Triple Chocolate Strawberry Surprise

by - Thursday, May 28, 2015

Instagram loved the photo of this cake. The smooth and decadent buttercream combined with the floral display of strawberries and chocolate buttons promises your taste buds that this cake will take as good as it looks. However, ....Appearances can be deceiving.  Whilst the photo above displays a mouth-watering decadent chocolate cake that promises to send you into a sugar coma, this cake actually evolved from a pretty big baking disaster.

Everyone has a baking disaster story to tell. Some are easy to shake off and recover from whilst others might deter you from a particular style of baking, a type of dessert or worse, working with a particular combination of ingredients. (tempered chocolate comes to mind!)

Baking disasters are a great way to learn how to quickly troubleshoot mistakes, but most of the time when a mistake has been made, you will often find that you can still 'save' it and produce a good and 'edible' result. This often means that when I find myself a bit of a pickle, I am running to my laptop,  my hands often covered in either butter or flour and I type as fast as I can into google for help and answers.

On this occasion, when I made the mistake when baking the cake above, all I could hear was Marco Pierre White saying, "Read the recipe! Read the recipe!" (this is an Australian Masterchef reference). Often the pressure to produce anything within a set amount time is my least favourite restriction. I enjoy lazy baking days where the day is just dictated by the joy of reading a recipe, shopping for the ingredients, making it and enjoying a slow afternoon/evening with a cup of tea (whilst ignoring the pile of dishes left over from the baking... the worst!) Whilst this blog is filled with baking successes, I have decided to not shy away from a baking disaster if there is a good one to tell.

So.... about this cake.

Last weekend, H's little niece, Ariana turned 7. For her birthday gift, I decided to bake her a Devil's Food Triple Chocolate Cake. It was going to be a simple, triple layer decadent chocolate cake that I had already made before using Sally's Baking Addiction's Triple Chocolate Layer Cake recipe. Click on the recipe link above and bake this cake. You will not regret it. I had made it before for another gathering and it was easy, delicious and a total treat for the kids.

I went into this bake day confident that I would once again pull off a perfect baked cake that would impress but also taste good. However, on that fateful day, I was running late from a long lunch and as I rushed home to start my bake,  I knew that I needed to make sure that my two cake layers were chocolatey, decadent and moist as it would be the star of my cake. My bake day quickly turned into a Masterchef catastrophe segment. My cake batter was ready but I was running out of time, in the flurry of the moment, I had tipped my entire cake batter into the cake pan instead of dividing it into two. I had not discovered that I had done that until I turned around to my mixing bowl to pour the second round of batter into another cake tin. Instead, I added additional time to allow the now much larger cake layer to bake whilst praying it would not burn and quickly made an identical second batch so I could match them up later to create the perfect layer cake. I took the cakes out after the skewers came out clean and let them rest.

I got onto the buttercream which I knew was my weakness and I wanted to make sure that all the sugar granules were dissolved. They did not dissolve as well as I had hoped so I ended up beating it a lot more than I had to and tweaking it with cream and icing sugar until I was happy. Why does frosting hate me so much!?

Delicious Chocolate Buttercream was one part of the most decadent chocolate cake ever!

As I started to assemble the cake, I realised that both cake layers were both a little too 'wet' and as I gently pressed the middle of the cake, I discovered that they were both a bit underdone (insert dramatic music!), it was not quite cooked enough to pass it off as a fudgy brownie. As I started to try and cut my cake layer in half to salvage it, it started to crumble. So I decided to cut out the uncooked part of the cake instead and serve up two thicker layers of cake than I had intended. The cake tasted good and I knew it would be fine if I could just find a way to decorate the cake and fill the hole. So, I sent poor H running out to the shops to buy me two punnets of strawberries so I could 'fix' the cake.

The cake layers from the inside did not look the prettiest, but as I filled the cake 'hole' with chopped fresh strawberries and thick cream, I started to feel a little bit more positive that the cake could be saved. I added more strawberries to the middle part of the cake with the frosting and iced the entire cake on the outside. To add a little bit more of a 'Wow' factor, I used the remainder of the strawberries  to decorate the top and added milk and white chocolate buttons to the sides of my cake.

It looked amazing and even better still, that night when they cut into it and the cream was ready to be served with the cake. No one would have known that the strawberries and cream inside the layers weren't intentional and my reputation as a great baker was still intact. Phew*

The entire baking experience that day was not as enjoyable as it normally would have been but I was really happy that I did not give up and managed to troubleshoot though the disaster to produce a cake that looked great and tasted great. I am famous for throwing batches of 'ok' baked items into the bin and starting from scratch. The perfectionist in me only wants to serve up the best but I was prompted by H to remember that sometimes whilst something might not look great as long as it tastes good, no one will really remember what it looked it before they devoured it.

I learnt a few things from this bake and whilst I am not deterred from baking this cake again (it just tastes so good! Thanks Sally for the amazing recipe!), I am definitely going to tackle all layer cake bakes with more planning, better time management and more breathing. You cannot hurry the process of baking and first and foremost, enjoy what you are making.

I know one thing I did enjoy. This cake the next day and the day after that.  It was such a big cake. We did really well and ate half of the cake for dessert that night (there were 10 of us!) and we split the other half between two families. H and I had it for breakfast and dessert for the next few days.
It was still amazing and delicious. I would even go as far as saying that it tasted better the next day!

What kind of baking disasters have you had? Do you think that baking disasters should be shared more often? (if not to learn something, then it would surely be for the comedic value)  I have learnt that I should bake cake layers a few days before to save time and just focus on assembling and decorating on the day. Would have saved me all the drama. Special thanks goes out to my lovely fiance, H who was patient, kind and understanding throughout the whole thing whilst I ran around like a madman in the kitchen. (sort of like Masterchef contestants!)

If you are baking today, I hope that you are smiling, enjoying yourself and may the bake force be with you. I hope it is on my next bake day.

Much love,


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