It’s The Thought That Counts: A Galleria of Failed Cakes

The fact that I was relatively pleased with my “pile of gold poo” pyramid cake attempt says a lot about my past track-record in cake baking. My husband’s barely-concealed glee and snarky comment says a lot about the birthday cakes he has suffered through in the 12 years we have been together.

To let you in on the inside joke before I post the final version of the pyramid cake in a couple of weeks time, here is my galleria of failed cakes past. [I might add that generally speaking, the cakes got eaten, so they did at least pass my “basic edibility” test].

2007 – birthday cake for husband

This effort from 2007 was perhaps the first cake I baked for my husband (at least it is the first in our photo collection – and no, I don’t know why I have taken photos of all of my crap cakes, it surely can’t be because I was proud of my efforts but rather in an attempt to document the past – I was after all, a Historian at the time of many of these). If memory serves, I did it because at the time I was working at a health-food store in the USA and I was obsessively vehemently opposed to hydrogenated fats and high-fructose corn-syrup. As it was impossible to find any ready-made cakes sans those ingredients in the States, I made my own “healthy” cake (sans icing). Needless to say this is the saddest birthday cake I think I have ever seen and I am not even sure if my husband appreciated the effort. And look how young he was – 25 seems like forever ago now.


Chris shop bought cake 2010

This shop-bought cake from 2010 is probably testimant to the fact that I was pregnant at the time and feverishly revising for my comprehensive exams. It probably tasted a lot better than the 2007 one too.



Chris birthday 2011
2011 – ghoulish effort

No, it wasn’t Halloween; it was February. The cake reads: Happy Birthday 29. It was a German-chocolate cake (my husband’s expressed favourite). I am not sure why the icing looks like a pile of cat vomit. Or why the only food colouring I had to hand was bright green. Or why it is so badly written (though I think it might be because I didn’t have an icing bag and used a plastic bag with the corner cut off). I think it tasted okay and I may have tidied it up a bit  put it on a plate before giving it to him.

Malachy Elmo cookies 2012
2012 – Elmo Cookies

I have never attempted to make a cake for M’s birthday (except for this year), mainly because I didn’t want to make him cry, and because in the States you can get awesome personalised and themed cakes from any good grocery store (not like here in the UK where overpriced and vaguely-stale marzipan-iced character cakes are all you can find all the rage in the supermarkets). I did however, make Elmo cookies for his Elmo-themed second birthday party. I think he may have helped (though not enough to explain the rather crap end product – again with the Halloween, what is with those bat-mouths?)

Chris gingerbread birthday cake 2013
2014 – M’s inspired gingerbread man cake

When M was three, I let him choose a theme for my husband’s birthday cake. He chose “chocolate-gingerbread-men-marshmallows” so that is what we made. A chocolate cake with gingerbread men and marshmallows on it. M actually helped this time (mainly by eating gingerbread men and marshmallows) and I must say that it looks a lot better than the ghoulish German-chocolate one I made all by myself.

Kim birthday January 2015
2015 – Grandma’s Phone Cake

This year, M wanted to make Grandma a cake too. His idea was for a “phone cake” (presumably because Grandma loves her phone so much) and this was the result. You can’t really tell but the little smartie-type things are in the shape of numbers. This is cake decorating at its finest.




February 2015 (81)
2015 – A “Road Cake”

Also this year, M wanted to make Daddy a “Road Cake.” Like a black tarmac road with Hotwheels cars on it. We didn’t have a rectangular cake tin. The idea was to do a bit of black icing across the top for the road. I added the whole tube of black food colouring to the icing but it only turned a murky brown, so we shoved some chocolate smartie-type things left over from Grandma’s phone cake and a Hotwheels car on top and called it good. M still speaks of the “road cake” to this day.



I don’t have a photo of it, but I think the prize for the worst cake I ever made goes to the cake I made for a summer fete during the university holidays when I was about 19. I worked as a cleaner at a local nursing home and took my whole family to the fete to be supportive. I am not sure if they were originally planning to attend or not, but I do remember having a rather frantic conversation with my mum and instructing her to make sure she bought my cake from the cake stall because (for some reason that is still unknown to me to this day) it had grains of uncooked rice in it. I am not clear as to how I discovered this, seeing as I didn’t eat the cake before giving it to the fete. Perhaps I sampled an offcut? Either way, my poor mum dutifully bought the cake back from the cake stall and over the course of eating it we found that it was indeed full of little grains of uncooked rice (though my family being who we are, that didn’t dampen the enjoyment of the eating).

So there we have it, a long list of sub-par cakes. Not much for my pyramid cake to live up to now is it? I am going to go out on a limb and say that I reckon this pyramid birthday cake will be the best cake I have ever made.


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Burnt Supper

British/American, postgraduate, wife, mother, dog-owner

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