Latest Recipe Testing

sponge cake in a cake pan

A very happy Saturday to all! It’s been awhile since we chatted about my latest kitchen adventures. I started this recipe testing series earlier this year because I know many of you are also fascinated by how and why baking recipes work.

So far this year:

I haven’t been deep in recipe testing since my work on croissants. There’s been some cookies, bread, and cheesecake— but nothing zapping my energy or stealing my soul like those 81 layers of butter and dough.

But there’s two recipes I want to discuss today. First… Boston cream pie. This recipe was in partnership with America’s Test Kitchen and comes from their new cookbook The Perfect CakeI didn’t test this recipe myself, but HAVE to share my experience baking the recipe. (Which, by the way, is utterly fantastic. Look at it!!)

Boston cream pie on a wood and marble cake stand

The first time I baked the sponge cake layers, I waited patiently for them to cool. My pastry cream was chilling in the refrigerator, my chocolate was chopped and ready to melt into glaze, and my cake stand was sparkling clean. Once cool, I ran a thin knife around the edges of the sponge cake layers, just as the recipe instructs, but my cakes would not budge. My heart slowly shattering in a million pieces, I tried everything I could to salvage the cake layers as well as the time, ingredients, and energy I just spent baking them. I quickly blamed it on forgetting to grease the cake pans, had a few choice words about my silly mistake, closed the cookbook, and decided to try the recipe again the next day.

The next day came and the lighting was perfect. I was going to photograph this very cake today! Determined and refreshed, I prepared the sponge cake batter, used different cake pans, GREASED THE PANS, and baked the cakes. I threw the slightly cool cakes into the freezer because I definitely didn’t want to miss this beautiful lighting! The cakes cooled quickly, I ran a thin knife around the edges of the sponge cake layers, just as the recipe instructs, but again… my cakes would not budge.

Heartbroken, frustrated, tired, and about every other annoyed emotion, I locked myself in the pantry to scream, then grabbed the cookbook to reread the recipe because surely ATK wouldn’t steer me wrong.

And I was right. I glanced over the recipe directions where I found the words “line pans with parchment.” I realized that I had greased the pans on the first day and it wasn’t my mom brain being forgetful. Friends, if you try the Boston cream pie recipe– and I remind you of this about 45 times in the recipe directions– line your cake pans with parchment paper. This direction isn’t in the recipe just for fun; it’s very real and if you skip it, it’s very not fun.

By the way, I saved all the sponge cake scraps in large ziplock bags and froze them. I’ll thaw and make cake pops one day this summer. I’m thinking with strawberry frosting instead of vanilla!

shrunken angel food cupcakes in cupcake pan

Onto my next kitchen adventure, which is another lesson in the importance of following directions. Angel food cupcakes, a new recipe I’m publishing on Monday, are scaled down from my funfetti angel food cake. In my cake recipe, I give several tips and directions to ensure the softest and fluffiest angel food cake crumb. Angel food cake should be light-as-air, but if you skip over a couple steps, you’ll be left with:

Shrinking Angel Food Cupcakes

Angel food cake batter is delicate, as all of the leavening (and texture!) comes from whipping air into egg whites. I’ll explain all of this in the recipe on Monday, but it’s important to (1) use superfine sugar, (2) sift the dry ingredients slowly into the egg whites, and (3) mix the batter as lightly as possible so the egg whites don’t deflate. In a rush and thinking I’m invincible, I treated the batter like trash and was left with the pan of cupcakes above. Shrinking, shriveled, and deflated cupcakes comparable to the patience I was losing at that very moment. Later that morning, I read the recipe again– MY OWN RECIPE– and actually followed it.

