Monday, March 30, 2009

Baking Disasters

A friend had a birthday recently and I wanted to bake her a cake. She requested chocolate. I've never made chocolate cake before, but I thought I'd be able to do it. I'm a very amateur baker, so I looked everywhere to find an easy recipe.

The recipe for Melt-in-your-Mouth Chocolate Cake at Chocolate & Zucchini sounded right up my alley. It had only 5 ingredients and the photograph was so appealing. Sigh. That was until I made it. It was a complete disaster.

First off you melt 200g of chocolate with 200g butter in a double boiler until melted and smooth. Take off the heat and add 1 cup of sugar. Let the entire thing cool.

This is where I noticed something was wrong because after it had cooled, the sugar had not melted, and it was all settled at the bottom of the mixing pan. I went ahead and added 4 eggs, mixing well. Then a tablespoon of flour. Mixed everything.

Poured everything into the baking pan. Sugar still at the bottom. I tried to evenly distribute it over the batter, thinking it would just melt in the oven and come out perfect! :-) I even put some of it in a ramekin so I could taste it before sending the cake over.

It didn't. Baked for 1/2 hour and left it in the oven for 10 minutes. Took it out and tried to turn out onto a cooling rack. It didn't happen. Cooled it for 10 minutes and tried again. Didn't happen. It just came out in pieces with the bottom still stuck to the pan. Same thing with the ramekin. It was a disaster.

I just wanted to share that to see if anyone knows what happened. Why didn't it turn out okay? Does anyone have a fail-safe chocolate cake recipe? And I really mean Chocolate Cake for Dummies!!

But I ate some of the pieces and it was really good. Just not nice looking enough to send over to my friend for her birthday. I sent her some of the nutella brownies I made the other day and she was very happy but I was bummed that I couldn't give her the one thing she had asked for!


Nupur said...

Was the sugar in the form of large granules? For cakes, it might be much better to grind the sugar in the mixie until it is a fine powder so it dissolves into the batter. The recipe you have posted seems to be for a nearly flourless chocolate cake (only 1 tbsp flour).

A very easy chocolate cake recipe is the kind where you cream the butter and sugar together (not melt the butter, use room temp butter), then add in beaten eggs (beaten with some vanilla) and flour alternately, and finally either cocoa powder or molten chocolate.

Nirmala said...

The sugar should be added to the melted butter before adding chocolate. That helped when I did (actually I accedentally did that ;)) but the bronies are unbeatable!

Raaga said...

I haven't made a cake with such little flour... sounds like something the daring bakers made recently. Maybe one of them can help. I agree with Nupur... those would be the only kind of chocolate cakes I've made. I make them slightly differently. Sent you my recipe. Check your mail.

Happy cook said...

Like nupur said it could be also the sugar as when i bake here i used very fine sugar.

bindiya said...

I can totally imagine the feeling when a cake turns out like this, but some things cannot be explained!:). i recently posted an armenian chocolate cake recipe, which is quite fail proof, u can try it if u want.

Arundathi said...

Nupur - Yes, it was large granules. Maybe I should've ground it. Thanks!

Nirmala - Thats a great idea - just that the chocolate was supposed to be melted before the sugar. But will definitely try it.

Raaga - Thanks for the fabulous recipe. Gonna try it out for sure.

Happy cook - Gonna try the fine sugar and see how it goes.

Bindiya - Saw the Armenian cake - looks fantastic - will try it soon.

Priti said...

Hmm reminds me of my baking experiments ...always endup something like this :(

pinkstripes said...

I hate baking disasters. I had one this weekend.

Dragon said...

Despite the results, your friend is so lucky to have a friend like you.

Sanghi said...

Even i have so many experiences like this.. Despite the shape, think the cake crumbles would have tasted good..!

Arundathi said...

Priti - aww. There must be easier recipes out there.

Pinkstripes - Yeah, I seem to have quite a few - esp when it involves cake.

Dragon - Oh thank you!!

Sanghi - Yup, the crumbles tasted super.

Nags said...

I am not expert enough to find out what went wrong but I do have a very foolproof recipe here:

The list of ingredients may be longer but it comes out well, no matter how you do it, trust me :)

Divya Kudua said...

I so know how it feels when you have a baking disaster...I had a similar experience when I made chocolate-chip muffins from Nigella Lawsons was a total disaster and to this day,I think sugar was the culprit.Even though I'm no expert in baking to tell you what went wrong,I feel here too,sugar is the culprit!!Will send you some easy choc-cake recipes soon!!

Red Chillies said...

No advice from me here. I am a novice baker, i came in here to take other's input and know their thoughts.
Thanks for bringing this up, I learnt many things here.

Priya said...

This brings up of loads of my baking disasters too, i do trashed a lot.. hate this,but wat to do..

homecooked said...

I think Nupur has explained perfectly. I have a similar recipe but I beat eggs and sugar together for that.

Arundathi said...

Nags - Thanks so much! I'm so excited to get so many recipes. Will definitely try it.

Divya Kudua - Definitely the sugar was the culprit and also such a low flour amount is difficult to work with.

