Horrible Cake.... What Did I Do???

Decorating By Rhonda19 Updated 4 Oct 2012 , 8:02am by Pearl123

Rhonda19 Posted 21 Feb 2011 , 6:14pm
post #1 of 30

Hi Everyone.... My mother does lunch everyday for our family, so to help her out, I made a cake to use as desert. Well... it was HORRIBLE! I didn't get the recipe from this site, but copied it from another.

The cake was dry, very tough!! My family put strawberry juice on it, so it we could eat it! I am so disappointed!! I copied the recipe down, so you all could look at it...to see if you could figure out what I did.

Strawberries and Creme Cake
For the cake:
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon lightly packed lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

For the filling:
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the frosting:
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 cups heavy cream

For the cake:
Heat oven to 350°F and arrange rack in upper third. Butter and flour two (8-inch) cake pans. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a mixing bowl; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, combine vegetable oil, water, lemon zest, vanilla extract, egg yolks, and 1 1/4 cups of the sugar. Whip on medium speed, until mixture is airy and light in color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl; add dry ingredients and whip until smooth, about 1 minute more.
In a clean bowl, whip egg whites to medium peaks. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute more. Using a rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the cake batter until evenly incorporated; gently fold in remaining egg whites until just combined.
Divide batter between prepared cake pans. Bake until surface of cakes springs back when pressed and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Remove cakes from the oven, and let cool 15 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of each, and turn them out onto wire racks to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the filling and the frosting.

For the filling:
Combine mascarpone cheese and heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the frosting:
Place the cleaned bowl of the stand mixer and the whip attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes. Combine vanilla extract, sugar, and heavy cream in the chilled bowl and whip at medium speed until medium peaks form, about 2 minutes.
Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least one hour. (The frosting can be prepared up to 12 hours ahead.)


29 replies
hsmomma Posted 21 Feb 2011 , 6:45pm
post #2 of 30

Just at first glance...looks like you need more liquid (water, juice, sour cream...etc.).

Chala86 Posted 21 Feb 2011 , 6:52pm
post #3 of 30

Could be a lack of liquids in the recipe or maybe too long in the over??

cakegirl1973 Posted 21 Feb 2011 , 7:03pm
post #4 of 30
Originally Posted by hsmomma

Just at first glance...looks like you need more liquid (water, juice, sour cream...etc.).

I agree. 1/4 cup liquid is not that much.

FromScratchSF Posted 21 Feb 2011 , 7:40pm
post #5 of 30

OK, this recipe is full of Fail, I am so sorry to tell you. Maybe you missed typing some of the ingredients? But as posted it's a disaster and no wonder it didn't work!

You asked, so Imma tell you some of what is wrong with this failboat....

Where is your baking powder? Even cakes that rely on meringue (which this one calls for) have some baking powder in it - your recipe has none. No wonder you cake didn't rise - it probably came out like a chewy biscuit especially since it has liquid oil and no shortening or dairy at all (buter, milk, buttermilk, cream). I find that cakes that rely on meringue for the levening are chewy and don't rise very much as they are, but all the recipes I've ever seen have at least some baking powder.

This also has no baking soda, but this calls for lemon zest, which is full of acid (acid makes cakes NOT rise). Baking soda neutralizes acid.

Where are the strawberries in your Strawberries and Cream cake???? I don't see that in your ingredient list.

Your sugar is WAY low. You have 2 cups flour, but only 1 1/2 cup sugar. Most successful white/yellow cakes have at least equal ratios of sugar, but besides making cakes sweet, sugar also makes cakes tender. Being this far off would make your cake a biscuit.

Where are the strawberries in your Strawberries and Cream cake? Several have posted the lack of liquid, but if you are supposed to be adding fresh strawberries, which are mostly water, then it makes perfect sense because you'll get lots of water from the fruit and some sugar - but still not enough to compensate for the lack of sugar in the ingredients list.

I'm sure I could find some other flaws but these are major. It's jacked recipes like this that people randomly post online that make me the most upset because people like you try them and they fail, leading you to believe YOU are the problem and not the recipe, therefore you'll forgo scratch cakes in favor of boxed. But it's not you!!!

