Saturday, March 26, 2011

Third Time's a Charm

Well. This cake. Or should I say, this cake. Sometimes, when I think a cake will be "easy" I'm just cursing myself. Perhaps the name of this post should be "Murphy's Law Cake" because whatever could have gone wrong with it did. Sigh.

Before my client totally hyperventilates reading this, I must explain. The cake that was given to my client was a good cake. I'm sure it tasted pretty darn good too. But the cake they got was the THIRD cake I made for them. Yes. You read that right. THIRD.

It all started with the request. Marge wanted a birthday cake for her two daughters who were celebrating their birthdays on the same day. Dylann was turning two, and Addison was turning four (adorable names, aren't they?!). Marge sent me a picture of a two-tiered pink cake with polka dots and a little fondant crown on the side with the birthday girl's age. Yeah. I could do that. She requested the top tier to be a cherry chocolate chip cake with vanilla buttercream and the bottom tier to be a yellow cake with chocolate buttercream. Both sounded great!

I've become a total fan of the Cook's Illustrated recipes. These are the recipes that are tested like a billion times before they're published. They are America's Test Kitchen. Love them. I've made MANY recipes from them and have always had great luck. Their yellow cake is absolutely delicious, moist and perfect every time. Their white cake is the same. Love it. And that's kind of hard to say about a from-scratch white cake, which are usually a little on the dry side because of the lack of egg yokes...but I digress.

The Cherry Chocolate Chip cake recipe I used was also from a Cook's Illustrated magazine. It required a White cake recipe with added cherries and mini-chocolate chips. I know from baking as much as I do that when you add items such as these to a batter, they should be coated in a smidge (technical term, I know) of flour so that they don't sink to the bottom of the pan. But Cook's Illustrated didn't say anything about this. And you NEVER question Cook's Illustrated. So, I baked the cake as directed and when I took the cakes out of their pans after cooling, ALL of the cherries and chocolate chips sank to the bottom of the pan. UGH! I can't give that to a client! Cake pops anyone?!

So I tried again. This time, I was talking on the phone, got distracted and didn't separate the eggs. Egg yokes were added to the white cake, but I DID coat the chips and cherries in flour. When I took these cakes out of their pans after cooling, ALL of the cherries and chocolate chips sank to the bottom of the pan...AGAIN. Double UGH! More cake pops, I guess.

So I head to the grocery store and actually run into Marge, who ordered the cake for her daughters. I was secretly hoping that she wasn't looking in my cart to see the ingredients for the cake I had to make AGAIN. But, it was SO nice to see her again (haven't seen her since high school!) and catch up, if only for a few minutes. :)

So, later that night, I tried to bake this cake yet a third time. This time, I made the recipe correctly, coated the stuff in flour and turned OFF the convection on my oven. And finally, the cakes came out beautifully. Cherries and chips evenly spread throughout. I don't know if the convection was truly causing the problem, but that really seemed to work this time. And, luckily the design for the cake was pretty simple and cute (thank you Marge!); polka dots, stripes and buttercream. It goes together pretty quickly and is a VERY happy little cake.

I know some people think that I'm crazy because I don't use cake mixes and make everything from scratch. But I LOVE it. There's something really pure about making a cake from scratch. Creation. Pure. Simple. It sometimes just takes me a little longer to get there. In this case, the third time's a charm! But I learned a LOT on this one!

Happy Birthday, Addison and Dylann! I hope your cute little party was a blast!

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