How can I reuse or recycle old cake?

CakeWe’ve had an email from Suzanne, asking:

What do you do with dry cake that you can’t stand to throw out? Trifle? Or rebake by slicing in pan and covering with a lemon something or other?

My first thought was “old cake? there is no such thing! there is cake and eaten cake!” but as much of a cake-fiend as I am, there are times when I’m in the same situation as Suzanne – banana bread when it’s past its best or the remains of a giant panettone that will not disappear (I swear those things regrow in the tin).

So suggestions?

In the past, I’ve microwaved old but not very dry cake (or muffin) and covered it in a healthy portion of custard for a speedy pudding. But I also like a biscuit-y idea – re-baking it in slices, maybe with a sprinkling of icing sugar on the top when it’s done – but am not sure it would work for (originally) really moist cakes. Anyone out there a cake expert?

(Photo by marsy)

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35 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle old cake?”


  1. fuchsoid says:

    Old panetonne (I know what you mean about it expanding in the tin) makes the best bread-and-butter pudding ever, and I suppose you could do something similar with other sorts of cake. There are lots of old-fashioned recipes for using food left-overs that might be worth looking at – a lot of them use breadcrumbs, like Queen of Puddings. I’m sure you could tweak the recipes to use cake crumbs instead, perhaps by reducing the amount of sugar in the rest of the recipe.

  2. Morgana says:

    I’m a cake decorator, and I have get a TON of old cake bits and pieces lying around.

    You can slice them and rebake them into croutons or biscotti.

    You can turn them into french toast.

    You can blend them into crumbs for making pie and tart shells.

    You can turn them into trifles, cover in ice cream or pudding, or even spray with a tiny bit of liquour to turn them into a dessert.

    All else fails, compost it!

  3. em says:

    stuff them into a glass and pour on some milk!
    YUM
    (ok, perhaps its the wisconsin in me talking…)
    but really, it is good.

  4. adrienne says:

    I used to make real trifles on the rare occasions we had excess cake. But I got lazy/had a baby and now I throw together a faux trifle with sliced fruit, whipped cream, instant pudding, and maybe some sliced almonds.

    It’s easy AND delightful.

  5. jgodsey says:

    use old cake in trifle, the kind with pudding and whipped cream and served in a glass. make it up and let it sit overnight …add kirsh or a liquour have some fun with old cake.

  6. Frannie says:

    Break into crumbs, stir in some melted butter and press into a pie plate to make a pie crust. Depending on the flavour, it could be a crust for a cheesecake, custard flan, pumpkin pie, etc. If following a recipe, use one that calls for cookie crumbs for the crust, and just replace with cake crumbs.

  7. Brenda says:

    Left-over cake can be sliced into smaller or individual portions, then wrapped and stored in the freezer. Remove from freezer about an hour before serving.

  8. bookstorebabe says:

    Something my mom used to do if we had a big cake that was going stale before we could finish it-use an apple.Cut an apple into 4 to 8 pieces,no need to peel,put it in the dish with the cake,and cover it for a few hours or overnight.The cake softens right back up.You could always compost the apple or feed it to the birds later.It works.I really like the baker’s suggestions about making biscotti with it;I’ll have to try that.

  9. Rivka says:

    Make rumballs. Smash all the cake in the mixer, adding ingredients according to what kind of cake it is. (There are recipes, if you want more specific instructions.) If it’s a rich layer cake, add nothing; if it’s a stale sponge cake, mix up ingredients for a fattening chocolate cream. Add a bit of liquor (or don’t – we like it without).

    When it’s all one mush, flatten to 1-2 cm and freeze. Cut into cubes. Roll each cube into a ball. (Refreeze to store well-nigh indefinitely.) Dip in melted chocolate; roll while drying to avoid a flat ‘base’. Drizzle with leftover melted chocolate for a still more elegant look. Beautiful and YUM.

    (hope this post didn’t go up twice)

  10. VoiceOfReason says:

    How does cake get old?