My advice is if you want to make a scratch recipe in the future stick to recipes by famous people like Rose Levi Bernbaum, Dorie Greenspan, Toba Garrett or Martha Stewart. Martha actually has a great strawberry cake recipe posted on her website that I've used more then a few times.

Sorry you waisted your time/money, but better luck next time!


FromScratchSF Posted 21 Feb 2011 , 7:50pm
post #6 of 30

CORRECTION: I just realized you posted 2 tsp. baking SODA. I'd bet my right arm that is supposed to be baking POWDER. BIG difference. And IMHO even with the meringue it's not enough.

It should have some soda, but probably more like 1/4 tsp to counter the acid.

barbbouk Posted 21 Feb 2011 , 8:00pm
post #7 of 30

Are we all looking at the same recipe?? I see baking powder, not soda.....

CakeandDazzle Posted 21 Feb 2011 , 8:24pm
post #8 of 30

i calls for two tsp baking powder.....

i would say first not enough liquid....
second a problem with meringue cakes is that they are very easy to over mix, leading to a dense cake....

FromScratchSF Posted 21 Feb 2011 , 8:32pm
post #9 of 30
Originally Posted by CakeandDazzle

i calls for two tsp baking powder.....

i would say first not enough liquid....
second a problem with meringue cakes is that they are very easy to over mix, leading to a dense cake....

I swear it said soda when I looked at it, OP did you correct that?

Wing-Ding Posted 21 Feb 2011 , 9:17pm
post #10 of 30

I agree with the sugar/flour ratio. You don't have enough sugar. Between the oil and the water, it's not enough liquid. The water should be about half of the flour/sugar, depending on the other ingredients that would add moisture, such as strawberries or anything else that holds moisture (or IS moisture, like coffee, whiskey, rum, etc). The total liquids should almost match the amount of flour you put in. My most successful recipe has 2 cups flour, sugar and all liquids, each. I also think you have too many eggs.

Your filling has no sugar. Heavy cream and mascapone? Both are pretty bland by themselves and offer nothing of a flavor boost together. Here is where the strawberries would have been great!

How was your frosting? The recipe on here sounds close to what I would use for making whipped cream, which would become runny as soon as the temperature raised.

If you are a novice baker, I would suggest using recipes from professional bakers until you are comfortable modifying recipes to your own tastes. When you've been baking for a while, you'll start to recognize ratios in recipes. You'll be able to look at a recipe and know if it is good or not without reading reviews (although the reviews are helpful because sometimes you'll see modifications that would make the recipe better in them).

CakeandDazzle Posted 21 Feb 2011 , 9:54pm
post #11 of 30

i dont think the sugar/flour is off... my cake is 2.25 c flour 1.76 sugar. its a amazing... but yeah i missed the eggs way too many... 3 whole or 6 whites would have been better

Wing-Ding Posted 21 Feb 2011 , 10:17pm
post #12 of 30

"my cake is 2.25 c flour 1.76 sugar."

Come to think of it, I do have recipes like this too and they are fantastic. My cinnamon whiskey cake is my most requested cake though so I tend to think along those lines! Everything is like 2 cups each so it's an easy recipe to memorize! icon_smile.gif

Rhonda - I forgot to mention that I think the baking soda suggestion is a good one, especially when using citrus in a recipe. This recipe also needs to actually cut back on the baking powder, in my opinion. Maybe to one tsp.

After seeing all these posts, I would just throw away the recipe and find another one! icon_smile.gif

Good luck with your future endeavors!

Rhonda19 Posted 24 Feb 2011 , 9:40pm
post #13 of 30

Thank you everyone!!! I truly thpught I'd done something wrong. First let me say, that this recipe was posted online and I got it off a very reputable woman's magazine website. Everyone that made it, said it rose very well, very light.... and mine? tasted like bread.

Second, I'm not a novice baker, I have a little more experience, I usually use WASC but really wanted to try a scratch cake. If I had been more about myself, I may have noticed the recipe was off.

Not to make excuses, but you see... My husband passed away 8 months ago, unexpectedly ( he was only 50 ) and I'm staying with my parents. I was going to help her with lunches... and ??

Thanks everyone

cookiemom51 Posted 24 Feb 2011 , 10:00pm
post #14 of 30

So sorry for your loss, sending you warm thoughts.

