The Earthquake Cake

My old office used to have a ton of parties and one Christmas I got the highly coveted package that contained a box of cake mix and The Cake Mix Doctor cookbook. I’d made two cakes before using the book and whenever my cakes came out, little oven Indians had snuck in and put up teepees on my cake layers.

My fellow noob bakers know exactly what I’m talking about. The stupid things rise up into cones if you don’t spread it out correctly. You have to either cut it off, which is risky with a knife since you’re almost guaranteed to cut off too much or too little, or have a cake with Mt. Fuji in the middle.

This time I made the Mom’s Layer Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting and though my teepees weren’t too bad, they were still there. Instead of cutting the tops off, I decided I’d be so smart and just turn the layers upside down. HA HA! I’d outsmarted those stupid cake layers!!!

Now, I’m sure you’ve also noticed my goopy frosting. My made-from-scratch frosting has never set correctly and this was the second extremely goopy cake that I produced. Anyway, I spread it on, put the cake in my cake carrier, and refrigerated the whole thing.

When I opened it the next morning to check on the frosting, I was devastated. The cake had split right down the middle and a flood of frosting had gooped in between.

Earthquake Cake

It only got worse as I stared at it in horror. Eventually the whole thing snapped and this is what it looked like. I took it to our family party anyway. People on Twitter assured me that all it meant was less cake cutting, but I still felt cake rage.

My only consolation was that this cake tasted downright godly, just like all the cakes I’ve made from this book.

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4 thoughts on “The Earthquake Cake”

  1. To be honest, half my cakes rise in the middle like mad crazy. The only solution is to use the widest cake pan I can afford (about 8 1/2 inch), the smaller ones seem to cause the most rising. Still, at least yours tasted good? :p

  2. In catalogs I have seen insulated wraps that one is supposed to fasten around the outside of round cake pans before baking and which are supposed to prevent the teepee effect. I think the idea is to slow down the cooking of the outside edges…? I don’t bake enough layer cakes to make it worth my while to try them, but maybe it would be a good product experiment/evaluation for your blog.

  3. i use the insulated strips on every cake i bake and it helps tremendously. i had this cake disaster happen to me once before. it was chocolate with cherries and cream and it was just so moist it cracked and had continental drift. i used a spoon and scooped it onto plates and not a bite was left. ugly or broken does not mean all the taste leaks out. it means there was sooo much taste it exploded.

  4. Unless you add a frosting that has to be refrigerated, there is no need to put a cake in the fridge. With the frosting recipe below, there’s no need to put it in the fridge. I ran a cake shop for many years (from cupcakes for school parties to wedding cakes for 500) and this was my standard “white” frosting and all my cakes – even those for 500! – were cut and turned upside down before frosting, because that’s the trick – do both!!.

    After the layers cool, run a sharp (preferable bread knife) across the top and cut off that teepee cone. Then turn it UPSIDE down on the cake plate. You now have a level bottom to frost. When you get a layer of frosting on the bottom, then do the same thing with the top layer. Cut off the teepee cone and turn it over on the bottom layer.

    Depending on how much of the layer you cut, your top layer may have a bit of space at the edges above the bottom layer. Mine do because I don’t start cutting at the side of the cake but an inch or two in.

    Frosting – this is the frosting I used for many years. It makes enough to frost and decorate a “one cake recipe.” Take a 2 lb bag of confectioner’s sugar and sift it into a bowl (deep is better). Add 1 cup of Crisco and 3/4 cup of water starting with 1/4 cup Crisco, then 1/4 cup water, until all is used ending with Crisco.Then add flavoring to taste – I used 1 teaspoon almond flavoring. I’ve used the same recipe with butter instead of Crisco and put it on a good homemade fruit cake for Christmas. Add some red cinnamon bits and few frosting leaves for holly to dress it up.

    A tip to keep the crumbs away – take a very small amount of frosting and spread it thinly over the layer to “seal” it. Then the amount needed can be spread on top with no crumbs mixed in. Use a flat long spatula to spread the icing for a smooth look if you’re decorating it. Otherwise, using a regular silverware type knife will leave lovely swirls.

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