How to Save a Crumbled Cake

Mistakes happen. Especially for me when I am baking, because I’m really not much of a baker. I’m going to go out on a limb and say, most people who bake have had a cake crumble before their disappointed eyes. If you are making this cake for a special occasion, it can be extra devastating when your creation starts to fall apart. As for me, I’ve had crumbled cakes, the leaning tower of pastry cakes, cakes that have split right down the middle, and everything in between. I told you, I’m not much of a baker.

I was making a coworker’s birthday cake this week and I had a similar disaster. I’m sharing this with you because there is a light at the end of the convection oven tunnel. I fixed my crumbled cake and you can too.

It all started with this fantastic recipe from the Lee Brothers, a moist and chocolatey red velvet cake with just a hint of orange zest. Oh honey, simple fresh Southern. Are my roots showing?

I decided to add a fresh raspberry filling, which I created by simmering raspberries, lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch on the stove, then straining the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. I worked on the filling while the cake baked, enveloping my tiny kitchen with the aroma of cocoa, vanilla and orange peel.

When the cakes were done in the oven, I followed the instructions for letting them cool in their pans for 10 minutes and then flipping them out of the pans onto wire racks. And then this happened.

It was 11:00 PM and this red velvet cake was due to my office in 9 hours. What’s an amateur baker to do? First, I ate some of the crumbles. Yes, emotional eating. But let’s face it, no one was going to miss those crumbles. I wasn’t going to be able to put my humpty dumpty cake back together again. Then I decided to make a trifle. If this happens to you, I suggest you make a trifle too.

What is a trifle, you ask? A trifle is a dessert made with alternating layers of cake pieces, pudding, whipped topping and fresh fruit. My one problem was I had no pudding, whipped topping or fresh fruit on hand. And I had this gorgeous homemade raspberry filling that was all dressed up with nowhere to go.

So I did what any amateur baker would do. I set my alarm to wake up early and crashed into bed. This disaster could wait until tomorrow. Of course I ignored the alarm and overslept by an hour, causing me to dash in and out of the shower, put on the first thing that matched in my closet and run out the door, cake pieces and kitchen utensils in hand. Ideally you would assemble this in your kitchen. I did not. This was the scene in the back of my car at 7:30 AM in the grocery store parking lot.

Wherever you decide to assemble your trifle, do it this way:

  • Cake pieces (1-inch chunks)
  • Pudding
  • Whipped Topping
  • Repeat
  • Optional: fresh fruit between the pudding and whipped topping layers

You may notice that I used pudding snacks. I know, that’s terrible. But I couldn’t make pudding in my car while driving to work, so I improvised. I ended up mixing my raspberry filling into the whipped topping for the bottom layer of whipped topping and it was delicious. I left the top layer of whipped topping plain and decorated the top of the trifle with fresh raspberries.I think it turned out okay. People seemed to like it. And the birthday girl would never have known that this was Plan B if one of my not-so-tight-lipped coworkers had not told her. Although the story of the “Parking Lot Cake” was fairly entertaining once everyone had been served their piece of trifle.

I guess that’s just the way the cake crumbles.

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5 responses to “How to Save a Crumbled Cake

  1. This happened to me once! I think I ate almost half the cake because I was so upset, haha. I wish I would of had this idea though, it looks great!

  2. My chocolate cake just crumbled and this was exactly the idea I was looking for — thanks!

  3. GOD BLESS YOU! I’ve got a Girl’s Night Out dinner in a few hours and too many kids to pick up & feed, etc., to be able to do anything other than a trifle. I had THOUGHT about a trifle (i’ve got the frosting done already, anyway) but seeing your post put me over the top with what a fabulous idea it truly was. A million thank you’s!

  4. Thank you for this laugh!!! I just had a total cake disaster and started eating chunks of it while sobbing and then I found you! Thank you for the tips- I will now stop eating and start assembling!!

  5. Kathy Truax

    I am so tired from waiting for the cake to cool. Then I couldn’t get it out of the bundt pan. I greased it, but didn’t flour it. Live and learn. I too started eating chunks of pound cake and it was really good. The trifle sounds like the perfect fix. Many thanks. Now I can go to bed and may even sleep a bit before getting the pudding and whipped cream on the way to work as you did. Genius!!

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