Trivia Teaser

Which 'ology' is an 'alternative medicine diagnostic method'?


When baking goes bad...


By Jessie

I am unashamed YouPlayers, in making this post all about ME. You see, I have some problems of the culinary kind - and I need your help!

It seems that I have lost my kitchen mojo – and while I have searched far and wide - in the backseat of the car, under the bed, even in the mysterious vortex that is the fourth drawer of the buffet – my mojo remains lost and without it I am bereft.

As the type of person with a tendency to display the over-confidence and faux bravado that often accompanies decisions made while holding a glass of wine, I have always considered myself a bit of a whiz when it comes to cooking skills. Last minute dinner party for six? No problemo, just watch me work my magic with this super-sized tin of cannellini beans, a garlic clove and a couple of old lamb chops dug out from the deepest, darkest corners of the freezer. Late night sugar cravings? May I present to you the sinful delights of quick-mix microwave cake in a jar!

But lately, something has gone terribly, horribly wrong. While my approach to the scientific art of baking has largely been two parts optimism + one part improvisation to a teaspoon of actually following the recipe, my cooking has mostly seemed to turn out OK. And while I’ll never be able to replicate the precision results of an expert, I’m a firm believer that there’s not much you can’t fix with a drizzle of chocolate ganache or a squirt of whipped cream. Mostly, my efforts are appreciated.

And yet, my last two baking projects were utter, utter disasters. Yesterday’s attempts at ANZAC biscuits turned out flat as pancakes (and my young son literally vomited soon after eating one). Although you wouldn’t know it from this collage ! (If only I could Photoshop reality…)

But the WORST cock-up occurred with the light fruit cake I made last weekend. And what makes this SUCH a catastrophe is that I was baking this particular cake as practice for the cake SHOW I [slaps head] stupidly entered myself into a couple of weeks ago (see above comments about wine + foolishness). Yes that’s right, next weekend I have to present a light fruit cake (square tin) on a plain white plate to a panel of judges who will tear me to strips with that particular type of contempt only a group of matronly country cooks who collectively have hundreds of years’ experience in making perfect scones and rock cakes can muster. I once watched the legendary Margaret Fulton dismiss cake after (seemingly flawless) cake she was judging at the Sydney Royal Easter Show with the beady-eyed, ruthless determination of a tax collector on audit day – and I can tell you, as a gawping spectator I was trembling.

And what exactly was I thinking when I chose the FRUIT CAKE category? I could’ve made it easy on myself with a batch of shortbread (one round, marked wedges) or even a banana cake (un-iced, loaf tin), but NOOOOOO. Ms Cocky here decided to take on the pros in the ultimate baking challenge. And I don’t even really like fruit cake. Thankfully I managed some measure of restraint and stopped myself choosing the RICH Fruit Cake state-wide comp at the last moment. Mostly because it cost an extra dollar to enter and I’m too cheap.

Failed cakes

Note: not my actual failed cake!

So I hear you ask, what happened? Well, after carefully whipping butter and eggs and sugar together and gently folding in the flour and fruit, I baked my cake in a (double-lined!) tin in a low oven for 2 ¼ hours. I pulled it out and – no cracks! A fairly even golden-brown colour! I was quietly confident. And then I cut it in half and served a slice to my beloved extended family. My son spat it out. My mother choked on the first mouthful and said “it’s a little… hmm…dry”. My father and my other half plastered forced smiles on their faces and said nothing because they knew if they were truthful I would kill them stone dead with one look from my betrayed eyes. And my sister said: “Is this what you’re entering in that cake competition? Oh my god you are going to be slaughtered. This is disgusting. It is so dry on the bottom I can barely swallow. [gag, gag, argh...] can you get me some water? Quick, my throat is closing over..!”

And sadly, she was right. My cake was the edible equivalent of a desert mirage – invitingly attractive from a distance, only to reveal a sandy dry core of deception on the inside. So I implore you YouPlayers – HELP ME! I know that amongst your illustrious ilk reside some super-bakers. Can you share your fool-proof light fruit cake recipe? Give me some tips? Or did you bake ANZAC biscuits this week? Send me a photo to publish! Or your favourite recipe!

Jessie x


36 Responses to

When baking goes bad...

Bjay said:
June 07, 2013 at 12:21 AM

BTW, Mojito, Baileys tastes good in (or on) just about anything :)

Katy1213 said:
August 10, 2013 at 1:43 AM

I make a delicious buttercream icing that goes well with any baked good. I like cooking a lot more though. I make a mean taco recipe with a test. It has Dorito's in it! (:

Katy1213 said:
August 10, 2013 at 1:49 AM

Find the recipe on and search up butter cream icing recipe.

Mama2014 said:
January 25, 2014 at 9:50 PM

Sex On The Beach Sex On The Beach Drink Ingredients 1/2 oz. Vodka 1/2 oz. Peach Schnapps 1/2 oz. Raspberry Liqueur 1/2 oz. Melon Liqueur Orange Juice (Optional) Pineapple Juice Cranberry Juice Garnish: Pineapple Slice Instructions Pour vodka, peach schnapps, raspberry liqueur, and melon liqueur into a glass with ice. Fill it with equal parts of pineapple juice and cranberry juice.

deedledoo said:
November 06, 2014 at 11:14 PM

I love the games on You Play...particularly the trivia games - have learned so much. will submit a recipe when i am more awake

November 07, 2014 at 6:10 AM

My partner has just made a boiled fruit cake and it's delicious. I'm lucky that he's happy to cook as it's not my forte at all!