When Recipes Fail

It’s happened to everyone.  A recipe doesn’t turn out as you expected.  A piece of baking ware doesn’t deliver as promised.  It’s annoying.

One of my most spectacular kitchen fails involved a leg of lamb.  I was making a new bbq lamb recipe and after making the marinade, prepping the meat and letting it marinade for hours, I confidently put it on the bbq…where it became a flaming inferno of lamb.  Honestly, I turned my back for 30 seconds.  When I looked back, the bbq was red hot and the lamb, now a flaming, put the Olympic torch to shame.  I may have panicked a little bit, yelled for B, slammed the lid on the bbq and went running for a fire extinguisher (to save our wood frame house which was clearly going to be burnt to the ground).  By the time B had the situation in hand (he turned off the propane, smart guy that he is) the lamb had a dark, crusty exterior and when sliced, was bright pink inside.  I, very annoyed by the lambs pyrotechnic display, wanted to pitch the whole thing and order pizza.  That tends to be my first approach when a recipe flops.  Pitch it and try again.  Alas, Mr 416expat is determined and loathes to let anything (especially meat) go to waste.  He salvaged what he could and whipped up a stir fry.

Today I made a birthday cake for one of my coworkers.  We needed a bit of a pick-me-up in the office and I thought, hey, everyone likes cake, and we’ve got a birthday to celebrate!

Enter, Anna Olson’s Chocolate Applesauce Cake.  I’ve made it before (tried and tested), it makes use of homemade applesauce (easily made while supper cooks), and I have the perfect pan (or so I thought).  Check out what happened below.

It all started out well...sifting together dry ingredients

Beating together the butter, oil, eggs, vanilla, and sugar

Combining the wet and dry ingredients...it all came together nicely

They even baked up nicely

But OH! THE CARNAGE!! Of four cakes, only ONE came out of the pan nicely

And so, tomorrow morning I will make icing.  Icing to cover the ugly scars left by my cake pan.  The same cake pan I greased and sugared as directed in the recipe, despite the pan being “non-stick”.  I did not achieve the beautiful decorative sugar crust so nicely described in Anna’s cookbook.  Nope, my cakes, at least 3 of 4, are a little worse for wear.  Though the last one does have a pretty crust, the odds are not in my favour!

Chocolate Applesauce Cake – based on Anna Olson’s recipe from Another Cup of Sugar

apple sauce – try making your own

1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 3/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 c flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/3 c applesauce (unsweetened if using store bought)
1/2 c buttermilk
8 ounces chocolate broken into chunks (or use bittersweet chocolate chips)

Beat together the butter, sugar, and oil until combined.  Add the egg and vanilla, beating until combined.  Sift together the dry ingredients.  Combine the apple sauce and buttermilk.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the apple sauce and buttermilk.  Mix well.  Stir in the chocolate chunks.

Line your baking pan with parchment paper or risk the broken cake situation.  Or perhaps, grease waaaaay more liberally than I did.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then pop out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Then, if they don’t come out of the pan beautifully…

Vanilla Cream Cheese Icing

12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
4 c icing sugar

Cream the cream cheese and butter together until smooth.  Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Carefully (so the icing sugar doesn’t end up all over your kitchen) add the icing sugar and beat until combined.

Use icing sugar to deal with any pan-related atrocities.


4 thoughts on “When Recipes Fail

  1. had a similar experience with angel food cake and mini bundt pans, had to literally rip them out. Yours will still taste yummy I am sure 🙂

    • If it hadn’t been for a co-worker’s birthday, I was thinking of making it into some sort of funky bread pudding. You an usually make something lovely with all the pieces!

    • Janet that’s so sad! I get so annoyed when things are burnt – you can’t eat them and the ingredients can’t be reused. I hope your next batch turns out better!

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