Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The time I tried to bake a cake.

I had a fantastic idea. My mom had given me the book Vintage Cakes for my birthday. I had found and purchased a Bundt pan at our local thrift store. Of the ingredients we had available at home, we had an abundance of bananas and a bag of bacon bits. And I couldn't forget how amazingly delicious the maple bacon doughnut from Sidecar Doughnuts was with Stumptown Coffee on the side. So I hatched a plan. To bake a banana Bundt cake with a maple coffee glaze topped with bacon bits and make the ultimate cake for breakfast. Breakfast cake, in fact.

Everything seemed to be going good, except for having to add more baking time for the cake (I used a non-Bundt cake recipe). Finally, after the cake no longer yielded a battered cover butter knife, I took it out from the oven to cool. The aroma of freshly baked cake and banana cake at that, was deliciously warm and intoxicating. I was truly excited as I let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes.
I figured I could begin with the glaze/frosting the last five minutes of the cool down. Not really knowing the difference on how to make a glaze I used one of the book's frosting recipes but was going to deconstruct it in hopes on achieving something else. Omitting two ingredients (for a completely different flavor profile), adding a small amount of liquid (coffee) and using half of the maple syrup required, I really didn't know what I was in for. As I look into my red bowl at the beautifully hand whipped frosting (that I would use as a 'glaze', I know...) I was pretty proud of myself.

After smiling at my cake still in the pan, I turned it over to attempt popping it out. The Bundt pan was still pretty warm but that did not stop me. Finally I had to use a butter knife to help it's cling from the sides of the pan. I turned it over and that's when it happened. Three-forth of my beautiful smelling, golden brown cake came out. Strike one. No worries, it's still yummy. I just won't share with anyone outside the family.  Perhaps I could I just put the pieces back like a puzzle. A puzzle you can eat. And that's what I did. After 'piecing' it together, I went ahead and spooned all the frosting on top. With a heavy hand and no finesse, it just looked like a creamy mess that made something look slightly bad a hundred times worse. Plus I basically put flavored whipped butter all over my cake, something I realized later (note to self: frugality and chintzy are two different things. Don't be chintzy with the maple syrup.). Strike two. So it's ugly, but don't forget bacon makes everything better. Yes, don't forget the (pre-cooked, pre-packaged, economy size bag of) bacon! Strike three. Nothing tastes better than fresh, just cooked, crispy bacon. Enough said.

After walking with my head down back to the dugout (figuratively speaking) I still was happy Finn hummed 'mmmm' after his first bite of the piece we shared. It's not all bad. Maybe too buttery. Maybe too rubbery (bacon) and definitely ugly. But! It was made with love, it still is moist and has banana working for it. It's an idea. It's a work in progress.

What I learned from this are a handful of things. Good ideas don't always come out perfect the first time. I am not inventing the light bulb but I heard it took Edison a good while to figure it out. I will bake again and I will try this idea again. No shortcuts with the bacon, more patience with the Bundt pan and figuring out the right portions and ingredients for a amazing maple coffee glaze (not frosting, or maybe a hybrid if there's such a thing). And, to not be afraid or upset to make a mistake. That's what this post is for. To remind myself that it was fun and even therapeutic baking this cake. To be thankful that Finn was calmed and occupied through out the whole process. To not give up.

Tips and helpful advice wanted
+ How does one convert baking time for regular cakes in cake pans to a Bundt pan?
+ Is there a trick to getting out the cake in one piece (I greased the pan with butter but maybe it wasn't enough)?
+ What's the difference between a glaze and a frosting?
+ Any suggestions or recipes for a fantastic maple coffee glaze? Perhaps the same kind of glaze on a maple doughnut?
+ Or maybe a great recipe for a maple coffee frosting. With Bacon ;)


Addendum: Natalie finds the cake beautiful and delicious. I told her wait until I make it better. How can it get better? she asks. Plus she likes the bacon. Maybe I struck out (in my mind) but I struck swinging! Not bad for a first. Not bad...


  1. I'm no baker but I might have a tip- butter, then flour the pan. That might help for next time:). For a glaze, Madison mixes milk with powdered sugar, adds a little vanilla and then browned butter. It's yum! Remember that time you and your mom came over and Alex was following my recipe for the glaze to go on the banana bread I made?! He yelled, "are you sure it's four cups of powdered sugar?!" From the kitchen!! Oops, I meant four tablespoons:).

    1. Ha Ha, yes I remember. Thanks for the heads up with the flour. I will try that next time. :)

  2. Oh Andrea, I feel ya on this one! I have a coffee cake that never comes out of my bundt pan in one piece. It drives me crazy but it's so delish that I just keep making it over and over and piecing it back together and sprinkling powdered sugar on top to hide my mess. :) And I think your finished cake looks good. Really. Like I wish I could try some right now. My favorite are cakes that look homemade and not picture perfect. I love that you thought of this idea and just went for it. And are determined to just keep going. These are the kind of things that keep me in the kitchen. I just know if I keep it at, something better will come out of it.
    I feel like a lot of bundt cake recipes are in the close to an hour bake time range. Of course it will always vary oven to oven and based on how much batter is in it, but that seems to be about the average, if that helps at all. I like to use Wilton's Cake Release for greasing pans when I'm doing cakes. It usually works well. (I can usually find it at Michaels). A glaze usually doesn't have butter in, usually just powdered sugar, a little liquid and some flavorings sometimes (vanilla, lemon, cinnamon, etc.). Most frostings have quite a bit of butter/shortening in them. I think you could definitely use a glaze from a maple doughnut recipe (we posted a maple bacon doughnut recipe on our blog a while back). If you want it a little thicker, add more powdered sugar. Or use a maple buttercream recipe and maybe reduce the amount of butter by half or so. And I find sometimes it's hard to get a good maple flavor with just maple syrup. I like to add a couple drops of maple extract to amp up the maple flavor. I have a recipe on my old blog for french toast cupcakes with maple buttercream and chocolate dipped bacon if that's of any help to you (http://mandamcgrath.blogspot.com/2012/12/french-toast-cupcakes.html). And now I'll end this extremely long comment.

  3. Oh trial and error keeps things interesting and tests our resolve! I don't own a bundt cake pan so I can't help you with this one. I do know that lightly flouring the pan after greasing will help to keep from sticking.

  4. AH! Love this. My heart is always so sad when my bunt cakes break!

    I've found that not using butter but coconut oil or veg oil works better. Also, instead of flour, use powdered sugar. Same job but the outsides of your cake and bread aren't dry, they are soft and sweet.

    Frosting is thick and creamy, glaze is light and drizzly.

    And seriously, who has patience for bacon anyways? :)