Monday, May 9, 2011

How not to make a Mother's Day carrot cake

As the title of this post suggests, I had a slight baking mishap over the weekend.

This actually doesn't happen to me very often. I am entirely capable of ruining savoury dishes, miscalculating herb / flavouring amounts, and getting flavours not quite right for main meals. But when it comes to baking, I'm usually fairly on target.

I may have to revise that belief!

In light of my weekend experience, I humbly submit some Do Not's for cake baking:

- If you decide to make a cake you have made before, don't become complacent.

Don't think "I don't need too much time for this" or "this is an easy recipe to make". If you do, you will jinx yourself.

- Irrespective of chosen recipe, don't focus on multiple things at once.

Don't think about the muffins you are going to make after the cake is finished, or your evening plans, or the details of the football game your partner just returned home from.


- Follow the recipe. Don't forget anything.

Definitely don't forget one of the core ingredients of your recipe.

- If you do discover that you have forgotten, say, the 400g tin of crushed pineapple that is meant to go in your carrot cake, don't panic.

If you stay calm, you may realise that carrot cakes can be made without pineapple, and that if the consistency of your batter was appropriate (and it was), leaving pineapple out probably won't matter too much.

- Definitely don't pull the cake out of the oven after 4 minutes of baking with the view to somehow adding pineapple.

Just don't.

- Similarly, don't add a can of pineapple to cake batter that is already in the cake tin. Especially if your cake tin was already quite full.

Really don't.

If you do get to this stage, be prepared for some serious difficulties with mixing your pineapple into the cake batter. Trust me when I say that you can't sensibly mix pineapple into a 4-minute baked, already prepared, tin of cake mix.

If you are at this stage, you may as well still try to bake your cake. But you should also be prepared for it not to work. Or to be more accurate, for it to bake a little too much around the edge, but no where near enough in the middle.

This makes sense, after all. You threw a tin of pineapple in the middle.

If you do do all of these things, against all advice, you can expect a product like this:

A little over-cooked...

...but also completely soggy! 

Definitely a fail!

Amazingly, there were some cake pieces that baked appropriately, escaping over- and under-cooking, but they were few and far between.

Meaning that I had to rescue dessert by some last-minute purchasing of biscuits...

Fortunately, our Mother's Day picnic went well without an intact carrot cake, and the carrot cake pieces and bought biscuits were both received well.

But I will know better for next year!


  1. but the best thing about baking fails is that they generally still taste delicious, so you get carte blanche to gobble them all up yourself, or add 'em to oatmeal, or yoghurt, or ice cream... ;)

  2. I've had those sorts of cakes that don't bake - I think I have done them in the wrong size pan - though I have once remembered there was no sugar in the cake as I put it in the tin and stirred in sugar which worked - would love to understand the alchemy of cakes to know why 4 minutes makes such a difference to the texture. Glad you salvaged some.


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