  11. Ronda from Australia says:

    Idea 1
    First crumble finely if chocolate just melt cooking chocolate ,add to cake till its enough that you can make round balls (playdough consistancy) then dip into melted chocolate and cool can roll in nuts as well befor chocolate hardens,if cake isnt chocolate then add cocoa powdeer first.or leave for marble effect.
    also could use white chocolate if cake is vanilla.
    Idea 2
    If you can slice cake into 2 layers add cream and cherries from a jar in the middle of the layers,then prick many(15 or so) holes on the top of the cake then gently pour the syrup from the cherries over the top of the cake ,leave the cake for 15 mins or so for the syrup make the cake moist. now its a black forest cake

  12. Barb Huggins says:

    It’s been a long while since the post about making biscotti from leftover cake, but does anyone know how to do this?

  13. pilar says:

    From the cookbook Nancy Silverton’s Pastries from the La Brea Bakery, you will find a recipe for crumb biscotti. The recipe calls for cake crumbs, flour, a bit of sugar, a teeny bit of leavening – baking powder and baking soda, spices to up the flavor and eggs and a bit of melted butter to bind everything together. Form into a loaf but make sure to pack in tightly so there are no air pockets. Bake as you would biscotti – bake the loaf just until done and then slice into biscotti. Bake again, cut sides down in a slow oven 200 degrees or a bit higher, until dry, 20 min or so.

  14. Ally says:

    I want to know how to make a crumb cake using left over cake, like they do on Cake Boss. Any ideas/or recipes?

  15. cee says:

    As a child we had a bakery in our neighborhood and they made this large tray of leftover cakes into something like a bread pudding. It was the pastries, buns, but not the fruit pies . This was truly delicious and quite a heavy piece of cake. Then it was also iced. My cousin and I have been looking for this recipe for a long while now. We realize it must need some moisture in it, but she has tried making it once and it didn’t come out the same. The bakery called it “washington pie” or oddly enough “slop pies”

    • gill gill says:

      Just read your note. I think I know what you mean. Did you ever get a reply? I remember a local baker used to sell something similar. It was a large pastry case filled with small pieces of leftover cake mixed with jam to hold the pieces together, levelled off and covered with glace icing. I think i’ll pay them a visit to see how its done. If you got a reply to could let me know please. If I find out the recipe this end, I can forward it onto you also. I do cake decorating in my spare time and have lots of left over cake in my freezer. Its my birthday soon so I could use these leftovers to take cake into work instead of making a new batch.
      gill gilliangill8@hotmail.co.uk

      • june says:

        hi, just trying to get this recipe for recycled cake, im telling everyone about these cakes, they are unique, and very old fashioned, a taste all of their own!! BUT!!!!, how do you make them, i would be very grateful if you have found out and can share the secret with me .

  16. ceggydoo says:

    i know this post is oooold but we make cake balls out of the dry cake/ over done cake and i suppose old cake would fit this category. Using a hand mixer or your fingers mush the cake to crumbs. add frosting to the cake in the proportion of 1 full cake+ 1 full tub of frosting so 1/2 a cake 1/2 a tub. Use the blender to mix the whole thing together until a dough like consistency. roll into balls. Freeze for a 1/2 hour and dip in chocolate. You can shove on a lollipop stick too if desired though I would suggest a blop of melted choc on the tip to “glue” the cake on the stick before freezing and then dipping the ball. Certainly you can make festive shapes too! Yummy and lasts a good while… if not devoured!

  17. Janet says:

    my cake is not old or dry – it is heavy, moist and doughy (it didn’t rise properly)…does anyone have any ideas how I can reuse this?!

    • littleredhat says:

      Toast it. Just cut it into whatever pieces you want and rebake or broil it.

      It works for me when my bread comes out underdone.

