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.
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:
DO NOT EVER ADD WATER TO YOUR CHOCOLATE. They don’t mix.
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.
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:
Let me know if yours turn out better than mine! And follow along for more recipes and baking fails on Instagram @beginnerbakes.