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Friday, April 4, 2014

When Everything Goes Wrong

Sometimes I feel like I have these types of days with far more frequency than other people, but that's probably not possible.  I just beat myself up over everything all the time.  Anything that goes wrong for me I blame myself, to a fault.  It's good to take responsibility for your choices but I just dwell on them to the point that I make myself miserable, even if it's the slightest thing (like not checking the mirror outside the store before buying the wrong shade of makeup!).

This past weekend, I was pretty excited to replicate my favorite Entenmann's cake, the Filled Chocolate Chip Crumb (R.I.P.).

I rarely make cakes because of the difficulty involved and the opportunities for things to go wrong: first the layers have to bake through and be even, then you have to successfully get them out of the pans and set them aside until cooled, then your frosting has to be thick enough that it won't all squish out the middle but thin enough to be spreadable, then you need to make sure your layers aren't sliding all over when you stack them, then you have to frost the outside without everything falling apart, hoping that this frosting is the right consistency as well, and then it still looks like a kindergartener made it.

I knew this was an ambitious undertaking but I looked all over for recipes until I found one that would definitely hit the spot for me (i.e. it uses buttercream as the filling) from Rosie's Country Baking.

The recipe calls for using a six inch round pan but I don't have one, so I'll just double it and use an eight inch, right?  The area of a six inch round is 28.26 sq. in. so double that would give me 56.52 sq. in. of cake (assuming heights are equal).  The area of the eight inch round is 50.24 sq. in.  That's close enough, right?  Mine will just be a little thicker/taller.

Well, I underestimated how tall this guy was going to be.  While in the recipe she uses one pan and slices the cake in half, I had to make two layers in two separate pans and they still overflowed in the oven, offering that very disturbing smell of something seriously burning that you get when anything hits the oven floor.  It's very hard to accurately time how long something should be baking when that smell overwhelms you when you open the oven door; in your mind you know it's just that some of the crumb topping fell to the bottom and is burning but in your heart you're just panicking with the picture of a blackened-to-a-crisp crumb cake flashing before your eyes.


So far so good.

I did the toothpick test on the layer without the crumbs and it came out clean.  I carefully removed both from the over to let them cool while I got the buttercream together.

When they were cool enough, I took the first layer out.  It came out easily and I frosted it with the buttercream filling and it looked amazing so far, just like how I remembered.  My boyfriend had just walked in the door and he excitedly told me how great it looked and how excited he was to try it.

Confidently, I started to take out the top layer.

It was totally underbaked, the crumbs all escaped and there was still gooey batter in there that plopped on top of my single layer masterpiece.  It was just a fucking mess, all around.  So much promise, lost in an instant.  

I tasted an errant piece covered in buttercream.  Absolutely delicious.  The cake was moist and the chocolate chips were a great added touch and the buttercream just pushed everything over the top into heavenly decadence.

The real unfortunate part here is that I had made it so I could give most of it to my boyfriend, thus removing all temptation for myself, but it was far too hideous to allow other people to see knowing I made it.  Begrudgingly, I had to finish the whole thing with my mom that weekend.  Somehow, we managed.

I was able to get one decent looking slice out of it:


But don't let that fool you, because this is what the rest looked like after taking that slice out:


I had ideas about baking my mom a really nice cake for her birthday next weekend but maybe this is a sign that I should just never bake a again.  I'm firmly of the belief that as long as it tastes good I'll eat it but I can't imagine many people reaching for some of my baked goods when offered a choice at a party.

Cake baking: totally worth the risk to your self esteem if you get to eat the whole thing.

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