  18. gill gill says:

    With all the left over cake pieces I had from making cakes, I froze them and found a lovely recipe – Russian Slice.
    Line a deep sided flan dish with short crust pastry, bake blind and cool.
    Warm some jam and add a flavouring (I used a small bottle of almond essence, the flavour needs to be quite strong) mix well.
    Cut the cake pieces into chunks and pour over the jam, coating the cake and gently stir to coat all the pieces.
    Spread the mixture into the pastry cake. Cover with a thin layer of sponge(swiss roll type).
    Cover with cling film, place a plate or something the same diameter as the flan and weigh down the filling for a few hours.
    Remove cling film and cover with glace icing and decorate. I used with cherries and feathered the icing.
    I took this to work and everybody loved it. Next time I’ll try Rum but wont take it to school. lol :) If you try this let me know how you get on. Gill

  19. Kathy Kearns says:

    I made a batch of Fig and Pecan muffins. When they came out of the oven I discovered that I had forgotten to put eggs into the mixture thats why the muffins did not rise. Could someone please let me know how I could use these muffins after I crumbed them. I really do not want to throw them out they smell delicious and have some good ingredients in them. Thanks Kathy

    kathygracekearns@gmail.com

  20. Ken says:

    A “recycled cake” that’s better than the original (trust me)

    Left over light fruit, pound, sponge &c. cakes go well in this recipe. Sponge might benefit from a little extra butter.
    I think the original was in “The Art of French Cooking, Vol.2″,
    The cooked cake can be used as a dessert with chocolate sauce and cream (Charlotte Africaine) or as a layer cake with filling and icing.
    Bake in a 4″ (10cm) to 6″ (15cm) tin. It will make a cake around 4″ to 5″ ( 10-14cm) deep.

    6″ cake tin, 3pint Charlotte mould or baking dish 4″ to 5″ deep.

    Qtr. Pound (110g) soft butter
    Round of waxed (greaseproof) paper
    2Tbl flour
    8oz. (220g) plain chocolate
    Qtr. pint (5Fl.oz.,0.15Ltr) milk
    8oz (220g) cake/sponge fingers/ whatever, icing removed.

    Break chocolate into pan, add milk, stir over moderate heat until chocolate is smooth. Crumble in cake.

    Heat oven to 350F/Gas4/180C

    Butter inside cake tin. Fit paper round and butter paper. Roll a little flour round interior and knock out excess.

    With electric whisk beat :-
    4 egg whites at room temperature
    Pinch salt
    Qtr. Tsp Cream of Tartar
    3 Tbl. Caster sugar

    Beat egg whites until foamy, add salt and cream of tartar, beat in sugar a Tbsp. at a time. Beat until stiff peaks are formed.

    4 Egg yolks
    4 oz. (110g) sugar
    2 Tbl. Dark rum or Orange Liqueur
    (Add 2oz/50g extra butter here if sponge cake is being used)

    Beat egg yolks, beat in sugar. Beat until pale yellow and a little raised on beaters falls back in ribbons. Add Rum/Liqueur and chocolate mixture. Beat in for 30 seconds or so to ensure smooth mixture. Beat in extra butter if used.

    With a spatula, stir in a qtr. of the whisked egg whites. Carefully fold in remainder of the egg whites.
    Turn batter into prepared dish/tin. Tilt in all directions to run mixture up to rim all round. Tin will be two thirds to three quarters full.

    Put immediately into centre of heated oven. Bake for an hour. Cake should be cooked when it has risen almost to rim of dish/tin.
    The top normally cracks a little. Test through the crack with skewer as normal.

    Leave to cool in tin for 20minutes. Run a thin knife round cake. Put serving plate upside down on cake, reverse the two and lift off tin.

    For dessert, slice in 2 or 3 horizontally, put Chantilly Cream between slices and serve with chocolate sauce.

    For cake, slice into 2 or 3 horizontally. Fill with butter beaten into THICK custard sauce with vanilla extract flavouring (or other) (Creme au beure Anglaise). Top with fondant if you wish.

    Like most good recipes, this one is open to no end of alteration and adaptation. Have fun. Bon appetit.

  21. Ann Kelly says:

    Hello All,
    I made a home made cake with home made chocolate icing. After not being eaten in a few days I put it in the refrig for another week or so. After reading all of these wonderful ideals for recycling old cake I decided to crumble the cake very fine. I sprayed pam in a baking pan and lined it with some of the crumbs…I then spread a layer of softened ice cream and kept layering with crumbs and ice cream. I finished with a layer of the crums. I placed it in the freezer to hardened. Cut in squares and top it with a dollop of cool whip. Nothing wasted!!! I love it.

