A tasty disaster

If I were a more committed food blogger, this post would go something like this:

‘Last week I made a cake which went hilariously wrong, but still managed to taste great so I tweaked the recipe and now it’s perfect. Here it is.’

But alas, I’m not, so it’s not going to. Instead I’m going to link to a recipe, tell you how I tweaked it, how it went hilariously wrong, and how I suspect it could be perfected by you at home. Or by me at some point in the future.

I wanted to bring this sour cream and lemon pound cake to a 4th of July bbq. Stef had already lent me her tube pan (they’re hard to find in this country) and I woke up early to shop for all the ingredients. But there was no cake flour. Now, I’m a fairly inept baker and I didn’t really know what cake flour was, so I figured I was just having some American/British confusion and bought the bag that said PERFECT FOR CAKES on it. Seemed reasonable enough.

Based on the reviews and my own ineptitude, here’s what I wound up using:

  • 3 cups self rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar (I’d reduce this by at least half a cup next time around)
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (though I would up this to at least 3/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 cup sour cream

    Grease and flour a large tube pan and preheat the oven to 350.

    The assembly procedure is quite simple, and I followed the directions to the letter (adjusting for altered quantities). It all went wrong in the pouring stage. The tube pan I had was smaller than the one called for, so I filled it up to about an inch from the top, leaving about a cup left over. But because the PERFECT FOR CAKES flour I’d bought was self rising, this wasn’t nearly enough room. Five minutes after I put it in the oven, the cake was already breaching the top of the pan. 20 minutes it and it was shedding cake all over the oven. I had to take it out a few times during the baking process to scrape burning bits of cake from the oven floor.

    Also, because it had risen so high the top of the cake got too close to the heat source and started to burn, so I had to lower the rack right down to the bottom of the oven.

    I thought the cake was a sure failure, and texted Anna to say the bbq would be down a dessert. But my cake and I persevered, and after 70 minutes, when a knife inserted came out clean, I took it out of the oven for good, turned it out onto a rack after cutting through where the cake had baked over the edge of the tin, and it started to look a lot more promising. It also collapsed a bit, which was encouraging.

    And it was great! As indicated above, though, I would definitely cut the sugar and up the lemon to suit my tastes. I would also stick with the self rising flour next time. The big lesson is pour a lot less of it in the pan, or use a (much) bigger pan. And start it out on a low rack just to be safe.



    One response to “A tasty disaster

    1. Hmmmm…interesting experience! Baking requires so much more attention to detail. My difficulties in that area are reflected in all areas of my life – not just baking a pound cake! I can smell it baking though on this side of the Atlantic!

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