Salvaging a Fallen Cake

It’s Easter weekend and that means a family dinner for me.  I’m supposed to bring dessert.  I make a darn good pound cake, not as good as my Aunt Nina’s, but still good.  That’s a good cake to make a day ahead and it cooks a long time so it’s a good cake if you have a bunch of other stuff you want to get done in the meantime.  I decided that a chocolate pound cake would be a nice change of pace.  I found a Paula Deen recipe for a chocolate buttermilk pound cake and set to work.

Thank goodness for a stand mixer.  It takes a long time to whip 2 sticks of butter, 1/2 cup Crisco and 3 cups of sugar until they’re fluffy.  By the time you’re done with this batter it’s light and fluffy and beautiful.  It has kind of a chocolate mousse texture.  You kind of have to spoon it into the pan because it’s too fluffy to pour.  Yum.  Well, everything smelled and looked wonderful.  The cake rose and rose…and rose.  Now, my large tube pan is easily 5-6 inches tall.  This cake rose about 2 inches above the rim of the pan.  Hmmm.  Those of you who bake know that you can’t open the oven on a rising cake and expect that to go well.  So I didn’t.  My countertop convection oven has a light and a big glass door so you don’t need to open the door. 

When you think it’s about done though you have to test it with a knife or skewer.  I always use a bamboo skewer.  Long story short, my cake completely collapsed.  Collapsed such that I couldn’t turn it out of the pan because there was about 3 inches of  air between the cake and the badly broken crust.  Ugh.  There was a time when that would have frustrated me to the point that I would have thrown the cake out and started over.  I had the time since I was actually working a day ahead.  Now though, I consider the 5 eggs, 2 sticks of butter, 3 C of sugar, buttermilk, flour, etc. that I’ve already committed this dessert and look for a way to salvage it.  Trifle is the answer to salvaging any fallen cake.

The cake tastes great.  It’s pretty dense.  More brownie than cake like.   And it’s hideous.  Really uneven.  Not in any way worthy of a cake plate, but plenty worthy of eating.  So here’s the idea.  Break the cake into pieces, slices if you want and layer them in a trifle bowl, or other dish with tall sides, with pudding, whipped cream, fruit, whatever you like.  I use instant pudding.  One of the few things I prefer instant over homemade.  I do make my own whipped cream.  Again, the stand mixer makes that easy.  And I think that frozen, non-dairy whipped topping smells weird.  So there you have it.

Today’s trifle will be fallen chocolate pound cake, chocolate pudding, whipped cream and crumbled Heath bars.  I have a few strawberries for decoration.  And if I don’t mention it no one will ever know that wasn’t the plan all along.
Good? Yes!
Easy? The trifle is easy. Use whatever cake or brownies you want. The pound cake is a little tricker.
Good for company? Absolutely.
Special shopping? Not really. You may not keep buttermilk in the house. Remember though that you can add a little lemon juice to regular milk as a substitute.

Here’s Paula’s recipe.  And here’s hoping that the next time it acts a little better.

The Bag Lady’s Favorite Chocolate Pound Cake


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract


Special equipment: 10-inch bundt pan

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa and set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well after each addition.

Add flour and buttermilk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and mix well. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until cake is done.

Remove from oven and allow cake to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto cake plate and serve.


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