From Fail to Fabulous

Failure to fabulous cake - Cakewalker


It’s true.

I have cake fails every now and again.

This one happened on the eve of New Year’s Eve and for the life of me I have no idea what went wrong. I did know, however, I didn’t want to take time from the cooking schedule ahead of me to tinker with the never tried before recipe from a trusted source. Preparations for the holiday dinner had to move forward.

What was to be a two-layer cake filled with white chocolate truffle became something very different. One cake was not salvageable having overflowed like a lava spew onto the oven floor, but what remained in the pan sure tasted good. The fudgy, brownie like texture told me all was not lost. The other cake, though baked intact to completion, fell in the center leaving me with a cake bowl instead of an even layer. My first thought was to fill the concave vessel with fluffy whipped cream and a few fresh raspberries on top. A couple of other options crossed my mind as I wrapped the useable cake in plastic and parked it in the fridge next to the chocolate star garnishes previously made. I turned to the task list with confidence the dessert dilemma would work itself out.

When time came to assemble the dessert, the whipped cream idea stuck with me, but I ditched the notion of berries having been reminded of some espresso buttercream in the freezer. Cake people tend to have frosting in the freezer; and remnants like these come in handy. The end result was a tasty, eye-catching Chocolate Mocha Cake with festive chocolate stars.

I share this with you because a baking fail can happen anytime to anyone, but it doesn’t have to become a complete loss. As long as something remains useable, put it to use. And with a little creativity you can transform a fail to something fabulous!

Challenge yourself in the New Year by remaining open to the possibilities of what can be when faced with a dismal situation in the kitchen. Back yourself with confidence in the skills you have, coupled a spoonful or two of instinct, and you may be pleasantly surprised.


  1. Yep, Brooks, you pulled that one off! Looks as if this is what you started out to make in the first place — a great example of one of those “they’ll never know” kitchen feats!

    • Brooks Walker says

      A kitchen save, and a tasty one too. 🙂 Looking forward to seeing what you’ll be cooking up this year!

  2. Great save, my friend.
    This type of thing has happened to me as well. I saved my cake by breaking it into smallish bits and drying it on a cookie sheet. Then I blitzed in the processor to make cake crumbs which I froze and use instead of graham cracker for crusts! You can also use the baked cake bits in trifle, which would be delicious and no one would be the wiser! I love the stars you decorated the cake with and it sure adds to the festive look. Happy New Year, I wish you all the best for 2016!

  3. Looks fantastic! This just goes to show us how we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. I think we all can say your cakes, etc. are always on point. Thanks for sharing this with us!!

  4. Yup, have had similar fails. Bummer when it happens, but it happens. Gives you a chance to be creative with your recovery. 🙂 This looks like you planned to make it exactly the way it turned out! Happy New Year!

    • Brooks Walker says

      Similar in presentation, yet very different in flavor profiles. Happy New Year to you, John!

  5. Brooks
    Thank you for sharing! I have cupcakes fall, and just added more frosting. There are many ways to”repurpose” the fail

  6. Beautiful save! And you helped me save my runny ganache too! You are really an ace baker. Reminds me of the Thanksgiving though when I forgot the sugar in the pumpkin pie. Weirdly, if you add sweetened whipped cream to un-sweetened pumpkin pie, it kind of evens out and isn’t so bad…

    • Brooks Walker says

      It’s great to have you here, Lyle. I appreciate the compliment! Your pumpkin pie save turned out well; nice work. 🙂

    • At Thanksgiving two or three years ago, someone brought a pumpkin pie without the sugar in it. We thought the same thing–not half bad with sweetened whipped cream!

  7. Excellent save, my friend! Having a small amount of buttercream in the freezer has saved me from what would otherwise be deemed a complete catastrophe. I do take a small consolation that even a cake master such as you has an overflow or sunken middle from time to time. 😉

    • Brooks Walker says

      To have two issues going on at once was interesting―I’ll pinpoint them on the next trial. I’m grateful for your kind words, Kirsten. Did you get snow yet?

  8. I would never have known had you not fessed up. But I’m so glad you did. Helps people be Fearless! =)

  9. A lot of my failed cakes have become trifles. Wait a minute, did I just say I had a lot of failed cakes?

  10. You are so innovative! I probably would have thrown this in the trash. I love how you transformed a disaster into a definite win! Bravo!

    • Brooks Walker says

      One cake did make the trash; thankfully flavor and texture made the other a go. Thanks for stopping by, Chris!

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