Can this frosting be saved?

Gentle readers, as I write this, the haze is clearing from the whirl that inevitably follows a child’s birthday party. We had the piñata that refused to break, the pizza that burned on the bottom (adults got to eat that one), and the cake that nearly lost its frosting. Oh yes, the Practical Cook is not immune to kitchen disasters. Her favorite is burning herself on the oven, which was almost accomplished today by reaching in without an oven mitt to grab the rack.

So what happens when you reread the recipe in a coffee-deprived stupor and put nearly a tablespoon too much of sour cream in your frosting? Can this frosting be saved? (For those just joining us, this is the Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe included in the Birthday Carrot Cake post.)

Fluffy but thin cream cheese frosting.

Fluffy but thin cream cheese frosting.

The first challenge was that the Practical Cook’s offspring requested a multi-tiered cake. It’s never easy to get the layers even and flat. Here are the layers:

Four layers for Carrot Cake

Four layers for Carrot Cake

Since they’re different pan sizes, they have to be pulled out from smallest to largest, every few minutes. That worked okay, but getting them all in the oven at the same time required me to use a baking sheet, which crowded things, and caused the inadvertent tilting of a pan. Oops. I was counting on the frosting cover up. Now I’ve got runny frosting.

How to Make your Frosting Stiffer:

  • Put it in the fridge. It will reset the butter, cream cheese, etc. a bit, and allow you to get it on the cake. Works better when it’s not 100 degrees outside.
  • Add more powdered sugar. Beating in more sugar can change the flavor, so be prepared to balance the taste with some non-liquid element, like a pinch of salt or a dash more cocoa powder (if it’s chocolate frosting).
  • Or, in the immortal words of Devo, whip it good. The frosting will be lighter and fluffier, not stiffer, but it will work better in most cases.

Thankfully, I was using a real vanilla bean in both the cake and the frosting (scraping half of it into each), so no additional liquid needed there.

Vanilla Bean Preparing to Be Scraped

Vanilla Bean Preparing to Be Scraped

After you’ve scraped the bean, save the husk and bury it in a small jar of sugar. Voila, instant vanilla sugar. Vanilla beans are expensive, but the splurge is worth it for special occasions, and using the husk makes it seem like a value.

So after following my own advice (all of it), the frosting stuck to the cake, and Practical Cook Junior was able to decorate her masterpiece.

Birthday Carrot Cake Decorated

Birthday Carrot Cake Decorated

The Frosting (and Cake) Were Saved!

The Frosting (and Cake) Were Saved!

Special thanks to Trader Joe’s for their fabulous selection of jellies, gummies, and candy-coated wonders. When you have 10 minutes to decorate the cake before the party starts, punt! Brightly colored objects are wonderful distractions. PC Junior said it looked like a wedding cake.

Thus endeth the long series of posts on cake. Just one slice remains, and it’s time to move to more savory topics. Coming up tomorrow, Pasta Toss with Lemony Ricotta and Asparagus.

What are your favorite pasta dishes? Send your ideas to practicalcook at gmail dot com

Twitter: practicalcook


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Filed under Can this supper be saved?, Kitchen Philosophy

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