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In a pickle: How to save a burnt cake

Burning a cake, unfortunately, is bound to happen to us all at some point. Whether we didn’t hear the timer go off or our oven baked it way quicker than the recommended time, our cake is burnt.

Unhappy woman with burned cake

I hate to admit this, but this happened to me just last week. Had it been a box cake, I wouldn’t have been too disappointed, but unfortunately it was a cake I had made from scratch. To make matters worse, I don’t even own a mixer — meaning I spent a good hour mixing and combining all the ingredients by hand only to wind up with a dark brown crust surrounding my creation. Luckily, I didn’t throw it out and was actually able to salvage it. That’s right — there are ways you can save a burnt cake if disaster were ever to strike your scrumptious dessert.

Remove the burnt edges

Tip: Covering the cake in this delicious buttercream frosting will hide any remnants of a burnt taste.

If you accidentally burned the outer edges of your cake, you can carefully cut them off with a knife. Make sure to trim the bottom of the cake, as well, since that area will be affected the most. Though your cake will be smaller, once it’s covered in frosting no one will know what happened. As long as the cake isn’t burned throughout, it should taste just fine once the burnt areas have been removed. To make frosting easier, place the cake in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Add butter

Sometimes if a cake is overcooked it won’t necessarily “burn,” but will come out extremely dry. Dry cakes can be covered in frosting to help moisten them, but an even better trick is to spread melted butter on top of the cake before frosting it. The butter will melt into the cake giving it a moister, less crumbly texture.

Make a trifle

If you removed all the burnt edges and the cake is just way too small, break up the remaining, non-burnt pieces and make a trifle instead. We like simple trifles — start with one layer of cake crumbles, then one layer of your choice of pudding, then one layer of fruit. Repeat three times and top with homemade whipped cream!

Check out this vanilla berry trifle recipe >>

Tips for not burning your cake

  • Always set the timer! We sometimes think it’s not necessary but with hectic lives and children, timers are always necessary.
  • Use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven doesn’t get too hot. Most ovens vary about 25 degrees higher or lower than the temperature you set.
  • Halfway through baking, cover with aluminum foil to prevent the top from burning.
  • Check the cake regularly. We recommend setting the timer for 10 minutes less than the cake requires so you can check it. It could very well be done and had you left in it for the full amount of time, it could have burned.

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