I cannot tell you all how many times I have forgotten about something I was cooking in the oven and it burned to a point where I couldn’t eat it. Sound familiar? It happens to the best of us.
Toasted nuts and baked goods are the two things that I tend to forget about the most. This is why I stress in my classes how important it is to set a timer! I guess I need to learn to take my own advice because it happened to me again recently. I was teaching a virtual class where I had to make Devil's Food Cupcakes with a Roasted Banana Buttercream and Dulce de Leche Drizzle. Well, let me tell you, I was too busy teaching class and making sure the students were doing a good job that I completely forgot about my cupcakes I put in the oven. Luckily, I had made a batch ahead of time to demonstrate how to frost on a cooled cupcake but after class I pulled out the batch from the oven and they were pretty dark and crunchy on top. I couldn’t believe what I had done. If you have ever been in this same predicament, I want you to keep calm and take a deep breath. It is not the end of the world. I will provide you with some tips and tricks on what to do if you end up burning your cake as well as some alternative recipes to make using your “well done” cake.
Here is a picture of what my cupcakes should have looked like along with my original recipe.
Devil's Food Cupcakes
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Active time: 25 minutes
Start to finish: 45 minutes
1/3 cup boiling water
1/3 cup natural cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup dulce de leche, warmed to a drizzly consistency
- Preheat the oven to 350º, and line a muffin tin with paper liners.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the boiling water, cocoa powder, chocolate chips and espresso powder.
- In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and both sugars.
- Add the butter, and using an electric mixer, mix on low speed until incorporated.
- Add the egg mixture in 2 additions, and beat on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until combined, about 1 minute.
- Pour in the chocolate mixture, and beat until well combined.
- Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners.
- Bake until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, and the tops spring back, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool.
- Frost the cupcakes with Roasted Banana Buttercream (recipe follows), and top with a drizzle of dulce de leche.
Roasted Banana Buttercream
Yield: 3 cups
Active time: 15 minutes
Start to finish: 40 minutes
1 ripe banana
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400º.
- Place the banana, skin on, on a sheet tray and roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until very soft. Allow to cool.
- Remove the peel, and mash with a fork until smooth. For a silkier texture, puree in a blender or food processor. Mix with the lemon juice to prevent the puree from over-browning.
- In a medium-size bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until thoroughly combined.
- Add half of the banana puree and beat until smooth. You can adjust the level of banana flavor by adding more puree; if the frosting becomes too thin, just add more powdered sugar.
- Adjust the final texture of the frosting by adding heavy cream as needed.
Now, here is a picture of my overcooked cupcakes which are dark, dry and crunchy.
There are a few tips and tricks I want to share with you to rescue your burnt cake and these secrets can stay between us. No one needs to know you ever burnt your confections.
- Assess the level of doneness - is it light, medium or dark? If light or medium, try the next few bullet points. If dark, try the recipes provided.
- Use a Microplane grater to lightly scrape off the surface of your lightly burned cake.
- Make a simple syrup (boil equal parts sugar and water) to brush the outside and let soak into the overcooked cake.
- If the cake has a thick layer of burnt crust, you can use a serrated knife to shave off the outer layer.
If you have tried these hacks first without success, don’t fret, there is still hope to salvage your overcooked and burnt cakes! There are times that I try and save my mistakes and the end result is even better than what I originally set out to make. If you are like me and hate waste, you know I couldn’t let a dozen cupcakes go to the garbage. I am going to give you three recipe ideas to utilize and re-purpose your overdone cake. These recipes are also a great go-to if you have leftover cake scraps from previous baking projects or just old unfinished cake that is getting stale.
The first step with all of these recipe suggestions is to crumble all of the burnt cake into small pieces with your hands. It is an excellent way to take out your frustration with the fact you just burned your cake! By doing this all of the burnt ends get mixed up into the other moist parts of the cake.
- Bread Pudding
If you have never made a bread pudding before, it's really just a custard base, bread and mix-ins. All you need to remember are basic ratios to make it. For the custard, I use: 1/2 cup sugar and 1 egg for every cup of liquid. You may use any kind of sugar for this recipe. For the liquids I generally use some form of dairy: milk, cream, or half and half; but you can also use non-dairy liquids of your choosing.
The bread in this instance would be the cake crumbles, but I would suggest leaving the cake in larger pieces for this recipe. For every heaping cup of cake, you would use the 1 cup of liquid, 1 egg, and 1/2 cup sugar ratio. As far as mix-ins go, you can add whatever you like: chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit or coconut flakes.
To put this all together, you would put the cake pieces into a 9x13 baking pan, add the custard base evenly over the top, add the mix ins, and bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. You know it is done when the top is set and a toothpick comes out clean. Dust with powdered sugar or whipped cream for a fantastic new dessert.
- Cake Pops
I figured cake pops would be the most logical use of my burnt cupcakes. They will never go out of style in my opinion. For this recipe I wanted to finely crush up all of the cupcakes until they resembled dirt. Then, I made an espresso cream cheese buttercream and mixed it into the crumbled cupcakes. You can make any flavor of buttercream you like or use store-bought frosting in a pinch. I used just enough frosting to bring moisture to the cake and hold a spherical shape. You can always keep adding more, but I start off with a little at a time until I reach my desired consistency.
Once the frosting is mixed in, I shaped my mixture using a portion scoop and froze the cake balls while I melted my chocolate.
I wanted assortment so I used white chocolate and milk chocolate for my outer coating. You can also use other chocolate varieties or candy melts which are a meltable candy coating. All I did was microwave the chocolate in 45 second intervals stopping to stir every once and a while until it was just melted. I dip about a 1/4-inch of the skewer into the chocolate first and stick it into the cake bites. This helps the skewer from falling off while dipping the whole cake pop into the melted chocolate.
Once all of the skewers have been inserted, then I start dipping all of the cake pops into the chocolate and setting them on either a parchment or Silpat-lined sheet tray.
I put them back in the freezer to set because I like the hard texture, but you can also just refrigerate them. Feel free to decorate these cake pops however you like. I happened to have sprinkles on hand so when I was done dipping the pops into the chocolate, I coated them and allowed the pop to harden.
I think these cake pops are just as beautiful as the original cupcakes!
- Fudgy Brownies
The last recipe I made with my overcooked cupcakes were fudgy brownies. This is a super simple recipe that transformed my cupcakes into something even better. All you need is about 3 cups of cake crumbs, 1/3 cup melted butter, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, and toppings of your choice. I used chocolate chips and almonds.
I mixed everything up very thoroughly by hand with a spatula, but if you have a food processor all you need to do is put in the ingredients and mix until a thick and smooth batter emerges.
This does not make a lot of batter so I used an 6x6" baking dish that I prepared with butter and sugar. You can also use parchment paper to line your dish. These are really gooey brownies and will stick to your pan. Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly throughout.
Lastly, sprinkle the toppings on and bake in a 365-degree oven for about 25 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean and the middle should be set and slightly springy.
I served mine with some caramel sauce for a little extra pop.
As you can see, there is always a way to turn your blunders into masterpieces with a little bit of creativity. If you have any questions about how to correct any mistakes you have made while baking, please ask in the comments below, and I would love to help. You can also post your questions in our private Facebook group, and we can help you there too!
At The Chopping Block, we actually like when things go wrong in our kitchens so we can teach how to correct and adjust so things don’t go wrong in your kitchen. There is always a way to make things work!
We have a wide variety of in-person and virtual classes and private events offered where we can teach you all sorts of interesting tips and tricks to make your own home cooking experience more enjoyable. Check out our class calendar for our offerings.