As my birthday week wears on, I’m glad that my birthday is finally tomorrow. So I can stop making cakes. To make a cake every day of my birthday week was a way bigger undertaking than I imagined. Especially after two of the five cakes flopped and I had to either make a replacement cake or do a ‘quick’ fix that ended up taking all night.
A word of warning: if you wish to celebrate your own birthday week by making a cake each day, use tried and true recipes. Or you’ll find yourself scrambling in the eleventh hour – as I did last night. I stayed up past midnight trying to ‘fix’ this cake. Did I mention my alarm goes off at 3:34 am Monday through Friday?
Day 4 cake was supposed to be chocolate with a peanut butter topping and chocolate frosting. Instead – after the cake literally flopped in the middle – I made a giant Ding Dong Cake. And it took me my entire night to make it.
So here’s where I went wrong: I took a chocolate cake recipe meant to be cooked in a 9×13-inch pan and tried to fit it into an 8-inch springform pan. I’m sure it’s doable. I didn’t do it correctly.
Because the cake ended up being so tall, I had a heck of a time cooking the middle of the cake. The edges seemed to be getting brown – on the verge of burning I feared. So I decided to pull the cake from the oven knowing it wasn’t completely done in the middle. But what’s wrong with that? Sometimes a cake that is slightly under-cooked can turn out moist.
Not this cake. The next day when I went to frost the cake it had completely sunk in the middle. When I realized this I let out an exaggerated expletive. And tried to figure out how to recover this cake. I started scooping out the rest of the middle of the cake, which was a gooey mess. Not moist at all. Completely uncooked. So after that I had this chocolate cake with a big ‘ole hole in the middle.
And the only thing I could think of to fix it was to fill the hole with a cream filling. So I googled giant + hostess + cupcake and found scores of recipes for cakes in the shape of a giant hostess cupcake. I was all set to replicate the cupcake using my cake – complete with the squiggly line down the middle of the cupcake.
Unfortunately the recipe I used for the filling didn’t seem to work out all that well for my expectations of it. I wanted a whipped cream type texture (without filling the cake with actual whipped cream) but that’s not what I got. I got what looked like a buttercream frosting. So I decided to add some heavy cream and whip it into an airy texture. Big mistake. The heavy whipping cream ‘whipped’ with the frosting separated into a watery clumpy looking soup.
I was not deterred. I put the soup on the stove, melted it all together, added some flour to thicken it and cooked it until it was a pudding consistency. This was going to be my base for the filling. After it cooled, I whipped it with butter and powdered sugar. Finally, I plugged the hole with my filling and put it in the fridge to firm it up.
Now onto the ganache. That recipe worked like crap for me, too. Instead of getting a thick chocolate mixture I achieved a thin chocolate soup. So I kept adding more and more chocolate chips to the mixture. Then I let it cool, which the recipe said to do (for 10 minutes). Ten minutes wasn’t enough. An hour wasn’t really enough. The ganache simply wasn’t firming. Eventually I poured most of the ganache on top and got this lovely looking creamy chocolate frosting that spilled over the pan and all over my counter. Wonderful.
By this time it was midnight and I was dead tired. So I let the ganache firm up overnight in the fridge and attempted to cut into the cupcake (now a ding-dong since I no longer had time to pipe that white squiggly line down the middle) in the morning before I left for work. To do so I had to pull the side of the springform pan off the top of the cake. When I did so, the entire outside of the cake moved up as well. It simply didn’t want to let go from the pan. I had to cut at the thick layer of chocolate ganache in order to release the cake and frosting from the pan. And when I did, the outside ring of the cake began to slide down like a mudslide.
By the time I transported the cake to work, it was even worse. Somehow in the car ride the entire outside ring of ganache had slid completely off the cake making it look like I did a half-ass job of frosting it. The ring of frosting stuck to one side of my cake carrier.
I hesitated to even show anyone the cake but people kept bugging me. So what did you bring on Day 4? Eventually I did bring out the cake and much to my amazement, it got nothing but compliments.
These were the two surprise compliments of the day: My friend who hates cream anything told me the cake was awesome and that the best part of the cake was the cream filling! And a gal in my department asked if she could hire me to make that cake for her on her birthday in February. I told her I’d have to bone up on my Giant Ding Dong making skills before I’d let her pay me money for this cake!