Hi all, Jessica Christensen, senior editor with Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications here. I recently had a craving for cake and through a series of misadventures in my kitchen I created what later became Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Meringue, a published recipe we put through the BHG Test Kitchen.
I started out the day with a couple of challenges—first, my 10-month-old son who thinks he should be involved in every project I undertake and second, my need for something sweet without overdoing it on the calories. So I started with an old favorite—Busy Day Cake. This is a one layer cake, so the calories wouldn’t be through the roof, and with only seven ingredients, it was sure to be quick so I could (maybe) get it done during my son’s naptime. Because I can’t leave any recipe alone, I decided to spruce it up with the classic Meringue Frosting (a fat-free recipe), and hey, why not add some pumpkin and nutmeg to the cake batter? So to make a long story short(er), I did exactly what bakers should never do—started baking before checking that I had all the ingredients. It wasn’t long before I discovered I had no granulated sugar AND I was missing a beater to my mixer.
No problem. I had brown sugar. So I continued on my mission replacing the granulated sugar with brown sugar in both the cake and the frosting. I added some freshly grated nutmeg (I always use freshly grated whole nutmeg instead of pre-ground because there’s just no comparison) and replaced a little bit of the fat with some pumpkin. I beat both the cake batter and the frosting with the one beater on my mixer and guess what—it worked fine! I used my handy Microplane to grate a big of nutmeg over the cake top for a super simple garnish.
I loved my version of Busy Day Cake so much, I made some changes and put it through the test kitchen. The one we published—Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Meringue Frosting—didn’t have pumpkin (I didn’t want the recipe to be too seasonal since I would be unrolling it after the holidays), replaced some of the brown sugar with granulated, and added a touch of baking soda to help the cake’s texture. During photography (see top photo on this page), it somehow morphed into a two-layer cake and the food stylist hit the meringue with a food torch for some pretty browning on the top. If you’re looking to cut calories wherever possible for your after-holidays diet, you can simply cut the Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Meringue Frosting recipe in half so it’s just one layer (but you can still make a full batch of the Brown Sugar Meringue Frosting).
The moral of my story is that baking doesn’t always end up like you planned (especially when you fail to plan ahead), but with a little ingenuity and courage, the results can still be fabulous.
What baking or cooking issues have you overcome on the fly?