Failed Butter Cake

After much detailed research and some trial and error, I’ve finalized my go-to butter cake recipe and technique. The recipe yields 1 kg of butter cake, but I’ve made 2 kg easily several times before albeit the 2 kg was split into separate kg pans. So when I got an order to make a 2 kg cake in a 10 inch round pan, I was confident. At this point, I had made butter cake several times before and even buttercream. What could go wrong? The only thing that was left to do was to design the icing for the cake. So off I went on my adventure to draw and colour. (I always love this part because my inner child gets to come out and play; drawing and colouring with colour pencils. Except now we can do it so much better with the neatness and discipline of being adults)

The cake was meant to be for a poker game in honour of one the players who had passed away recently and whose tagline during every single poker game was “Respect the table”. As in you don’t just sit around the poker table without placing bets – you need to respect the table. I found inspiration online to do a poker chip cake.

This was the general idea. But I’m sure you know a lot of the times what we visualize isn’t what’s produced. Well, that’s the case most of the time with me anyway.


What I’ve found is that the key in making any image look good, whether you’re drawing, painting, colouring, or buttercream-ing is the details – as was mentioned before in an episode of Mr. Bean. So I gathered up as many pictures as I could of actual poker chips and then proceeded to design my cake.


This was the final design I came up with. Boy, was I excited. Now I don’t like to make cakes too much in advance as I want it to be as fresh as possible for consumption. So most of the time I plan my time appropriately so that I can finish at most 24 hours ahead of delivery. This cake was baked the evening before the day of delivery. I planned it so I could ice it that night and just be ready for delivery the next day. While waiting for the cake to cool, I made my buttercream. I’m so glad I put off colouring the buttercream at first because the idea was to crumb coat the cake first.



So, made my buttercream, took the cake out of the fridge, released the edge of the cake from the sides of the pan with a spatula, turned over the pan and waited for the cake to slide out of the pan onto my left hand, turned it back over onto my right hand and placed it down on my Lazy Susan. The problem was while I was setting the cake down, I felt a slight jiggle in the cake. This feeling of impending doom set in my stomach. Turned out the whole middle of the cake was still uncooked. All my hopes and dreams of making a poker chip cake went out the window. (I know, I can be a bit of a drama queen at times). And so, a new superstition was born – when you get an idea for a new cake, don’t go around telling your idea to people before you even start baking the cake. You don’t want to jinx it.

Anyway, I discovered my mistake in baking this cake was in the baking time and the type of cake tester I was using. Well, what’s done is done. What I needed to figure out now was how to salvage it. There are 2 options on how to salvage it:

  1. What I did – Cut out all the baked parts of the cake and separate them from the uncooked parts. Put all these bite-sized pieces into a container and serve it at the poker game (for free, of course). It was a poker game after all, right? All these men are not gonna care if the cake is decorated. Also, it was meant to be a surprise so no one really knew what the cake was actually supposed to be.
  2. What I should have done – If you’ve baked a lot of cakes, you would have noticed that the cake rises quite a bit above the actual level of the cake. And if you specialize in cake decorating, you obviously want a nice flat, level cake and you would end up cutting off this dome part of the cake. You would also know that this part yields quite a lot of cake. So what I should have done is use my circle cutter to cut out the uncooked part of the cake and use the dome part to fill up the hole in the middle. The cake is just gonna be sitting on the cake board after all and covered in icing so it would have been fine. Not tried and tested yet, though. When I do, I’ll let you know.

How to cut out only the uncooked part of the cake:

(This is my theory) Start out with the smallest circle cutter you have and cut out the middle. Now you’ll actually be able to see inside the cake and whether it’s cooked or not. Gradually keep going until you see the cooked part of the cake.

Another tip to keep in mind for the future; don’t immediately eat up the domes you cut from your cakes (or give it to your family members to devour). Save them, maybe even freeze for extended periods of time. Thaw them out to salvage other cakes in the future. just in case you don’t have enough later.

You may remember I had all that buttercream I made earlier and nowhere to put it since I didn’t need to ice this cake anymore. I decided to save that for my cousin’s son’s birthday cake I was scheduled to make a few weeks later. Tips on storing buttercream can be found on my buttercream page.

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