Monday, January 21, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake

Let Them Eat Cake

You know how it seems that you're either a baker or a cook? Not that you're not capable of doing both, but you have a natural tendency toward one or the other...

I bring this up, because I figured this out the hard way with one too many cake, "situations." Now, with concentration I can make great brownies and cookies, but the precision that's called upon for baking- using exact measurements, sifting and such is too complicated and detailed for me. I've always felt more is better when it comes to cooking- a little more butter, seasoning etc which flies in the face of the true baker's technique.

I have had more than one cake go south and I bring this topic up because I just heard another cake-gone-wrong story from my Mom. She is an excellent cook and is one of the rare few who is a both-ee- she can bake and cook with equally great talent. I learned to cook from my Mom and she, to me, can do it all in the kitchen. Her cake gone wrong story had to do with a shared recipe from a wonderful friend; without me knowing how this happened, let's just say numbers were transposed and 1 cup of flour led to 4 or something like that and it went downhill (literally) from there.

Here is a list of my greatest cake fiascos. I am listing these not just to tell you my story but to remind myself if I ever get the wise idea to ever make a cake again, I will refer to this memo as a reminder of why not to do it...

Cake #1) Basic Yellow Cake for a birthday cake. I won't go into too much detail. Let's just say I forgot to mix the eggs in the batter and realized it happily within 10 minutes of having put the cake into the oven. It had started baking but I surmised that it was still liquid enough to whip in the forgotten eggs. So I did. I don't think I can go on with this story but you get the idea, right?

Cake #2) Swedish Door Stop: I'm calling this the doorstop recipe because I don't remember the name of this Swedish Coffee Cake and after I finished this yeast dough disaster, it resembled a brick of concrete and had no resemblence to a lovely coffee cake- at all. I would have thrown it in the wastebasket but it might have cracked the floor tile when it landed so instead, I placed it gently in the bin and said farewell.

Cake #3) Meringue Cake: I'm tired of people telling me how easy it is to make a meringue. Things seemed like they were going well. I made two fluffy meringue discs that I blobbed onto the cookie sheet to bake. The idea is I would have a 2 layer meringue cake that I would fill with sweetened whipped cream and chocolate chips. Well, I don't know what went wrong but they were flat and overall the cake was a flop- no pun intended. At the time, I blamed it on the recipe- you know, one of those great recipes you see in a magazine with a Hollywood photo showing a movie- star cake?

But you know, the problem was really me, the non-cake, non-baker girl.

Now, I know there are many people who are not only accomplished bakers but people who've taken baking to the another level. Artistry combined with baking to create fun, imaginative, irresistable, delicious baked goods. We know they're out there or there wouldn't be any bakeries in the world or cookies- we'd all be eating rice with a little sugar thrown on it and would think that was great.

My good friend Heather is one of these amazing people. She bakes using molds, creating adorable cakes shaped like cartoon characters- and this was before the TV show with the star cake bakers.

She is an original. She paints with icing, frosts like Leonardo with a paint bruch and makes the best sour cream pound cake in the universe. Her talent comes from within and her cakes are something to behold. She's the "fun" Mom, who all the kids love because she creates to bring joy to her children. Heather has patience, detail orientation and a large dose of creativity that makes her final product very special.

I take it back. There is one cake I make well and because of the initial success I have had with this, I have made it repeatedly. It's an olive oil cake. Now, don't run away, it's great. I don't want anyone to get the idea that I'm a baker because of this confession, this is an anomoly. I am really a cook.

I know, you're thinking olive oil cake? I hear you, I thought the same thing. But it's wonderful... I got the recipe from a cooking class I attended in Sonoma and I have made adaptions to the recipe to suit my taste. I top the cake with toasted pine nuts and serve it with a small scoop of vanilla bean gelato.

So there you go. I say, "let them eat cake", I myself will be buying it, not baking it. Happily the world has enough bakers to feed the non-baking cooks.

1 comment:

Osafp said...

I know just what you mean about being a cook or being a baker. Whenever I go to make a cake, I always get double the necessary ingredients, because I invariably forget to mix something into something, and then I have to start over. The end result is always good, but for some reason making a cake requires extra concentration for me....thanks for the I know I'm not alone...