Dessert of the Month: Crabby Cake

Posted by Brette in Food

So Martha’s “Dessert of the Month” in the November Living is Butterscotch Pecan Cake. Oh, Martha! Where do I begin? First, I must say the photos of it in the magazine are scrumptious and it sounded wonderful. I like to make cakes, so I was excited to try this. This one just about killed me though.

The Bill

First I had to go to the grocery store. This recipe is extremely extravagant even by Martha’s standards. $40 was my bill. I had to buy 3 blocks of cream cheese, 2 pounds of butter, brown sugar, heavy cream, pecans, and eggs. I already had the other ingredients. If I had to buy everything necessary for this cake it would have cost over $55. That’s just nuts. I could have bought 2 cakes at a good bakery for that.

Crabby Cake?

I’m calling this crabby cake because I was crabby when I started making it and it just got worse as it went along.  First, I was crabby because Mr. MarthaandMe forgot to run the dishwasher the night before, so I had to do that before I could start. Then I didn’t soften the butter enough and butter and brown sugar were flying around the kitchen. This meant the dogs came running and they were licking at and around my feet (since there was sugar on the floor) while I was trying to cook. This makes me INSANE.

Two cake pans instead of 3

Two cake pans instead of 3

The cakes took longer to bake than they should have. Turns out I was supposed to make 3 cakes, not 2! OMG. What a nightmare. I didn’t realize that until they were out of the oven. There was no way I was starting over.  Mini-rant: Don’t most people have TWO matching cake pans, not THREE??? I have 4 pans, but they aren’t all the same. Even if I had remembered to make three layers, I would have had to use a pan that was not quite the same size. Discovering my goof made me want to chuck it in the trash and go read a book for a while, but I perservered, because, after all, that’s what Martha would do.

I was also interrupted about 5 times while trying to make this. I want my kids to come to me when they need me, but somehow the constant interruptions made it impossible for me to think straight and focus on the three components of this cake (cake, sauce, and frosting).

Waiting…

The biggest problem with this cake was all the waiting. Make the

Cooking the sauce

Cooking the sauce

butterscotch sauce, then wait for it to cool. Make the frosting and wait for it to chill. Put the sauce on the cake and wait for it to cool. Frost the cake and then refrigerate for an hour. Frost the cake again and then refrigerate for 3 hours! This project took the entire day. A huge, tremendous time suck. And it used a lot of bowls and cooking

Butterscotch frosting

Butterscotch frosting

utensils. Mr. MarthaandMe was nice enough to help with clean up. At one point I said to him, “I am so tired, I can barely stand up”. I probably should not have done this on the same day I attempted cooking school lesson #2 (post coming soon). I was just dead tired by the time this day was over. We ran the dishwasher THREE times.

Assembly

Putting the cake together was a process. Because I screwed up and only made 2 layers instead of 4, I decided to cut my layers in half, which gave me 4. This meant I had to spread sauce

Spreading the sauce

Spreading the sauce

on all 4 layers and create 3 layers of frosting in between. Not hard, but time consuming. I got it all together (a little sloppy as you’ll see below) and then Martha called for a crumb coating (small brag here – the recipe does not call this a crumb coating but I knew that’s what it is called when you put a thin layer of frosting on first to cover up the crumbs!). My layers did not look very neat as you can see, but I covered it in the crumb coating and then of course had to wait while it chilled. Finally, I

My sloppy layers

My sloppy layers

was able to put the final layer of frosting on. Sticking all those nuts on the sides of the cake was a giant mess.

The Results

Honestly? This was nothing special. Believe me, that fact just about brought me to tears after all the work that went into this. It was pretty dry, despite the butterscotch sauce which soaked into the layers. The flavor wasn’t spectacular. I didn’t even

An impressive looking cake

An impressive looking cake

finish my piece. It really was disappointing. There was nothing really wrong with it, but since it got such a huge spread in the magazine, I really expected it to be fantastic. Sigh. I would not make this cake again.

So I have to at least say Martha taught me a lesson on this one – you can put in a lot of time and effort into a recipe or project, but if it’s not a terrific idea or recipe to start with, all that effort can’t turn it around into something that is great. I’m going to stick with my tried and true cake recipes (including my

Taste test

Taste test

grandmother’s Miracle Whip chocolate cake which is hands down the best thing ever.). Sorry Martha – this one was not a good thing.

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One Response

  • Katherine says:

    I saw this recipe in November Living and thought it looked challenging. I enjoy baking just about anything, but cakes are my favorite. Oh… weren’t the pictures in the magazine mouth watering? Your photos of it look incredible too. It is an impressive looking cake. Thanks so much for taking the challenge and preparing this cake. After reading about your experiences, I think I’ll be happy savoring the photos. Thank you for sharing this with us!