Baking cakes is tricky business, and sometimes they don’t rise. We’ve got seven ideas for turning an imperfect cake into a delicious dessert that you’re going to love!
Maybe you put baking powder in twice, or didn’t whip the egg whites long enough. Were you short on flour, but baked anyway?
Whatever the reason, a homemade confection that cooked all the way through is fair game for the following desserts, whatever its height.
Here are seven fast and easy ideas for transforming your misshapen cake into a delicious dessert you may never have thought to try.
1. Fill ‘er Up
If your cake has sunk into itself, glaze or frost it generously. Try our recipes for cocoa fudge frosting, Swiss meringue buttercream, American-style buttercream, or dark chocolate ganache glaze. With frostings and glazes as delicious as these, no one will ever know there’s a mistake hiding underneath them!
Then, fill the cavity with sliced fresh fruit for an attractive presentation that doesn’t require a smooth, even top.
2. Pie in a Jiffy
A thin cake makes a great crust for a pudding pie. Using a flat dish or a pie plate, cover it with your favorite pudding, like this vegan avocado version.
Chill, then garnish with whipped cream, fresh fruit, a bit of grated Hershey bar, or the topping of your choice.
A microplane comes in handy for garnishing sweet treats.
For vanilla cakes, you might like vanilla pudding topped with sliced bananas and cream.
For cocoa-infused baked goods, try vanilla or chocolate pudding, dollops of whipped cream, and shaved chocolate.
3. Boozy with Fruit
Cube the cake, and add bits of fresh, thawed frozen, or canned fruit. Drizzle your favorite liqueur over the top for a refreshing sweet.
For vanilla or orange, add Grand Marnier or your favorite type of orange-flavored liqueur, orange sections, and cubed skin-on pears. Top with curled orange rind.
For chocolate, add kirsch, and top with whipped cream, maraschino cherries, and grated chocolate.
4. Hot Fudge Cups
Here’s another way to create fun individual desserts that is especially good with chocolate, vanilla, and chocolate chip types (or one where the two flavors are swirled together, like this zebra version).
Break cake into bite-size pieces, or cube with a knife. Cover with hot fudge sauce and top with whipped cream. Garnish with grated toffee.
Vanilla, gingerbread, German chocolate, and carrot versions are wonderful with hot butterscotch sauce garnished with crumbled pretzels, or chopped honey-roasted almonds.
5. Bits and Bites
Make a tray of bite-size treats to present to dinner guests.
Another idea is homemade candy cakes. Simply submerge palm-sized pieces into melted chocolate, place on parchment paper, and chill.
You can also cut your flatter-than-desired baked good into wedges if it is round, or squares if it is rectangular. Cover pieces with melted chocolate or fudge sauce. Serve warm with ice cream.
6. Brown Betty Pudding
Do you remember your grandma’s warm and sweet bread pudding? Was it a Brown Betty loaded with cinnamon, apples, and pears?
Pudding is a terrific dish to make with an imperfect cake. Just break it up into bite-sized pieces and use it in place of the bread in a pudding or apple Brown Betty recipe.
I can’t think of a flavor that doesn’t work well with this treatment!
7. Fruity Parfait
Finally, the easiest of all is to cube your cake and layer it in a parfait glass or sundae cup with fruit and whipped cream, or ice cream. Alternate layers for a beautiful presentation.
If you were baking a vanilla treat, make a shortcake-style dessert with fresh strawberries. Canned peaches work just as well.
With cocoa-flavored confections, try bananas, or a can of cherries like you’d use for pie filling.
Our recipe for spiced orange mousse also works beautifully in a parfait.
Back in the Day
When my mother was growing up, she took a home economics class that required practicing recipes at home.
To my grandfather’s credit, he ate everything my mother cooked, regardless of color, texture, or taste. Nothing went to waste, particularly a dessert full of expensive ingredients like eggs and sugar.
When a cake was too far gone, my grandmother would bury it beneath pudding and serve it with a big spoon, a treat I loved when I came along many years later.
Why not tap into the ingenuity of the ages and give these ideas a try?
Let us know what you think! And share your own secrets for reworking and saving baked desserts in the comments!
Photo credit: Shutterstock.
About Nan Schiller
Nan Schiller is a writer from southeastern Pennsylvania. When she’s not in the garden, she’s in the kitchen preparing imaginative gluten- and dairy-free meals. With a background in business, writing, editing, and photography, Nan writes humorous and informative articles on gardening, food, parenting, and real estate topics. Having celiac disease has only served to inspire her to continue to explore creative ways to provide her family with nutritious locally-sourced food.