Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Most Disgusting Tasting Cake

I ever made in my entire life...

picture photograph image I'm not sure but ... 2009 copyright of Jen Maiser http://flickr.com/photos/jenmaiser/
photograph courtesy of Jen Maiser


Last night I had a few guests around for dinner, to help me celebrate Shrove Tuesday, or 'Pancake Day' as we more commonly call it in Britain. Some how the conversation turned to "really bad food Sam has made" as my friends Penny and Ian reminisced about the sorry offering I once took to a 'pot luck' in Menlo Park. By way of further sharing the story, and the recipe that caused my culinary reputation to take a nosedive, I grabbed the cookbook that caused the disaster from the shelf, to share. I had completely forgotten the margin note I had left on the offending page. Jen Maiser kindly digitally captured its notoriety for ever.




QUESTION OF THE DAY graphic copyright sam breach
?What's the most disgusting cake you've ever made?


© 2009 Sam Breach
The Most Disgusting Tasting Cake

44 Comments:

  • At 25/2/09 21:22, Blogger Kalyn said…

    I'm not sure about cake, but I've made some pretty disgusting food from time to time! You're just too kind not to reveal the name of the cookbook!

     
  • At 25/2/09 21:22, Blogger Jennifer Maiser said…

    Everything about this note is great. From the fact that you wrote "WHOLE LIFE" in all caps to the (off-camera) "YUK" on the right-hand side for emphasis. When I hate a recipe, I usually just X it out, but your way is so much more colorful.

     
  • At 25/2/09 21:27, Blogger Jocelyn:McAuliflower said…

    Ahhh! Chestnut flour strikes again!

    I too have make a cake of similar sentiment with such ingredients. It pissed me off. Such a waste.

     
  • At 25/2/09 21:36, Blogger Anna Haight said…

    I can't remember the CAKE being the culprit, but I can recall ruining some great cakes with awful frosting.

     
  • At 25/2/09 21:47, OpenID caits said…

    Not cake...but in the same vein;
    Just the other day I invited a boy I was crushing on over to make gnocchi like a real Italian. And to you know how him my culinary godess-ness.
    And do you know what we made?
    A giant pot of MUSH. MUSH that tasted oddly like stale lucky charm marshmellows?

    And my pride fell flat on her face.

     
  • At 25/2/09 23:43, OpenID lmarston said…

    I made Jamie Oliver's Beetroot 'Surprise' Cake once - the surprise being that it was horrible! I didn't feel the need to write a note - I was pretty sure I could remember the Purple Monster!
    See here for evidence: Surprise Cake

     
  • At 26/2/09 00:32, Blogger Kitt said…

    Love the photo! With those ingredients, I think fabulous or horrible are the only possible outcomes.

    I don't make a lot of cakes, so most of 'em have turned out OK, happily. I stick with tried 'n' true.

    (Oh funny, my captcha word is "cateres")

     
  • At 26/2/09 01:05, Anonymous clotilde said…

    Hm. I have a recipe for castagnaccio in my to-make file (similar, but the one I have doesn't call for milk) but now I'm not sure I'll ever muster the courage to try it!

     
  • At 26/2/09 01:38, Blogger Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said…

    That looks like a page from the English version of the Cucchaiao d'Argento - The Silver Spoon. Am I right?

     
  • At 26/2/09 07:39, Blogger Alice Q. Foodie said…

    I think cakes are hard! I made an awful cake from a Gourmet recipe that was heavy as lead, and learned something important when it came to the frosting - never put salt in whipped cream, it makes it taste JUST like Cool Whip.

     
  • At 26/2/09 08:05, Blogger ChrisB said…

    I'm sure I must have made some awful cakes but can't remember. However I'm sure you will remind me, just like you do about the cabbage and sprouts!x

     
  • At 26/2/09 08:22, Blogger Sam said…

    Kalyn - I thought one of my foodie readers would guess correctly. And, sure enough, if you read through the comments...

    Jen - thanks for immortalizing it!

    Jocelyn - yes - what is it with that stuff. I am sure I am always reading raves out of the corner of my eye, but when actually getting up close & personal with it I am not raving so much.

