26.3.10

Cake, the First

Martha Stewart, I am not. However, sometimes I aspire to be on around the same level as a 1950s housewife, I think. June Cleaver, maybe, minus the vacuuming and lipstick and high heels. You know, homemade pie crusts and fresh baked bread and all that. Here in Kenya, without the option of mixes and bakeries and pre-made anything, I'm finding my chance. I'm moving on to at least a basic mastery of pie crusts, and yeast breads, and was quite successful at carmel sticky buns, if I do say so myself. So when I was asked to bake a birthday cake for a friend's birthday yesterday, I decided to take the plunge and try...a layer cake. Yes, yes. Quite adventurous.

Problem #1: I forgot about making said cake until 10pm the night before, as I was finishing entertaining 14 people at my house for dinner. Since I worked all day the next day (her birthday), it was 10pm at night or never, so I'd have enough time to assemble and frost the next day.

Problem #2: Is directly related to problem #1. I got out the Betty Crocker cookbook, which no 1950s housewife should be without (seriously, it's awesome), and assembled the ingredients for the standard chocolate cake (devil's food). Mixed it, greased and floured 2 8” cake pans, poured it in, popped it in the oven for, sigh, 30-35min. As soon as they came out of the oven, I decided to go to bed. Had I paid more attention to Betty's sage advice, I would have waited 10 minutes for the cakes to cool slightly, then removed them from the pans to continue cooling. Instead, I took them out the next afternoon. Unfortunately, that left about 1/3 of each cake stuck to the bottom of the pans. Argh!

Problem #3: Layer cakes can be pieced back together, but when you try to frost them, beware....I decided that even though a good portion of the cakes were still in the pans, I could scrape the mostly intact bottoms OUT of the pans and stick them back to the rest of the cake with lots and lots of frosting. Now, the frosting was by far the most successful part of the experience, as I altered a chocolate frosting recipe by adding liquid coffee instead of milk. Voila, mocha frosting! The first layer reassembled pretty well, but then when I tried to apply a layer of frosting, the crumbling started. Long story short, the key seems to be lots of frosting and minimal spreading.

The end result was a cake that has a definite top slope, and some crumbly chocolate cake showing through the frosting on the sides, but when I put some sprinkles and candles on top, I think the deficiencies could be overlooked. And in the end, it tasted great. I think the key here is to continue baking as many cakes as possible to gain experience. Many well frosted cakes. Yes....mmmm.....

2 comments:

diamondzoo said...

You're inspiring! Thanks.

Banks Off Shore said...

Rachel, the cake was soooo delicious! Chocolate and coffee are two of my favorite things in the world, to together they were perfect. Thanks for working so hard and late for my birthday! - Julie