A Tale of Two Cakeys

I have been baking for as long as I can remember. When I was in the third grade my best friend and I decided to make cookies as a surprise for my parents who were returning home from a vacation.

Since we had quite a bit of practice making cookies with my mother we felt confident that we would be known as the best little bakers in the world. We lined up almost all of the ingredients and worked together, following along with the Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from my mothers Better Homes and Gardens cook book.

The cookie batter was a bit on the soupy side and didn’t quite yield the 3 dozen little lumps of dough the recipe had promised us, but no matter, we knew what we were doing.

We spooned the pudding like stuff onto a cookie sheet and put it in the oven.

After the first batch came out of the oven we noticed the cookies didn’t puff up and get all golden brown in the oven. They kinda just ran all together and didn’t cook, or resemble a type of cookie we had ever eaten.

They were also very salty.

So we did what any other 9 year old girls would do. We checked the temperature of the oven and then re-read the recipe step by step.

We then came to the conclusion that we forgot to add the flour and realized that we used the flour measurement for the salt. Being the little optimistic problem solvers that we were, in a gallant (and in our minds practical) effot to save the last batch of cookies, we decided to fix the error and salvage the cookies by sprinkling some flour on top of each cookie.


We thought that would work.

Needless to say it didn’t and the cookies were a homemade disaster. I’m sure my mom was pissed that I wasted all of those ingredients but didn’t say so and instead calmly scolded us for using the oven when a grown up wasn’t home then quietly threw out the 12 or so “cookies” our custom recipe had produced.

Since my first attempt of baking without a parental supervision I have produced probably close to a hundred batches of cookies, muffins, brownies and cakes.  I have gotten quite good over the years but of course I’ve  learned by trial and error.

And I still make my mistakes. In fact, being as I’ve made more than a few dozen mistakes I thought I’d help out by sharing some of the most important lessons I’ve learned thus far.

Below are a few key things that every novice baker should know:

  • Preheating the oven IS important
  • Knowing the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon and a cup can make or break a recipe.
  • If you forget to pretreat your pan with butter and flour that cake isn’t going to resemble a cake when you try to remove it from the pan.
  • If you use an 8 inch round cake pan instead of a nine inch round cake pan the cake is un-doubtly going to over flow.*
  • If your oven is too hot and you think it will just take less time to cook you are wrong.
  • Egg shells are not a fun surprise ingredient. In anything. Ever.
  • If a recipe calls for baking powder don’t think that using baking soda will be a good substitute.
  • Follow your recipe exactly. Baking is a science and until you understand ratios don’t mess with them.
  • Placement of the racks in the oven is an important but sometimes (in my case) over looked step
  • If you really love baking and don’t give up you will be a good baker.

Even after baking for the past 23 years I still don’t consider my self an expert and again, let me stress to you that I still make my mistakes.

Case in point:

*If you use an 8 inch round cake pan instead of a nine inch round cake pan the cake is un-doubtly going to over flow.

Yes, this was learned on Friday as in three days ago.

“Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.”

Sophia Loren

In my defense, (of course I have a defense) I was tired after working all week and not thinking correctly AND feeling pressured to produce a lovely, yummy goodie because I promised Huz that I would make him a cake after hearing his choice word “CAKE” damn near a million times over the past two weeks.

I used a recipe from my new book BakeWise by Shirley O. Corriher, which I had received as a gift from the Huz shortly after pitching a hissy fit in the Barnes and Noble because I couldn’t justify spending $40 on a book for myself. He knew he’d get goodies out of it and maybe even a smile from me so he surprised me one day with the mother of all baking guides when I arrived home from work.

I planned on documenting the entire baking session for the purpose of the blog and took a lot of pictures through out the process.

Now, I did acknowledge that I was using the wrong sized pan and to make up for the size difference so I left a portion of the batter out of the pan and ate it all to make the recipe work.

Epic Fail.

The batter overflowed onto the stone I had under the way smaller than I thought cake pan and from there spilled to the bottom of the oven.

And all I could do was watch.

And whine.

And stomp.

And cry.

I acted like any other 32 adult would as I raised my voice and carried on and on about my very best cake ever being destroyed.

