We’re For Baked Goods and Good Enoughs

Here at Queen, we’ll be the first to admit that we only tend to feature our recipes at their very best. But we’ll let you in on a little secret: our test kitchen bakes are often far from the perfect sponges and cheesecakes that stare back at you from social media! We’ve had our fair share of bake fails, from forgotten cakes, cracked pavs and the dreaded over-whipped cream. But we can absolutely guarantee that our recipes will taste pretty darn good, even if yours doesn’t turn out exactly like the picture.

Perhaps you have mastered crisp buttercream edges, but then again, maybe your cakes are little more rough around the edges. At the end of the day you’ve made something from nothing and that deserves to be celebrated. We’re all for apology free baking, and we don’t want to hear your “sorry it’s too crumbly” your “too this, to that”. Go on – bake like no one’s watching.

1. Deflate-gate

We guarantee your mum didn’t lose sleep over flat sponges when you were a child! She just dressed it up with lashings of jam and piles of whipped cream, and – did you care? Not in the slightest. Take it from us, a deflated sponge tastes just as sweet.

2. You can’t taste wonky

Has your finished layer cake turned out a little off kilter, perhaps more reminiscent of the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Chances are your icing was too soft or your cake was too warm before you started decorating – just make sure you keep that in mind for next time. Try chilling the assembled cake slightly before gently pushing it back into alignment. If you just can’t make it work, there’s no need to stress, because even a wonky cake is delicious.

3.  Whip it good

Ok maybe too good… Has your cream gone from smooth, firm peaks to a grainy mess in 2 seconds flat? Walk away from the beater, take a deep breath and relax. To bring your cream back, use this simple trick: add a few tablespoons of fresh cream and gently mix through with your whisk. If it still looks a little grainy, but tastes smooth, we say pile it on and add fresh fruit to distract the eye. But if you’ve taken it beyond the path of no return, act like it was on purpose and make you own butter and buttermilk! Keep mixing until the fat completely separates, then strain the milk, squeeze the butter of excess moisture and use as you wish.

4. Keep calm and sprinkle on

Sprinkles are the perfect distraction for those not-so-perfect bakes. Burned your chocolate cake? Sprinkles. Cake stuck to the tin? Sprinkles. Cupcakes with peaks higher than Mount Everest? You guessed it, sprinkles. Jazz things up with a generous dose of sprinkles and call it a day.

5. Split Personality

Ganache can be a stubborn creature, smooth one minute and separated the next. But don’t let your split ganache turn into a splitting headache. Starting by avoiding the common culprits; heat and/or over mixing. Gently heat ¼ cup of full cream milk and add a tablespoon at a time to your split ganache and stir gently until smooth. Our secret weapon for keeping things silky? Queen Glucose Syrup! Add a few spoonful’s to your grainy ganache to bring it back to its glossy glory.

6. It ain’t easy being cheesy

Go easy on yourself: a cracked cheesecake is still a cheesecake. It’s still going to be creamy and decadent, it just has this teeny tiny, itsy bitsy… Grand Canyon straight down the middle. Top it with Vanilla Bean whipped cream, some fresh fruit or some ganache and watch the crack disappear.

7. Congratula….

We can’t help but giggle at this one – we have ALL been there. Writing on cakes can stump even the most capable of bakers. Whether it’s a misspelled word, illegible hand writing or vastly overestimating how much writing space you have left, we’ve seen (and done) it all. Whatever you do, don’t try and wipe it off immediately, chances are you’ll muck up your icing and make an even bigger mess. Chill your cake temporarily or let the icing set, then lift up the letters with a toothpick and try again.

8. High and dry?

A dry cake is nothing to be trifled with… or is it? Simply cut it into pieces, combine it with jelly, custard, cream, fruit – you name it! You now have the perfect trifle. Alternatively, if you would prefer to keep it in one piece, simply add a syrup (like this orange syrup in our Choc Jaffa Tart). Gently warm the cake for 5 minutes in a 160°C oven, poke holes in the surface of the cake with a skewer and drizzle the syrup all over. Serve warm with a generous dollop of cream.

9. Cool it buster!

So you were a little too eager and moved your cake before it cooled, resulting in a big crack down the middle. What next? Allow it too cool (completely!) smear some buttercream on the break and stick it right back together. Chill it for half an hour, then liberally apply buttercream and sprinkles as necessary.

10. Have a crack at it

A cracked, sunken pavlova is a deliciously ugly situation. But don’t let it make you feel as deflated as your pav! Simply pile it high with cream and fruit and wait for the complements to roll in. If you can’t stand plating up something less than perfect, make even more of a mess: an Eton mess! Deconstruct your pavlova into clear glasses or bowls and layer them up with all your favourite toppings. This little Raspberry Pistachio number from Playful Cooking is calling our name!

We all have baking blunders every now and then, its human nature. All you can do is shrug it off, have a laugh and serve your dessert that’s perfectly good enough… on the inside!

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