How NOT to make a simple cake

What the hell is wrong with my cooking! I can't even make a simple cake from a packet without this happening. Give me your help please...

So I mentioned that I wanted to learn to cook this year.  I think it’s about time I worked on this problem.  In fairness I never had a good example of good home cooking when I was a child and growing up.  My mother’s idea of a fabulous meal was meat cooked until it was so hard and dry that you had to add gravy just to make it edible, teamed with vegetables that had been boiled in heavily salted water for at least an hour.  Add a can of ready-made rice pudding for dessert and that was a gourmet meal in our household.

Everything was cooked or boiled to within an inch of its life.

I’ve dabbled over the years, made up a list of a few favorite recipes made mostly with pre-prepared ingredients where I just can’t go wrong.  Or at least you would think so.  I just don’t get it.  I’m a reasonably intelligent person, I should be able to follow simple directions.  So why oh why is my cooking so terrible?

terrible chocolate cake

Let’s take this cake for example.  Hubby was hopeful and provided me with everything I needed.  All I had to do was mix it, cook it and have it ready on the table when he came home from work today.  Simple right.  Then why did it go so badly wrong?  Here’s what I did.  Hopefully, you can figure it out and point me in the right direction.


  • 1 box of pre-packed cake mix.  Betty Crocker chocolate cake
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3rd cup vegetable oil


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Open the box and then bag of cake mix and empty the pack into a large bowl.
  3. Add the 3 large eggs – yes obviously I took them out of the shells just in case you were wondering
  4. Add 1 cup cold water
  5. Add 1/3rd cup vegetable oil
  6. Mix all together well with a fork until all blended
  7. Beat on medium with an electric mixer for 2 minutes as per the box instructions
  8. Grease my 2 non-stick cake pans with butter on the bottom and sides
  9. Pour the cake mix into the pans equally
  10. Once the oven is ready, place on a shelf in the center of the oven
  11. Set the timer for 25 minutes
  12. Take cake out of oven and despair – again.

I could tell right away that something was wrong.  The cakes hadn’t risen at all.  Flatter than went they went in I think.  The tops looked sort of rubbery and it didn’t feel light and springy to the touch.  More like an old car tyre. Still, maybe they tasted ok.

horrible chocolate cake

Five minutes to cool in the tins then I tried to turn them out.  I shook them, I loosened around the outsides with my spatula, I beat the bottom.  Nothing.  Stuck in there like they were glued.  I banged again on the bottom, gave the tin a good shake and then the cake sort of fell out. Well actually, it just fell mostly to pieces.  Still though, it was partly stuck hard to the bottom of the tin and the rest kind of just fell off through the middle.

How did it taste?  Horrible.  It was bitter and rubbery.  I have no idea where I went wrong.  This is pretty much typical of my cooking, something supposed to be fool-proof makes a complete fool out of me.  Anyone out there who can cook?  Please, tell me how this can happen!  Hubby was so disappointed but not really surprised anymore.

horrible chocolate cake

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2 Responses to How NOT to make a simple cake

  1. Donna says:

    My mom did the same with the vegetables! lol

    As for your cake – it looks overcooked. First, instead of trying a layer cake, use one pan – my go-to is my mom’s Bundt pan. Adjust your baking time according to the pan size. Second – instead of butter, grease the pan with a cooking spray, then dust the entire inside of the pan with flour. You may also want to get an oven thermometer to check your oven temp. They aren’t always heating to the same temp as the one you selected.

    Don’t give up! We’ve all had our disasters in the kitchen. Once you get the hang of it, you will love cooking.

    • Deby says:

      Thank you for all those suggestions. It seems there are so many things that can go wrong when it all seems like it should be so simple. I’ve never heard of greating and then adding flour to the tin. I’ll certainly give that a try.

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