A mom's journal of the sweet things in her life...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Confession of a Baker of Truly Awful, Dry Cakes

I suck at cakes.  Truly, I do.  In fact, my mom's and sister's polite assurances that my cakes are "fine" have finally been replaced with suggestions as they 'troubleshoot' with me. Is it a problem with my oven?  Perhaps the high altitude?   Am I leaving it in too long? While their honest and helpful approach is appreciated, it has not gone unnoticed that the mere utterance of these words is, in effect, an admission on their part that what I say is true.  I suck at cakes.

I baked a cake the other day, feeling optimistic with my new cook book and fueled with my recent inspiration to blog about my creations in the kitchen. I googled 'baking at high altitudes' and took what I learned on the internet and applied it to my recipe.  I increased the liquid by 3 tablespoons, I added an extra 'dollop' of butter, I purchased a thermometer to ensure my oven was at the correct temperature and I took the cake out a whole 8 minutes earlier than the recipe recommended.  

Well, guess what?  It was dry.  When my sister came over I showed her the cake and she concurred that it felt dry, she said that it felt like sponge cake.  (I had not baked a sponge cake.)  Although, to her credit, she did say it smelled nice.  Thanks for that at least.

Needless to say, I am a little discouraged at the moment.  Why can't I figure this out?  I can make creme brulee, crepes, florentines, cookies, homemade pasta, risotto, even buns to name a few.  But cake?  Forget it.

Why is this important?  It's not, really, except that my dad's 65th birthday party is coming up and my sister and I are preparing all the food.  Oh, how we do love to have an excuse to unleash all our pent up creativity in the kitchen.  I feel that it would be wrong to serve the guests all our homemade appetizers and then follow it up with a store bought cake. So I am more determined than ever to get this figured out, and if that means baking several cakes that are thrown out in the interim, so be it. 

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