I Suck at Cakes

Vanessa, from Suburban Mama Goddess, posted before Christmas that she baked an ugly cake. I felt her pain.

I was ten the first time I made a cake all by myself. It was from a box, but I still took it very seriously. While it was in the oven, I didn’t go outside and play with my brothers. I sat on a chair in the service porch and read my book.

When it was done, I took it out and turned it upside down on a rack to cool. There was a nice breeze coming through the back door, so I set the cake on the chair to cool faster.

Then I set the timer for 30 minutes, grabbed my book and sat down on the chair to read.

Girlfriend, yes I did sit on my cake.

Ten years later, I was home for winter break from college, and my mom asked me to bake a cake for my grandfather’s birthday. I got all fancy and tried to make two layers. I had no Food Network to tell me to even the layers before I tried to frost them. It was crazy lopsided. I honestly thought that a good thick buttercream frosting would make it look even. But I used margarine, and the frosting broke and slid all over the top of the cake. Then I left it in a spot on the counter that takes afternoon sun, so when I came back, the frosting had melted down the cake, over the plate and onto the counter.

In desperation, I dug through the baking cupboard and in the way back found a shelf-stable tube of green frosting that had only expired the month before. I tried making green roses on the pink cake.

When my grandfather saw it, he wanted to know who let the green owl in the house.


A few years later, I decided to make an egg nog cheesecake for Christmas dinner. I will admit to not being 100% sober when I made it, so I was pleasantly surprised when it came out of the oven with nary a crack. I stenciled some stars on the top with grated nutmeg and carried it off to my parent’s home.

After dinner, I carried my cheesecake proudly to the table. I cut my brother a slice and passed it down. He took a bite and chewed. Then he started laughing.

Which of course made my other brother dive for the cheesecake with a folk and scoop a big bite into his mouth.

Then they both were laughing. By the time my dad took a bite, my first brother had spit it out: “It tastes like playdough!”

In fact, it did. I was mortified. “What happened?!” I wailed. My aunt asked me about the recipe. I didn’t remember it exactly, because Coors Light, but when I got to “three cups of flour” she stopped me. “Three cups???” she asked. “Are you sure?”

When I got home, I double-checked. Turns out, Coors Light and I misread 3 tablespoons as 3 cups and never looked back.

Every now and then I try again. For Father’s Day a few years back, I tried to make a scratch lemon cake in a sunflower cake mold for Shea. When I turned it over to pop it out, only the petals came. The center of the flower stayed in the pan. You better believe I cobbled that thing together, frosted it and served it up, gaping hole in the middle and all.

And for this past Valentine’s Day, I decided to bake a Paula Deen coconut lime cake for the family.

It was a three layer cake, but I only have two cake pans, and had to pick the kids up from school. So I tried to remove one of the cakes way too early to bake the third one, and this happened:


Shea came home and saved it, thank goodness. It tasted amazing:


I can bake a cookie that will make your heart melt. I perfected that egg nog cheesecake, and cheesecakes in general—you should try my key lime cheesecake. Pumpkin pie. Pecan pie. Gingerbread. Nutmeg sugar cookies. Last Christmas I made a chocolate cinnamon loaf with a whole dang pear in the middle:


But I suck at cakes.

Well. Somebody has to.

13 thoughts on “I Suck at Cakes

  1. Haha! I very much enjoyed reading that someone else has the same trials making cakes 🙂 Like you, I have had a few really nice ones turn out. And other desserts are no problem! But I have definitely had some major cake flops! Thanks for the chuckle 🙂

  2. This is awesome! I love knowing this! I have spectacular baking disasters. I will save the details for a post of my own one day but there are two things I need to share:
    1. Somehow among our group of friends in the neighbourhood, I’m the one they ask to bring dessert. I love doing it, and by now everyone has the shared understanding that it’s going to look awful but taste great.
    2.Your Coors Light incident would have been mild compared to what would have been my bourbon shots story one New Years if your cousin actually kept flour or baking powder in her house. She does not, and for that reason only, there was not a horrifying drunk chocolate cake story.

  3. Hahaha! The last cake I tried was an awesome coconut lemon cake for Mr. H. C.’s birthday last January It was inedible! I’m a good baker, honest! This year he had a key lime pie that was magnificent! Done with cakes, I am. Thanks for making me laugh.

  4. Don’t feel bad Jen, I hate baking cakes. My Mother was the best! I love to make fancy desserts, cookies and pies, but forget the cakes. I’m so glad we have a great bakery.

  5. A mother had plans to bake this beautiful cake for the school bake sale. She had this amazing design in mind and set to work building it. Problem is, it didn’t set right and it was sagging horribly in the middle. Time had run out and there was no chance to start over so in her desperation she decided she would place something in the center to “prop” it up just right. Wouldn’t you know, a new roll of toilet paper worked perfectly and the cake looked gorgeous.
    In dropping the cake and her daughter off at school she gave her daughter, a junior in high school, some money and told her to make sure to get over to the gym immediately after school and “buy” that cake before someone else did.
    Problem is, her daughter’s last class let out late and by the time she got over there the cake was already sold. The mother was mortified but at least she consoled herself with the fact that very few people knew who had actually baked that fake cake.
    If only things were that easy. Three days later the mother was over with about a half dozen other ladies from church were being hosted by the pastor’s wife. She had laid out an excellent dinner spread and to top it off, she brought out that very same cake for dessert. The mother was mortified. Her “sin” was about to be found out. One of the other ladies saw the cake and exclaimed, “That’s got to be the most beautiful cake I’ve ever seem.”
    The pastor’s wife beamed as she replied, “Why thank you. It took me all day to make.”

    Oh the joys.

Leave a Reply to Anonymous Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s