Maybe you forgot to grease the pan and now your freshly baked cake is stuck. Or maybe you turned the pan over, and the cake split in two? And now, along with your dessert, you're feeling broken and wondering how to fix it. We've all been there. In my restaurant-industry days, I was once was making a Thanksgiving tart for a customer. When I went to unmold it, I lost control of the pan. The tart went somersaulting down, down, down, until half of it made contact with the kitchen counter and the other half landed squarely on the ground.
I didn't have time to restart, but luckily I had a second tart—intended for my sister—that I sold off. My sister had to make do with what I could piece together from the counter. (The counters had been cleaned before the collision and the floor tart went to the trash, of course.)
Who needs pie?
But all was not lost. I broke up any crust that wasn't already broken and tossed the bits with toasted pecans. I layered that crumble with every spoonful of the pumpkin mousse filling that I could recover and some quickly-whipped bourbon-spiked cream. I garnished the whole mess with candied cranberries leftover from a different project. My sister still thinks it was one of the best Thanksgiving desserts she's ever eaten.
To paraphrase Spiderman, with great loss comes great opportunity. A broken cake (or tart or pie) may not be a huge disaster in the grand scheme, but it's pretty damn upsetting when it happens to you. Here are a few way to make the best of a broken situation:
Like that layered dessert I mentioned above, it's easy to turn a broken cake into trifle. Just grab a clear bowl or trifle dish—or even individual dessert glasses. Break the cake up into pieces that are roughly the same size and tile them across the bottom of your chosen vessel. Next, add a layer of mousse, curd, custard, or whipped cream, then some toasted nuts, or cooked, cooled fruit (fresh berries or a few dollops of jam work too). Repeat those layers until your bowl is full or you've run out of cake. Finish with more whipped cream.
If your cake only cracked on one side, you can take advantage of trends and make a geode cake. The trick here is to cut an even bigger portion out of your cake, then frost it and fill the cavity with brightly colored rock candy, mimicking the crystal-filled rock formations for which the cake is named. Then practice saying it: The gaffe was intentional!
Fill It With Cream
No one ever said "no" to extra whipped cream. Just serve your dessert a little more casually: Arrange the broken pieces on a platter or cake stand, and then fill in the crevices with whipped cream. Scatter some berries over, and instead of serving slices of cake, just let guests help themselves with a serving spoon.
If you were making a layer cake and only one layer has broken, ice the intact layer as normal. Then crumble half of the broken layer and tear the other half into irregular pieces. Toast the irregular pieces in a toaster oven just until they get a little crisp around the edges. Use the crumbles to coat the sides of the iced layer and then use the toasted cake to decorate the top. (You can place them around the rim, corralled into one corner, or across the entire surface.) Pipe on a bit more icing between the gaps of toasted cake.
Think tiramisu, but instead of ladyfingers, slice the broken cake into rectangular pieces. Dip them briefly in coffee (mixed with marsala or liqueur if you'd like), then layer in a dish with mascarpone-laced whipped cream, custard, and a dusting of cocoa powder.
Make It Cute
Fix your broken cake by trimming off the edges and then cutting the remainder into uniform cubes to make petits fours. Whether or not you change the entire theme of your afternoon into a tea party is strictly up to you. Use the same frosting intended to ice the whole cake to frost each individual cube—or use the icing to pipe on a rosette or pour over a bit of glaze. To finish, top each cube with a berry, a candied nut, a piece of dried fruit, or an edible flower.
Make It Chic
You know—in some restaurants—broken cake, torn cake, or even crumbled cake is a thing. Embrace your inner pastry chef and fulfill your desire to destroy something beautiful at the same time by ripping up that cracked cake. Make a swoosh of icing on the surface of a big plate and scatter two or three irregular pieces of cake across it. Use a squeeze bottle or piping bag to dollop on jam or curd or some other filling that you might have used for a layer cake. Toss on a small scoop of ice cream—or a quenelle if you're extra—and a scattering of berries. Crumble up more cake and toss with finely chopped, toasted nuts and pile the crumble up in a few other spots on the plate.
Icebox cake is usually made with cookies, but there's no reason you can't make it with broken bits of cake. Slice or tear the cake into roughly evenly sized pieces, then toast them so they dry out a bit. Next, follow Anna Stockwell's method and layer the toasted, cooled cake with flavored whipped cream and macerated fruit. Chill so that the cake has a chance to absorb the moisture from the cream and fruit, and then unmold it onto a platter for an impressive—and totally sliceable—cake experience.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious