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18 July 2013 @ 08:44 am
adventures in baking  

Some of you will recall I started a Great Cake Baking Project a while back, intending to bake one of each of the cakes in my 80 year old cookbook. The very first cake, an angel food cake, turned out somethig more of an angel food doughnut: it tasted fine right out of the oven, but I’d overwhipped it and it was flat.

Well, having all these leftover egg whites from making custard for ice cream, I figured I should try it again. Except having just moved, I have no idea where my tube pan is. So I ended up making cupcakes.

I didn’t take pictures, but they turned out perfectly. They also verified what my mother has always said to be true, which is that angel food cake is pretty useless cake. It’s only good the day you bake it, and even then the only thing you really want to do with it is pour strawberries and cream over it and make strawberry shortcake. In this regard, it was magnificent. By the next day, it was just sort of nasty. So it’s a good thing they turned out, because now I don’t have to ever make another angel food cake. :)

Then there was the chocolate ice cream I tried making. Now, I screwed up the custard–the double-boiler water wasn’t hot enough when I started, so it cooked too long and got lumpy (causing me to run to the internet to see if lumpy custard could be saved. The answer: yes, with a wire whisk and an arm-numbing amount of whisking.)–so I can’t be sure if it was me or the recipe, but the final result was a frozen chocolate mousse. Now, if you wanted a frozen chocolate mousse, it was very nice, but I didn’t, so it was disappointing. Now I can’t decide if I should try that recipe again in case it was me, or just move on…

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

T. Revst_rev on July 18th, 2013 09:28 am (UTC)
Try banana puree instead of custard.
Amberleyamberley on July 19th, 2013 06:14 am (UTC)
Is your cookbook in alphabetical order?
What if you put the chocolate mousse ON the angel food cupcake? Do two wrongs make a right?

Perhaps you should do each recipe in your cookbook once, then circle back to the beginning and make a second attempt on everything that didn't turn out right the first time, and reiterate, until at last the most difficult of endeavours is but a trifle in your hands, or else everyone you know is too large to fit through Irish doorways.

Has baking technology changed any in 80 years? Are there things modern science has revealed that were a mystery to the ancients?
kitmizkit on July 19th, 2013 06:41 am (UTC)
Re: Is your cookbook in alphabetical order?
...both the cake and mousse have been thrown out now, but possibly two wrongs wouldn't have exactly made a right but could have been appealing together while both fresh. Too late now! :)

I didnt really have much intention of doign the angel food cake again, but then I had all these egg whites, so I figured I might as well. As a rule, if something doesn't turn out, I think your approach is basically sound. :)0

There are a couple of significant changes in the recipes, actually. One is that modern cookbooks use a great deal more fat and sugar for most of their recipes. The other, particularly noticeable with cakes, is that the older recipes are much, much denser and heavier. There's considerably less liquid in them, which gives them a fairly significantly different texture than modern cakes.

Many years ago I screwed up a cake recipe from this book through carelessness and added a third more liquid than it called for. By the time I realized, it was too late to do anything about it, so I figured I'd bake it and the worst that could happen was it'd be a disaster. Except it actually turned out much lighter and more modern in texture and I quite preferred it, so since then when making any of the butter cakes in the book I always increase the liquid. So yes! Arcane mysteries! :)