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How To Fix Baking Disasters


I get a lot of phone calls about baking emergencies. Sometimes the caller needs advice on a substitution or shopping source for a missing ingredient or piece of equipment. But often, it has to do with a disaster and the desperate search for a solution. We’ve all been there – the bundt cake that breaks on its way out of the pan, the cookies that spread into one giant slab on the baking sheet, the undercooked brownies discovered too late – and we all know the awful feeling of “What am I going to serve for dessert?!”

The truth is, there is rarely a way to “fix” a baking disaster back into what you had initially envisioned (gluing a cake back together with frosting is fun, but not necessarily beautiful). You can, however, turn the mishap into something even more fun, creative, and delicious.

chocolate cake trifles

An easy fix for a broken cake is turning it into the base for a trifle. Chocolate cake matches well with chocolate mousse and whipped cream, and can even be enhanced by cherry pie filling for a Black Forest trifle or cookie pieces for a “Milk and Cookies” effect.

strawberry vanilla cake trifle

Vanilla cake is delicious with sliced strawberries or other fruit along with a whipped cream topping. Lemon curd or vanilla pastry cream can really elevate this.

chocolate chip cookie parfaits

If your cookies have all run together, you can try cutting them into sticks while still warm, but if they break or are slightly overbaked, use them as a parfait base – sprinkle with non-dairy creamer or coffee (or more fun, coffee liqueur!) and layer with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. Individual serving cups look terrific for all of these and make your guests think you worked extra hard!

cake truffles

Another fun way to salvage a broken cake is cake truffles – crumble your cake, mix with prepared frosting to make a consistency that will hold together when rolled into a ball, place walnut-sized balls on a waxed-paper lined pan and chill until cold and firm. Dip the truffles in melted chocolate and top with a drizzle of more melted chocolate or sprinkles. This is also a good solution for undercooked brownies – if they have already cooled when you discover they are mushy, you can microwave them briefly to ensure the batter is cooked through, and then scoop the brownies and roll into balls, dredging in powdered sugar, cocoa, sprinkles, or chopped nuts.

If your cake sinks after you set it to cool, you can always sprinkle slices with powdered sugar and call it a torte – no one will know if you don’t tell them!

But if there is no way to fix your disaster, it’s great to have a no-fail recipe in your back pocket that you can throw together in no time. This blondie recipe fits the bill; it mixes in one bowl, requires no softening of ingredients, and can take lots of different add-ins to make it something special and different every time.