Baking blunders: 6 ways to fix a botched cake
AFTER hours of preparation, your cake comes out looking nothing like the recipe book’s. Perhaps it is burnt, flat, or as dry as the Sahara.
Botched cakes are among the common misadventures in the kitchen, even among seasoned bakers. It is every baker’s nightmare, and worse still, if you’re presenting the cake to guests.
But don’t toss out your cake in a panic just yet. Some botched cakes can be fixed with a few tried-and-tested remedies and a touch of creativity.
1. Burnt cake
Burned cakes are usually the product of baking for too long, or on a very high temperature or both. If the reason your cake is burnt because you forgot about it in the oven, set a timer the next time you bake.
Fix it: Using a serrated knife, carefully cut through the cake horizontally to remove the burnt section of the cake, Flip the cake upside down and frost the bottom of the cake instead.
2. Uncooked cake
Is your cake refusing to cook even though it has been in the oven for more than the required amount of time? Uncooked cakes can be caused by a number of things such as the oven temperature is too low, or the cake batter is too watery. Make sure you scrutinise the recipe the next time you bake it. Some cakes such as carrot cakes, require you to give a little squeeze to drain the liquid from the carrots before adding them to the batter.
Tip: Some bakers turn the temperature about 10-20°C down after the first 15 minutes of baking. This ensures the cake cooks well and is not uncooked in the centre.
Fix it: Cover the cake pan with an aluminum foil sheet and place it back into the oven to cook. The aluminum foil will ensure the cake cooks evenly and prevents the outsides of the cake from getting burnt and drying up.
Another option is to microwave the cake. Microwave the cake for about 3-4 minutes depending on the size of the cake, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
3. Sunken cake
A common blunder in the kitchen is the famous sunken cake, raised till perfection around the sides, but flat and dense in the middle. A sunken cake can be caused by adding too much baking powder or baking soda, or by opening the oven door at the wrong stage of the baking process.
Fix it: There isn’t anything you can do to make a sunken cake rise to the occasion. Covering the cake with frosting will but with a little modification, you can turn your cake into a different dessert with these following ideas:
- Cut out the centre of your cake and turn your sunken cake into a ring-shaped cake. Frost and serve.
- Cut your cake up and turn it into a trifle with some mixed fruits, jelly, and whipped cream.
4. Dense cake
Beware of a recipe that yields an overly dense cake. Some cake recipes are not meant to be doubled, as the type of ingredients could weigh down the cake and leave you with a heavy and dense cake.
Fix it: Heavy cakes are virtually irreversible, but you can serve it as a pudding or slice up your cake and serve a small piece of it with ice cream and biscuit crumbs to make it into a lighter and less condensed treat. Alternatively, you can turn it into a trifle.
5. Shrunken cake
Cake that has shrunk considerably is usually caused by over-baking.
Fix it: Unless the cake is dry (refer to 6) or burnt (refer to 1), there is nothing really wrong with serving a shrunken cake. The only person who knows that the cake has shrunk is you. Frost the cake as usual and accept that it will be a little bit smaller than you expected.
6. Dry cake
Some cakes, such as gluten-free cakes, are more prone to getting dried out than others if left to cook a bit too long. Make sure to monitor the cooking process of your cake regularly, and scrutinise your recipe if it is not coming out right more than once. Ingredients such as vegetable oil or apples or orange juice tend to produce more moist cakes than those without.
Fix it: There are several ways to fix a dry cake.
- Make a lemon syrup or caramel or any liquid syrups that match the flavour of your cake. Using a skewer, poke shallow holes all over the top of your cake and drizzle with syrup, preferably when the cake is still warm. Frost with your choice of cake frosting before serving.
- Place a slice or two of bread on top of the cake, and then wrap everything in plastic cling wrap and leave for a day. The cake will absorb the moisture from the bread. You can do this with apples too, provided your cake can be complimented with undertones of apple, eg. cakes with cinnamon or nutmeg spices.
- Split your cake into half horizontally using a serrated knife, and fill the centre with jam, whipped cream, caramel sauce, caramelised fruits or other moistening fillings.
- If all else fails, crumble your cake and mix it with frosting to make cake pops instead. Or better yet, make these cute Pokeball Cake Pops and pretend that it was your plan all along.