Anyone who spends enough time baking and cooking in the kitchen will occasionally have
both minor and epic failures in what they are trying to achieve with each dish. Sometimes even dishes one has made dozens of times will turn out a failure for some reason or another. Fortunately even famous chefs have their less than stellar kitchen moments. Julian Child, apparently lacking the courage of her convictions, famously failed in her attempt to flip some potatoes she was browning in a pan. Chef Emeril Legasse confesses to having “blown up” a pineapple-upside-down cake he was baking for a dinner. Knowing that the most skilled of chefs and cooks have mistakes helps to ease the pain of personal kitchen disasters a tiny bit; however, the time and expense that goes into making a dish, especially a gluten-free baked item, makes the failure an economic concern as well as drag on one’s ego. Finding a way to repurpose the failure into something successful (and edible) is a sure way for a cook to turn a challenging day in the kitchen to a triumphant day. Today, I’m having one of these challenging days in the kitchen, and I’m looking for help in turning it into a triumphant day!
This morning I was spending time in the kitchen, baking some gluten-free (of course) double-chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for Phillip’s pot luck lunch at work. No matter that everyone in his department can eat gluten and that I was not attending the potluck; if I’m baking something for anyone, that something has to be gluten-free. While I was baking those cupcakes, I decided to bake some individual coconut-pumpkin cakes in which to use some left-over pumpkin puree. We are officially in pumpkin season, and this would be my first pumpkin spice dish of the season. I like the texture of the coconut flour in these little cakes, and they are so easy to make. A mixing bowl and a whisk do all the work just fine. A generous helping of pumpkin spice makes the cakes richly flavorful (Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice is my favorite to use; it contains lemon peel and cardamom in addition to the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves). Raw buckwheat honey sweetens these warmly spiced cakes and works with the coconut flour to give them a moist, slightly dense texture. I really looked forward to having one of these little pumpkin cakes with my coffee, after making my cupcake delivery to Phillip at work.
After making putting the cupcakes in the oven (which turned out perfectly, thank
goodness), I set about making the coconut-pumpkin cakes.I mixed all the ingredients together, and then put the batter into my Wilton (allegedly) non-stick mini-fluted cake pan. This recipes always makes 12 – 14 little cakes; today it made fifteen. Now, I admit that these mini-fluted pans have been temperamental in the past, as far as releasing whatever batter I’ve baked in them, but I still took the risk. I love, love, love the way little cakes baked in these pans look when they release as they should after baking. These pans, though, began giving me sticking trouble after only a few uses when I bought them a couple years ago. I started liberally spraying them with gluten-free non-stick spray and usually the non-stick spray works. The cakes release and are good to go.
Today, however, I had no such luck. I let the cakes cool in the pan about ten minutes, then tipped the first pan over. No cakes released. I decided I needed to let them cool a bit longer, so I left the first pan upside down on the rack, thinking that the cakes would just release onto the rack as they cooled. About five minutes longer, I tried to release the cakes in the second pan, but those cakes did not release either. So of course I did what every chef does next in such a situation: googled my problem. I found various solutions online, including sticking the pans back into the over for a short time to reheat the cakes, supposedly I had possibly let the cakes cool too long and heating them then retrying to release them before they got too cool would work. Nope. Neither did trying to ease them out with a spatula. I tasted pieces of the cakes, of course, and their miserable appearance belies their delectable texture and depth of flavor. I’m sad. I have a pan full of pumpkin cake mess, and no ideas for repurposing it!
I’m thinking I’ll toast the cake pieces to make pumpkin cake crumbs, and maybe I can figure out some super tasty way to use the crumbs. My paucity of ideas for salvaging my coconut-pumpkin cake led me to write this post about my kitchen failure. I’m hoping people who read this post will suggest some way to use the pieces of what were supposed to be beautiful, perfect, little spiced pumpkin cakes. If you can think of some way for me to use my ruined pumpkin cakes, please let me know, so I can turn this mistake into a happy little accident! I’m including the recipe for the coconut-pumpkin spice; it’s a sound recipe, and turns out lovely and delicious when the batter is baked in a true non-stick pan!
Coconut-Pumpkin Spice Cake
6 eggs, well beaten
2 tablespoons organic whole fat milk
1/3 cup raw honey (or pure maple syrup)
3/4 cup organic pumpkin puree
60 grams coconut flour
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
4 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled
Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a mini-fluted pan with non-stick coconut oil spray.
In a medium bowl, add the eggs. Whisk the eggs until the egg yolks and whites are well blended. Whisk the rest of the wet ingredients into the eggs until well blended. Whisk in the coconut flour, baking powder, and pumpkin spice until well blended. Finally, whisk in the melted butter until well blended.Fill the mini-fluted cups 3/4 full with batter. Bake at 350° for about fifteen minutes, or until the the cakes turn slightly brown.Cool in pan for about ten minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. Makes 12 – 15 cakes.