We've all been there before. Preheated the oven, popped in the cake, and then became distracted by this, that, or the other... until we either smelled burning or had the smoke detector pierce our eardrums.
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The casualty of an over-baked cake invokes a certain kind of sadness. Joyful anticipation is swiftly replaced by feelings of failure, loss, and in this particular case of red velvet—utter despair. But alas, friends! A silver lining rims the cloud of smoke emitting from your oven. I present to you: three ways to make the most of an over-baked cake.
First things first, assess the damage.
As you can see, the edges are very burned. This cake cannot be served.
When the cake has completely cooled, remove the cake from the pan. Cut along the perimeter of the cake, then use a spatula to gently wedge the cake from the pan's edges. Make sure that you soak the pan in hot soapy water once you've removed the cake so that the burnt residue can be scrubbed off later.
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Now that we have salvaged what we could from the remnants of the wreckage, we can begin the process of repurposing the cake.
You can make cake cookies by carefully slicing away the top burned layer of the cake, as though you were cutting a piece of bread. Lay the cake slice flat, and use cookie cutters to create shapes. This will give you "cake cookies"—chewy with a bit of caramelization! (If desired, you can decorate them with frosting.)
I love a good biscotti, and who knew?—they're quite easy to make! In fact, all you need is one burned cake and a hot oven.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- From the cake loaf, cut pieces that are roughly ¼ inch thick, 3 inches long, and 1 inch wide.
- Place the cake pieces on a cookie sheet and re-bake for 10-12 minutes, or until crispy and browned.
This process will give you the ideal cookie to enjoy alongside morning coffee or afternoon tea. Burnt cake biscotti are not only delicious, but also have a legacy that harkens back to ancient Rome.
"Biscotti" comes from the Latin word biscoctus, which means "twice-cooked." Back in the day, biscotus goods were very handy for journeys and wars: their dry quality made them ideal for extended storage time. Today though, it's obviously more common to see a biscotti at a coffee shop than as a wartime or travel provision.
Another technique for making the most of a burnt cake is to make cake-based bread pudding. Simply crumble the remaining cake into chunky crumbs and follow the recipe below.
- For every cup of cake crumbs that you have, you will need 1/3 cup of milk and 1 egg.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Spread the cake crumbs out in a shallow pan.
- Mix together the eggs and milk in a separate bowl.
- Pour the milk and egg mixture over the bake crumbs.
- Lightly stir in the mixture until it is absorbed by the cake.
- Bake 20 minutes, or until top of the pudding becomes slightly browned.
- Allow to cool, then serve. For a dainty touch, serve in tea cups!
Each of these recipes is so delicious in its own right that the next time I bake a cake, who knows... it may get burned deliberately. It's also fun to lay out this trio of desserts as a set, explaining their backstory.
Remember, friends—there's no such thing as a cake mistake, just an opportunity to make new desserts. So see that glass as half-full the next time your cake is fully burnt!