I Can Bake! I Can Bake! I… ok, I Really Still Can’t Bake (But I Tried)

I tried… after my first failed attempt at baking a strawberry cake in order to use up some nasty-looking, dying strawberries (that I bought hungry and on sale… natch) in my fridge, my ego was so bruised I didn’t think I was up for it again. You see, stupid me kind of forgot one ingredient as she was cooking. It’s sooooo easy to leave off the baking powder, right? Yes. I forgot to add baking powder. That’s how bad I am at baking. I love to eat but never really had that much of a sweet tooth so I never really baked. Growing up, buying anything sweet in my family’s house was a rare occasion. My mom was by no means a mini-Hitler, she didn’t try to deprive us of sweets (ok, maybe she did), but it was a special occasion if we had sweets around. Maybe cousins came for the weekend and my mom wanted to pretend like we weren’t freaks. Maybe it was that one week a year that we rented a house “down the Jersey shore” and mom allowed us to each pick out one sugar cereal for the week. Maybe mom was feeling like she wanted to be more domestic so she would buy that Tollhouse cookie dough and pretend it came from scratch? Those were really the only times I ate sweets growing up.

So, maybe I’m trying to blame everyone and everything else for this crappy attempt at cooking. Ok, I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’m going to put a picture of my baking soda-less ‘cake’ here:

My Crappy Cake (Oops, forgot the baking powder!)

Delicious, right? Are you still there? Do you still love us? Could you possible forgive me for not knowing how to cook sweets? PLLLLEEEAAAASSSEEE, I’m on my knees beggin’.

Well, the next day I dusted myself off, wiped my tears and snot away and threw that flour-stained apron on for one last attempt. This time I’ll used the baking soda!! I also changed recipes. Pixie at You Say Tomato had a sweet idea to bake better and more easily – check off the ingredients you’ve used and the steps you’ve finished. Brilliant!! So, I did it. Here’s the result.

Strawberry Bundt Cake

I used some Nigella Lawson icing recipe but I have to tell you that two days after I made the cake, alot of the icing actually was absorbed by the cake instead of staying on the cake. Maybe this is a normal thing and most people finish cakes in 2 days. Hey, there’s only two of us here! I was also able to use a bit more of the blood oranges from this post to color the icing a bit pink.

Anyways, I’m sure I haven’t inspired you to bake with this post, but I had to share the story of a “Girl Baker Gone Wild”. I may leave the baking to the husband from now on.


Ingredients for Cake:

  • 3 cups cake flour (or substitute 3 1/2 cups of regular flour with 1/2 cup corn starch to make 4 cups of the cake flour “substitute” – remember to only use 3 cups of it, though!)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (this is important, remember!!)
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 large whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup unsalted butter (divided)
  • 10-15 fresh strawberries, sliced and mashed with back of a fork

What to do for cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan or tube pan. Tap out any excess flour.
  2. Sift the cake flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a standing electric mixer.
  3. In a medium bowl, using a fork, beat together the sour cream, milk, whole eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla until very well blended and smooth. Add the butter and half the egg mixture to the dry ingredients. Beat at low speed just until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat for 1 minute; do not overmix.
  4. Add the remaining egg mixture and beat at medium-high speed until the batter is fluffy and smooth, about 1 minute longer.
  5. Throw in the sliced/mashed strawberries along with any juice that was extracted and fold into the batter.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Rap the pan on the counter several times to remove air bubbles. Bake the cake in the middle of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until it is well browned, pulls away from the pan sides, and a toothpick inserted in the thickest part comes out clean.
  7. Run a thin knife around the pan edges to loosen the cake if necessary, then invert onto a serving plate. Allow to cool before adding icing.

Ingredients for Icing:

  • 2 large egg whites (or substitute powdered egg whites)
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice plus 1/2 teaspoon blood orange juice (Feel free to just use 1 whole teaspoon of lemon juice if you don’t have any blood orange juice)

What to do for icing:

  1. Combine the egg whites and confectioners’ sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until opaque and shiny, about 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk in the lemon juice/blood orange mixture, this will thin out the icing. Beat for another couple of minutes until you reach the right spreading consistency for the cake. Should be stiff but able to run a bit down the sides of the cake.


14 thoughts on “I Can Bake! I Can Bake! I… ok, I Really Still Can’t Bake (But I Tried)

  1. You came clean, showed the disaster and did good with the Bundt cake in the end.

    Remember, a food show takes 12-15 hours to shoot…how many F-ups do they (tv hosts) make in the day?

  2. OMG!! This is HILARIOUS! Courtney, love ya girl.
    Peter – right on… you’re totally right and, if you haven’t been able to tell from my posts, I’m all too honest. I did fuck up! But the second one was a miracle (although if I took a pic of it 2 days later, it would’ve looked hideous with the icing all melted into the cake.
    and serena, thanks for the compliment. but, seriously, this is as interesting and creative as my baking will ever get!!!

  3. I made the opposite mistake and doubled the baking soda on a recipe. Yeah…it was pretty gross. I didn’t post it though. If I make the recipe again, I’ll post the failure next to (hopefully) the success.

    The final result looks really good!

  4. I hate baking, it is not really cooking. As far as I’m concerned you don’t lose any points for not being a baker. But good for you for trying it looks great.

  5. You rock girl! Way to go, feels good doesn’t it? I know what you mean about mum not baking in the kitchen and there being too much dessert around. Ta for the mention…here’s another tip:

    Reduce the recipe in half and find a smaller tin! lol

    Also, why not offer this to Mike’s table- he has a strawberry event around atm (just hurry up though as i think it ends this week)

  6. Congrats on the beautiful bundt cake! It looks like you’ve completely overcome your prior baking mishap and are well on your way to being a fantastic baker 🙂

  7. We are having a strawberry festival at church. My daughter really wants me to enter something.I really don’t want to F this up in front of all these church – ladies – do you think this is easy enough for a novice baker?

  8. Hey, Charlene! Let’s just put it this way, I’m a novice baker and I f’ed it up the first time. Maybe you want to buy enough ingredients for two and give it another shot if the first time doesn’t work out. The thing with baking is there doesn’t seem to be much room for improvisation (which is why i suck at it!). BUT, the other thing you could do, and everyone who knows me would gasp in horror, is buy some white cake mix and add some crushed strawberries to the mix then top it w/ the royal icing? just an idea?


    GOOD LUCK and I’d love to know how it goes if you try to make it!

  9. So we all have baking mistakes. I appreciate your honesty. The recipe looks good. I plan to make it for a picnic we are having this weekend. I enjoy your blog!

  10. I’ve had a good excuse to not pursue baking. The other half is diabetic so it would be purely selfish of me to make sweet stuff. right? OK. I hate baking.

    I lack patience for the careful measurements and timing that make a succesful baker. I should also say I’d rather double up on the savoury main dish before I take dessert. I do see it as a flaw in myself to lack this versatility though, particularly when my oldest high school classes ask why I haven’t contributed properly to the cake rota.

    1. @Ros: I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. As much as we wish we were better bakers, the issue remains of who would eat all the baked goods were we able to bake them. At some point, our kids will be old enough to consume them regularly, but until that point, having cake or scones around with any frequency puts too much temptation in our way.

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