But I let the sucker bake until it was done and in all of the chaos I forgot to take pictures of the evidence proving that I’m not all that wise when it comes to baking no matter what the book says.

But take my word for it, it was a mess.

A few minutes after the I pulled the too big for it’s own britches cake out of the oven Huz came in to see what all the ruckus was about. As he was consoling me he casually started to peel the overflowed cake off of the stone and eat it. Then he began to devour it so I joined in to see what all of the “mmms and ahh’s” where about. We ate a quarter of the cake even despite the fact that it was as hot as hell and looked nothing like a cake.

It was, by far, the BEST cake I’ve ever made.

Since we ate most of the cake in a matter of 5 minutes, at that point, there was no reason to make the icing. And since the cake was so flipping delicious I knew exactly what I was doing on Saturday. I was getting the right sized pan and making the best cake ever.


So the next morning after my Weight Watchers meeting I headed over to the HomeGoods and as luck would have it I got the ONLY Calphalon 9 inch round bake pan in the store.

I made way back home and started to re-create the best tasting thing that has ever came out of my oven.

Pour batter into oiled and floured pan. Drop pan onto counter from 4 inches up to knock air bubble out and place on baking stone in lower 1/3 of preheated oven.

Bake for 40 minutes (until center bounces back and toothpick inserted comes out clean.)

Let sit until cool enough to handle and then turn onto rack to cool completely.

Now, lets make some icing!

Slice fully cooled cake into 3 horizontal as even – as you can make them – layers.

Spread the first layer with about 1/4 inch of the icing, making it a bit more thicker at the edges. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup walnuts and add the second layer.

Repeat the layer.

Put the last lovely layer on and ice the top of cake, then the sides. Press the remaining walnut pieces into the sides.

Step back and wipe the drool off your chin.

Grab a big cup of milk, coffee or tea, a plate, a fork and a cake eating buddy.

And forget all about your diet, because you’ll want to eat another piece of this delectable cake when your finished devouring the first one.

If you are looking to add a wonderful book to your cooking/baking collection, are a beginner or advanced baker, want the full recipe for the cake I just wrote about or just want to learn some fantastic tips and DELICIOUS recipes, get this book:

BakeWise by Shirley O. Corriher

It will be the best $40 that you have spent (or threw a hissy fit over) in a long time.





123 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Cakeys

  1. I love Shirley and oh do I miss her on Good Eats!! What an awesome format for presenting recipes! I just tried doing collage pictures rather than one per step.. .but never thought of text! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    1. Thank you! I figured people would either hate my style or love it, there were so many steps I figured why not combine them 🙂
      I’ve never seen Good Eats but her book comes HIGHLY recommended!

  2. I LOVE your style — your wit is evident and baking prowess to be envied (even at the tender age of 9: sprinkling cookies with flour? GENIUS).

    And I adore that you have fun with fonts.

    Simply awesome post. A Freshly Pressed well deserved! 🙂

  3. For me it’s impossible to create a recipe that pleases everyone. Some people like their food spicy, some prefer mild. Some like milk chocolate, some like dark. Some people would prefer to save calories by reducing fat and sugar, and some would prefer to splurge. But in your cake I know everybody will surely loved this. The looks is very yummy and tempting people to take a bite in it. And this cake is as healthy.

  4. That cake looks sooo yummy! I loved the story of your first cookie adventure – when I was about that same age I had a sleepover at my cousin’s house and we decided to make a cake early in the morning, before everyone else was up. We couldn’t find a cake tin so we used a saucepan…. with a plastic handle…. in the oven… you get the picture. That’s how we all learn, hey?

  5. Oh my goodness…I completely know what you were going through. Interestingly enough, I used salt as the wrong ingredient when I was little, except I replaced all of the sugar in the recipe for salt. Not a good day for baking! That cake looks beautiful.

    1. Oh I bet they are going to be great! My daughter and I both agree that this recipe will make the most heavenly cupcakes EVER!! Let me know what you think!

  6. I stumbled across your blog today thanks to Freshly Pressed (congrats!) and I just wanted to say I love the way you show your recipe visually with the photos and captions. Such a cool idea!