    Anna - I have had some bad frsting in my time, but I refrain from ever making it so I can always blame someone else.

    Caits - I am very sorry to hear that, especially since I made them for the first time recently and they blew me away. I hope it didn't turn off the boy - mush is good for a food fight, no?

    lmarston - I went and vsited your beetroot cake. Ewww...

    appropriate captcha! You are right - Ithought it might be one of those amaxingly simple, ugly looking yet ultimately amazing cakes. Alas.

    clotilde - save your energy for other things, I am sure. I shold look up line to see if anyone has made successfully ever.

    Sara - you are right. The trouble is it has put me off the book somewhat, it was the first recipe I tried. I need some encouragement to retry it.

    ALice - I am not sure I know what cool whip tastes like, and I am not sure I ever need to know!

    Mum - I don't remember yu ever making awful cakes. I do remember you not being to keen on my lurid green and brown chocolate cakes when I was a kid. I thought they were da bomb. As an adult, not so much.

     
  • At 26/2/09 09:18, Anonymous Alisa - Frugal Foodie said…

    Oooh, yeah, those ingredients don't sound like a stellar combo.

    Not a big cake fan here, so I can't say I have made enough of them to be disgusting, but I have tasted plenty that seriously needed help. Like those "pretty" cakes from the bakery that my mother-in-law likes to buy. Pretty does not always mean tasty!

     
  • At 26/2/09 11:47, Blogger Zoomie said…

    Chocolate marble cake but instead of shortening, my 12 year old friend and I used the stuff in the shortening can - and found out later it was shortening that had been used to fry fish and French fries. I still can't face marble cake 50 years later.

     
  • At 26/2/09 12:17, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    In general, I hate cake. Too many crummy birthday parties as a child, where they served gunk from a cake-mix box. I'm ruined.

     
  • At 26/2/09 12:30, Anonymous Sean said…

    HAHAHAHAHA.

    Yes, you commented about this on one of my posts where I referenced The Silver Spoon. It's a cake I know well. My friend Chiara in Rome makes it all the time ... because it's one of the only things she knows how to make. It is pretty cardboardy.

     
  • At 26/2/09 17:39, Anonymous Dana McCauley said…

    ha! I can't believe you kept a book that had a recipe you hated that much! I would have chucked that waste of paper out.

     
  • At 26/2/09 17:43, Anonymous Anne said…

    when I first began baking, I had a hard time understanding flavor combinations - i thought i could force any ingredient into tasting exactly how I wanted it to taste. I once had a craving for chocolate chip cookies, but didn't have any chocolate chips on hand, so I substituted a chocolate-flavored nutrition bar. Needless to say, it was beyond disgusting - baked flour and sugar and oil around bits of body builder's bars.

     
  • At 26/2/09 22:43, Anonymous del4yo said…

    All my cakes are disgusting since I reached this side of the ocean. No exception. I might stop to try adapting French recipes to American flour. They don't match. They will never fit. *sob*

     
  • At 27/2/09 12:59, Blogger Rev. Biggles said…

    Hmm, let me think ... yeah. That'd be all 3 or 4 of them. Now, if I'd make a smoked pork cake? Now, that right there would be worth eating. This whole flour, butter, sugar and whatever else goes in to a cake, just isn't my trip.

    xo, Biggles

     
  • At 27/2/09 14:16, Blogger Beccy said…

    Gosh Sam, I could never write in a book like that but then again maybe I've never made anything disgusting enough from a book to think about defacing it.

    Also I can't imagine you making something not nice...apart from lettuce soup!

     
  • At 27/2/09 15:28, Blogger Kasey said…

    Hmm, I think the combination of rosemary, chestnut flower and sunflower oil is quite a curious combination. I do have that enormous volume, so perhaps should be thankful it is so large--I haven't gotten around to the desserts ;)

     
  • At 27/2/09 17:41, Blogger smr343 said…

    Semolina cake... I loved how you cooked the semolina in milk over the stove. When it gently puffed up, I thought I was just the best thing ever. And then when we ate it...oh, it was slimy AND gritty at the same time. Flavorless. Like a paste pudding that landed in a sandbox.

