Four lessons learned from baking cakes

7:07:00 PM

Hello darlings,

it's been quite a week this one! My birthday was on the 4th and I decided I wanted my friends by the house to cut the cake and celebrate. I also decided I wanted to make the cake. And since I wanted a white almond cake I needed to make a chocolate one too for those who like chocolate over vanilla. 



Well, it was my first time actually baking a birthday cake since the one I made here for Nick was an ice cream one with store bought ice cream, so it doesn't really count. So, I did what I do best and searched the internet for some yummy recipes. Well, that didn't really went as planned.

See, the photos that come up when you search for almond cake, or vanilla frosting, or even easy vanilla frosting on pinterest DO NOT have anything in common with the photos you'll see in this post. And I am not talking about staging the photo and making sure the light is ok. I am talking about reality! And some food bloggers have NO relation to reality whatsoever!


I mean, I know it takes some skills to bake a fluffy and moist cake and you need the right tools to make your frosting look like a well ironed sheet but come on you guys! It should be easy enough to follow a recipe that has the words "easy" and "fail-proof" in the title shouldn't it? Well, I'll tell you. For me it's not!

I saw this amazing looking cake on pinterest and decided I wanted to make it. I followed the recipe to a t and it was pure disaster! The cake was not so bad and I ended up keeping it. I even made it with cocoa for the chocolate one I made. It was a regular cake, not moist and not fluffy at all, but it was tasty, I'll give you that! Oh but the frosting! You guys! You would've felt sorry for me!!!! It was the biggest disaster in the history of frosting disasters!!! I wish I'd photographed it but I was so busy cursing the Internet gods that made it possible for this thing to find its way in my kitchen that I forgot! I didn't even know how to through it away! You see, I tried to frost the cake with it and ended up scraping it from the cake (in order to at least save the cake) but it had so much butter in it I couldn't very well put it through the drain! So I used many plastic bags to seal it and through it out! 


Honestly I didn't expect my cake to look like Julie's but I didn't expect the frosting disaster I got! Anyhow, I decided to make a creme pudding to use between the cakes and find another recipe for the outside frosting. I should have stopped right there. I should have used only the pudding and some almonds to decorate the cake and call it a day! But no! I am stupid! So so stupid!

What is it about the wording of a blog post that makes you go stupid you think? Maybe it's the words, "Easy seven minute vanilla frosting"? Yeap, I am a victim of the image! I am and I should seek professional help about it! Cause I did it again! I let the words get me! I should have known better! I should have used the recipe in the heavy creme box. Now, that would've been EASY! But no!!! Not me! I wanted it to be ready in 7 minutes!!!!

I wanted this!



Instead, what I did get was a bump on my forehead from repeatedly knocking my head on the kitchen counter! What I did get was a disgusting runny thing that resembled something that should never be seen in the kitchen! Ever! And then I did the logical thing and made some whipped cream with the heavy cream's box recipe (into which I added some almond extract for flavor). 

So I ended up with this.



Which wasn't bad tasting at all for those who ate it apart from me that kept tasting the bitter taste of wasting 7 (!!!) hours on my feet to make a mediocre birthday cake. Hence, this is a food post without a recipe!

The second cake I baked was way better, though not in way of appearance. Of course this has nothing to do with anyone else but me since I was so tired to do anything else than frost the cake and put it in the fridge.

I'd already baked the cakes from Julie's recipe (with the addition of some cocoa) so what I needed was the frosting. By then I was regaining some sense in my head (from the previous knocking on the counter) and I decided to use a recipe from a blogger I know and trust. So I made the chocolate mousse part of this recipe to put in between the cake layers and it turned out ok. But I still needed frosting and I didn't want whipped cream for the chocolate cake.

So I took another huge risk and used this recipe for the peanut butter frosting. I wanted to make this.



And I did! I think! I got this!


It doesn't look very inviting but it tasted fine and after all the trouble and heartache that was ok in my book! 

I also made some finger food for my friends, which thankfully was well received probably because it was all well tested in previous occasions.




My friends and their kids are wonderful people that appreciated my efforts and ate almost everything I offered them and I thank them for that!


However, this was an eye-opening experience for me and these are the lessons I've learned from it:

1. Avoid recipes from blogs and sites you don't know and haven't used before. If you see something you like and want to try it out, do just that, try it out. On a day you have nothing better to do. If it works, hooray! If it doesn't you know not to "shop" there again and you are safe from disaster on an important occasion.

2. Be suspicious of the word "easy" on any recipe! It may be easy to make but difficult to succeed!

3. Always read the comments of the ones who actually tried the recipe! If I had I would've seen how many people complaint about not succeeding in the easy 7 minute frosting!

