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What can I do to save my cake?

It's a birthday cake for a kids party so it doesn't have to be a gourmet experience. But there will be adults there too and I'd like the cake to be nice at least.

I don't have much experience with layer cakes. Here's where I am.

I've baked 2 yellow cakes using a recipe from smittenkitchen. I now have four layers for my layer cake. The cakes came out just ok - they seem moist and soft, but they smelt and tasted quite floury and underbaked. I baked them long enough though, any more and they'd have been too dry. They also have brown spots in them, i don't know why - but I posted separately about that.

So I'm wondering:
- should up pep up the cakes with a syrup? Will this help with the underbaked taste/smell? Any suggestions for flavouring the syrup?
- what should I fill them/cover them with? Preferably something chocolate - frosting or ganache. I've never done frosting before and am nervous. Also I often find frosting is just too sugary. Any good recipes to recommend?

Thanks!

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  1. Before trying to "pep up" the cakes, I would try some (a small bit from the interior) to make sure they are edible. If the cake is not good, no amount of simple syrup or frosting will change that. If it is good, I would do a either a vanilla bean or cocoa syrup to make it kid friendly. If you like chocolate, the easiest way to go is a ganache. It should be sweet enough to be kid friendly, so don't go too dark on the chocolate. If you beat it after it sets up, it loses its sheen and becomes more frosting like.

    1. As a last resort you can turn whatever you have into a trifle.

      1. I bet that once you have chocolate frosting on the cakes, they'll really be just fine. I would make a nice chocolate ganache, which is the easiest frosting to make, let it get thick enough, and then fill and frost the cake. I'd use a not-too-bitter chocolate, to make sure sure it's kid friendly.

        1. thanks for the replies. I tasted the cake, it tasted ok, but a bit floury. I'm still debating whether to make another or just go ahead with it. It's in the freezer at the moment. Chocolate ganache for the frosting sounds like the best idea.

          4 Replies
          1. re: loukoumades

            did you use cake flour? I find that cakes made wtih cake flour taste a little bit flour-y, but I like that!

            1. re: milklady

              I didn't have cake flour, so I substituted with all purpose mixed with corn starch. Now you mention it, maybe that is the problem...
              Anyway, I'm going to keep the yellow sponges for a trifle like evilbanana11 suggested. And I'm going to try something else: a chocolate genoise with ganache filling.
              My new question is: do you think iI can make it today for tomorrow midday and keep it in the refrigerator, or will it dry out?

              1. re: loukoumades

                I would make the cake and frost it today, should be fine for tomorrow.

                1. re: loukoumades

                  That's why when I substitute all-purpose flour for cake flour, I just remove 2 tablespoons of AP flour for every cup of cake flour required. I never add 2 tablespoons cornstarch as many substitution recipes call for. Maybe that WAS the problem?

            2. I'm with Barb, I just remove 2 T. all purpose flour rather than substituting cornstarch. If you are still inclined to use the yellow layers, perhaps layer with whipped cream, fresh fruit and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. My kids loved it when they were little. Still do. If you decide to make chocolate cake today, it will definetely keep until tomorrow. Short of a cake keeper, lots of foil and toothpicks (to prevent sticking to cake) has works well enough to keep your cake fresh. Good luck

              2 Replies
              1. re: CathySue

                So you just use less flour if you're using AP? I'll try that next time. Does your sponge come out less fluffy if you use AP instead of cake flour?
                Chocolate cake with whipped chocolate ganache is sitting in the fridge now.
                Thanks for all the replies.

                1. re: loukoumades

                  I use corn starch when I replace cake flour w/ AP. If you go w/ a straight AP, it'll be denser and have a firmer texture.