     
  • At 27/2/09 20:00, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My worst cake was a coconut cake from a recipe in Cooking Illustrated. Have been making cakes for over 50 years but that one totally defeated me after trying 3 times. Came to the conclusion it wasn't me but the recipe.

     
  • At 28/2/09 21:55, Blogger Cameron Siguenza said…

    Ugh. That does look awful. I love the fact that you inscribed in the book your thoughts on the recipe. :)

    Also - I love the link spam post that precedes mine. How that could even remotely be effective for marketing is beyond me.

    The weirdest dish I ever had was something my mother made when I was young. It was sliced beef tongue in a very thick and hearty beet chunk sauce. It seemed like something Klingons would eat. Luckily she was an excellent cook normally.

     
  • At 28/2/09 22:43, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ... and then there was that one time I misread the recipe and blindly added 6 Tablespoons of salt instead of sugar. Too busy chatty cathying it up with roommate, and that chocolate cake was dead jim, dead.

     
  • At 1/3/09 02:43, Blogger Buon viaggio. said…

    I recognized the book also. You should try some other recipes, the book is really nice. I made a berry tart from that book that was fantastic.
    Frances Mayes, the author of Under the Tuscan Sun, talks about that cake in one of her books, she pretty much said it was the most disgusting cake she ever made (not in those words).

     
  • At 1/3/09 15:51, OpenID oysterculture said…

    Not me (this time), but I had a friend in college who wanted to surprise his girlfriend with a homemade birthday cake. When it came to the eggwhites, the only portion of the egg that he found to be white, was - you guessed it, the shells.
    Needless to say a mad dash followed to get a suitable replacement.

     
  • At 2/3/09 02:57, Anonymous Duncan | The Gastronomer's Bookshelf said…

    Oh wow, finally someone who shares my castagnaccio trauma with! I've seen so many cafes pass off a light, tasty cake as castagnaccio... but it's just spin. The real thing really is a *very* acquired taste.

    And of course, with chestnut flour going rancid in the blink of an eye, castagnaccio can be even stranger than "normal" if you're unlucky...

     
  • At 2/3/09 05:59, Anonymous Diane said…

    I am soooooo not a baker, although I am getting better in my old age. All the skills that help me so much in my savory cooking (improvisation, cooking my "feel" and taste, ability to wing it with new ingredients) are like kryptonite to baking. Baking is like chemistry and doesn't take well to these things. Or at least not until you've mastered the basics totally.

    The list below would make you think I am dangerous in the kitchen, when really I am an excellent cook except for baking sweets. Really. No, really.

    So many baking disasters - from the tofu pumpkin pie made for with my dairyless family for Thanksgiving one year when I had never worked with tofu before (stringy and plastick-y - a twofer!); to the cornmeal cake I made - that when I found I had run out of sugar I just bashed up some brown sugar into vaguely small granular bits (hint, it doesn't reconstitute itself into a smooth base easily - that was the crunchy cake); to the Greek yogurt cake that somehow managed to be both burnt and the texture of an old sponge.

    I have spent the past three years training myself to bake, and can now do three deserts passably well. And I do a great piecrust. So I stick with those and don't venture far afield.

     
  • At 3/3/09 14:36, Anonymous Karmyn R said…

    I don't think I've ever made a disgusting tasting cake - but I've never made anything with chestnut flour.

    but I have made some pretty bad dishes (one that is now a family joke - where I tried to make Stroganoff without using sour cream.)

     
  • At 6/3/09 07:53, Anonymous Carolyn said…

    I love this post.

    I once baked brownies from a box - from a box! - properly, as far as I can tell, that came out about 1/4 inch high and hard as bricks. My lovely grandma with the weak stomach ate every one.

     
  • At 7/3/09 07:19, Blogger Sam said…

    Thanks for all the comments everyone - keep 'em coming. I am sorry I am unable to find time to blog more right now, I wish I could.

