Epic Fail Cake

To start, I would like to say that this cake was not always known as “Epic Fail Cake”!  The official name is Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Toasted Pecan Filling, from an older Fine Cooking magazine.  However, there is a story as to why it’s known as Epic Fail Cake in our house.

I often use baking as stress relief and I had just finished my midterms when I made this cake and it earned its fateful name.  A couple of years ago, I came home from university and decided to undertake the making of this cake.  I was home alone at the time – my parents on holidays in Phoenix and my brother out and about, Lord knows where.  The actual making and baking of the cake went really well – I was pleased, and excited, because I knew how good the cake was.  This wasn’t the first time I was making it.

The cake baked for just over an hour  and came out of the oven looking fab!  I set the timer for 15 minutes to let the cake cool.  I went on instinct and previous experience here because it worked out the previous time I had baked the cake.  15 minutes passed and I loosened the outer rim of the tube pan – all seemed well.  No sooner had I put the cake back on the rack than the cake crumbled and proceeded to fall into a thousand chunks of cinnamon-streusel goodness.  Damn my impatience!

Not long after this befell me, my brother walked in.  The first thing he did of course, is laugh.  He asked me what happened and I kind of laughed and moaned about what happened.  I think at this point he laughed (I really hope good-naturedly) even harder and proceeded to take a picture with his phone and post it to Facebook with the tag, “Epic fail!”  Ever since, the cake has been known as nothing else.



So here is the recipe for what is famous in my house as Epic Fail Cake:

For the streusel topping:

4 tbsp butter, still slightly chilled
2/3 cup flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped coarsely (optional)

Measure dry ingredients into medium-sized bowl.  Add butter to dry ingredients and cut in with two knives or pastry cutter until butter is the size of peas.  Set aside.

For the filling:

3 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped coarsely (optional)

Combine in small bowl; set aside.

For the cake:

3 cups – 6 tbsp all flour
6 tbsp corn starch
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F.  You will need a 10″ tube pan with a removable bottom, or a high-sided bundt pan.

Measure flour, corn starch, baking soda and powder and salt into bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter for a 2-3 minutes.  Add sugar and beat until combined.  Add eggs one at a time.  Make sure they are fully combined before adding the next egg.  Add vanilla.  Scrape the bowl as needed – I do it after each egg.

At a low speed, add dry ingredients and sour cream alternately to eggs and butter mixture – ideally the flour in 4 parts and the sour cream in 3 parts.  Scrape the bowl as needed.

When building the cake, you want to have 4 layers of batter and 3 layers of filling, beginning and ending with batter.  Approximately 2 cups of batter per layer – using your best judgment.  Once you have layered the cake and filling, swirl using a butter knife.  Insert the butter knife into the cake and swirl as desired to have a lovely inside!


Smooth the top of the cake out.  Spread the topping on top of the cake by taking a handful of topping and squeezing into a clump.  Break the clump up into pieces as you sprinkle on top of the cake.  Repeat until you have used all the topping.


Bake cake for approximately 70-75 minutes.  Use this as a guideline, as each oven has their own temperament.  The sides will pull away from the pan, and the top will be a lovely golden brown.  Test with a wooden skewer or cake tester – it should come out clean.



The recipe is from a Fine Cooking magazine but I’ve made a few changes to it.  For example, the cake recipe calls for 3 cups of cake flour.  I’ve substituted this for all purpose flour and corn starch to lower the protein content of regular flour (2 tbsp for each cup).  The recipe does call for pecans in both the topping and filling, but I’ve omitted that.

I hope you enjoy!

Thanks for reading,


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