So you have leftover cake, but it's dried out and unappetizing. As long as it's not completely stale or rock-hard, there are still ways to enjoy it, depending upon what kind of cake it is. Here are three possible solutions to refresh dried-out cake into something delicious.
Place a small rack in a pan. Fill the pan with hot water to just below the level of the rack. Set the cake on a plate on top of the rack. Put the lid on the pan.
Keep the water at barely a simmer. You want a pan of steam, but you don't want to melt the cake.
Once the cake has been steamed, wrap it in plastic wrap to hold in the moisture and refrigerate it until it finishes evenly absorbing the moisture.
Add a Simple Syrup
Put the cake on a plate. With a fork, poke holes in it every inch or so.
Combine equal parts water or juice and sugar and boil for five minutes over medium heat. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.
Cut the cake in half crosswise. Gently brush the syrup over the cake, or pour it on a little bit at a time. You will need to do this repeatedly, until the cake has absorbed enough syrup to be moist.
Turn it into Trifle
If your cake is too dried out for either of the above remedies, you can use it as an ingredient in trifle.
Assemble a light custard, some whipped cream, canned or cooked fruit and your dry cake. Cut the cake into bite-sized pieces. Make the same simple syrup as above.
Make a layer of cake pieces dipped into the syrup, followed by a layer of fruit, and a layer of custard. You can pour a bit of additional syrup on each cake layer. Trifle is a moist dessert, so don't hesitate to add enough syrup to thoroughly moisten the cake.
Do this for two or three layers, then top with another layer of cake. Frost and decorate with whipped cream and fruit.
If the cake is frosted, you might want to try to remove the frosting before steaming, then replace it before wrapping the cake. You can also use coffee, wine or liquor for the liquid in the syrup. Add the same flavoring used in the syrup to the custard, or follow a theme with the custard, syrup and fruit. For example, raspberries and peaches make a good combination, especially with raspberry brandy in the syrup.