Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How to Botch a Cake...

Does anyone else grow tired of seeing pin after pin, picture after picture of marvelous baked goods, baked goods that look a little too easy to recreate? Well, hear me roar--I AM!!!

So the bestie sent me a pin for a pumpkin spice crunch cake. It looked easy enough. Make a box of spice cake batter, add in some pureed pumpkin and a mound of heath toffee bits. Bake, spread with icing, add a sprinkle of heath bits, and voila, done! 

Once I took a second look I thought, "Wait wait wait..." Here were my issues:
  1. Exactly HOW much pumpkin puree (canned, no doubt) was I to add to the batter? Typically recipes using canned pumpkin call for one 15 oz can. Okay. Whew. That wasn't too bad. 
  2. Then I worried about the amount of moisture in the batter. Would the water the box recipe called for, plus the water in the pumpkin, be too much for the cake? But I didn't know how to modify it, so I kept going. 
  3. Wait--how much of the heath bits to add to the cake, when I needed to add some to the batter, the middle layer, and the outside of the iced cake? The good thing about that is that no amount of heath bits is too large, so I put about a third of a cup in the batter, and then sprinkled onto the middle layer and outside of the cake until it looked pretty. Cool. 
  4. Wait, now with all the extra ingredients, is the cake going to bake for as long as the box indicates? Nope. As a matter of fact, it took much longer, much much longer. Then again that could have been because I had to place all the batter in my one springform pan. I thought it'd be prettier as a round cake rather than baking in two bread loaf pans like the picture directed. So maybe that part was my fault!
After all of this, I removed the cake from the oven and let it cool on a wire cooling rack. If you need a lesson in patience, bake a cake. I did not fully succeed in learning my lesson, as I was too eager to cut the cake in half so I could frost it, pop it into its pretty glass home, and be DONE. So as I was cutting the cake in half, part of it started to crumble. EXPLETIVE! EXPLETIVE! EXPLETIVE! Mind you, this cake is for my office's Thanksgiving lunch today. But I REFUSED to start over (no ingredients to do so) or bring something else. I was gon' finish this cake come hell or high batter! You get the picture. 

Also, when turning a cake out onto a cake dish, and you have NOT baked the layers in two separate pans, be sure to have a large spatula with a lot of surface area. This will help. Or, you can place a plate on the bottom of the cake and turn it over. I used a combo of all of these techniques to get the layers on the cake dish. 

When it came to the top of the cake, about a third of it did crumble all the way off, but, you guessed it, I let the icing do its magic to bind all parts of the cake. I spread that icing like my life (and the cake's life) fully depended on it (and it did). The finished product wasn't perfect, but it held together, and looks pretty purty. Let's just pray the folks at my job like it! I know that to be a real chef means tasting as you go, but am I the only one who finds that just a little scary? In my quest for avoidance I wait until I take the first bite and let that tell me all I need to know. And by the by, if this cake turns out tasty, I'll post the recipe. :-)

Happy Early Thanksgiving! 
The crack...ominous much?!

Looks okay, right?

Yeah, it crumbled. Don't judge me. :-p

The aftermath...not too bad if I do say so myself!!

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