Or as this should be subtitled: My most recent culinary disaster.
Today I post about cake.
I had to make a cake for a thing, and being as occasionally cakes I have baked have turned out okay – I’ve been making a mess in kitchens for a while now – I planned on making this one the night before.
I had been thinking for days about what to make, had consulted books and much on-line surfing, and had decreed it would be none of the usual ones like boring banana, carrot, or chocolate cakes. Nothing wrong with those at all, except banana which is rather meh, but it was time to do something different.
I decided to go with a vanilla themed wonder.
So there I am the night before, making this thing, creaming the butter and the castor sugar (note, no substituting basic margarine or normal sugar for this wonder) and it creamed up all nice and fluffy as per the instructions.
Then I added in the eggs and all of a sudden, it started to go a bit weird. As in, the previously creamed fluffy, soft, buttery-sugary goodness went a bit hard in bits. The butter appeared to solidify randomly. This was quite mysterious, and clearly wrong, but I’d already half made the thing. It was too late to back out.
So I soldiered on and finished, and stuck the cake in the oven.
I checked on it, as one does, and noticed it did not appear to be rising all that much but appearances can be deceiving and let’s face it – there wasn’t a lot I could do now.
Then, when I started to smell burning, I whipped the thing out.
It was one of those moments when you just look at it a while, perplexed, and think… what the…?
What is this thing?
It had barely risen.
There were clearly burnt bits somewhere.
But not only this, there was butter, as in liquid butter, bubbling around the edges.
And even worse, it would not come out of the tin and when I finally did get it out of the tin, I had to use sharp utensils to remove it.
And even more worse, it had little holes in it.
And when I tasted it – well, honestly? I did not know what I was tasting. I really don’t.
So by now, its well after nine o’clock and I had promised I would deliver a cake the following morning.
It is moments like these you do what you should have done in the first place, and there is always the one cake, the one cake that truly never fails and so I did that one.
I made a second cake, a version of the Destitute Gourmet’s really easy chocolate cake, late at night, again with the butter and the eggs (thank you chickens, you lovely, pecking, ungrateful feathered wonders) and this cake rose amazingly, it looked stunning, it came out of the tin, and there were no burnt bits.
The only dilemma was that I didn’t really know what it was going to be like. I couldn’t really try it and take a test piece out. For home use, this would not be a problem. There is nothing that copious quantities of icing can’t disguise (except the previous disaster which was beyond repair) and icing is really good at disguising the discreet cut where the test piece is taken from. But I could not do it in this case.
I had to wait until it was sampled.
The next morning, when the time duly came, I do confess that as I saw the first piece being taken, I had to momentarily ignore the person talking to me so I could watch this other person, to see if there were any notable reactions to eating the cake, either way.
Oh, the relief, the joy.
They liked my cake! They really liked my cake.
Later, I partook.
It was not half bad.
In fact, it was pretty good. As we like to say around here, it would have kept me in the competition.
Maybe, if I could be so bold, it could have even won it.
Thus all was saved – well rather, I was saved – and the OBVIOUS conclusion to draw from all this late night drama (which wasn’t too bad with the first cake, because the rugby was on the radio) is – make what you know. Don’t be a dick and try anything new at the last minute.
Notes on the cake recipe: It called for skim milk and I don’t know what difference skim milk would have made as I did it with non-skim, and it was just fine. In fact, it was better than fine. I am not exaggerating to say it was amazing, and big, and worthy of any event. Here’s the link again to the version of the Destitute Gourmet, Sophie Gray’s, chocolate cake. The only thing I would add is it says 4-6 servings and my mind is boggling at that, surely a misprint, and it says U.S. measurements but I just used NZ.