  7. Love your pictures and the way you explain the steps with them! The cake looks yummy too. I find that I am a horrible baker, but I’ve learned to blame it on the ADHD in me and that makes me feel much better. Then I read your post and it makes me want to bake a cake. Specifically the one pictured above. Guess it’s back to the drawing board for baking.

  8. Your cake looks seriously moist and delicious… love your blog- and the pics!!! My first solo attempt in baking ended in disaster as well- (I must’ve been abt 10 years old at the time) , I dutifully followed the recipe for two cakes- got it all in the oven…. which I had turned on to grill…. well, you can guess what happened….

  9. That looks amazing! I loved your write up. So funny!
    I admit to being one of those people that doesn’t always follow the recipe, but that goes for baked goods that aren’t cakes. I have yet to bake a cake. Maybe this will be the first 😀
    As far as this recipe goes, are there any changes needed for high altitude?


    1. I checked the book but it doesn’t specify any high-altitude changes for this recipe. However, the author does have a half of a page about High-Altitude Baking which highlights what numerous people advise. Unfortunately , it isn’t clear on solving the issues you may face; I suspect she hasn’t tried to tackle that scenario. I’m sorry I couldn’t offer more help.

  10. A short story to explain it all:

    As she mistakenly poured the salt into the measuring cup, the flour looked on with disgust. “Hey, its my turn!” it yelled silently to itself. The salt, forgetting its place, was overjoyed to be chosen. “Yippy!” It thought, although it knew- all the way down to its iodine core-that something was a miss. But in true salty fashion, it took its enjoyment where it could and laughed as the cookies came out flat like little hockey pucks. 🙂

    1. Love, love LOVE the pictures. They are so vivid…I feel like I can smell those sweet desserts right now!!!

    1. Well, that sure is fantastic for everyone who wants to buy it now! I am so super glad I got this book as a gift cause I’d be growling!! Even though it is worth 40 dollars!

      Thanks for the link!

  11. hey–this is a great post, and congrats on your being FP!

    how did you do your fonts inside the photos? THAT was super cool!

    the entire “look” of your blog is just superb.

    blessings and best!

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

      The program I used for the photos is picnik.com It’s really easy to use and fun to play with. You don’t even need to sign-up to use it! They do offer a membership that gives you a ton more fantastic options, that I’d love to get but I’m just to cheap to buy it!

      Thanks for reading and have a great night!

  12. Very much enjoyed this post. Had to dig some (not too stale) Christmas candy out of the jar to satisfy my craving for something sweet after reading it. Not quite as lovely as your cake, but maybe a bit better than a flour-dusted salt glob.

  13. I really like the writing on the pictures – it’s easy to understand and stylish. The cake looks nice too!

    I remember making a cake recipe at a friends as a teenager. For some reason we were going to microwave it. Then we realised it wasn’t in a microwave proof dish. So we transferred it to one that was. Then discovered that one didn’t fit in the microwave. Dish 3 worked. I seem to remember that dry spaghetti was used in the decoration. The taste I have forgotten though (probably wisely!)

    1. Ahh, good old spaghetti, I haven’t tried that one yet 🙂 Thanks for sharing, it’s so nice to know I’m not alone with my trials and tribulations! Have a great night 🙂

  14. I enjoyed your blog and it is only my second one that I’ve read. I am recently retired and just started to show interest in blog so my son has set me up. I cook old style, country food but open to new ideas. I will search for the cookbook. Presently have oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies underway in the oven so I better go. I will check in on you later. (My older sister used to take pictures of my baking disasters!)

    1. I love all food, especially country food. Yum! Another commenter was kind enough to point out that BakeWise can be found on Amazon.com for about $25. It’s nice to meet you and the cookies you are making happen to be one of my favorites! Thanks for commenting!

  15. Hi!
    Love your pictures…My wife was looking at your blog and I just happened to stumble across your blog and I’m glad I did because I love your pics. Did you take your own photos? I’m wondering what kind of camera did you use. I have a couple of blogs that need some enhancing with photos etc.

  16. Just finished dinner and I am drewling over this cake but thinking of it minus the nuts. Nuts don’t belong in something soft like cake. It’s a texture thing with me. Gonna have to definitely help my wife when we bake this bad boy!
    Thanks! Congrats on being FP!

