The Day My Pound Cake Threw Up

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“Wouldn’t it be wonderful,” I thought, “if instead of making a complicated fancy-schmancy-my-name-is-Nancy dessert I made something really simple like a pound cake? And used really good butter? And fresh farmer’s market eggs? And served it with raspberries and whipped cream? And used Martha Stewart’s recipe?”

That was the plan. I bought Plugra style butter which looked impressive and European. I got those farmer’s market eggs. And I whipped everything up in a jiffy: it’s normally a pound of butter, a pound of sugar and a pound of flour (that’s how pound cake got its name) but this one had better proportions. It looked promising. Into the oven it went and I sat there patiently watching the minutes tick by, filing my nails, dreaming of a better life, when the 50 minutes were up and it was time to insert the tester. I used a dry spaghetti strand as I normally do. It came out clean. (Was that my mistake? Diana said I should’ve used something with more surface area.) On a cooling rack it sat in the pan for 10 minutes. And then it was time to turn it out and that’s when disaster struck…

My pound cake threw up. You can see it in the picture: as I flipped it over, the top cracked open and hot batter oozed out. I felt the way a new parent might feel when the doctor says, “Don’t touch the baby’s head, it’s soft” and you do anyway. Ha. Ok, that was a bad example. But look how beautiful that cake looks on the outside and how sad it is that it decided to not be cooked on the inside. Diana tried to comfort me by saying that it was like a molten chocolate cake except without the chocolate. “Mmmm,” she said, dipping a pieced of cooked cake into the uncooked batter and eating. “I actually like it.”

Ignoring Diana’s good cheer, I cut the ends off and tried to assemble a semi-decent looking dessert:

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And, surprisingly, it worked. I guess that only proves the adage: when life throws you a vomiting pound cake, cut the ends off, and top it with whipped cream and raspberries. Truer words have never been spoken.

25 comments

  1. Oboy! I’ve never had a cake do that on me before! Perhaps the oven was too cold (?). Anyway, the dessert does look decent, so good work :)

  2. Your oven was probably too hot when you put the cake in: a crust formed quickly and the batter, which was protected by this crust, couldn’t cook through.

    It hapened to me once.

  3. I grew up with the pound cake from the Fanny Farmer cookbook, an ancient copy of my mom’s and it remains my favorite version. We had it nearly once a month, almost, and my favorite way to eat it was sliced thick and toasted, then spread with salted butter. Absolutely best breakfast toast ever.

  4. A while back, I tried Martha Stewart’s recipe, and the same thing happened to me. Mine wasn’t quite as molten-y, though. Add more baking time, and it turns out great!

  5. I share your pain Adam. I had a molten-cake incident once when I cut a cake that I had just frosted. The marbled chocolate-vanilla cake came out perfectly clean, when I inserted a skewer in it, but after slicing a piece, the insides had gone all runny.

    I blamed the icing.

  6. I have to go with everyone else, this IS a funny post. Mostly, I have to thank you for posting about the molten pound cake because I always feel that, though I am a good cook, I can’t bake. Something like this inevitably happens. It was nice to see you suck it up and serve the dessert after all. Congrats!

  7. Uh-oh. As soon as I saw that you were using a Martha recipe, I shook my head. She is known for a being a notorious liar in my kitchen. None, and I mean none of her recipes have ever turned out for me. The salvaged cake looks lovely!

  8. I just keep laughing at the title. GREAT post, again. Your voice is so familiar and conversational, it’s like talking to a good friend.

    A good friend with cakes that upchuck. :)

  9. ‘Your oven was probably too hot when you put the cake in: a crust formed quickly and the batter, which was protected by this crust, couldn’t cook through’

    Huh? please don’t listen to this person. what a funny notion.

    just poke it in several places next time to make sure it’s baked through everywhere.

  10. I have to say over time I have become less satisfied with the stick-in-the-cake technique of finding if something is done. I find that often the batter doesn’t stick so you don’t know it’s raw till it’s cut open (a sorry sight I have unfortunately witnessed several times in my own kitchen). Also, it can make an unsightly hole in the cake which I really don’t like. I have to say that the touch test (does it bounce back? does it jiggle too much? does it feel relatively solid in the middle?) has been the best bet although you may have to have asbestos fingers (as I like to call my fingers tips which have been damaged enough to be mostly immune to high temperatures) to endure this on a regular basis.

  11. The person who said the oven was too hot is right, not that person who was confused by it. An initially hot oven is important for the cake to rise, but if stays this hot then the crust will set and brown (too much) before the center can cook through. I’d try turning the temperature down 40 minutes or so into the baking and continue cooking another 20 – 30 minutes. Also, when I do the poke test I always use a toothpick. The woody texture/surface allows batter to stick to it better than the smooth surface of pasta.

  12. I’ve been to a lot of baking classes with the e g g b e a t e r, and one of her adages sticks to my brain like old chewing gum: don’t bake with fancy butter. The reason is that fancy butter has a much higher fat content than ordinary butter, and your recipe must therefore be adjusted to compensate. Also, really good butter is too expensive to waste on a bulimic pound cake :).

  13. Re. oven temp. Those comments are undoubtedly right (though I’m not sure about the proposed mechanism of the crust protecting the middle). Adam, get yourself an oven thermometer. That way you can figure out how much to ratchet down the heat when you turn on the oven, and make sure you’re at the right temp when things go in.

    Interesting point about spaghetti being too smooth as a cake tester…

  14. Hey AG!

    I see that you like those Le Petit Ecolier cookies too. My parents & I got HOOKED on them last Christmas. They were a free sample at Costoc during the holidays and we could not pass up 3 boxes for $4.99.

    Too bad they don’t carry them anymore. Now the only place I can find them is at Meijer’s when I go to Louisville.

    Loved the post. The title had me laughing before I even read the blog!

  15. I’ve had the same thing happen by thinking the directions for the amount of time to cook the cake were correct. Now I always follow my directions for a successful cake if it is in the same pan-the bread loaf type. I bake for 20 minutes at 385 degrees, then turn the oven down to 150 degrees and bake for one hour more. The cake always comes out perfect.

  16. Lol. I’ve learned to jab it with a tooth pick in a couple places, do the touch test and to make sure the edges of the cake are pulling away from the pan. Can never be too careful with the baked goods. Better luck next time!

  17. It’s uncanny that I made Martha’s pound cake last week and had the same struggle with the raw batter! Fortunately, mine didn’t throw up because I kept testing with a toothpick and had to bake it way beyond the time that Martha’s Baking Handbook specified. It came out great, but it was a struggle. It’s interesting that she has a slightly different recipe on her web-site and says “Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour”, leaving a lot of latitude for the baker to determe exactly how long to bake and when it’s done.

  18. You’re lucky you weren’t making a Vomiting Bundt Cake. Those have far less salvageable cooked parts.

    The problem with skewer/toothpick/spaghetti testing is that if the center is molten, but the surrounding area is cooked, the dry cooked cake will clean the batter off the skewer as it’s being pulled out, leaving no crumbs. Alas, there is no better way to test for doneness.

  19. Haha Adam, I like that you called it throwing up. But to be honest, Diana was right! It did look good to dip the cooked cake in the batter.

    It’s so hard to resist not eating cake batter in the first place, but then you can tell yourself you want cooked cake too to get you through actually baking it. But YOU have both and I think that’s lucky! Nice job :)

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