I think it is important to share our disasters as well as our triumphs…and how we can sometimes turn a mess into, well, perhaps not a masterpiece, but at least something at will work.
I had a birthday cake to do for a dear friend for Saturday. 35 people. The plan was Chocolate fudge cake from TCB with my variation on chocolate mousseline (one recipe of mousseline with 8 oz of bittersweet chocolate and 30 g of cocoa powder).
I was planning 2 layers, each 9 x 13”. I have a 5 qt mixer and I didn’t think i could handle all that batter, and I have a small oven and was concerned with even baking if I did two large pans…so I decided to do it in two batches. I stated this project at 9 PM on friday night, was working all day saturday Had to get up at 6:15 AM, and had to deliver the cake at 5 PM saturday evening…so all had to be complete before bed. First batch of batter / first layer…perfect. When the layer was baking I mixed up the batter for the second layer (I have two pans) so I could put layer number two in the oven as soon as #1 came out. When I took the second layer out of the oven, it too looked great. I let it cool 15 minutes in the pan, and then turned it out onto a rack. Some how I lost my grip. I don’t know what happened or exactly how it happend, but the layer fell out of my hand onto the counter top and broke into about 8 pieces and a pile of crumbs. For a minute I just looked at it. and I said…ok…cake for me to eat, lets get started on another. I put the water up to boil and I glanced at the clock. It was midnight. It would take me at least 1/2 hour to get that batter made (even chilling the cocoa/boiling water in an ice bath)...nearly an hour to bake, 2 hours to cool…and then start the frosting/decorating? not to mention cleaning the mess? I would never get to bed at all. So…I carefully lifted all intact pieces onto a cooling rack. I scooped all the crumbs into a bowl. When everything was cool, and the buttercream was made, I mixed the crumbs with some buttercream to make a paste. I put buttercream on the intact layer, and then assembled the broken pieces on top of that, using the crumb/buttercream paste as sort of a spackeling compound to hold everthing together, and to fill in any missing pieces (before I decided to do this…I ate some of the broken cake…oops). I then put the whole thing in the fridge to chill and stiffen, and then I iced and decorated it. I had some trouble getting it perfectly square…and perhaps with more time I could have done it…but I think it was more than good enough. I didn’t get to bed till 3…only three hours sleep…but I made it. Decoration was quick and simple…again…no time to fuss at 3 am. I was concerned that it might fall to bits when I cut it…but it didn’t. Some people did get a piece of cake with an awful lot of frosting, but no one complained.