Birthday Cake Ache

6 Nov

Birthdays! A cause for celebration? A chance to make someone happy? A time to try hard for the ones you love?

Or in my case grit your teeth and have a go at making a cake…
Regular readers will know the problem I have with celebratory cakes and how I usually solve that problem – see here and here.  (Basically get someone else to make them)

But this week was not only my husband’s birthday but our wedding anniversary, so I felt I should make a bit of an effort and attempt his favourite cake – the coffee and walnut.

Now, I will be honest, I have never made a two-tier cake. Is that what you call one made of two halves with stuff in the middle? Basically using two cake tins? Of course I wanted to make a proper coffee and walnut cake so out came two tins…

All the recipes I found were about the same. Whip up a cake mix but add some kind of coffee flavouring and chopped walnuts.
First problem arose when filling in the cake tins.
There didn’t seem to be enough mixture for both? I wasn’t sure how much they were going to rise so filled one tin to nearly the top, but then only had enough to barely cover the bottom of the other.
I’d already put the first tin in the oven so had to start scooping it out with a spoon to fill the other one up. Of course it had begun to soften so spilt over the side of the spoon as I tried to transport it across the kitchen.

I eventually managed two level tins of mixture and gave both a good bake while I started on the coffe/buttercream icing/filling.
Then they came out:
I was quite happy with these actually. They looked and smelt ok. I thought that the dark colour of them was down to the addition of the coffee.
I snapped them out of the tins and after bit of faffing about trying to get them safely onto the cooling tray without breaking (should they just slide off?) I surveyed my cakes…

Hmmm – I had been SO worried about them sticking to the tins I’d used absolutely loads of butter and flour on the bases which during cooking had created its own crust. Like a little parasitic cake living on mine!
I had to scrape it all off.
Look at that – baked butter and flour rimming my cake!
The tins were however completely clean, so that’s something I suppose?

After cooling I moved on to the icing and filling.
My son loves this bit so helped out:
Then we put it all together and built our cake!
Placing some walnuts artfully on top of course.
Doesn’t look that bad does it?
I mean it kind of looks like the ones you see under glass domes in cake shops doesn’t it?

Of course it was burnt. Look at the colour of it.
Dry as old toast and with a tang of artificial coffee.
My husband declared it a ‘waste of good walnuts’.
Even some desultory candles couldn’t dress this disaster up:
It even looks sad doesn’t it?

But we didn’t feel bad about it. We all managed to get through a slice (that crumbled into sawdust in our mouths), sang happy birthday and my husband admitted that he hadn’t married me for my cooking skills all those years ago. Good job really.

Still, it brightened the bin up…


11 Responses to “Birthday Cake Ache”

  1. Dan 06/11/2012 at 7:59 pm #

    A waste of good walnuts…genius.

    • Alice Can't Cook 10/11/2012 at 12:01 pm #

      Yeah cheers Dan.

  2. Avril 07/11/2012 at 7:54 am #

    Hi Alice
    Sorry your cake didn’t come out good. It looks ok. I feel like popping down to your house and spending a week giving you a cookery course. You try so hard its so unfair that your things don’t always come out nice. Delia Smith has a recipe for coffee cake and her recipes are really easy to follow. You should check out her website. I’m just going to make some raw cookies for my son and some Go Go balls for my dad so I must get on. 🙂

    • Alice Can't Cook 10/11/2012 at 12:02 pm #

      Thanks Avril, yes it is a shame. I really thought it looked good too! Go Go Balls sounds fun! x

  3. Jamie 07/11/2012 at 8:06 pm #

    Belly laughs!

    • Alice Can't Cook 10/11/2012 at 12:03 pm #

      But not ‘in my belly’ laughs sadly 😦
      Thanks for reading xx

  4. Juliette Wills 08/11/2012 at 1:20 pm #

    ‘A waste of good walnuts’… ha ha HA!

    • Alice Can't Cook 10/11/2012 at 12:03 pm #

      I know, hilarious!

  5. Jenny Eatwell 16/11/2012 at 9:37 pm #

    Alice, my hubby has just made a Coffee & Walnut cake that you use a saucepan for – and you bake it in a loaf tin, so no faffing about with two cake tins! It’s on the blog at and I recommend you use a loaf tin liner, which takes away any requirement for buttering or flouring! 🙂

  6. Alice Can't Cook 19/11/2012 at 12:46 pm #

    Oh Jenny! Would you look at that? What a fab cake, thank you. I think this would be much easier for me, the split layer thing really got to me!
    Thank you thank you. My husband will be delighted. xx

    • Jenny Eatwell 19/11/2012 at 3:56 pm #

      You’re welcome! 🙂 The loaf tin liners are quite easily available, I think hubby got ours from Asda, but I do know that they are available from Lakeland – and online from Lakeland, if all else fails. 🙂

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