Simone's Kitchen

Lemon Sour Cake – Donna Hay challenge #2

Lemon sour bundt cake

Lemon sour bundt cake

There are those things that you can almost predict will go wrong. As I had told you when announcing the Donna Hay Challenge nr. 2, I didn’t have time to make the challenge recipe prior to the actual challenge so I had to do it still, just like the rest of you and then shoot it.

Making the batter was a breeze, but I tried out a new anti-stick stuff that I had used before successfully on other cake tins. I normally grease a bundt cake with butter and then carefully make sure all hooks are filled. I then dust the inside with icing sugar and it works every time. This time I decided to try my anti stick bottle and well… it didn’t work so well as my own method!

First of all I made a big mistake by taking the cake out of the tin just 2 minutes after coming out of the oven. I should have waited longer but I didn’t think, plopped a cakerack on top, turned it over and voila, cake in two! Damn… Not a good thing if you have to smoothly cover the thing in icing and shoot it. So what to do? I carefully took out the part of the cake that was still in the tin and then matched it to the other part already on the cooling rack. Needless to say, that was not perfect but it looked more or less like an entire bundt cake. Then I figured; if I cover it with icing you won’t see it so much now would you?

Ofcourse in order to be able to cover cracks the size of ravines you would need to sort of put a lot of icing on top!


And putting a lot of icing on the cake made it look a little bit dodgy too as you can see in the background. O well, I’m sure it will taste delicious! So now on to the photo part. I normally shoot in my kitchen but since the photo needed to be fairly dark and the sun had all of a sudden decided to come out, I moved everything to the other part of the living room and used a wooden board as my background (LOVE that board which is 200 years old and comes from Weimar!). I placed another dark wooden board behind it on a chair to act as my background. I took a photo with my Iphone to show you the setup.


I took two shots; one without the foamboard on the left as you see it above and one with the board. Both photos are shown above. Now in my memory the background of the original photo was quite dark, but when I put the photos on my computer it wasn’t as dark as I had thought it would be. So my photo is darker! If you need areas of a picture to be really dark with heavy shadows, the easiest way to do that is to use something called a ‘flag’. I use white board a lot to reflect the light back onto the photos, with black you basically do the same but in reverse. So where ever you have too much light and you need more shadows, see what happens when you hold a black flag to that area. I took another Iphone photo showing


you how I position the flag, but it was a little hard to hold it at the right angle and hold the black flag at the same time, so it’s not exactly how it should be but you get the picture I think.

See how much shadow it casts? The photos where shot with my Canon eos 5d mark II on manual. The lens was the 100mm macro and the setting were iso 160 at F4.5 for 1/5 s. It was dark and overcast at the time I took the photo which worked fine here as too much light would have made it too bright.

In the photo below you can see how damaged the cake was… All the brown bits are sort of missing plus I think I should have left it maybe a few minutes more. O well, better next time I would say! Also visible here is how the shot looks without using any flag or reflection. The only big difference is that the sun was still out so it looks a little brighter in general plus the curtain on the other end of the room (the kitchen) was open too getting in some stray light from the left.




What is also pretty obvious if you compare the two photos side by side is that the bundt pan makes some different to the amount of shadows cast as well. The ridges in the cake by Con Poulos are much more pronounced meaning they cast more shadow then my pale shallow one.. Plus my drips are not so pretty! I should have made my icing a little thinner too. But overall… I’m fairly happy with the results. Good exercise for sure! (both in terms of baking and in terms of taking the shot.. ) Can I hire a cakebaker for next time? Lol.. O wait, next time is not a cake! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! O and can I just say that this cake is absolutely and totally delicious? The addition of sour cream in the batter made it more moist and the overall presence of the lemon is just delicious. It did not last long!

I might actually try and redo this cake if I have enough time left… See if I can make one that is a little bit better looking!

For the recipe check out the original post here


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  1. A lovely click! It is so infuriating when we destroy a cake by error….



  2. Lovely. I really like your photos showing the setup. It will be very helpful. I will be baking this weekend. It will be tricky, but I cant wait 🙂

  3. Gorgeous click! And great photography tip! xx

  4. I like yours! And thank you for all that explanation too!
    The cake really was yummy! I’ve learned from my Grandma that the best way to get a Guglhupf off its from in one peace is to turn it around right after you get it out of the oven but let it cool then about half an hour before you actually remove the pan… works for me (most of the time)

    • This was actually the first time it didn’t go according to plan when removing the cake from the form. Not sure if it was due to the difference in texture of the cake itself or if it was because I used something else to grease the tin with… Mmmm, did yours feel different when removing the cake?

  5. Simone, I am so enjoying this series. What is the next challenge? I should make myself go back and redo what you’ve done for good practice. I actually think your cake looks divine. I love the height of it. It would be way to tempting for me to take just a sliver and then another and then another. That’s how I convince myself I’m not eating much.

  6. Gorgeous cake – I really like your version! This looks super delicious…I love sour desserts. 🙂

  7. Beautiful shot! You always get such pretty light in your photos. Oh, and that cake looks super yummy

  8. It looks liek it came okatthe end;)

  9. Lovely talk through of how you captured the shots and also loved the way you saved the cake! Taking all this into consideration the shot looks wonderful. I will be missing this one as there is just far too much going on before the workshop and need to finish other projects too. Looking forward to everyone’s posts though!

    • Too bad you won’t be able to join in Meeta, but I can totally understand with all the last minute preparations that are going on for Plate to Page! Can’t wait to hear how the Tuscany adventure went!

  10. This certainly is a wonderful exercise… and useful tips as well!

  11. Simone,
    I love your photo the best. I also love love love the behind the scenes shots.
    You teach me so much and I am not even coming to learn!
    Great great blog post (as always)…

  12. Oh how I hate it when something like this destroys the look of the finished product!! Still, that frosting hides a multitude of sins… 😉 Really interesting how you talk us through how you adjusted the amount of light in the shot. I have a black reflector that I need to practise with a bit – never enough time! Lovely shots.

  13. “Cake in two”…oh, I hate it when something like that happens! (And it never happens when you’ve got all the time, or don’t need to take a picture…)
    I think your cake looks gorgeous and I love the way you showed your set-up and working with the black reflector.

  14. Made mine and put up a blog post with a day to spare 🙂 Thanks for the challenge, it was truly enjoyable. Look forward to #3!

  15. Hey all-

    I’m going to miss this one. I don’t have a bundt pan. I tried to scrounge one up over the past few weeks but it just didn’t happen. I thought of just doing any ol’ shape, but then time got away from me.

    I may still try to pull it off this week. Just for the practice of it. Looking forward to #3!


  16. I just published mine, it was hard work! It looks way off but if I don’t try I won’t improve, right.

    This is fun!

  17. Pingback: Junglefrog Cooking » Donna Hay challenge # 2; the results!

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