It doesn’t always work out

Fuck it - I'm going home

I pride myself on being a competent baker, so it’s a matter of personal indignity when something goes wrong. Saturday was clearly a bad day, because not only did I mess something up once, I then made the same mistake again.

I was inspired to make fridge cake by my colleague Nell, whose birthday was last week. She occasionally brings in the most delicious specimens, studded with Maltesers and ginger biscuits. I also have fond memories of making something known as “Mountain Cake” at primary school – chocolate, butter and syrup melted together with broken biscuits and dried fruit.

Our oven has been broken for a month now, and I can’t bake anything. So the idea of making some tasty no-bake “‘Smores” fridge fudge was tempting. But something went wrong while I was melting the chocolate. Either it got too hot, or water got in. Or it was just a crappy recipe. Either way, I ended up with a grainy, sticky mess that looked more like soil (or poo, depending how strong your stomach is) rather than a smooth fudge. My housemates are slowly picking at it with a spoon – and it is indeed tasty – but certainly not something I could take to work.

May I present to you Fridge cake FAIL number 1:

Hmmmm... I'd rate this as a 3 on the Bristol Stool Scale. We still ate it though, and it was NOM!

Back to the shop for more chocolate, and a quick Google for a better recipe – surely Waitrose’s fridge cake recipe wouldn’t fail me?

But no. This time it was worse. Not only did the chocolate seize again, but it separated horribly while I was mixing in the biscuits and dried fruit. It looked revolting.  Worse than the contents of a toddler’s nappy. There was no saving it, and it ended up on a one-way trip to the compost bin:

Blurgh! You can just see the separated liquid seeping out round the edges. Nice.

I am kicking myself that I have twice screwed up making something that the eight-year-old me used to knock up without even thinking.

What on earth am I doing wrong? Is the chocolate mixture getting too hot? Should I have done it in the microwave instead of a double-boiler?  Or am I just getting cocky and the Domestic Goddess is kicking me in the arse?

I’d love to hear your tips and recipes for making successful fridge cake.  Also please share your kitchen failures, and make me feel a bit better about it all.

14 responses to “It doesn’t always work out

  1. What’s wrong with them? What are they supposed to look like?

    If you cut them into squares, they look like they’d be well tasty.

    • They do taste OK (the ones I kept, not the ones that ended up in the bin…), but the texture is weird – grainy and a bit odd, certainly not smooth and fudgey.

  2. It does sound like you cooked the chocolate for too long – if you’d got water in it it just wouldn’t have set.

    I once substituted my fancy olive oil for the sunflower oil the recipe called for. What’s the difference, right?!

    The difference was a rather large bath of cupcakes, that tasted of nothing but olive oil. Rubbish.

    And then there was the time I almost burnt down the food tech building at school… by melting chocolate ;-)

  3. allotmentprincess

    My old flat had a gas oven that was hot at the back and cool at the front, if indeed it got hot enough at all. My housemates gleefully described the results of one try at making a chocolate sponge as “biscake” – two large, round and really rather flat discs that could have been put to use as frisbees on Hampstead Heath. Tasted pretty good, all the same.

    When making truffles at Christmas, my chocolate curdled/went grainy and so I let it cool a bit before zizzing it with a handheld blender. I guess you can’t do that if there are things in the cake, however.

    • The hand blender has got me out of more than a few disasters. Amazing how smooth a white sauce comes out after a few seconds of blitzing…

  4. I’ve never heard of fridge cake! What an interesting concept. I suspect the 8 year old you possibly made more or less the same cakes but the novelty and excitement made those cakes seem perfect, whereas you’ve had more experience of cake optimisation and can now spot when you’ve had a cakefail…?

    When I was eight-ish I made some chocolate cake and forgot to put the eggs in; they weren’t awfully successful. My cakes are always more biscuit like (not great risers) than cake like; my mum says I need to use cornflour more. I think it would also help if I didn’t get distracted by the raw cake mix.

    Love the picture of the disgruntled bird!

    • You’re right that I’m probably more discerning nowadays. I wonder if I was more impatient when I was younger, and now I’m overcooking the chocolate!

  5. Too many baking fails to mention!

  6. I have had an unbelievable number of baking disasters. Absolutely my favourite one was setting the kitchen on fire whilst making a salad sandwich.

    (I popped the butter in the microwave to soften quickly. There’s a layer of foil in that paper wrapping, doncha know.)

  7. Something must have been in the water on Saturday as I too had a baking disaster, which my pride couldn’t quite cope with, I blamed the other half as he was stirring at the time.

    The chocolate thing has happened to me and it’s when it gets too hot with the butter and just splits.

    See you sat!

  8. If you were using a double boiler, did the water from the saucepan/bottom touch the bottom of the boiler and cause condensation? My dad (el baker) always says that it’s water that makes chocolate grainy.

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