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Cake – A Learning Experience And A Tip

This is a cake recipe that I have been making for years and years, the recipe is tried and true, tested and developed by my Mom many moons ago. Why then did it fail?  I posted this recipe a long time ago on Food52, it has been featured, made over and over again by hundreds and it’s a really good recipe. It all started a few weeks ago when I decided to make a cake, I followed the directions as I always do, did not deviate, everything looked good until I got the cake out of the oven, it looked different, the sides were shrinking, coming away from the sides of the pan, not just a little but dramatically and the texture just didn’t seem right. It was more like an angel food cake than a yellow cake and was mis-shapen and lopsided. I thought I had to have done something wrong, maybe I whipped the egg whites too long, so I threw it away and made it again this time being EXTREMELY careful with my preparation. Guess what, same outcome. I honestly didn’t know what to think, I am not a novice baker, I try to use quality ingredients and follow directions to the letter. It was discouraging to say the least. I systematically started analyzing everything that went into this cake, eggs were the right size and at room temperature, milk also room temperature, my baking powder was not expired, the only change was that I opened a new box of  cake flour so I thought hmmmm maybe it was the flour. I called King Arthur Bakers Catalog, who by the way are a wonderful company and spoke to one of their baking experts, they took down the lot number and other information on all 3 boxes that I had received and asked me to do an experiment, try making my own cake flour, in case you have never done this you remove 4 tbs of flour from 1 cup of all purpose flour and replace with 4 tbs of corn starch, btw, they refunded my money which I didn’t ask them to do but because they are an outstanding company they did it. A few weeks went by before I decided to give it another try.

The bottom layer is the one using the new cake pan, can you see the difference?


I made the cake using homemade cake flour, it turned out really well except for one thing, one layer I baked in my Chicago Metal cake pan that I have been using for ions, the other layer I baked in a newish cake pan. The layer in my old pan was great, the other layer was good but not as good as the other layer, how could that be? To be fair I have used the new cake pan for other cake and it turned out just fine but for some reason not as much for this yellow cake. Truth be told I’m very picky and OCD about what I make and I notice even minor changes and they bother me. The cake was good, don’t get me wrong but there was a minute difference in that one layer. Going forward I will only bake my yellow cake recipe in the Chicago metal pans and will continue to be loyal to King Arthur flour but from now on I think I will make my own cake flour. Lesson learned.

I’ve posted this recipe before and it’s a favorite, Coconut Pineapple layer cake It’s delicious, the cake was perfect with a tender crumb, great flavor and very moist. I won’t post the recipe again just the story and some photo’s. Links are provided if you would like to give this a go.

single serve mixed nut milk

Nut milk is wonderful and a fantastic alternative to milk (dairy). I make nut milk all the time but sometimes would forget to soak my nuts overnight, the other problem is that nut milk doesn’t last long before it goes bad. I had an idea that ended up working out great, I soak a large quantity of nuts overnight, drain and freeze. That way I have pre soaked nuts ready to make milk and can portion out as much as I want. Don’t throw away the nut meal left from straining the milk, it’s fabulous when added to granola. Another perk is that when you add cold water to the cold nuts you have ice cold nut milk, delicious!!

frozen mixed nuts

I’ll leave you with a few photos of Percy and Jenna Rose who by the way is doing great and adapting to her new life in Brooklyn.





33 Comments Post a comment
  1. hocuspocus13 #

    Your story reminded me of the olde Italian timers who would walk through fire to salvage and keep their

    “seasoned cooking pans”

    Happy Friday the 13th

    April 13, 2018
  2. Maria DeBrango Stickel #

    Thanks for all your research! I’m always baffled when a traditional recipe doesn’t turn out the same also!
    Love to you and all your family.

    April 13, 2018
  3. That’s my favorite kind of cake, Suzanne. I’m glad you figured it out. Percy and Jenna Rose are a couple lucky doggies and so adorable. I hope Percy is doing well, too.

    April 13, 2018
    • Thanks Mary, trial and error but so glad it finally worked!! Percy and Jenna are doing fine. It’s thrown me off balance wise, I am a creature of habit and I always adhere to schedules so this new “normal” has thrown me for a loop and I am adjusting slowly. Hope you are all Mary and that you have a great weekend

      April 13, 2018
  4. Such an interesting post Suzanne !
    I must say, it really is upsetting and really frustrating when baking does not turn out exactly how it should.
    Your two little precious pies look amazing and happy. Hope Percy is coping and settling in with his medical issues. Hugs to your babies 🙂 x

    April 13, 2018
    • Thank you Lynne, that is also a learning experience. I have dealt with canine diabetes but have learned that what I did for Nando doesn’t work with Percy so it’s back to square one! Thank you!!

      April 13, 2018
  5. Percy and Jenna Rose looking spiffy Suzanne.This cake looked good except for the great big blob in the middle. It will never catch on love.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    April 13, 2018
    • Ha!! The blob in the middle needs to be spread out. This will be a no blob zone. Thank you David hope you are well and that you have a great weekend. Massive hugs right back at you my friend❤️

      April 13, 2018
  6. I should make this delicious cake for my family one day, Suzanne! Take care yourselves. Wish to see more post from you soon! 🙂

    April 13, 2018
  7. Baking can be an enigma at times. And the tins can definitely be the culprit! Lovely cake.

