Sunday, June 27, 2010

Rose, Sweet Rose ....

.... hard hearted harbinger of CAKE MESS!

Well, the 2 6" cakes I needed to make did not work out .... AT ALL!  I've been wanting to try 'Woody's Lemon Luxury Layer Cake' from Rose's Heavenly Cakes. I made them Friday night. It looks so delicious and lemony in the book.  To be honest, I've kinda been dreaming about this cake for a while.

 (Here's a little preview of the horror.)

So I went for it.  In addition to the 2 cakes there was enough batter to make 24 mini cupcakes.  I filled my 6" cake pans half full, or so I thought.  At first everything looked good.  The smell coming from the oven was simply amazing.  After about 10 minutes in the oven the minis started to develop some serious muffin tops.  A minute or two later the dam broke.  The cakes started running over the edges of the pan, dripping in giants glops onto the bottom of the oven.  This is not a cheap cake to make so I tried very hard to remain optimistic.  "That's ok, they'll just require some extra trimming.  No big deal." ..... and then it got worse.  The cakes started to fall and fall hard!  They were now about an inch to an inch and a half high in the middle and a little over 2 inches around the edges.  Roughly 35 minutes into baking they were almost done.  This is much longer than the 25 minutes they are supposed to take.  Despite this hurricane of terrible I waited patiently until I could unmold them, thinking that I would turn them over and they'd pop right out of their pans and I'd somehow be able to trim them and save the project.  While I was waiting for them to cool I tried one of the minis.  The flavor was amazing but they clung to the cupcake liners like sticker burrs to a coarse haired dog!  Very discouraging.  I ran a blade around the edge of the cakes and flipped them over.  Then I started to cry as I stared at the huge bits of cake stuck to the sides and bottom of the pan and the sunken pile of lemon disaster on my cooling rack.  I threw everything into a large storage container and tried to figure out what went wrong.  Maybe my butter was too cool?  It had been on the counter for an hour in my 78 degree house and it creamed well but who knows.  Maybe I measured 4 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder instead of 4 1/4?  I admit to needing new contacts so it's a distinct possibility that I read the recipe wrong.  I measure all the big stuff by weight.  If the recipe offers a weight that's what I go with so I know all of that was right.

Saturday I went shopping AGAIN.  I bought more white chocolate, more milk, more eggs and more lemons.  I came home and started this all again.  This time I let my butter sit on the counter for 3 hours.  I brought the eggs to room temp in a bowl of water.  I marked the insides of my pans to be sure about that "half full."  I measured my baking powder very carefully.  Being sure that I'd done everything right this time I put my cakes into the oven.  The minis still rose but not near as much.  When they came out and cooled they were a tiny bit tough but they came off the paper so I felt pretty good.  Fifteen minutes into baking the cakes were still looking good, and then it happened!  DRIP!  Right over the edge they went!  "Not again!"  I waited patiently hoping that somehow they wouldn't fall this time.  They dripped less than the night before but dripped away all the same.  In the oven they only fell a little.  When they were finally done I set the pans on the cooling rack and watched in horror as they sunk rapidly right in front of my face.  As this point I came over to my convenient Google machine and typed in the name of the recipe.  I found 3 people who'd made this cake with amazing success and 2 who'd had the same problems I did.  One of those mentioned that she'd also made her's twice and that she'd used 6" pans.  Is the problem in the pan size?  That's the only thing I can figure out.

These cakes unmolded ever so slightly better than the previous ones.  I decided to torte all 4 cakes (the 2 from Friday and the 2 from Saturday) and use an inch of each.  They were going to require some miracle buttercream attention to make the sides look smooth but I was willing to put in the work just to make it work.  Down goes a layer of cake and then a layer of lemon curd.  OH!  The lemon curd is delicious by the way.  Down goes another layer of cake and then a layer of the raspberry buttercream I made.  Looking good.  Ok, maybe not good but looking passable.  Another layer of cake and another layer of lemon curd.  When I torted the final cake it fell completely apart.  I tried to stick it on top and mold it to stand up nicely and I almost thought it would work and then a big chunk of the top layer just slid off and landed on the cake board.  (I may have yelled an expletive at this point.)  This is when I finally gave up.  I called my friend and told her there would be no cake.  This is not a call I wanted to make.  I felt nothing but shame as I explained to her that I'd tried, twice.  She was gracious about it, laughed and said she wouldn't have bothered with the second try.

I cut myself a piece of this hideous pile of cake and took a bite.  Let me tell you, this cake is absolutely delicious!  This makes it even more frustrating.  I know the cake would have been a big hit, had it only worked out.  I kept coming back to it to take just one more bite.  I would love to say that I learned a lesson, that I got something out of it but I didn't.  I honestly have no idea what went wrong TWICE.  I was so careful to do everything right, especially the 2nd time.  I guess I did learn that I can be very persistent (stubborn?) when I'm determined to get something done.  I tried everything.  I just feel like failures are meant to teach us.  If I can't learn from my failures they're a total loss.  I put a whole lot of money into this cake.  Each recipe cost about $20 not including flour, sugar and other dry ingredients.  $20 twice.  OUCH.  I wasted $40, two days, lots of energy and I learned nothing.

I know you want to see so you can share in my pain.  I have since placed a large round container upside down over the cake and flipped the whole thing over.  I put the lemon curd over to the side and put the whole thing in the fridge.  As ugly as it is this cake is just too yummy to throw away.

My sweet sweet husband told me to leave the kitchen as I was standing over the sink starting to clean up.  He told me I was frustrated enough and he would save me from the aftermath of my failure.  I was grateful as I laid down on the couch to take a much needed nap.

1 comment:

  1. Hi- I'm not sure if I know what's up with this recipe- but 4.5 t of baking powder sounds like a lot. I don't know what quantity of batter the recipe makes so I can't say for sure. But one thing I remember from cookwise, another corriher book, is that too much chemical leavening can actually cause a cake to fall, because if the little pockets of gas created by the bp/s are too close to other little pockets they will join together to make big bubbles which will then be so big they will actually rise through the batter, pop on the surface, and then make the whole thing go flat. Which sounds maybe like what you're describing? I've had some odd experiences with recipes that call for wacky amts of bp, and if I'm really committed to making the thing work sometimes I go and find a recipe with similar ingredients in similar amts and then use that amt of whatever the leavening is. Not sure if you've any more patience for that particular recipe, but yeah. my .02.