Red Chillies - Yup, that's exactly why I brought it up, because people can give you such great insight.

Priya - Yeah, feel so bad to throw it out though.

homecooked - Yeah, Nupur's comment really helped.

Jamie said...

Arundathi, I am sorry that your cake didn't go the way you had hoped. That has happened to me before too. No worries though, I know your friend loved the Nutella Brownies and once you get the chocolate cake recipe to work, I know she is going to really enjoy it!

neha said...


i had a smillar disaster, i tried making cookies by heating ghee and adding sugar[very fine sugar] to it, and it never dissolved, i even used the blender. i made the next batch ussing powderd suggar it was good, so i think you should add the powder sugar to ghee and mix well, dont heat the butter or ghee with sugar beyond a point .if there are any experinced bakers in the bloging world pls explain this, its a mystery to me, why dosent the sugar melt in the ghee?

Bharti said...

Hmm....disappointing that you weren't able to send it to her on her birthday for sure.
I see you have plenty of advice on why it didn't work out and I have nothing new to add, so I won't!
If you ever need an eggless chocolate cake, I'll be happy to oblige.:-)

Aparna said...

Arundathi, I'm not an expert baker either but this cake is somewhat like the flourless chocolate cake we made at the Daring Bakers. Actually, this is also known as an Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake! :)

As everyone else has been saying, it is definitely the sugar. I don't think powdered sugar would work either. You need to use small granules of sugar which would melt in the butter and chocolate.
It makes all the difference. Also sugar which sinks to the bottom forms a crust and tends to stick to the cake tin.
It helps if you grease the tin well and then flour it. If you're baking a chocolate cake, flour the tin with cocoa powder.

Simran said...

I hate baking disasters. And I know you have plenty of advice already, but I do have a foolproof (and eggless) chocolate cake recipe. I have baked it tens of times and it never fails so thought I'd tell you. It's from bakingbites -

A_and_N said...

Hi Arundati,

First off, this is virtually a flourless cake. More like a torte. So it might look nice and porous from the outside (like the pic at C&Z that looks gorgeous!), but it will invariably be 'dense' and 'non-spongy' from the inside. This is because there is no gluten which helps with the formation of dough and also helps the cake to rise.

Also, I am not quite sure what exactly you mean by the sugar 'melting'. Especially when the mixture 'cools'. Because when things cool, solids 'crystallize' and usually dont 'melt'.

I read the original recipe (C&Z). It doesnt mention anything in particular about the sugar melting. She adds the sugar after transfering the butter/chocolate mixture to a medium bowl. This transfering process should help things to cool down a bit. The addition of sugar should further enable to cool things down because the cold sugar will absorb heat. The stirring with wooden spatula (as done by C&Z) should enable the sugar to dissolve a bit, as well as not stick to the bottom. Because there is virtually no water in this mixture and molten chocolate and butter are not better solvents for sugar when compared to water. So if not stirred, their sticking to the bottom is not very surprising.

You havent mentioned if you stirred the sugar after adding it to the chocolate/butter mixture, like C&Z has.

Then, you add the eggs, one by one (I hope you did one by one and not all at once....this wont give as much 'volume' or 'air' to the batter).

Did you use a whisk or an electric beater to mix the eggs? The latter, again, would help create more air.

I guess these are some of the things to consider. I apologize if I souded too picky or didactic. I am also very enthusiastic about baking so I was merely citing my observations. But I am sure that it must have tasted great. We posted a torte recently (with identical number of ingredients), and the texture was very similar to what you have shown in your first pic :)


A from A&N.

Arundathi said...

Jamie - Yes, now I have so many recipes to try. She's gonna have one sweet post-birthday!

Neha - I wish I cld explain - I just don't know why! Maybe like Aparna says, powdered sugar might not work but small granules would be a better idea?

Bharti - :-) Thanks so much. I'm sure I'll be asking you for that recipe soon!

Aparna - First off, you are definitely more of an expert than I am!! Being a DB says it all! I can see why small granules would melt but powdered sugar won't. Hmm. That's a great suggestion. And flouring with cocoa is a great idea too! Thanks a lot!

Simran - Thanks a lot - Will go check it out.

A from A&N! - Isnt the photo on C&Z fabulous! I was fine with there being no spongy-ness!
Well, what I figured what was the sugar will dissolve in the warm butter/choc mixture. That way the whole thing will become smooth. I guess that smoothness is not always needed!
I did do the stirring with the spoon bit, but the sugar didn't dissolve - nor did it distribute itself - every time i stirred it would move around and then settle back down.
I didn't add the eggs one at a time - you got me there!! oh now I remember, I had mixed the 4 eggs together without realizing and I just poured them in slowly, bit by bit though, not all at once.
I used a whisk and not an eletric beater - should've done the electric beater I guess! Good idea.
It really tasted great though.
Thanks so much for all your input!! I'll definitely try this again at some point - just not in a rush to do it! :)

Paper Pastries said...

My cake turned out alright but the frosting didnt :) see it at

Arundathi said...

Paper Pastries - oh - I'm glad it turned out better for you!

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