Julia Child said famously "There are no mistakes in the kitchen." (It wasn't exactly that but similar.) Well, Julia can I offer you a spoonful of cake?
Sometimes things do not work out the way you thought they would. Adapt and move on is a pretty good life philosophy - it also applies to this epic cake fail. Mind you, it was delicious just not pretty. And by not pretty, I mean a HOT MESS!
It started out like any other baking project - I saw something that inspired me and I wanted to try it out myself. Most of the time it works out just fine. I am a pretty confident/competent baker but this time not so much. The inspiration behind this cake was from Sarah Kieffer's rectangle cake from Handmade Charlotte. It too born out of a good cake gone bad.
(On a side note, last week was my birthday. I decided I didn't really need a cake this year. I made this cake because I changed my mind several days after my actual birthday. Everyone really does need a cake for their birthday and I was happy to make mine. I chose my family favorite chocolate cake with cream cheese buttercream. I had gotten some beautiful Ruby Red grapefruits in my farm box so I thought if orange and lemon are good with chocolate why not grapefruit? In fact, it was chocolate cake with Vanilla Scented Grapefruit Cream Cheese Buttercream. Whew, that's a mouthful! )
I started by baking the Hershey's BEST Chocolate Cake recipe baked in a 13"x 9" pan.
I let it cool completely and then like Sarah did, cut it into thirds. Ok, this is where I caution you to just bake the cake and either frost it as sheet cake or bag the cake idea altogether and make cupcakes. I have no idea how Sarah was able to get this to work but hers was just so darn cute! (Side note #2, I am totally obsessed with Sarah Kieffer and her blog vanillabeanblog.com - she can do no wrong. Maybe she will offer to make me a birthday cake. :) )
Per instruction, you cut the sheet cake in equal thirds and ice the bottom third, then stack and ice the second third, and then add the third, ice the top and sides. This is when I knew I was in trouble.
Can you hear it as it slowly slides off? I didn't either. I had my back turned as I was looking for skewers to help support it.
Now we separate a disaster from a creative opportunity. Luckily, I was making it for myself, the blog, and my lovelies at work BUT what if I were having company? How could I get this to work for me? For me, I grabbed my trifle bowl! If you have not had the experience of picking up cake with your hands and shoving it into a large bowl - I highly recommend it! It feels great, slightly naughty, and then you have cake and buttercream all over your hands and there's only one way to get clean! Huzzah!
You could make cake ball/pops. Mush all the cake together, form balls, and dip in chocolate - delicious!
You could pat a thin layer back into the the sheet pan, put in the freezer for about 10 minutes, add a layer of ice cream, another layer of cake, freezer for 15 minutes, more ice cream, cake, etc! I kind of want to make it again and turn it into an ice cream cake now!
The cutest thing that was suggested was from my co-workers' daughter. She said to scoop it in a Dixie cup and then it is Cup Cake! Brilliant! The girl of 5 has a way with cake. :)
On the upside, my Vanilla Scented Grapefruit Cream Cheese Buttercream was outrageously good AND I added one drop of pink and one drop of yellow food coloring which resulted in the most beautiful color frosting! It was just a subtle hint of color and looked just like a two-toned tulip that was on my table.
Recipe for the BEST Cream Cheese Frosting (EVER!)
1 stick of butter, cold!
1 8oz block of cream cheese, cold!
16oz of powdered sugar
Put into the mixer all at once and start the mixer on low. Then clean up the powdered sugar that will inevitably fly out of the mixer. As everything becomes incorporated, turn up the mixer and let whip. It will get glossy and smooth. This is perfect just the way it is but you can add vanilla and/or whatever flavoring you desire. For this cake, I added 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste and 1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh squeezed Ruby Red grapefruit juice and a few grates of grapefruit zest.
The most important part of this take is that the cake was rich and moist with billowy, creamy frosting with just a hint of a tangy citrus essence. Oh Happy Birthday to me!