  22. Talya says:

    Just pouring on lots of hot custard is the easiest solution and very nice :) but the milk idea sounded very good (above).

  23. Talya says:

    And the ice cream idea looks amazing!

  24. Jonno says:

    Those of you who have spent any amount of time in Dublin may have met some gurriers – the local brand of young lad, generally thought of as being up to no good. To ‘go on the gur’ meant to mitch (or skip school in other words) and so-called gur cake, made traditionally from leftover stale bread or cake, was one of the cheapest things to buy from the baker, so young lads ‘on the gur’ would buy pieces of gur cake to fuel their school skipping activities.
    You will find this in Dublin bakeries still, though nowadays it will more usually be labelled fruit slice (or possibly Chester cake) – moistened bread or cake crumbs mixed with fruit and treacle or sugar, and spread between two sheets of pastry. It’s a simple and economical thing to make which, these days, makes it seem like an old cake for new times.
    For the pastry:
    • 250g plain flour
    • 125g cold unsalted butter, cut into approx. 1cm cubes
    • pinch of salt
    • approx. 3 tblsp cold water
    • a little milk to brush on the pastry (optional)
    For the filling:
    • 300g stale bread (about 8 slices of sliced pan)
    • 350ml fresh, strongly brewed tea
    • 150g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins or whatever else takes your fancy)
    • 2 tblsp treacle
    • 2 tblsp golden syrup
    • 1 tsp ginger
    • 0.25 tsp cinnamon
    • 0.25 tsp cloves
    • pinch of salt
    You’ll also need:
    • Rectangular baking tin – mine was 27cm x 18cm and about 4cm deep
    The Pastry Steps:
    • Let me preface this by saying that if making pastry is something which causes you grief, your first step here should be to refer to Jenni’s tips on pie crust to ensure that you have a happy pastry experience.
    • In a large bowl, whisk the flour and salt together well.
    • Rub the butter into the flour until the texture resembles coarse meal, but with some larger (approx. pea-sized) lumps of butter remaining.
    • Sprinkle over a tblsp of the cold water, and toss the flour and the water together. Squeeze a handful of the mixture – if it sticks together and doesn’t crumble apart, it’s ready. If not sprinkle on some more water and repeat.
    • Roll the pastry out (ideally between a couple of sheets of parchment paper) so that it’s large enough to make a base and lid for your baking tin, then chill for at least 30 minutes.
    The Filling Steps:
    • Remove any very thick, hard crusts from the bread.
    • Place the bread in a medium-sized bowl and pour the tea over it. Allow the tea to soak in and soften for a minute or two, then mash well with a fork. You need just enough liquid to wet all of the bread – the mashed bread mixture will be stiff rather than overly liquidy.
    • Stir in fruit, treacle, golden syrup, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Mix well and leave to plump up for an hour or two.
    • When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200C
    • Remove the pastry from the fridge. Use half of it to line the base of your tin (just lining the base and not the sides). Then smooth the filling over the base layer and top with the rest of the pastry.
    • Prick the pastry topping all over with a fork, brush with a little milk if you like, and bake until golden, around 30 minutes or so. Allow it to cool in the tin before slicing into squares and eating with a cup of tea. Skipping school is optional but does add to the whole experience.
    The Variations:
    • Given the nature of this cake, it’s really all about using what you have on hand. You can certainly substitute molasses and, say, corn syrup for the treacle and golden syrup, or just replace the lot with brown sugar. The finished product actually reminded me of mince pies, what with the buttery pastry and warm, Christmas spices, so I think that you could expand that theme by adding some orange and lemon zest and perhaps a little drop of brandy.
    The Results:
    • Makes around 54 3cm x 3cm squares

  25. Melodie says:

    ‘Tipsy Pudding’

    Lay the left over cake on a plate. Well saturate with plenty of alcholol, sherry, madiera, whisky, any combination you want.
    Leave to soak for a while. Add fruit if you have any. Cover with creme anglaise or whipped double cream, decorate with nuts or anything else you have to hand.
    Enjoy.
    Grown ups only.



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