Not quite epic fail but definitely a flop!

My friends at work stopped by my desk with a couple of pages they had ripped out of a magazine.  They know I like to bake and have been known to bake fun things like cakes that look like spaghetti and meatballs or cakes with hidden flags in them.  They thought this cake from Better Homes and Gardens was right up my ally.  I didn't disagree!

Here is a link to the recipe.  I will admit to a bit of frustration that you have to register for the site with not only an email address (no, I didn't use my real one, I get enough junk email) but also your mailing address!  And again, they didn't get my real one there either.  

Better Homes and Gardens Hidden Snowman Cake

I read the article, looked at the pictures and thought, I can do that!  I've done more complicated cakes before.  So I made sure I had all the ingredients and got started.

First you make the snowmen.  A dense "vanilla" cake is used for the snowmen.  I put vanilla in quotes because even though they call it a vanilla cake, vanilla is not listed as an ingredient in the cake!  I added some.

The cake is baked in a 13x9 pan and you are supposed to get 12 to 15 three-inch snowmen out of this cake.  In what universe?  I didn't use a snowman cutter, I used gingerbread men cutters but they were 3 inch cutters.  Even in the picture in the article there is now way they are getting that many snowmen out of the pan.  I was able to cut 9 gingerbread men out of mine and as you'll see from the pictures, I'm not sure many more than that would even fit in the pan.  I tasted some of the waste and the cake tasted OK, not fabulous by any means but OK.

Next you put together the batter for the chocolate cake that will hide the vanilla snowmen (or gingerbread men in my case).  This is  A LOT of batter.  I started getting nervous when my Kitchenaid was nearly over-flowing with batter.  Really, all of this will fit in the pan WITH the gingerbread men?  It was Better Homes and Gardens, they must know better, right?

I put half of the batter in the pan and then put my gingerbread men in, upside down as instructed.  I then put the rest of the batter in the pan.  Anyone else nervous at the amount of batter in this tube pan?

The recipe said to loosely cover the cake with foil for the last 15 minutes of the hour and twenty minutes of baking.  Well, that was waiting too long!  Yes the batter over-filled the pan, yes it dribbled all over the bottom of my oven, and yes the top was a bit scorched.  I still wasn't too worried, I could just cut that off and no one would know about it!

It took much longer than an hour and 20 minutes for my cake to bake.  Closer to an hour and 40 minutes.  I made this after work one evening so I had started it later in the day.  It was now almost 9pm and the cake was just coming out of the oven!  The things I do for my coworkers!

After 15 minutes I cut the burned part off the top and tasted it.  It was OK.  Not great, just OK, then again, it was burned.  I removed the cake from the pan and the sides looked burnt too.  I made the decision at this point to throw in the towel on this cake.  This is not a cheap cake to make.  The two cakes used 8 eggs, 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, a cup and a half of butter and a cup of buttermilk in addition to the normal flour, sugar, etc. ingredients in cake.  The frosting called for another 6 egg whites I wasn't willing to throw away on a cake I knew wasn't going to be good.

So I looked for my hidden gingerbread men.  I'm not sure how they got the picture in the magazine but mine didn't work very well.  I did get one slice where you can sort of tell the thing in the middle of the cake is a gingerbread man. Maybe my choice of cookie cutter wasn't a good one?

So I won't call it an epic fail. The cake did eventually bake and I could have frosted it and it would have tasted OK, but it didn't nearly come close to some of the other fun cakes I've made in presentation or flavor.  

Turkey Cake
Santa Cake

Spaghetti and Meatballs Cake

Hidden Flag Cake

Cheeseburger Cake

Candy Bar Cake
Next?  The baked potato cake out of this month's FoodNetwork magazine!

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