Baking fails – even the most experienced cooks have them, right? Because I hate food waste, the bin has never been an option for me and I hope after reading this, it won’t be for you either. All is certainly NOT lost if you have a baking disaster!
I spent a lot of my childhood with my dear nan (every weekend and school holidays). One of many things we shared was a love of cooking and together, we certainly created plenty of delicious food memories. We spent so many hours in the kitchen cooking, baking and ‘inventing’ new recipes like the one written in my nan’s cookbook in the pic below ‘Georgia’s Cake’ (as well as rescuing the odd baking fail). My nan, having lived through two world wars (and food rations), was certainly not one to waste anything. She was a very patient lady my nan, sadly this personality trait didn’t rub off on me. My lack of patience has resulted in a style of cooking I’d describe as ‘fuss-free’ and on the most part, it’s worked well for me…except in the realm of baking.
Whilst cooking has always come easy to me, baking has not so much (though like anything, the more I bake, the better I get). It is said that ‘Cooking is an art, baking is a science’ so the liberties I often take in cooking, don’t always translate well to the more exact science of baking. Though with practice (and memories of the many hours helping my nan bake) I have been able to develop some cracking cake, biscuit and muffin recipes which because I’m not a natural baker, are simple and remarkably versatile too. I think that’s why my recipes are popular – because I’m not a professional cook and no real skill is needed for an inexperienced cook to make them successfully.
However I’ve certainly had my fair share of baking fails (especially whilst developing recipes) which have all called for rescues because like my nan, I really don’t do food waste. So this week, I thought I’d share a few things that have helped to ensure the success of every baking fail, minus the waste.
Sunken cake or muffins
There are many reasons why a cake will sink, but the most common culprits are opening the oven during cooking, undercooking, using too large of a tin, not enough or too much leavening agents, oven is running too hot, or over mixing the batter. I find it’s a problem often encountered in gluten or grain-free baking (as you don’t have as much structure in the cake without gluten).
Personally, I think it’s all about the taste so if I’m baking for my family, it’s just too bad if the end result is a little sunken (it still should taste good despite appearances). But if I’m cooking for a crowd or special occasion, I’ll definitely look to rescue it. Here’s a few ideas I’ve employed in the past:
- Fill the hole with icing, ganache or whipped cream
- Cut a hole in the centre and everyone will think you’ve baked it in a ring tin
- Fill the sunken centre with berries or fruit
- Make another cake and tier the cake with a layer of icing, ganache or whipped cream in between the layers (like the one in the photo)
Burned or over cooked cake
It took me a while to admit I needed to set a timer every time I baked. If your cakes only slightly burned:
- Cut the burned part away and add icing or cream to disguise the missing top.
If it’s really over cooked and quite dry:
- You could cut it into squares and reinvent it into a trifle (soak it with sherry or drizzle below if it’s dry).
- My favourite rescue is to make a citrus drizzle by mixing approx. 85 grams (¼ cup) of maple syrup/ rice syrup or honey with 2-3 tablespoons of boiling hot water stirring until combined. Mix in the juice of either a lemon, lime or orange. Then simply pierce the cake or muffin several times with a skewer and spoon over the drizzle so it runs into the holes. It both moistens, flavours and sweetens the cake. You can also leave out the citrus if the flavour doesn’t work for the cake you’ve made.
If you can’t remove your cake from the tin and it breaks apart:
- You can again, resort to trifle.
- If you can cut it into small squares, turn it in to healthy lamingtons.
- You can also make truffles or cake pops with it (this also works for over-cooked or stale cakes). Simply process the cake into fine crumbs and mix through a chocolate ganache or raw chocolate (enough to make a moist dough). Chill for an hour or so and then roll into balls.
Over cooked or crumbling cookies or biscuits
The best rescue for overcooked or crumbly biscuits or cookies is to concede they are no longer and bash them up into a crumble.
- Crumbled cookies are lovely over stewed fruit, with yoghurt or layered into a parfait (with fruit and yoghurt).
- I have also added cookies to a banana or chocolate smoothie (aka cookies and cream smoothie).
Not sweet enough
One issue some people encounter when they are transitioning towards a whole food diet is that they don’t find whole food baked treats sweet enough (particularly kids and adults used to processed treats).
So if you’ve made biscuits or cookies and found the kids won’t eat them because they aren’t sweet enough, all is not lost.
- You could crumble them over yoghurt or fruit and drizzle with honey.
- Another option is to chocolate coat them (dip them in melted chocolate) – because lets face it, everything is better choc-coated.
- You can also crumble them and mix through a good quality ice-cream (cookies and cream ice-cream) or mix into a smoothies (as above).
For cakes a sweet drizzle (as described above) or adding an icing or ganache is your best fix. Or you could also turn it into trifle.
No one is immune to baking fails. I hope this helps you to make something delicious out of a cake, cookie or biscuit gone wrong!