I love spice cakes, but my family always wants a chocolate cake. But the family hosting the Super Bowl party we went to this year has a child or two who don’t like chocolate, so I thought, here’s my chance to make a spice cake.
Thumbing through my Joy of Cooking, I came across the book’s well-known jam cake. It looked like a simple spice cake with some jam thrown in. Even more exciting, it’s written for baking with a bundt or tube pan, which I’d never used before.
Everything went well at first. You can see how nice the cake looked when it came out of the oven.
But then I had to get the cake out of the pan, and that’s when disaster hit. The cooling rack went shooting off across the counter as I tapped on the pan to release the cake, and the cake landed SPLAT right on the counter, minus a giant chunk left in the pan.
I got the orphaned cake piece out of the pan, but while sliding the rest of the cake off the counter, it broke again.
I pieced the cake together as well as I could, and hoped I could cover the cracks with a nice, thick icing. The thing is, my brown butter icing turned out to be a consistency I couldn’t spread without destroying the cake, and when I thinned the icing to drizzle it instead, the result was an icing puddle all around the cake that did not cover any cracks. And I had to admit, the cake looked worse than before. There was just no way to hide this cake’s defects.
So I sighed, made another simple cake that I could take to the Super Bowl party and serve from the pan, and left the Big Mistake sitting, in all its hideous glory, in the kitchen.
“What am I supposed to do with this thing?” I asked my husband. “It’s the ugliest cake I ever saw.”
No doubt about it, this cake wasn’t going to win any beauty contests.
“Well, you could call it an ‘Ugly Cake’ and claim you did it on purpose,” he suggested.
“Maybe so …” I said.
Over the weekend, Chris and I ate a few slices of Ugly Cake. The thing was, it tasted absolutely wonderful! I’m not kidding, it has to be one of the tastiest spice cakes I’ve ever had. But it looked so awful, I just couldn’t bear to look at it.
So, on Monday, I took the Ugly Cake to work to share with my kind co-workers. One of them, bless her, commented right away how pretty it looked.
But I gotta tell you, this cake wasn’t winning any beauty contests.
Rombauer Jam Cake from Joy of Cooking
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp salt
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
10 tbsp butter
2/3 cup seedless raspberry or blackberry jam (I used some leftover strawberry-rhubarb and some strawberry-cranberry jam)
Whisk together flour, baking powder and soda, spices and salt, and set aside. Cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then the milk.
Stir in flour mixture until just blended. Stir in jam and bake in a greased and floured tube pan or bundt pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until tester comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely and frost with butterscotch or chocolate icing.