Nailed It-The True Story of a Culinary Cooking Monster

Most of the time when I blog about something I cooked it looks like this...

Yum. Are you jealous of my culinary prowess? You shouldn't be. There's a reason blog food usually looks good in pictures.  Most bloggers use a sophisticated strategy called "I don't take pictures of my ugly food". I know I do. I have made some appalingly ugly concotions... this week! Don't even get me started on my baked goods which almost always reflect the meme below:

This doesn't stop me from trying over and over to achieve pinterest-level baking perfection. With my mixer at my side the epic battles to make delicious and fugly baked goods continues unchecked. Since I am so good at making baked goods that come out in aesthetically unexpected ways today I am going to teach you one of the only solid baking tricks I know: how to "salvage" a good cake gone bad. Get ready for it!

Photography by Jamie Chung for Bon Appetit Magazine

Last Easter I decided I was going to make an eight-layer coconut cake from Bon Appetit magazine. When my friend Lisa expressed concern that I might be out of my league I was insulted. What does she know?! I have a mixer and a subscription to Bon Appetit. Nothing can stop me.

And bake my cake I did. Oooh, it smelled amazing. Just like heaven. Take that Lisa!

Next, I attempted to remove the cakes from the pans. I really showed Lisa who's right! Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaarggggghhhh!

The worst part about this devastating moment was the absolute deliciousness of the cake. It was the best cake I've ever made! Light and fluffy and just the right amount of sweet. Actually scratch that, the deliciousness was the best part of that moment because facing this massacre was much easier after eating a bit of stuck-in-the-pan cake. Renewed by the sugar, coconut and southern comfort coursing through my veins I reached for my secret weapon: the trifle bowl! Do you have one? You should. Especially if you like to try ridiculously complicated recipes before important public occasions.

Armed with 1000 design blogs floating in my coconut-addled brain I decided to attempt a ombre effect with my trifle. Failure can't hold me down!

I busted out my stupid-toxic(yet somehow FDA approved) red food dye and fiddled around with my frosting until it seemed pleasing.

Then I started layering the trifle. It was, well, not as pretty as I had hoped but also not horrendous.

Culinary overconfidence restored to proper level: adventurous amateur who promises to bring cakes but always shows up with a "trifle".


There is a moment when you need to suck it up and remember you live in the real world; a place where you have a full-time job that is not entitled "baker". Would it be awesome to bring beautiful 8-layer cakes to parties? Yes! Is it the end of the world if you bring a smushy but delicious trifle instead: not at ALL. I packed up my trifle with (bruised) pride and carried on with enjoying Easter with my family and friends.

The truth is that baking can be a crapshoot. Unlike cooking you have to follow directions precisely and even then you can be sunk by an oven that is not calibrated or has hot spots, the humidity in the air or the quality of the ingredients that you use. It's not like cooking where things might just get a little charred or mushy if you do things wrong. When you bake, a small mistake or deviation can sink the recipe. Don't be deceived by how effortless the internet makes baking seem. Baking is hard and there is no shame in trying hard and not coming out totally on top. Now go bake something! I'm hungry for trifle.



Posted on August 21, 2012 and filed under Notorious Know-It-All, Project EAT.