    April 13, 2018
  8. Wow thanks for telling us what happened and how you made things work! The cake looks soooo good! I love tried and true recipes! The cutie pie doggies are just adorable!

    April 13, 2018
    • Thank you so much Lynn, Jenna Rose is a sweetie pie and Percy is getting used to having her here sort of 😂😂😂

      April 14, 2018
  9. I have had experiences like yours! When I first started staying at the folks & helping them I had the worst time cooking in their pans and oven! I had so many frustrations.I also had a lot of trouble at my daughter’s house! I kept thinking, here I am a blogger, lol! Gosh, don’t forget you have the new oven, too! I know it’s gorgeous but there’s an adjustment!

    Another time I replaced some of my very old and battered cake pans & more issues! I had actually tossed the old ones (they were too bad to donate) & luckily tried a cake in the new ones before garbage day. My son (bless his heart) went outside and dug my old ones out of the trash for me, bless his heart. (I washed them very well!) and still use them to this day!

    So glad to see the pugs, and Percy is looking dapper! And thanks for the hints on the nutmilk! I make it from time to time, so I’ll try this.


    April 13, 2018
    • I tested the oven temp it was fine but one other thing I failed to mention is the placement of the racks. To get the best results for cake is to bake on tier 5 or 3 counting from the bottom, I counted for the top, ugh… Finicky oven. It really bothers me when things that I have made over and over with great results don’t turn out. It was a learning experience for sure. Thanks so much Mollie!

      April 14, 2018
      • I am also officially volunteering to eat any of your cakes that aren’t picture perfect!! 🙂

        April 14, 2018
      • Placement is a great point,too! Have you seen how cook’s illustrated tests ovens with pieces of toast so that they can determine hot spots and circulation in ovens? That was interesting to me. My oven at home is perfect but my stepmom’s was awful (it tested fine with a thermometer) and explained why I was having so many issues. Cakes were lopsided, things didn’t get done in time, I had to preheat forever. But anyway, I digress…and am happy to be home!

        April 14, 2018
  10. Oh dear. Well the cakes look good to me! Maybe you’re too much of a perfectionist??!!!

    April 13, 2018
    • I am very picky kind of OCD when it comes to cooking. Thanks so much Mimi!!

      April 14, 2018
  11. Looks tasty

    April 14, 2018
  12. There’s still so many variables in baking, even when you adhere completely to the recipe. Pleased to hear that you finally got the results you were looking for Suzanne! Must have been frustrating to say the least!

    April 14, 2018
    • It’s weird right? So strange that the pan would be a problem. Thank you so much Margot!!

      April 14, 2018
  13. Hi Suzanne. My, what a mystery you concocted here! I felt like I was reading along with Nancy Drew, looking for clues. It’s also a great customer service story. But how odd (to me) that it was the pan. Huh…
    I’m glad to see Percy looking well, along with his new sis. The cakes look delicious — I love the idea of coconut and pineapple together in a cake. Hugs on the wing!

    April 14, 2018
    • Thanks Teagan, the pan really bothers me, why one layer is fine and the other a bit wonky really bothers me. The flour fail I can deal with. It is a delicious cake and I love making it! Thank you again it always brightens me day to see you here.

      April 14, 2018
  14. This story of yours is exactly why I’ve decided baking is not for me. It’s just too exact of a science for me, and pair that with our high altitude, it’s a certain recipe for disaster, lol! But your cake looks delicious, as always, and those two cutie pies just melt my heart. xoxo

    April 14, 2018
    • Thank you I was perplexed and couldn’t figure out what happened. I’ve made this cake so many times I can almost make it from memory. Flour fail is weird but the pan really still befuddles me.

      April 14, 2018
  15. I admire your patience! This is why I’m just not cut out to bake – I’ve made the exact same cookie recipes before and one time they’ll rock and the next time they suck! I’ll have to keep on tryin’ – your resilience is inspiring! 🙂

    April 14, 2018
    • Thank you I am more stubborn than resilient I think and just can’t accept a fail. It is weird right how you can make something one day and it’s great and the next time not so much I just don’t get it! Thank you so much!

      April 14, 2018
  16. What an interesting post Suzanne! You have more persistence and patience than I do!! The finished cake is beautiful!! Love the idea of pineapple with the coconut cake. Pinning this. thanks friend. And such sweet bright eyes on Percy and Jenna Rose!! Glad she’s doing well… Hugs to you in Brooklyn!

    April 18, 2018
  17. Great post! It’s quite surprising the things we can discover even if we’ve been using recipe for a long time. There’s always something to learn! I recently uploaded a post about the science behind cake. That post was great fun and I’ve personally learnt loads. If you like you can check it out, I’ve got a feeling you’ll like it 😁

    November 15, 2019

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