4. And last but not least. Ask a friend, you mom or a person you trust for a recipe. I actually did that before starting the cakes and Zina's advice was to make Athina's cake (which I ended up using after all). Chances are that if they have the same level of skills with you, they will lead you to success!


How about you? Any culinary disasters from following an "easy" recipe online?

Lot's of love




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22 comments

  1. hahahahha Maro ! you made me laugh ! But I have to say I feel sorry for you for the stress and disappointment on your birthday . Happy Birthday by the way I hope and wish all your dreams to come true! Wish you all best!
    I really believe that your friends enjoyed everything and had a really good time!!!
    xoxo
    Athanasia

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    1. Thanks so much Athanasia! No stress next time, I am buying the cake! lol

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  2. Manh happy returns dear! Don't worry about cakes!I am not good at them either!And I have found out (add that as number 5 at your lessons) that I can't trust recipes especially from America because they have a totally different style. They use so many ready made things to make other things that we don't have here. So try simple Greek recipes, they are better!AriadnefromGreece!

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    1. Thanks honey!!! I had the same problem with all the ready made things that's why I searched for recipes that don't include them, but I know better now! Live and learn!

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  3. Ι love cooking for birthday parties and lately I got passioned with birthday cakes. to be honest I had a couple of failures like yours but not with cakes...with EASY biscuits! Oh yes...I have thrown them away! so many materials and the cookies were a disaster! Anyway, I have tried a few recipes from Athena's site and I loved them, so I trust her!
    Your cakes look amazing and the food yummy! Happy Birthday my friend!!!

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    1. I hope you didn't try MY easy cookies and failed! I would be devastated!!! Thanks for the wishes!!!

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  4. Omg I can't imagine the anxiety this must have caused you! Happy birthday by the way! All your savory food seems delicious and I am waiting for the salad recipe (the one with the white dressing). I hope you also left some comments about the frosting failures so we may avoid the same "easy" recipes!

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    1. Thanks so much! The salad you mention was the only thing I let my mom do, lol! It's a Russian salad and I will be thrilled to share her recipe soon!

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  5. Sorry you had such a hard time with the cake. Can I ask you a couple of questions? From your text I gather you don't have much experience with cakes (you mention it being your first?) and I must say you chose difficult ones to start out with! When looking at ingredients on US blogs, it's not only the ready-made products that are hard to find. Even regular things like icing sugar (confectioner's sugar) can be different and produce different results. For example, did you use regular flour instead of cake flour which is what is in the recipe? Did you use cream of tartar in the 7 minute frosting? These might seem like details because maybe the quantities are small, but they can make a difference. Another thing that is very important is the measurements. In the US they use cups and spoons. These aren't as exact as weight measurements, so it's easy to use the wrong quantities. Maybe for example in the peanut butter frosting you used a regular tablespoon to pour the milk, when a tablespoon in a recipe is only 15ml? I don't doubt that there are many many recipes out there that don't work, I have had disasters too of course, but those were mostly from magazines. I just thought I'd mention these points so you can maybe check if you went wrong somewhere and that way you can keep it in mind for the future. If as you say these were your first cakes, you will gain experience the more you try out recipes, and at some point in the future you will know just by looking at an ingredient list whether you should go ahead with it or search for a different recipe. And you will also know how to "save" some of the ones that didn't turn out right. So keep on testing and baking and having fun with it! And I fully agree that for a special occassion we should always stick to tried and tested cakes :) Good luck with the next one!

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    1. Eleni, those are excellent points and thanks for taking the time to write them down. It was my first birthday cake but not the first cake I bake. I've made plenty of them just not to use in a birthday dessert that is. I did use cake flour and the creme of tartar can be substituted with the right amount of lemon juice as the recipe said so I used that instead. And yes you are absolutely right about having the right measurement instruments but as a Chemist I am very familiar with analogies so I know I didn't mess up there. I could have messed up somewhere else (and probably I did) but not by so much that would lead to such disasters. I mean it when I say I didn't expect a miracle that would produce my first birthday cake worthy of a Michelin star, but I know I am experienced enough to not produce such a mess, lol! I know I come off as a bit strict but I honestly think that honesty is lacking in many articles out there, either they are food related or not ( I can't begin to tell you how many "easy" crafts have become total failures by even the most experienced crafters I know!!!). I recently read your blog and can't wait to try your tomato soup!!! It looks so yummy!!!!