  17. fascinating.., i do love cookies, specially brownies. my mom always make all the day.
    Nice post for hunting cookies recipies. that awsome 🙂

  18. I can relate to this. Big time.
    So there’s this one particular blog I followed to get 2 recipes from. One for a cake, another for cookies, and both of them turned out to be so runny that I had to pour in a whole load of flour and other dry ingredients to make it “better”. The cookies turned out like cake, and the the cake turned out sloppy, so I re-made it using my own fool-proof recipe and it worked a treat! Check it out here if you’d like to… 🙂 Will soon post my cake cookies! 🙂

  19. Noooo! I must have baked goods now! Was rummaging through the pantry the other day for some Sara Lee or something. Argh. Gotta wait a few hours for the market to open.

  20. wow, fantastic blog, and amazing post – what pictures!!! i feel lazy now 🙂 despite that, i am SO making that cake this weekend. thanks so much for posting and congrats on being freshly pressed!

  21. oooo yum! Even thought I’m 25, your tips were helpful at the start of your article. I can’t bake for beans and even the most “duh” tips are useful to me! I wish I had started baking when I was young so that I could be even a tad domestic for my poor husband. Until then, it’s store bought cakes for us!

  22. Looks yummy! I liked your advice a lot and I love the collage with all the steps. I always try to take pictures of at least some steps, but to put them all together + descriptions = genius! 🙂

  23. great post! one of the best I’ve read so far… Don’t worry about the messed up kitchen… You should see me going when I’m cooking/baking/failing…

    It’s like world war 3 just happened in my kitchen (with me in the losing party).

    Anyway, great post!

  24. Hello again, the chocolate chip oatmeal cookies( from another blog my son found for me, apparently a work friend of his…small world isn’t it?… turned out very nice…the recepie was easy, called for 2 tsp of vanilla and the house still smells heavenly, also to just underbake them so they are so chewy…my next project will be your cake but as it is just my son and I at home I better share it with the neighbours. Experimenting a bit finding my way as a new blogger but having some fun. I intend to work a cooking angle into my playwriting. Take care and let us know how the next nice recepie turns out. I am impressed by your following on your blog.

    1. I am so glad to hear the cookies turned out well 🙂 I’ve marked your blog so I can follow along with you and hope to try one of your recipes. Cheers!

  25. But why? WHY must you preheat? I wish I had your list 10 (maybe 15) years ago. I also tried to make cookies as a child, but somehow they tasted like potatoes… I probably didn’t try again for another 20 years.

    1. I’m not sure if you were serious about asking why you should pre-heat but I’ll tell you why because it might help a few people 🙂

      The reason to preheat is so the product that you are baking needs to cook evenly. It also helps to use a baking stone (the one I use I bought from a girl friend who works at Pampered Chef, but I think you can pick them up at any kitchen ware store). The reason behind using the stone is the same principle as pre-heating. The heat from the oven comes from the top so the stone keeps the heat at the bottom and distributes it evenly to the pan.

      Thanks for reading and commenting! I hope you have a great night 🙂

  26. I’m soooooooooo drooling over this…. was browsing through freshly pressed when i noticed your blog… you write amazing and you had me completely drooooooooling over your cake by the time you finished. I love your sense of humour too 🙂 Congrats on being FP’ed.

  27. So , tempting us with brownies eh ?Re:( pranks contest) As I’m Canadian I will just have to crack open some church cookbooks and nail a good brownie recepie myself…but I will add pecans as a tip ‘of the hat to my American inspiration. My son loves my new hobby of blogging as it has got me cooking and baking again after a dry spell. Re: pranks on your kids….dress up next Halloween and arrange with the teacher etc to visit their school in your getup….my mom did this (she was a red bearded Irish Fiddler character with a fiddle and danced a jig around the classroom)…and I will never ever forget it…….her white nursing shoes finally gave her away but it really was quite impressive…..we have Irish heritage and really enjoy shenanagians.

  28. I adore your graphic recipe format! We used to do this in preschool for the wee ones to get a chance at independence when cooking and baking…

    I never imagined how beautiful and impressive the presentation could be on an adult level. BRAVO!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s