Candy Corn Cake: Failure

Have you ever had an idea that you wanted to work so badly, you managed to drown out all the very logical reasons it might go wrong with one single thought: Man, this is going to be awesome! Allow me to introduce you to my idea: Candy Corn Cake.

Me and Candy Corn Cake, we were destined for greatness. It all started with a spree of cake successes. An epic rainbow cake. A festive German flag cake. A 6-layer pumpkin and chocolate cake with chai buttercream frosting (no picture available, due to me making it for my own birthday party, then dropping the majority of it on the floor after a few too many vodka tonics). I got greedy. I needed more pretty cakes! With Halloween just around the corner, candy corn was the perfect choice. I’d get me a bundt pan, divide a white cake batter into thirds, dye one yellow and one orange, then layer them all—white, orange, yellow—in the pan. For the first two layers, I’d stick the pan in the freezer, just to get the batter to stiffen up enough to keep the following layer from displacing it. Then I’d bring it back to room temperature, pop it in the oven, and an hour later, out would come Candy Corn Cake! Maybe I’d even go all out and cut it down into a more triangular shape before frosting. And then . . . then . . . I’d reveal Candy Corn Cake to the world! Fellow cake-lovers would marvel. Babies would squeal with delight. Even the grumpiest of old men would stoically nod and declare, “now that’s a cake.”

Alas, this did not play out as I envisioned. The layer > quick freeze > layer > quick freeze > layer went smoothly. But as I gazed lovingly at unbaked Candy Corn Cake, waiting for it to reach room temperature, I started thinking about how things bake in an oven, and what all those egg whites in the batter were going to do. But then I thought, maybe things won’t get that wonky. Or maybe the baking gods will see how much I love Candy Corn Cake and make this work. And then ultimately, I just said to myself, screw it! Into the oven it went.

About half an hour in, I took a peek. Uh oh, things were not looking good. I could see little bits of orange bubbling up into the yellow. By the time it was done, the patches of orange had grown. But still I thought to myself, maybe it’s not that bad. But then, I got anxious. Was my cake everything I’d dreamed it would be? If not, could it be saved? I had to know. Immediately. So I did one of the #1 Cake No-Nos: I turned over the pan and popped out the still piping-hot cake. And then I watched it break apart into five different pieces. Nooooooooo, Candy Corn Cake! What have I done?

Luckily, frosting fixes everything (or covers it up, at least). And this cake still looks pretty cool, even if it was not what I’d envisioned. Unfortunately, the cake itself is pretty meh, which I think is partly due to mixing in the food coloring after folding in the egg whites, thereby deflating everything and making a rather dense cake. I’m also not sure if the trips in and out of the freezer caused some problems as well. (I’d read a little bit about freezing cake batter online and it seemed fine, but who knows.) So below is the recipe with the adjustments I would recommend. And to end on a positive note, I will say that I took solace in the fact that I no longer felt the need to adorn my cake with candy corn. It is, after all, one of the worst Halloween candies in existence.

White Cake

(adapted from Allrecipes)

  • 2 ¾ cups of sifted cake flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 ½ cups of sugar
  • ¾ cup of butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • yellow food coloring
  • orange food coloring

Preheat oven to 350°.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together three times.

In a stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add a half cup of sugar, beating until soft peaks form.

Cream together butter and sugar. Alternately add milk and flour mixture until smooth, then beat in vanilla.

Divide equally into three bowls. Add yellow food coloring to one bowl and orange to another. Mix in and add more if necessary. Once you’ve achieved bright colors, fold an even amount of egg whites into each bowl.

Add the batter to the bundt pan—white first, then orange, then yellow. Bake for about an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate Frosting

(adapted from Beantown Baker)

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • ½ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup of milk

Sift sugar and cocoa together.

In a separate bowl, cream together butter and vanilla. Mix in sugar and cocoa, then beat in milk until the desired consistency is achieved.

Once the cake is cool, frost and serve!


  1. says

    I’m so sorry to hear/see your cake didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. At least it was salvageable! I completely understand because I once had a situation with tomato soup – oh and pumpkin cupcakes that turned out so dry that my family refused to eat it. I’m sure you’ll figure out what went wrong and end up with the candy corn cake you imagined.

    • says

      Yeah, I’d have to agree, it “failed” in a visually appealing manner.

      If you figure out how to get it to layer, definitely do a reboot and let us know.

      Off the top of my head, it could be the rounded shape of the bundt pan working against you, the way the heat moves into the batter through the rounded surface, convection pushing the steam & lighter mass upwards and the still-cool batter sinking in the center. Again, just conjecture.

      Either way, you might try a flat-bottomed tube pan, especially since you’re going to cut the finished product to look like candy corn, although I’m not sure how much that’d help. And, you might also try a different version of the layer & freeze idea; maybe put the first batch in there and bake JUST until some sort of structure has formed, then add the second, repeat, then third. I’ve got not ideas on timing, and it’s true that they’ll technically be at different donenesses, but along with the maxim that frosting fixes all, you might do thinner layers of batches 2 & 3, just like candy corn, and you’d be cooking a smaller cross section so it might catch up.

      • says

        After seeing how the cake turned out, I’d definitely agree that the shape of the bundt pan played a huge part, for precisely the reason you stated. This was definitely a [humbling] learning experience, but now I’ve got a year to figure out a better method! :)

  2. says

    If that’s what you call a failed recipe, then I’d love to be your garbage can! That is 10 times more gorgeous than anything I could ever do, and a super fun idea, too- you should be proud of this :)

  3. says

    This is actually a pretty cool idea, and I don’t think it looks that bad. Maybe the top layer of white should just be frosting and then you only need to deal with two layers of colored cake batter, orange and yellow.

    Just a thought, love the blog!

  4. says

    If it’s a failure, it’s a beautiful one! I once tried to make a rainbow giant cupcake. I hated the way it turned out but it’s usually the #1 post on my blog. Go figure.


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