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    2. Ah, ok, then you didn't need me to point all that out ;) I look forward to browsing through your blog too. And let me know how the soup turns out (I am extra nervous now, lol)

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    3. Lol, no need to be, I don't make it a point of criticizing other people's work (there is another gal out there who writes all about pinterest fails!!!!) and I am pretty sure I'll be better at cooking savory dishes than baking cakes! That said, I welcome all comments especially when someone tries something I post and has corrections and/or suggestions! No one is perfect (not even my hubby regardless of what I tell him,lol!)

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  6. Πολύ λυπάμαι για το πάθημά σου, βρε κορίτσι! Έχω κάνει πολλές συνταγές από το ίντερνετ και σπάνια είχ απρόβλημα,αλλά είμαι πολύ εκλεκτική στο ποια συνταγή θα διαλέξω , διαβάζω όλα τα σχόλια από κάτω από άτομα που την έφτιαξαν και αν δε με ικανοποιούν δεν προχωράω στη συνταγή, επίσης θα βρω 30 συνταγές για να κάνω τελικά μία και αυτό με τις δικές μου τοποποιήσεις. Σου συνιστώ οπότε να μην ακολουθείς δύσκολες συνταγές να μην δοκιμάζεις πράγματα για πρώτη φορά ειδικά σε γενέθλια και να προσέχεις τις πηγές σου, υπάρχουν food bloggers που δίνουν κάθε φορά εγγυημένες συνταγές και ό,τι διαλέξεις να φτιάξεις πετυχαίνει! Με τούτα και με κείνα, ξέχασα να σου πω Χρόνια Πολλά και δημιουργικά γεμάτα με αγάπη ,χαρά και υγεία!

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    1. Σε ευχαριστώ πολύ Δέσποινα!!! Δυστυχώς στη ζαχαροπλαστική αποφεύγω να κάνω τις αλχημείες που επιχειρώ στη μαγειρική γιατί νομίζω ότι πρέπει να το κατέχεις καλά το άθλημα για να μην σου βγει πατάτα το γλυκό. Και ναι όντως υπάρχουν bloggers όπως η δικιά μας η Αθηνά που είναι εγγύηση και οτι και αν εχω φτιάξει έχει πετύχει!

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  7. σημασία έχει να ήταν νόστιμα και άσε την εμφάνιση! Στην νοστιμιά θα φανεί ο μάστορας!Εγώ έχω κάνει αρκετές από τις συνταγές που βλέπω στο γνωστό καναλάκι tasty στο φεισμπουκ και πέτυχαν όλες τολμώ να πω!

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    1. Καλά μάστορα δεν με λες αλλά οκ τουλάχιστον τις φάγαμε! Πω πω ρε συ τι φοβερο κόλλημα αυτο το tasty!!!!! Πριν κοιμηθώ βλεπω 5-6 βιντεο και με δουλευει ο Νικος με τα επιφωνήματα που βγάζω! χαχαχα

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  8. Καλημέρα Μάρω μου!!Χρόνια πολλά γιά τά γεννέθλιά σου!!Πολύχρονη!!
    Υδροχόος καί εσύ!!!!Μού έχει τύχει πολλές φορές νά μήν πετύχει κάποια συνταγή!!
    Δέν πειράζει!!Εσύ νά είσαι καλά!!Παρακολουθώ καί εγώ τό Tasty!!Φοβερές συνταγές!!
    Νά πάς στην Χάγη,κάθε φορά ανακαλύπτω καί κάτι καινούργιο!Υπέροχη πόλη!!

    Καλή εβδομάδα!!!Πολλά φιλιά!!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Ναι ναι εχουμε μαζευτει πολλοι Υδροχοοι στη μπλογκοσφαιρα! Ευχαριστω πολυ για τις ευχες!!!!

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  9. Τα παθήματα, μαθήματα και πάμε παρακάτω. Δεν πειράζει, μέσα στο πρόγραμμα όλα είναι. Πολύχρονη κορίτσι μου!Πολλά φιλιά!

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    1. Αυτην την αντιμετωπιση εχω και εγω! Επαθα, εμαθα, παω παρακατω! Καιρος να κανω καμια απο τις δικες σου συνταγες που ειναι σιγουρη επιτυχια!

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  10. Καταρχάς Χρόνια Πολλά πολύ πολύ καθυστερημένα! Κατα τ'άλλα τι λες τώρα... Τι τράβηξες βρε παιδί μου! Τελικά μπορεί να πάθεις μεγάλη ζημιά! Πάντως το τελικό αποτέλεσμα μοιάζει πεντανόστιμο αν και εγώ είμαι του αλμυρού οπότε θα έκανα βουτιά στο μπουφέ!

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    1. Χαχα ευχαριστω γλυκιά μου! Και εγω με τα γλυκα τον τελευταιο καιρο δεν ειμαι πολυ ενθερμη! Τον μπουφε τον τσακισα ομως!

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