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. 1. I have never made Baked Alaska.
    2. We used to make pizza dough every week. Friday was pizza and red wine day while living in the states. Hubby would make the dough in our food processor before work and I would make the pizzas that evening. Super yummy.
    I may have to make that Boston Cream Pie. it looks amazing. I love ATK as well-it’s where my apple pie recipe comes from.

  2. I’ve never had or made baked alaska (but have a feeling I might be challenged to try it soon). I make the olive oil no knead dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day almost weekly for pizza.

  3. Hi Sally!
    !. Yes, my grandmother used to make a Peach Alaska Pie that was awesome! I’m not sure if my cousin kept her recipes or not, but I need to find out.
    I vote yes for Baked Alaska recipe!
    2. I make my own pizza dough and I usually follow your flatbread recipe as I prefer thin and crispy.

  4. No, to Baked Alaska, but yes, to making our own pizza dough. We love making our own and don’t find store brands very good at all.

  5. Baked Alaska? I’ve made it a couple of times. I find it nerve-wracking, to say the least. Having read around the subject, I think there’s a lot to be said for moulding the ice cream in a bowl first before putting it on the sponge base, as that’s one of my panic points. However, I can’t make it at the moment as there are only three of us – it’ll have to wait until there are a few more in the house!

    We don’t eat that much pizza, my husband’s not keen. I do try and make my own if I’m doing it for Sunday night tea, but I must confess to having a couple in the freezer which were marked down as reduced in the supermarket – there’s no harm in being prepared for every eventuality!

    1. I’m thinking of making a scaled down version of Baked Alaska for small family gatherings. It’s such a large dessert!

  6. Melissa Davis says:

    Every time you display that cake stand, I think just how gorgeous it is. I’m super excited for the angel food cupcakes. I always make my own pizza dough; we’re now kind of snubbing about it

  7. Baked Alaska. Tried it about 12 years ago, and I failed miserably. I was SO sad that I never tried again. But that one haunts me! It was for my then boyfriend (now husband of almost 12 years.) Pizza dough we make occasionally. I just don’t have a ton of time with 4 kids running around.

    1. I’m working on a Baked Alaska recipe that (hopefully!) you will have more luck with!

  8. Hi! I always make my pizza dough. No to the baked Alaska. I don’t eat meat or seafood! The Boston cream pie looks amazing and angel food cake was one of my favorites growing up and would ask for at my birthday!. I only make it once a year because of the amount of eggs used. On a side note I just recently made your home made caramel sauce and gave out for teacher appreciation week! Amazing!

    1. Baked Alaska is a dessert with cake, ice cream and meringue. The caramel sauce is sooo good.

  9. Laura | Tutti Dolci says:

    I’ve never made Baked Alaska. My mom has fond memories of eating it growing up – my grandma made it as a dinner party dessert! We love grilled pizza, and my go-to recipe is Jim Lahey’s no knead pizza dough.

  10. I have mDe a baked Alaska with my nine year old daughter from the recipe from a Science experiment book which explained all the Science behind it. Was delicious and a lot of fun to make it together.

  11. Yes to homemade pizza dough. I’ve tried a lot and my favorite is Alton Brown’s “The Last Pizza Dough you’ll ever Need”. The trick is time. Did you know you’re popular on Reddit?

    1. I do see many recipes and links of mine on Reddit! I should try Alton’s pizza crust soon.

  12. Vicki Tunell says:

    I have never made Baked Alaska and I always make my own pizza dough. I use Ashley Rodriguez’s recipe from Not Without Salt :).

  13. Yes and Yes:)

    I actually teach my High School Culinary Arts students how to make Baked Alaska and they love it! Would love to see your spin on the classic.

    As for pizza do, I do make the crust, we are working on prefecting a dough perfect to grill…still working on the right dough and temp on our Gian Green Egg.

    On a side note–I LOVE your books and blog. Best recipes and I can so appreciate all the work you put in to perfecting the recipes you publish. The quality shows in the success that all your readers have.

    Cheers to you and thank you for all your attention to detail.

    Lisa Heim

    1. Thank you so much for the sweet comment, Lisa!! So appreciated!! I’m sharing my Baked Alaska recipe soon and I’m so excited about it!

  14. I made a Baked Alaska last summer for the first time – my 13-year-old son requested it for his birthday. It really wasn’t so difficult and I think it turned out pretty well! And I do make my own pizza dough.

    1. Baked Alaska really isn’t too tricky! I’m glad you mentioned that. I’m posting my version of it soon!

  15. 1. I’ve never heard of Baked Alaska! o.O (Am I stupid?)
    2. I ALWAYS make my own pizza crust. 🙂

    BTW, this Boston Cream Pie looks sooo good! Yummy!

    1. Not stupid at all! Baked Alaska is sponge cake, ice cream, and toasted (baked!) meringue all over it. It’s really fun! I’m going to share my spin on Baked Alaska soon!

  16. I have never had, nor made, Baked Alaska…I’m very intrigued! 🙂
    We don’t eat much pizza, but i do make my own dough for pizza and flat bread when it comes ‘round.
    Love that Boston Cream Pie…and Thanks always for the dedication you put into making sure your recipes are well tested and successful! ♥️

  17. 1. I had Baked Alaska once on a cruise – it was good! I think I’d like to make it but never really thought about it.
    2. I use Pioneer Woman’s Pie Dough recipe because it’s SO easy… A few ingredients in the stand mixer, then put it in a bowl and leave it overnight to use for dinner the next day. I’ve never tried yours but still have it on my to-do list. =)

  18. 1. I love eating Baked Alaska, but have never attempted to make it.

    2. I have never made homemade pizza crust.

  19. I have never made or tasted Baked Alaska. Maybe one day I will try. I have seen recipes and appealing photographs but never in person. The pizza queen makes her own pizza dough. I am curious about updated recipes. I would love to try a new version. Can’t wait!

  20. I’ve never made or eaten baked Alaska. I frequently make my own pizza dough, though we also do take out from both a national and a local chain with some frequency. Sometimes, a girl just needs a dinner she can order right before she leaves work and pickup on her way home!

  21. I make my own pizza dough using the two ingredient recipe that’s been floating around the Internet since around 2014. I only discovered it a couple of months ago, but it’s delicious and the easiest thing in the world.

    All you need is equal volumes of self raising flour and quark cheese or Greek yogurt or sour cream. I add a bit of salt, but the recipe doesn’t call for it.

    It comes out amazing every time!

  22. I used to make Baked Alaska using a bought frozen pound cake, hollowed out for the ice cream filling. It held its shape well and was the perfect size. Haven’t made it in decades! I have made pizza dough but most recently bought it. I’m also a fan of the Artisan No-Knead recipes, for breads and pizza dough.
    As for your sponge cake scraps, I see yummy summer trifles as well as cake pops in your future! (Is there ever a reason NOT to line a cake pan with parchment?) Love this series, Sally.

    1. I’m so happy you enjoy my recipe testing posts!! I really enjoy writing them. I have a baked Alaska recipe (with brownie as the base!) coming next week.

  23. I’ve never made Baked Alaska, but I do like it! Your pizza dough recipe is always my go-to, with your BBQ Chicken Pizza recipe. 🙂

  24. Sally, I made your Boston Cream Pie and taste wise it was amazing so thank you! My question is in regards to cake tins – I see you use a regular round tin but haven’t ever seen you mention a push pan type tin. I used these (push pan) for the Boston Cream Pie and the edges are really not straight and with such a ‘naked’ cake it really ruined the look!

    So just asking to see if you have any opinion or experience or if I’m just using the pans wrong!!

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