This cake wreck started out as a Rum Cake. In honor of the approaching St. Patrick’s Day celebration and drunk Leprechauns everywhere, I thought a Rum Cake was in order. On top of that, my sister Gail’s birthday is in March and the family was gathering this past Saturday for a celebration at a local restaurant. Rum Cake definitely seemed appropriate, easy to make and easy to transport. But, as often happens with plans, everything went awry and I ended up with a wreck of a green cake that I’m now christening “The Leprechaun Cake Wreck Caper.”
I can only assume that Leprechauns were close by thwarting my creativity every step of the way. Why else would this have happened when I was so well prepared, with a tried and true recipe under my belt and plenty of time to make it? Because as I’ve learned over-and-over-and-over again in life, as much as you prepare, you are never prepared.
I thought about NOT sharing this story with the world because, after all, it’s supposed to be a recipe post and trust me, I’m not giving you this recipe. Instead, I’m giving you a lesson in what NOT to do. As hard as I try to be perfect or create perfection around me, I’m an imperfect person at the mercy of pesky Leprechauns.
So what happened?
Made with A Box of Yellow Cake Mix, my Rum Cake is easy and delicious. So, I got out my recipe and checked my pantry to make sure I add all the ingredients. Check. All ingredients accounted for. Nothing to add to my grocery list. Life is good.
So, Saturday morning I got out the ingredients, bowls, mixer and step stool. I needed the step stool to get down my Bundt cake pan from the cupboard above my refrigerator, where all of my cake pans, muffin pans, etc. are stored. So, up on the step stool, I’m rifling around my cupboard moving everything around and no Bundt pan! No Bundt pan? Where the heck did I put my Bundt pan?
Well, it definitely wasn’t where it was supposed to be!
Scouring all cabinets in my kitchen – no Bundt pan! Checked the laundry room cabinets – no Bundt pan! Out to the garage – no Bundt pan!
Then, it dawned on me – my Bundt pan must have burned up in the wildfire in 2007 and I’d not yet replaced it! Had I really not made a Bundt cake or a Rum Cake in more than five years?
Well, I’m screwed!
I can’t run to town and buy a Bundt pan because:
It’s 8 a.m. in the morning, so the retail stores don’t open until 10 a.m.
I have to leave by 11:30 a.m. to pick-up my Mom to take her to the party
We live in the country and I’m not waking up my neighbors (the next farm over) on a Saturday to see if by chance they have a Bundt pan.
Could I make the Rum Cake in a 9″ x 13″ pan or regular cake pans? After some deliberation, I thought not because the pecans and rum go in the bottom of the pan and then you flip the cake over. I could see imminent disaster on the horizon if I attempted that!
Well, I still had A Box of Yellow Cake Mix, green gel food coloring and the ingredients to make some frosting, so I decided to make a 3-layer green cake and decorate it with some Shamrocks and Leprechaun decorations I had lying around from past St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
So, I followed the directions on the box of cake mix. My first mistake! It said to grease the pan, which I did. But, when the cakes were done and cooled to the touch, they wouldn’t come out of the pan!
After finagling with a spatula, I got the first layer out of the pan, but it broke in two in the process! What had I ever done to the Leprechauns to make this happen to me when, NOW, I’m in a hurry? It’s now 11:00 a.m. and I’m just starting to decorate the cake and I’m not finished getting myself ready and now I have to worry about a broken cake!!!
So, I use as much icing as needed to patch the first layer together. This is when I realize that I didn’t make enough frosting. The recipe said it made 2 1/2 cups and it probably did, but that’s not enough to ice a 3-layer cake, especially one that is broken and needs to be patched together!
Then, I get the second layer out of the pan using the same method and this time only big chunks on the edges have been damaged. What a relief – not another cracked cake layer, but one only missing chunks on the sides!
The third layer was almost perfect (missing smaller chunks on the side) and since this is now the top layer of the cake, I’m counting my blessings. The Leprechauns are showing me a little mercy!
Oh, but I spoke too soon! Because there isn’t enough green frosting, nor is there enough time because now it is after 11:30 a.m. and now I’m going to be late, and the sides of the now frosted cake look terrible. What to do? What to do?
Rifling through my pantry, I find a bag of unsalted pistachio nuts. Perfect! I’ll shell them and chop them and put them around the cake! I call Charlie for some help and he comes over and the two of use shuck pistachio nuts as fast as we can.
Then I rough chop them and press them around the edge of the cake. Instant decorated cake (well, not really “instant”, because now it’s 11:45 a.m. and we are really late!).
I carefully remove the wax paper strips from around the cake and declare to Charlie, who is hounding me to get going because now we are 30 minutes late in picking up my mother and it takes 20 minutes to get to her, “well, it looks pretty good, if I say so myself!”
Add the Leprechaun and Shamrocks topper and, viola, crisis averted and cake ready to wrap for transport to the party!
I found some cellophane wrapping and a green ribbon from Christmas and we are “good to go!”
Everyone thought it was beautiful, my sister was thrilled and no one (until now), except Charlie, knew what transpired!
Anyway, what helpful tips do I want to share with you to avoid a cake crisis, whether it’s Leprechauns, gremlins, mischievous fairies or what not that get in your way? Here’s my list of things I should have done differently:
- Not only check that you have all of your ingredients for your recipe, but check to make sure you have all of the tools and equipment required.
- Make your cake the night before. Then, if it’s a complete failure, you have time to work on Plan B, like a trip to the grocery store to buy a pre-made cake.
- If a recipe calls for you to grease your cake pan, not only should you grease it, but you should probably flour it AND put wax paper in the bottom of the pan! That way, you have a good chance of getting it out of the pan.
- If you decide to make a triple-layer cake from a box of cake mix, use 2 boxes of cake mix and double the recipe. You’ll have a more substantial looking cake plus each layer will be less likely to crack.
- If you are making frosting from scratch, double the recipe and then you’ll be guaranteed to have enough. You can save any leftover frosting for another use or as a snack with graham crackers or vanilla wafers.
- Keep Leprechauns out of your kitchen! They are ALWAYS up to mischief and can’t be trusted!
So, have you had cake mishaps that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it – comment away!
(other posts mentioned in this story PLUS another cake wreck story!)