2 angel food cupcakes with one overmixed cupcake and one perfect cupcake

Here’s what I learned after a week of sticking sponge cakes and deflating angel food cupcakes: read the directions. We’re all guilty of skimming recipes and glazing over instructions, so hopefully my two careless mistakes can be reminders for you! 😉


  1. Baked Alaska: have you ever made/eaten it?
  2. Do you make your own pizza crust or do you usually buy it?

Have a great weekend and hooray for the royal wedding!! ♥


  1. I always make my own pie crust. I figure, hey, you’re making homemade pizza, why not? Totally love the KAF Now or Later pizza crust recipe from the first book (the red and white one). But will also change up the style and use SK’s veggie sheet pizza crust. It’s really good. Also, I use a stone below and a steel on the rack over the stone. Transferring the dough on parchment and slipping it out once set

  2. I love homemade pizza crust and make it almost every Friday night!

  3. Baked Alaska….yes! We made one shaped like Paddington for my sister’s birthday. It was delicious (strawberry ice cream on a brownie base!) but took FOREVER and made the most ridiculous mess! I would probably make it again, though!

    We usually buy pizza dough. ☺️

  4. Ive eaten baked Alaska, but never made it. And I like to buy my pizza dough from Trader Joe’s!

  5. Rebecca B. says:

    I’ve never eaten baked Alaska, but always wanted to try it! If I’m planning on a pizza night, I usually use your bread bowl recipe for the crust. Turns out wonderful every time!
    And in reference to the royal wedding, did you hear about their wedding cake?! It had 200 lemons in it! A copy cat cupcake version would be fun!!

  6. Never had or made baked Alaska. ALWAYS make my own pizza dough. Too easy not to!

  7. I aways make my own pizza crust using your recipe! But never made baked Alaska!

  8. I always make my own pizza dough because it’s so much more delicious- soft and chewy! It’s hard to plan ahead though so the dough can rise etc. I’ve tried like a million dough recipes and haven’t found “the” one yet=)

  9. 1. Never eaten or made it (would love to do both!). 🙂
    2. Always purchased.

    Thanks for the tips! And, “. . . treated the batter like trash” — that made me laugh. I think we’ve all been guilty of not following a recipe closely enough. Looking forward to next week’s recipe and tips. Sounds like the perfect recipe for summer! 🙂

  10. Hi Sally! Thanks for the post. It’s so heartbreaking when after all that work the cake doesn’t come out of the pan!
    I have a suggestion for your new website. There are so many times I find that I get the urge to bake something only to realize I don’t have the ingredient like eggs or butter. I would find it very helpful to have a search function for an ingredient NOT IN THE RECIPE. I don’t know if that’s possible. If it is it would be fantastic!

  11. Hi, a follower from but a Brit what a fabulous Wedding !
    My Mum used to make baked Alaska and Said you need a good seal round the ice-cream with the meringue so the ice cream does not melt too much. It is yum.
    I do my own pizza dough but recently hit on a fab recipe with information too. Don’t add the oil to the mix as the flour can not hydrate properly. Add it after kneading for 10 minutes and then by sitting your ball of dough in the olive oil after rolling it in the oil. Result is fabulous crispy yummy base but with soft tender dough. Italian grade 00 flour too is recommended.

    Look forward to your updates!

  12. Yea, I have eaten Baked Alaska, but never made it. Yes, we make our own pizza dough and it has always come out great.

  13. Austria Azaceta says:

    Hi Sally!
    I had my own kitchen fail recently. I messed up not once but twice trying to make your chewy caramel candies. The caramel just wouldn’t set (both times)! I blame my candy thermometer. I got a new (digital) one now but haven’t tried it yet.
    Never ate or made baked Alaska & didn’t even know what it was (had to google it).
    We don’t make pizza often but when we do its homemade crust. And I’ve made (& LOVE) your Chicago style pizza as well.
    Loving the boston cream cake! One of my first Instagram posts years ago was of a boston cream cake I made for my husband. Don’t even remember where I got that recipe. I just may have to give this one a try!

  14. Amanda Hudson says:

    1. I’ve never eaten baked Alaska.
    2. We buy the pizza dough in the refrigerator section at Trader Joe’s. It’s our fav!

