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What to do with a failed cake attempt

We’ve all experienced a cake flop – even some of the most seasoned bakers among us have had failed attempts at baking. Depending on the severity of the flop, you can repurpose your cake, so it doesn’t end up in the bin. It’s important to remember that baking is a science, so every step needs to be followed to a tee.

Before moving onto the fixes, here are a few tips to help you determine where you might have gone wrong and what you should avoid the next time you’re in the mood to whip up a delicious, sweet treat:

The cake has sunk in the middle

This often happens to impatient bakers who want to have a ‘quick look’ at the cake to see if it’s done (no judgement – we’ve all been there!). The key is to keep the number of times you open the oven door to a minimum. When you open the door, you let heat escape, which causes the middle to sink. Your cake will then most likely come out under-baked.

Always make sure that your cake has baked for at least half the cooking time before opening the oven door. Follow the minimum recommended baking time and at the last minute, insert a toothpick in the middle of the cake to check if it’s done. If it’s still gooey, give it a few more minutes in the closed oven before you check again.

The cake is cracked or domed in the middle

Most people will be familiar with the chore of having to slice the top off cakes to level them out so they can be stacked neatly for a beautiful layer cake. The main cause of a domed cake or a cake with a peak is because the batter was overmixed or overworked.

The cake hasn’t risen

The mostly likely culprit is your leavening agent. If the baking powder or baking soda you used is past its sell-by date, it can impact the height of the cake. A handy tip for making sure your baking powder is still fresh is to mix 1 tsp with 4 Tbsp hot water. If it bubbles immediately, it’s good to go. Always store raising agents in sealed containers to ensure maximum freshness.


  1. Liven up stale cake in a cream–based dessert

Liquid-based desserts such as trifle, tiramisu, bread-and-butter pudding and deliciously moist tres leches cake are all great solves for a flopped cake. They involve deconstructing it and dousing it in a generous amount of liqueur, coffee or cream.

  1. Deconstructed cake in a jar

Let your creativity run wild with this one! Cut out rounds of cake using a cookie cutter and place one layer into a mason jar (or jar of your choice). Pipe with frosting and drizzle with sprinkles. Add another layer of cake and follow the process until you’ve reached the top of your jar. And that’s it! You can have fun with the frosting flavours and toppings.

  1. Turn crumbled cake into cake pops

Elevate crumbled cake by combining it with a dollop of icing. Then shape the “dough” into balls, pop them on a stick and dip each ball into melted chocolate. Set them aside to cool so the chocolate hardens. This is a great alternative to traditional children’s birthday cake.

  1. Mix chunks of cake into ice cream

The contrasting texture of cake and ice cream makes it a match made in heaven. Leave a tub of ice cream out of the freezer to soften, then stir in chunks of cake before freezing and serving up as a divine dessert.

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