Don’t panic. Don’t panic. There is always a solution, even if it’s feeding the disaster to the chickens or demonstrating to your kids how not to bake a cake. Focus on what can be done before racing down to the store to purchase a last minute substitute.
Always learn from your mistakes. Cake baking is an art and mistakes are all lessons in perfecting the art. Enjoy the mistakes as much as the successes, for they turn you into a better baker!
1. Fix burnt cake
A little too overdone. The first indication is often the smell and that d’oh! moment as you realize you’ve forgotten the cake! Try these fixes before tossing it:
See if it’s possible to cut off the burned parts. Do this with care and only if the cake is slightly burned. Base and edges can be cut off and covered with frosting or icing.
Find a fine metal strainer. Use it to rub against the burned surface. This will remove all the charred bits without having to cut or break the cake.
Prevent burning by using a timer. Carry a timer with you if you’re forgetful and tend to wander off.
To prevent the cake burning on the top, cut out two circles of baking or parchment paper larger than the cake pan. Sit these over the top of the cake prior to placing it in the oven for baking.
2. Fix a sunken cake
This is often a sign that the cake was undercooked or the oven door was opened at an inopportune moment. Always use a skewer to check when a cake is done before removing it completely from the heat. There are several possibilities for a sunken cake:
Cut out the middle of the cake. Suddenly it turns into a ring cake! Frost, serve and remain smug.
Turn it into baked Alaska or a trifle.
Crumble it into cake crumbs and use as topping on a tart. Add one beaten egg white and coconut to the crumbs, place on top of a pie and bake.
Fill the hole with lots of cream and fruit. For added decadence, pour liqueur or fruit juice into the sunken part before adding fruit and cream.
3. Rescue stale or dry cake.
Tea cake and fruit cake can dry out
Slice very thinly and add butter.
Make rum balls from stale cupcakes or muffins.
Split a dry sponge cake in half. Make a simple syrup from 60g / 2 oz sugar dissolved in 3 tablespoons of water and 2 tablespoons of cognac or fruit juice. Brush the syrup over the sponge cake, then add a creamy or mousse filling and fruit.
Cut stale fruit cake into slices or pieces and saute in butter. Serve in a bowl with brandy butter; it’s a great substitute for fruit pudding.
NOTE : Manage your temper when the cake sticks to the pan. A cake that won’t release from the pan probably has excessive sugar or sweetening in it or inadequate greasing of the pan surface. If it breaks when being removed, use it for a trifle, a smaller cake, or for baked Alaska.
Always line a cake pan or use non-stick or silicon pans.
Any cake recipe using honey or syrup should set off warning bells to line the pan with parchment paper.