On Failure


Things don’t always work out for me. Sure, it seems like everything I make turns out perfectly and tastes delicious, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes things fall apart— literally.

I have gotten pretty good at evaluating recipes, but occasionally something doesn’t taste as good as it should and doesn’t make it to Lottie + Doof. I still shudder at the thought of a meyer lemon coffee cake I made a few months ago that tasted so bad I had to throw the entire thing in the garbage. And sometimes it is me—I just mess up. Deb and I must have tried this recipe for a raspberry buttermilk cake on the same evening. While everything got off to a good start, disaster struck when I tried to remove the cake from the pan. See photos. I ended up with a scrap heap of cake. It was good cake, but not exactly what I had hoped for. It wasn’t anything you would want to present to guests.

Failures happen and there is nothing you can do but laugh it off (and know that next time you need to do a better job of preparing the pan). I try to handle kitchen failures the way I handle any failure in my life: learn from my mistakes and do better in the future.

Jump over to Smitten Kitchen for some lovely photos of how this should have turned out and the recipe. It was really good cake, and like Deb says- there may be nothing better than a simple quick cake like this— if you can get it out of the pan.


21 comments to “On Failure”

  1. Nothing that a nice coating of whipped cream or ice cream can’t hide! Still looks delicious, despite the rebel without a pan shape ;-)

  2. The exact same thing with this recipe happened with me, I think I was to excited to eat it and rushed the cool down period. But it was still good to eat.

  3. As easy as that recipe seemed, it actually didn’t turn out for me either. A little too soggy and crumbly, though the taste was great!

  4. Dawn in CA says:

    June 19th, 2009 at 10:33 am

    I feel your pain. For my twins’ birthday recently, I made a chocolate cake that I have made for years, one that always turns out perfectly and consistently gets rave reviews. Only this time, it stuck to the pan – just like yours – for reasons I have yet to figure out. I had no time to make a new cake, so I ended up hobbling it together with extra frosting, then covering the whole thing with even MORE. Funny, everyone commented on how “moist and delicious” it was. Probably from so much frosting… ;)

  5. After a few similar disasters with that Raspberry buttermilk cake I think I’ve found the solution – grease base and sides, then line the base of the cake tin with circle of baking parchment, grease lightly over the top of that. Hey presto, no more lost cake bits :-) (although I have to say, I wasn’t too disappointed with the previous situation, as it meant I just HAD to eat the bits that got left behind…) The cake itself, apart from the stickage issue, is perfect and has been made many times since Deb posted that recipe – a definite keeper.

  6. I always cut a circle parchment, grease both sides and stick it on the bottom of the cake pan, no matter which cake I’m making. It takes maybe 30 seconds, and (as you can probably guess) is definitely worth it. If something still sticks, running a knife along the side of the pan usually does the trick.

  7. ‘Ish happens. Surely you can slice off the round top and spread the bottom with fresh whipped cream or meringue? It’s definitely easy to disguise!

  8. I have to admit I tried making this cake & it turned out terrific…….but I cheated and used a 9″ springform pan.

  9. The first time I made this cake, it didn’t seem to cook all the way through,so I added a bit to the cooking time and it was overcooked. It is so delicious, I’m not giving up on it yet!

  10. I am a baker of many years experience and have learned a thing or two. Here’s one of my rules of thumb… If it’s not burnt and the flavor is good, crumble it up and serve it in a bowl with ice cream. Voilà! Happy mistake!

  11. What a coincidence! I made the same cake with strawberries and that failed as well and didn’t make it to my blog either. :)

  12. I tried it with strawberries and was lucky enough to get one and a half cakes out in tact (I made a double batch) . . . but it wasn’t easy, I’d definitely try parchment next time.

  13. I have to admit that I have made this cake many times but I never once have taken it out of the pan……..(it gets eaten too quickly!)

  14. wow that could be a photo from my kitchen when i made the exact same cake! but who cares what it looked like, wasn’t it tasty?

  15. ha! i love that you posted this. brilliant. ps, nice to know you’re human and not some amazing baking alien from mars.

  16. Baking mishaps always get me frustrated, but at least you learn from the mistakes! I certainly looks delicious even if it might not be the prettiest cake!

  17. I hate, hate, hate when that happens. And it does a lot. But I appreciate your honesty! And I hope you still ate it.

  18. I like posts about the failures… maybe the best. Luisa is always good about that and it reminds me that is happening in EVERY kitchen now and then!

  19. I think I probably “fail” more than I succeed, at least when you’re talking about how things look. I’m an impatient cook all too often. I bet that cake still tasted great, though!

  20. it’s okay timmy pumpkin pie.
    you gots a good attimitude!

  21. I couldn’t resist trying this one, and also cheated like Ann did with the springform pan. Delicious! Tonight I’m trying the blackberry napoleons, but substituting blueberries. I made the shortbread dough this a.m. and can’t wait to get home and start baking! Thanks for the great recipes, beautiful photography and inspiring commentary.

What do you think?