     
  • At 8/3/09 17:21, Blogger FaustianBargain said…

    hilarious! it is certainly an acquired taste. and texture too...chestnut flour(all starch) can be rather stodgy.

    but i do like it. i make it with rosemary, fennel seeds and orange peel with walnuts instead of pinenuts, but your walnuts must be absolutely fresh. nothing worse than rancid nuts(and nutfluours) if you dont hate chestnut too much and if its just a texture thing...you can use that flavour combo and make crepes out of the batter which will be a combo of the chestnut flour and regular flour.

    other ideas: use honey instead of sugar. orangeblossom honey sounds like a good match, but remember that chestnut is a 'robust' flavour. subtle flavours will get lost.

    where there is chestnut, can chocolate be far behind. you can either have the pancake with a scoop of chocolate ice cream(on a related note...i *love* patisserie valerie's pancake day special of lemony crepes with vanilla ice cream. crepes, ice cream. ice cream, crepes. it's love!) or just add chocolate to the batter! you cant beat that. or creme chantilly with an anisey kick. or orange-fennel sweet chestnut cream. with chocolate. why not?

     
  • At 13/3/09 15:29, Blogger Kali said…

    Probably the cake I just made half an hour ago. I was pretty dubious when the recipe stated it needed half a liter of oil, but I went head and followed it faithfully. Imagine my horror when I pulled a soggy mess out of the oven. It was revolting. Like a miniature, culinary oil spill.

    Ergh.

     
  • At 14/3/09 09:01, Blogger cybercita said…

    here's another vote for chestnut flour. the worst thing i think i ever tasted was a cake made from chestnut flour, olive oil, pine nuts, and rosemary. served to me by a woman i didn't know except by reputation for being an extraordinary cook. it was unbelievably nasty.

     
  • At 20/3/09 09:19, Blogger TonyM said…

    This made me laugh out loud!

     
  • At 29/3/09 18:48, Blogger The Bubbly Girl said…

    It was a "chocolate fudge" cake faked with tofu and cocoa powder from that healthy cookbook Oprah did with her chef Rosie. It was flat and disgusting looking in the pan; I didn't even try to eat it and I'm sure she doesn't either!

     
  • At 3/4/09 12:25, Blogger janelle said…

    Brilliant story; love the margin notes;). I write those too. Nothing makes me more mad than a crappy recipe! Before I knew how to cook---when I was first married---I put like a million cloves of garlic in a humble little pesto (think 40 cloves to a few leaves of basil). I have never lived it down;)

     
  • At 13/4/09 17:54, Blogger Jeanne said…

    Anytime I make some version of a Morning Glory cake or muffin, it turns out horribly. Leaden, sticky, icky. I don't know why I persist on these. I think I keep finding new recipes and experience some sort of amnesia as soon as I see the Morning Glory name. I think this is because I like Morning Glory flowers (not the weed, but the annual vines).

     
  • At 21/4/09 08:15, Anonymous Patty said…

    Castagnaccio is a very famous Italian dessert and one of my favorites too. There's no milk in castagnaccio though as written in your recipe. Anyway chestnut flour has a really strong taste and not everybody likes it. I hope you'll have the courage to try an other castagnaccio recipe, it's worth it.

     
  • At 25/4/09 07:01, Blogger A "cheery" disposition said…

    I love your questions of the day. How cute and clever. Sadly I dont cook enough to have a bad cake story. But I work on that.

     
  • At 4/5/09 20:21, Blogger Laura said…

    I started laughing so hard when I read that castagnaccio was what you made and hated. I am Italian and my mom used to make it and I never understood her fascination for this dry, puckering cake. YUCK!.

    The last pastry chef I worked for wanted to make castagnaccio to serve on the cheese plate and I warned him about this awful cake but he didn't believe me. I got such a laugh when I saw his face when he tasted it. BLAH.

    One of the worst cakes I made was a polenta cake from Babbo dessert cookbook, really bad. His pinenut tarts are pretty bad too.

    CIAO!

     
  • At 16/5/09 16:03, Blogger Lu, Poppies Blooming said…

    I could probably tell you I've made a lot of bad recipes. Or shall I say I make a lot of recipes badly?

    This is an example of a cake I made at Christmas time. (Don't) Let Them Eat CakeI'm from London, England.

     

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