Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Checkerboard Cake: The dessert that almost wasn't!

Everything was going so well,
the Christmas carols were
playing, the Hub and
the dudes were out from
under foot and off with
their new toys. My cake
batter was perfect. All
was right in my kitchen,
and then it wasn't.

For the uninitiated, a checkerboard cake is a three layer cake
that alternates vanilla and chocolate cake so that when you
cut into it, it looks like a checkerboard. There is a special pan
created to make this cake, which my mother gave me several
years ago that I had been wanting to try. Well, what better
day than Christmas day?

The recipe requires that you make all of the cake batter and
then separate a third to which you add the melted chocolate.
As I mentioned, my batter was perfect. I poured the third
into a separate bowl and turned around to add the chocolate
when the blue glass bowl in my hands slipped. For a nanosecond
I thought it might bounce. It did not.

A crash like gunshot sounded, causing my husband who had
just walked into the room to jump and shout while I stared at
the pile of blue glass and batter in a catatonic stupor. As my
husband swept up the mess and tried to talk me back from
the ledge, I was incapable of speech and reduced to making
strange animal noises. This was supposed to be dessert at
my in-laws for thirteen people! The Hub offered to run to
the store to buy whatever I needed. I debated making a
subdued two layer cake. I did some pranayama breathing.
I checked my ingredients. I had just enough, with a tablespoon
of flour to spare, to make a third more of the cake batter.

And this is how it turned out:


Now for anyone interested in
making this cake on their own,
I am including the link to the
Wilton cake site. The picture
of their cake is prettier than mine.
My one piece of advice (other than
don't drop a third of your batter on
the floor) is to have some wine chilled
for when you get done. This cake is
an accomplishment worthy of a
beverage. Fo Sho!

Happy New Year!!!

by Jenn McKinlay
March 2010 (Available for pre-order now)

by Lucy Lawrence (aka Jenn McKinlay)
Sept 2009 (Available Now)

by Lucy Lawrence
April 2010 (Available for pre-order now)

Keep entering ingredient ideas for our Iron Chef week and don't
forget to hunt for Eggsecutive Orders by Julie to be entered
in her contest, too! See? There's always something fun to do
at the Mystery Lover's Kitchen!!!


  1. Oh Jenn, what a wonderful story. Thanks for the laugh so early in the morning. I'm glad it all turned out okay for you. The cake looks great. Wish I had a slice for breakfast. I will definitely be sure to chill a bottle of wine after what you went through. Thanks again and Happy New Year!

  2. Jenn, I think your cake is beautiful! How lucky that you had enough ingredients to make another layer. I've had my share of baking disasters, so I sympathize completely. You pulled it off, though. I want a bite of that cake!

    ~ Krista

  3. That's a gorgeous cake and it's making me hungry! I give you huge kudos for sticking with it despite the disaster. You triumphed! And I'll bet that's exactly how you have your characters react to disasters too! Wonderful cake... oh, I'm tempted to bake now...


  4. A superior story for the New Year. When the bowl breaks, try, try, again! Yeah, baby!

    ~ Cleo

  5. The cake is beautiful! I can only imagine how horrified you were when the bowl broke. I definitely would be raiding the liquor cabinet after an incident like that :)

  6. It's gorgeous! I *love* your description of how you freaked out when the bowl broke. That's TOO funny.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  7. Jenn, chiming in late, but what a fabulous cake! It's go so much personality! Avery

  8. That photo makes me want to go bake a cake! Can't go wrong with chocolate. And, you continued on despite the broken bowl. Can you work that scene into a mystery story?

  9. THANKS everyone and a late Happy New Year!!!
    Oh, yeah, it will definitely work its way
    into one of the cupcake mysteries!!! Write
    what you know, yes?