Saturday, May 16, 2009

Frosting-in-the-cake Cake

I should probably title this post "True Confessions of a Not-So Great Cake Baker"

I've never had problems with cakes before. Until lately.

I have a recipe for a really good but slightly unusual cake that I've been wanting to share; the problem is, I've made it three times, and I can't get it to come out pretty. It tastes great, it just looks awful. It's fallen every time, not to mention run out through the bottom of my removable-insert tube pan. It's been a disaster. Every time. And yet I can't resist trying it, again and again.
So I'm going to give your the basic recipe, along with what I think are the issues with it!


  • 1 box cake mix, any flavor
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c milk or water
  • 1/2 c oil
  • 1 can frosting, any flavor

Mix all ingredients together, including the frosting. This makes a softer batter than most cakes. Pour into a lightly greased or cooking-sprayed tube or bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before trying to remove from the pan.

The first version of this I ever tasted, it was made with German chocolate cake mix with the traditional German chocolate coconut-pecan frosting, and was an excellent, extremely moist cake and looked fine.

The first time I made this, I used Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Golden cake mix, and chocolate frosting. Partway through the baking process, I smelled smoke, and realized to my dismay that the batter had oozed out around the bottom of my removable insert tube pan, and was burning on the bottom of the oven. I attributed the fall to me opening the oven door to slip a cookie sheet on the bottom shelf to catch the drips. It tasted great, but looked terrible.

Second time around, same cake and frosting flavors, only this time I put the cake pan directly on the cookie sheet and turned the oven up slightly. It still oozed, only this time, it just stuck the cake pan to the cookie sheet, and poofed up to make a little round baby cake inside the tube. And fell. Kind of like this:

So I gave up for a while. Looked up reasons for cakes falling--over beating. under beating. oven temperature too low, etc, etc. Decided to use a bundt pan and try one more time. Forgot the bundt pan and used the tube pan again, this time with French vanilla cake mix and cream cheese frosting. It puffed up so pretty. At 50 minutes, it was still slightly "jiggly" in the middle, so I left it an additional 5-7 minutes. Took it out, it was slightly deflated, but not bad. Went back later to find, once again, this:

I still haven't given up on this recipe. My mother makes a version of this recipe and hers doesn't fall. Her local paper has a cooking column where this recipe has been discussed, though, and apparently I'm not the only one who's had problems with it. Some folks have had it rise so much it overflowed their pan, others, like me, have seen it rise to beautiful heights, only to fall later. For myself, I've made this in an electric oven, and in my experience most electric ovens burn too hot, so I automatically reduce the oven temp by 50 degrees. That may be too low for this particular cake, due to the softness of the batter.

So next time, this will be made in a bundt pan, not a tube pan, and I'll adjust the oven down only 25 degrees. And put a cookie sheet under the pan. Just in case.

Meanwhile, we're having some good-but-not-pretty cake this afternoon.

(Not so)Good cooking, and good eating!

1 comment:

  1. You know what...who cares what it looks like, as long as it tastes good. I have had a lot of cakes that look like crap, but they taste pretty good.