Baking Tips

How to Salvage a Ruined Cake

A lot of things can go wrong when baking a cake—but all is not lost. Here’s how to turn a mishap into something delicious.

Published Apr. 19, 2023.

We all make mistakes in the kitchen—yes, even professionals. I know what it’s like to prepare a cake and wait for it to bake and cool only to find out that something along the way went awry. 

Here are some common cake-baking mistakes I’ve come across over the years: the cake is overbaked (so it’s dry and crumbly); it’s stuck in the pan and will only come out in small pieces; the cake didn’t rise properly; the cake overflowed out of the pan. 

While we have plenty of suggestions for how to prevent these mishaps, what happens if the damage is already done? 

We can help.

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1. Make a Trifle

Cake stuck to the pan and will only release in small pieces? Trifle to the rescue. Shards of cake might not look as beautiful as neatly cut ones, but we promise the trifle will taste just as good.

Any of our trifle recipes will do, but this one for Summer Berry Trifle is a company favorite. It has layers of pastry cream, cake, fruit filling, and whipped cream. Imperfect cake can easily be substituted for the classic chiffon cake used in this recipe.

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The Perfect Cake

The definitive guide to any cake you crave, from classic anytime Pound Cake (“The recipe is genius and worth the price of the book.” —The Wall Street Journal) to a stunning and impressive Blueberry Jam Cake with brilliant ombré frosting.

2. Turn It into Cake Pops

Cake pops are a perfect fix for a cake that’s dry, cracked, or crumbly. Because you add moisture to the mix, you won’t even notice the less-than-ideal texture.

Our recipe for adorable Cookies and Cream Cake Pops is a tried-and-true solution. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add cake that’s been broken into 1-inch pieces. Combine it with milk until fine, evenly moistened crumbs and cohesive dough begins to form. Then your cake pops are ready to be rolled.


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3. Use It as an Ice Cream Sundae Topping (or Mix-In)

Ice cream with hot fudge, marshmallows, sprinkles, and crumbled-up pieces of cake? Sounds like the perfect ice cream sundae to me! For a sundae base, this Dark Chocolate No-Churn Ice Cream is as rich as it is easy to make. Or feel free to grab one of our favorites from the freezer section, instead.

Or, better yet, if youre making your own ice cream, add the cake directly into the mix for a cake-batter flavor.

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