  15. Anna Heiliger says:

    I love homemade pizza crust! And I’ve never made a baked Alaska, but this sounds like so much fun and perfect for a monthly challenge!

  16. MJ Nordmann says:

    I always make my own pizza crust. It is easy to do early in the day and leave to rise for the
    night. It is a great kid project to create their own pies.
    I remembering loving Baked Alaska. It is a distant memory though.

  17. I have made Baked Alaska before! The first time, my dad made it, and the rum was kind of randomly sprinkled throughout the cake and it was NOT good. So, then I made it without the alcohol, but my meringue got burned when we kept it in the broiler for a whole minute like the directions said, so i remade the meringue and we kept it in for 30 seconds which resulted in a nice brown. Our broiler may just be too hot though!

    I’ve made pizza crust before, but I usually buy it since I don’t feel like spending the time, and the quick easy crust is fine but store-bought is better than the recipes I’ve found.

  18. Sandra Lemus says:

    1. Have no idea what baked alaska is!


    2. Make it!

  19. I have never had a baked Alaska – but I really want to try one! I usually make my own pizza dough unless we’re in more of a hurry – TJ’s dough is pretty good!

    I also have a suggestion for a baking challenge: crepe cake! They look so pretty but challenging!

  20. I make pizza dough frequently. Found my go-to recipe years ago in a book titled The Pizza Gourmet. I have tried other pizza dough recipes but always go back to my tried-and-true favorite.

  21. Homemade pizza dough, always

    I had baked Alaska once and my “friend” refused to share her recipe! Really?!

  22. Never had Baked Alaska. Actually have only seen pictures of it. I always make my own pizza crust.

  23. Lisa Pettit says:

    I have never had or made a baked Alaska. I’ve seen them made on TV. Does that count?!?! I try to make my own pizza crust, but when I am in a rush I will purchase the dough to save some time. I don’t even follow the instructions on the bag and just roll, top and bake it. But that’s only when I’m in a hurry. I prefer homemade dough, by far.

  24. Hi Sally, I make my own pizza dough – a yeast free one. It’s excellent and good. Have never tackled Baked Alaska yet.

  25. Lov e these posts! Always so interesting. Once you use parchment in cake pans you’ll never go back, lol. I’ve eaten baked Alaska once it twice but only fantasized about actually making it. Let’s do it! It’s fun to make old school dishes!

  26. twosugarbugs says:

    I’ve never eaten nor made Baked Alaska. I have a sneaking suspicion that may be changing come June ;-).

    Always make my own pizza crust. I use Jim Lahey’s no knead recipe. It’s quick, easy and always comes out amazing.

    1. Your suspicion is accurate 😉

  27. Leslie McD says:

    Sally, I just love your site! If I am making pizza, I make my own dough for the crust. And I follow one of your recipes. That’s actually how I discovered your site a few years back, searching for pizza dough recipe. I have never made Baked Alaska, but will probably try it if you post a recipe. I always wanted to make homemade croissants, and never tried until you inspired me to do so! Thank you so much!

    1. I love homemade pizza dough. It truly makes or breaks the pizza! I’m sharing a Baked Alaska recipe next month 🙂

  28. We make our own crust! My husband is a chef, and really likes the Foolproof Pan Pizza recipe from The Pizza Lab. Like the recipe says, it’s. Pan pizza, but it makes great crust and garlic bread! Happy pizza making!

    1. I should check out that recipe. Thank you for sharing, Brenna!

  29. Have never eaten or made Baked Alaska. Always looked too fancy;)
    I’ve made homemade pizza dough many times. Now that I am doing Keto diet, I’ve been making a pizza dough called fathead dough(google it). So yummy! But, I actually like it better to use as a “chip” for my favorite dips.

  30. Baked Alaska, I have made it before, and I have eaten it. Love it. Not hard to do.
    Ashamed to say I am lazy and buy pizza dough. Have made it once, and have purchased ever since.

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally