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Triumph of the Mundane

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cake

How Did That Pan Out?

oven

The default cake pan for this kitchen is a Bundt pan. I bought it long ago. Not knowing better at the time, I bought a black one. The purported positive theory was things bake faster in black–save time, save energy. Well, the outside bakes much faster but I’ve always had a problem with  super crispy outer edge and a still-gooey center.

So when I saw a post on Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Facebook page about using a baking sheet under a baking pan not just to catch bubble-over but to change baking dynamics, I decided to give it try. Oddly, the post noted that baking time would likely be affected but didn’t note in which direction.

oven-cake

For me for this cake, it increased baking time by about 10 minutes. Most importantly, the edge did not get crunchy. The hubs was pleased. This is his fav: poppy seed form cake. He maintains, however, that the center was still a titch gooey and requested a retrial. Yes, dear. Finish this one and I’ll bake another.

All in all, the experiment did pan out.

What has not panned out recently is the photo program on the ol’ PC. If it does open at all, it crashes, so please forgive the less-than-average images. As soon as I can find a solution, I’ve got a bunch of things to post. After eons in publishing, I can’t bring myself to publish anything beyond these two raw images.

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Testing 1, 2, 3

cake-testers

On the last out-of-state excursion, I bought a cake tester for no discernibly good reason. Even in the moment I said to myself, This isn’t necessary. But it’s cute and cheap and if that purchase has risen to the level of extravagance, I am being true to my frugal roots to the point of being cheap. But does it work?

Twice tested with the same results. And I’ll wrench my shoulder if I pat myself on the back anymore. The round-top one has been in use for years; it’s just a stout wire with a bit of a handle coated with something to make it a marketable item. The new one has a cake-shaped top stamped ‘cake tester’ in case you were to mistake it for something else. And there’s old reliable, the toothpick.

Most receipes state that the cake is done when the tester comes out clean. And sometimes a toothpick is noted as the preferred tester. Also of note is the caveat that ‘clean’ really means a few crumbs sticking to the tester. Since I’ve a tendency to overbake ‘just to be sure.’ that is advice to be heeded.

The results: The wire pulls out more crumb that either the new tester or the toothpick. So my crispy-edge cakes may be avoidable using the new tester. Who knew? The sad news is that this cake was baked in the wrong pan, but that’s a post for another day.

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Food Pass-Fail 1

A week ago I spent part of Sunday afternoon watching The Great British Baking Show and knitting. More about knitting another time.

This past Sunday, perhaps more appropriately, I watched three episodes of TGBBS while baking cookies and a cake. The local PBS station probably calls it a marathon; more likely it’s a choice made to fill air time.

Clearly we’re set for a bit over a week with the hubs love of sweets, and I’m not joking. We might get two weeks, but that’s the longest it will stretch.

Poppy seed cake

Made me think it’s time for a review and rating of recent kitchen efforts.

This is a pass!

This poppy seed cake gets a solid B. With the cookie reserve, the day’s efforts get a B+. Maybe an A-. There’s a lot of dishes involved in the prep and I did clean up rather than my usual I-cooked-you-clean-up approach. That includes the cookie sheets for bonus points.

Poppy seed cake is on constant rotation here; the hubs pines and whines if he thinks it’s been too long since a cake graced the counter. He’s been known to employ the sad face in the grocery store to force the issue.

This time I’m patting myself on the back for exceptional texture and spot-on baking time. While mixing I feared the egg whites might not have been whipped enough (nothing like a beaten-to-infinity foam), but the results speak otherwise.

 

My Week Has Gone to Pot – But At Least There’s Cake

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We’ve all endured them: The weeks that start with so much promise and fall apart. Nothing horrific, just the water torture of small events insistently eroding time and energy.

Then Thursday rolls around and I’m scratching my head, wondering what I can get done.

At least I made a cake, but even that started with little promise. It’s King Arthur Flour’s Golden Vanilla Cake. The recipe begins with mixing the butter and dry ingredients. Initially the consistency didn’t look right so I upped the mixer speed – not thinking that there’s no liquid yet.

After cleaning up the cloud of flour that precipitated on the counter, then baking the cake, I  wasn’t satisfied. Again, the consistency: edges drier than I thought they should be, center on the brink of too moist.

The frosting was fine, but by now I was obsessed with consistency and didn’t like the way it spread.

Even the first piece of cake elicited a ‘whatever’ response. Too soon after baking, I think. At this point, I was pretty much Lucy in Peanuts.

For some reason, the hubs was mad for it. Had a second piece late in the day.

By the next day, I was pleased with the outcome. And as the week goes on, the cake tastes better. Could even make it again.

There might be just enough cake to get me through the week. Thank goodness.

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