescue job - that cake looks and sounds incredible.

andamento said...

Uh oh! You've done a great job rescuing it, it looks great in the final pic. As long as it tastes good that's the main thing. I one made a cake for my husbands birthday and the icing was vile, we scraped it off and ate just the cake but it wasn't great either. Looks aren't everything! Bashed up tasty cake pieces with ice cream or custard sound yummy.

Colette said...

Top marks for even attempting something that sounds so complicated. What a fantastic save though - it looks delicious and moist, in fact I'm drooling! Happy Birthday to the birthday boy - enjoy!

Neighborhood Watch said...

Whenever I make a cake my kids joke, "I hope it isn't a wheel," referring to a famously hard/tough failed b-day cake. Cake is not so easy. I think that's why we have that expression "easy as pie" because in comparison, pie IS easy, don't you think?

kitty loves custard said...

I always find the Hummingbird recipes a bit too faffy for me.....but I think you have pulled this together rather nicely!
It looks totally delish....I also think your lucky hubby will love it!
P.S If there's any left I'm only in Wakey! ;D
Karen x

Julia said...

It looks amazing...Enjoy! Happy Birthday to your husband!

Karen said...

Wonderful rescue job - that cake looks beautiful. You have a lucky hubby. Happy birthday to him x

Anonymous said...

Your domestic fail looks positively delicious!! Love that you shared a post about the not-so-perfect.... it's refreshing & inspiring ;-)

Col @ Hello Olive said...

It may be a domestic fail but it still looks rather yummy to me! The rescued cake looks fabulous - I'm dreaming about a slice right now with a lovely cup of coffee... x

cassie said...

it looks yummy and you did a great job salvaging what you had to make it look presentable. i haven't ever made a layer cake. they seem very intimidating to me. i'm much more of a cook and bread baker than i am a sweets baker. however, my husband's birthday, our wedding anniversary, and father's day are all in june, so i am getting ready to make a cake or two. and if, and/or when, one of my cakes fail, i can just check back here and feel not so alone...
but the real question is, how did it taste? that dripping caramel is just begging for a finger to to dip in it!

Gillian said...

Good point Jen - I learnt a lot today! Excellent tips about the straws and freezing the cake, thank you. I will remember that for next time. And yes, crumb layers are good, I always do that.

Gillian said...

So glad you can see me, hurrah! I agree, there is so much perfection in blogland and I always love to see a glimpse of someone's real life, makes them feel more human.

Gillian said...

Elizabeth, you are very kind! The kids devoured the ruined cake last night and I tried some and can report that it is very good. I know it's the tast that counts, but sometimes I just want a cake to look "wow".

Gillian said...

Warming the cake then serving it with vanilla ice cream - that is a very good idea! (those flowers were £1.50 at the checkout in m&s.)

Gillian said...

Thanks Rachel! To be honest, John wouldn't really care what kind of cake I served him, he would just think "Mmmm. Cake." Oops, I've made him sound a bit like Homer Simpson...

Gillian said...

Thank you. Next time I may order one from you. Cake baking is STRESSFUL! x

Gillian said...

You're right, the taste is the main thing. I've eaten many a child's birthday cake that looked awesome but tasted like dry sponge!

Gillian said...

Thank you. I think I still need to work on knowing my limitations!

Gillian said...

I've always wondered about the "easy as pie" expression as I find pie making no easier. I'm not very confident about making my own pastry. But i do love eating pie!

Gillian said...

Ah, we're neighbours (sort of)! Wakey isn't so far at all from me in West Leeds. I usually find the Hummingbird recipes fool proof - think it was me not the recipe this time though.

Monica said...

oh it looks delicious!
i think you did a marvellous recover job too, wow, that's more impressive i think! lol

Andrea @ little buckles said...

I tnink you brought it back brilliantly! Tres bien :) x

Gillian said...

Merci!

Gillian said...

Thanks Julia - the kids have eaten some and said it's "tasty".

Gillian said...

I'll tell him you said that! And remind him of it on the days when I am being especially trying/nagging/moody/pre-menstrual...

Gillian said...

Thank you - I suppose it's better than burning the dinner!

Gillian said...

None consumed yet but I will eat a big fat slice tomorrow with a cup of coffee and think of you!

Gillian said...

I have nibbled bits and can report it is yummy, and rich. I will have A MASSIVE slice later on. I made a seven layer rainbow cake for Bella's 4th birthday and the stress nearly killed me ...never again!

Gillian said...

Ah, thanks! I did nearly cry and thought "I can't face baking all that again" - thank goodness some was salvageable.

Jenny said...

Nice recovery! Almost everything I bake turns out like your top picture. Once I made my husband a cake that never rose in the oven. It turned out like a large pancake.

Have a good weekend!

Charmaine said...

awesome recovery! I wouldn't have known from the last photo, and I'm sure it tastes amazing x

...Tabiboo... said...

I think we all have baking disasters once in a while - mine was making brownies from an American recipe and mistaking a stick of butter for a 250g bar we would buy in the shops. My brownies erupted in the oven....like a volcano - chocolate gloopy goo just everywhere - oh well.

I think you've done a fabulous job and it looks gorgeous - well done for bringing it back from the brink.

Nina xxx

Gillian said...

I'm thinking I should've just posted the last photo and gone "ta da!" and kept quiet about the kitchen traumas. Too honest, that's my problem! x

Gillian said...

Oh no! I have often wondered what a stick of butter actually weighs. It's bad enough that I have grown up using both metric and imperial cooking weights and temperatures. I know the American way is so simple with it's cup system, but I just can't seem to get my head around it.

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