ThreeLittleBlackbirds Posted 24 Feb 2011 , 10:22pm
post #15 of 30

Oh goodness, so very sorry for your loss!

Don't stop baking from scratch though just because this recipe didn't work out. I find that a combination of butter and oil produces the most tender and moist yellow cakes. Also since this is an oil based cake, it's just as important how you mix it, as with a creaming method with a butter cake. Oil and sugar always get mixed together first, then the egg yolks one at a time. The eggs also need to be at room temp in order to properly emulsify with the fats of the oil. The egg whites should be whipped to stiff but not dry peaks and then carefully folded into the batter by hand. You also need enough sugar to help tenderize the cake crumb. All of those small details make a big difference in the end result of the cake.


KatsSuiteCakes Posted 24 Feb 2011 , 10:29pm
post #16 of 30

First Rhonda19, I'm so sorry for your loss, and the tough times you and your family are going through. Bless your Mom for her support. Secondly, your cakes are lovely, and it's obvious you are a great cake maker.

Looking at your recipe, I think there are far too many eggs in this when you look at the ratio of flour and sugar. I've made cakes that called for 2 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups of sugar, and only 2 eggs.

Good thoughts on continued baking success, and comfort as you go forward.


Rhonda19 Posted 16 Mar 2011 , 12:49am
post #17 of 30

Thank you all, for the support!! I do want to try and continue baking...
I'll give it another try. icon_biggrin.gif

If there is anyone wanting to share a scratch yellow or white cake recipe, I'd be willing to listen..... icon_rolleyes.gif

lilmissbakesalot Posted 16 Mar 2011 , 1:14am
post #18 of 30

This is a chiffon cake... it is supposed to have a lot of eggs. The resulting cake is like a cross between a reagular cake and an angel food cake and it is VERY easy to overbake. The resulting cake is very springy and can be very moist, but if overbaked they are HORRID.

sweetaudrey Posted 16 Mar 2011 , 8:52am
post #19 of 30

I'm sooo sorry to hear about your loss. I can only imagion. I agree with the previous post...my suggestion would be to keep a very very very watchful eye on the oven time. Also, your liquids do seem just a tad bit off for the amount of flour...but that's just an opinion. Best of luck and God bless you and your family!

lilmissbakesalot Posted 16 Mar 2011 , 9:50pm
post #20 of 30

#1. My condolences on your loss. I can't imagine the pain. Though it's never easy, peace will come in time. Stay strong and know people are thinking of you.

#2. This is pretty spot on for a chiffon cake recipe (maybe a tad less liquid than most, but nothing catastrophic). If you've never made one before I can see how you might think it's off, but the liquid comes from the yolks, oil, and water combined and the batter has to be a little thicker to start with since the egg whites will further lighten the mixture.

The texture of a chiffon cake is definitely not like your average cake (especially if you are used to the texture of the WASC cake or a traditional vanilla butter cake), and if overbaked it's like eating a kitchen sponge and it can fall on you. It is basically angel food cake's richer cousin... LOL. Very sproingy (yes... the technical term.... LMAO) and it stays that way even when it has been chilled.

I'm willing to bet it was over baked and/or over mixed. If you over mix it you deflate the egg whites and take away a good portion of the lift for the cake.

Pearl123 Posted 2 Oct 2012 , 12:13pm
post #21 of 30

I agree with lilmissbakesalot. I've done a lemon chiffon cake this weekend (Dunnot why they call this strawberries and cream, but thesponge has lemon zest??). Anyway I'm not 100% sure about the rest, but definitely overmixing can result in this and overbaking. Also liquid is very little and I would use bit more baking powder.

I was so very gentle and precise when I followed my recipe (which took 7 eggs, seperated and was amazzzzzing), I got an absolutely light, airy but moist melt in your mouth cake. It was possibly the tastiest cake I've had and everyone said so.

This is the recipe I used and the OP could try this - to adapt for strawberries.. I would omit the lemon zest and use strawberries in the filling. This recipe I tried for the first time and Its going on my list for sure.

