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.

Farmers’ Market 07.16.11

Are you there blog? It’s me, Lauren.

Sadly, our internet went down on Wednesday and didn’t come back up until last night. So I have taken a brief hiatus from blog-writing and blog-reading. But I was still a busy bee in the kitchen! If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I spent my day off on Friday making a birthday cake for a friend.

Happy Birthday Kevin!

I made a vegetarian version of a spicy banh mi sandwich.

I whipped up a batch of my favorite pesto, with walnuts in place of pine nuts.

minus pine nuts, plus crunchy walnuts

I did some party planning and shopping for my upcoming 25th birthday bash, and I made a little trip to the SOJ Farmers Market in beautiful, sunny 80-degree weather.

The loot:

  • Melon that turned out to be canary yellow inside – what?! (CSA)
  • Summer squash (CSA)
  • Eggplant (CSA)
  • Lettuce (CSA)
  • Parsley (CSA)
  • Tomatoes (Amy’s Organic Garden)
  • Jalapeños (Walnut Hill Farm)
  • AnnaB’s Gluten Free multi-grain baguette (new to me!)
  • Mother Bars (new to me!)
  • Sun-dried Tomato Fettucine (Bombolini Pasta)
  • Poblano peppers (Pleitez Produce)
  • Blackberries (Walnut Hill Farm)

And now, thanks to a new modem, I am back to my favorite Sunday morning spot, enjoying a cup of homemade coffee on the porch and writing about the things that I love.

Hope you made the most of a beautiful weekend too.

One year ago. . . I let you in on a secret: where to get the best iced coffee in Richmond.

POM Party: Let Them Eat Cake

This post is part of a series of recaps of my POM Wonderful Dinner Party. Catching up? See all the posts here: POM Party.

Aaahhh, dessert.

After our bowls of paella (and some guests’ second or third bowls of paella), we adjourned to the living room for a little demonstration on how to open a pomegranate. To make things a little more interesting, I had everyone guess how many seeds that were in the pomegranate that I was about to open.

We counted the seeds in piles of 100 each…

The final count was over 900 seeds! Everyone guessed way too low, but the guesser with the closest estimate won a cutting board, compliments of POM Wonderful.

What a goofy picture. I think the pomegranate mojitos were starting to take effect for all of us.

When the demo was over, I was able to announce to my guests that everyone was a winner. POM Wonderful supplied me with a goodie bag for each dinner guest. It was full of POM swag and it was a nice surprise for my guests who came for the free meal and left with. . . wristbands!

My friends dug through their swag bags while I prepared a traditional Cuban dessert with a twist: Tres Leches Cake with Pomegranate Whipped Cream and Arils.

I am not sure if I can post the recipe here, but you can follow this link for the recipe I used from Three Guys From Miami. I substituted homemade pomegranate whipped cream for the frosting. You can find my original recipe for the whipped cream here.

It was a delicious way to wrap up a fantastic evening. Thank you to POM Wonderful for helping me make this event a success.