Five baking tips from my day of baking fails

I woke up this morning feeling inspired to write after a conversation I had with my friend Kristen, who reminded me to not let the struggle of doing something new or challenging get you down.

The other day I made a cake that failed on so many levels I didn’t even write about it. But after a few days to let my frustration pass, I have a new mindset on it, and I’m going to take what I learned as baking notes and pass some tips (and laughs) on to you!

This is the cake I originally set out to make. It was actually less about the cake and more about the chocolate “brushstroke” technique I wanted to try.

feather brushstroke cake

I started out by just making a basic white cake and that went fine. My first problem arose when I went to frost it. Which brings me to my first tip:

If you’re stacking cakes, cut off the domes!

My cakes didn’t have much of a dome so I thought I could cut corners and get away with not cutting them off. But as you can guess, that didn’t work. There was a big gap in the middle that I had to try to (unsuccessfully) fill in with frosting.

Cutting the cake makes it a bit shorter (and smaller if you cut off the sides, too), and there is some cake “waste,” but it’ll make your life easier and your cake look better. I was thinking – you could always take the leftover cake, crumble it in a bowl, add in some frosting and roll them into cake balls! No cake left behind 😉

The next issue came with the chocolate. I bought white chocolate chips instead of candy melts, which I don’t think was the issue, but who knows.

When I went to melt the chocolate by pouring the chips into a bowl sitting over a pot of boiling water, the chocolate on the bottom started to melt quicker than the rest. Then it started to get sort of…crumbly…so I started stirring like a mad woman. Tip #2:

Don’t add too much chocolate at once or it won’t melt evenly.

The chocolate was seizing up so I panicked and did the first thing I could think of: add some water. Tip #3:


In hindsight I should have at least grabbed milk or cream, but I was freaking out and I don’t know if that would’ve worked anyway. That completely f!cked up the chocolate, so as a last resort I tried microwaving it. At that point, all hope was lost.

That was the end of my brushstroke cake dream. But I wasn’t going to give up yet!

I decided to try and make the best of the frosting and food coloring I had left by creating a “watercolor” cake, like this.


This part wasn’t as much of a fail, but I learned an important lesson about watercolor cakes. Tip #4:

Don’t OVER blend or smooth the frosting too much.

In order to get the variation in color so it looks kind of tie-dyed, you can’t fuss with it too much. After I took my photo below, I kept trying to even out the frosting and eventually all the colors blended into one peachy colored cake.

watercolor cake fail

All in all, it was an extremely frustrating day! But I guess that brings me to my last tip:

Realize those days are going to happen, learn from them, and try again.

Want to try your own brushstroke feather cake or watercolor cake? Here’s where I found my inspiration:

The Cake Blog – Brushstroke cake

Style Sweet CA – Watercolor cake

Let me know if yours turn out better than mine! And follow along for more recipes and baking fails on Instagram @beginnerbakes.


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