7 eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
4 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Place egg whites in a large bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks, water, oil, lemon peel and vanilla; add to dry ingredients and beat until well blended. Add cream of tartar to egg whites; beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter.
Gently spoon into an ungreased 10-in. tube pan. Cut through batter with a knife to remove air pockets. Bake on the lowest oven rack at 325° for 50-55 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Immediately invert pan; cool completely, about 1 hour.
Run a knife around side and center tube of pan. Remove cake to a serving plate. In a small bowl, combine frosting ingredients; beat until smooth. Spread over top of cake, allowing frosting to drape down the sides. Yield: 12-16 servings.

Narie Posted 2 Oct 2012 , 1:14pm
post #22 of 30

I agree with lilmissbakesalot and Pearl123. Chiffon or sponge cakes can easily be over baked. Perfect one minute, blah the next, and horrible after that. Looking at the recipe I realized you could over beat the egg whites. Beat until stiff fold over peaks form -period! Anymore and the egg whites start to clump.

This is the sponge cake recipe I use- absolute perfection but don't over bake.

Champion Sponge Cake- Farm Journal Recipe

1¼ c. sifted flour
1 c. sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
6 eggs, separated
1 tsp. cream of tartar
½ c. sugar
¼ c. water
1 tsp. vanilla

Sift together flour, 1 c. sugar, baking powder and salt.
Beat egg whites at high speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar. Gradually add
½ c. sugar, beating until stiff but not dry peaks form.
Combine egg yolks, water, vanilla and dry ingredients. Beat at medium high speed until thick and lemon-colored (about 4 minutes).
Gradually fold egg yolk mixture into egg whites. Pour batter into ungreased 10 tube pan.
Bake in 350° oven 45 minutes or until cake tests done. Invert tube pan on funnel or bottle to cool. When completely cool, remove from pan.

BakingIrene Posted 2 Oct 2012 , 3:37pm
post #23 of 30

This is a chiffon type recipe and the water should be 3/4 cup.

And that would be baking POWDER not soda.

hieperdepiep Posted 2 Oct 2012 , 5:25pm
post #24 of 30
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

. I find that cakes that rely on meringue for the levening are chewy and don't rise very much as they are, but all the recipes I've ever seen have at least some baking powder.

Rhonda19, hope you'll find a good recipe that gives you a perfect cake to share with your family!
I am so sorry about your loss. It'l'' still hurt a lot. We are thinking about you here.

On the post about the cake.. by the way, I love all these answers. So much knowlegde here. *absorbing it all*.

Fromscratch.. I do have a recipe for a cake without baking powder nor baking soda. It is a biscuit de savoie. Enormously airy, totally from the wisked whole eggs.. No fat too, but you can discuss whether cake is a right name for it.

scp1127 Posted 3 Oct 2012 , 4:36am
post #25 of 30

I too want to send my condolences.

Stick with it. I've made so many bad cakes getting to the good ones. Sometimes I think the ability to keep going beyond the failure is what separates the scratch bakers.

And I so agree with fromScratch. If it weren't for those nasty, unbalanced recipes flooding the web, scratch baking may not be such a dying art.

Here is my advice: Get perfect recipes with proven results to start. I just made fromscratch's white cake (or yellow, see her blog) and I think it is good for a novice to pull off a great scratch cake.

All of the advice has been good. Soon you will be able to just look at a recipe and "taste" it.

Tails Posted 3 Oct 2012 , 7:03am
post #26 of 30

I noticed the OP said the oven rack was the top 3rd of the oven...is this not too high? I though chiffons were on the bottom 3rd and normal cakes in the middle? That being said, I've never made a chiffon cake lol

Condolances on your loss icon_sad.gif

BakingIrene Posted 3 Oct 2012 , 2:52pm
post #27 of 30

I bake chiffon cakes in the middle of the oven same as all others including angel food. 350F until they test done.

This cake will benefit from being inverted right after baking, so that it doesn't weigh itself down as it cools. Layer pans with top rims/ears make this practical.

FromScratchSF Posted 3 Oct 2012 , 5:17pm
post #28 of 30

Just want to point out, in case ya'all missed it, this thread is from Feb of 2011, and the OP never checked back after posting. I'm going to assume her recipe woes have been well fixed or abandoned!

But good advice from all!

scp1127 Posted 4 Oct 2012 , 3:30am
post #29 of 30

I didn't catch that.

Pearl123 Posted 4 Oct 2012 , 8:02am
post #30 of 30

FromScratch... icon_wink.gif Good lookin' out... ! icon_lol.gif

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