Saturday, January 22, 2011

Help out the Cake Fraggles!

Dear Tricia, I was making a 3 level cake for my boyfriend's birthday, and decided to try and save some time by baking the whole thing in one bundt pan. I tried compensating for baking time, but after the cake mostly baked and cooled, the whole thing collapsed in the pan because there was some uncooked batter in the center. I ended up throwing out the whole thing and not making life any easier. Was there something I did wrong other than not baking it long enough? And in the future, what could I have done to salvage a dessert from a mostly (but not entirely) baked and collapsed cake? And also what are ways to convert 3-layer recipes into something less work intensive?

Wow, I'm impressed! I've never made a 3 level cake for anyone without it involving a paycheck. Not even my husband. (I got him beef jerky for Christmas though. Pretty sure that counts for something in the Awesome Department.)
Basically what you did wrong was put way too much batter in the pan- there was just no where for it to go. Let's imagine you're back to square one and you're making the recipe in 3 pans. Each pan has... let me think of something cute and memorable... Cake Fraggles. Right, each pan has 3 Cake Fraggles that do the heavy lifting and push the cake batter up to rise and become a fluffy delicious birthday treat. As the cake rises it uses the sides of the pan for some extra support while those Fraggles do the heavy lifting. Got that image in your head? Ok, now imagine taking all of the cake batter, putting it in 1 pan, and expecting just 3 Cake Fraggles to lift up 3 times as much weight. It's too heavy the cake isn't going anywhere- definitely not up. So now you've got 3 exhausted Cake Fraggles who have given up and are moving on to cocktails by now, and cake batter that is just going to sit and sit and sit. Even if you left the pan in the oven for an entire day, the outside would over bake and be a crispy hot mess before the inside came anywhere close to baking. It's too much mass in too small of a space to give you the same results.
I hope I didn't get too far out there with the Cake Fraggle references. In my mind they're adorable and magical and house trained.

So what to do with the mass of uncooked batter? If you're cool with eating potentially raw eggs**, I recommend mixing it in with ice cream or adding heavy cream and putting it in an ice cream maker for some cake batter ice cream. For the stuff that is baked, you cut it into pieces and put it in a bowl or a parfait glass (let's be serious, who owns parfait glasses?) or a martini glass and layer it with fruit and whipped cream for a ghetto version of a trifle. You can also blend it up into cake crumbs, and use that to garnish your next baked goodie (free of What the Bleep moments I hope) like on the top of cupcake frosting or on the side of a cake.

In the future, if you're wanting to make a smaller version of a tiered cake, you've got to make less batter, first and foremost. Take your recipe, cut the measurement of each ingredient in half and go from there. If you fill a pan with batter and the pan is more than 2/3 full, you're in trouble. I don't event like to fill the pan more than half full, but you know your recipe better than I do. You've got to have some room on the side of the pan for the cake to rise. Give the Cake Fraggles a break already.

**For anyone who says "You can't eat raw eggs! I'd never do that! It's gross!" I just want to remind you that, next time you're digging into the raw cookie dough/eating your feelings, guess what's included? Raw eggs. I doubt that knowing that will stop you next time either you flip-flopper.

1 comment: said...

YOu have such a funny way of explaining things. Great ideas for using a runind cake. I once ended up with molded chocolate cake in a million pieces. I mixed it with whipped cream and stuck it in a glass bowl (cause who has parfait glasses?) and my 3 kids and their 8 teenage friends that day devoured it in 10 minutes. No exaggeration.