I keep experimenting with people. Well, with recipes really. Cuz experimenting on people is kinda Dr. Moreau-ish… But i keep trying new things and giving them to people. Typically, if i’m trying a new recipe, it’s for a cake i’m keeping at home or i have a willing guinea pig waiting to give me critique. I don’t sell them until I’ve perfected it. Such was the case with my attempts to make my cakes from scratch. I wasn’t tickled with it at all and my tester said it was “alright”. He was being polite… My son loved it, but then again, he’s 6. And a boy. Enough said.
I’m in a baker’s forum online and we were having a discussion about mayonnaise cakes. Unscrunch your face; they don’t taste like mayo. Using mayo in the proportion that it calls for oil, and not using eggs, you’ve just used one product instead of two (seeing how mayo = oil + eggs). It blows the moisture factor through the roof! Or as another taster put it, “It stuck to the roof of my mouth.” So maybe it was too moist… It’s the kind of moist that sticks to your fork and basically turns back to pudding in your mouth.
I’m trying it with a variety of flavors of cakes just to see the differences. Initially, i used a chocolate fudge cake because that’s what i’ve always known to use with mayo. The bitter of the chocolate masks the tiny bit of tartness of the vinegar in the mayo. Last night, i went with a Red Velvet. (Wandering thoughts: I tend to dismiss RV mainly because it’s sadly become cliche now, but also because to me it lacks a distinctive flavor. Visually, she’s stunning, but also a bit scary. If it looks berry red, it should taste berry red, not “I want to be chocolate, but i’m really his cousin cocoa”. Carry on now.) I should be hearing today how that went. I made it as a gift for my pastor – my ace, my Day One, my corner – for his birthday, but he wasn’t trying to cut into it at the party. No sharesies! LOL! So I should find out today how it came out. It felt heavier than my usual cakes and stuck firmly to the cake round, so i know it was extremely moist. I just hope it’s not too moist…
Then there are the soda experiments. You’ve never tried soda pop cake? Ah come on!! A box of cake mix, a can of soda, mix and bake? I know, how cheesy for a “professional baker to cut corners like that!” To quote Spandau Ballet, I’m only human, born to make mistakes… With a couple of tweaks though, i made it work for my Cuba Libre cake.
The cake had a perfect cola flavor without being overwhelming or a mockery of cola, the rum danced around on the tongue just right and the lime was the spark it needed to make you smile. And it was so moist, it broke when i tried to plate it. (but i pulled it off, as you can see in the Before & After…)
Cooking is art; baking is science. This is not just an adage, it’s the gospel truth. With a dish, you can add and alter elements, change temperatures, leave things out and it’ll usually work. With baking, there’s so much actual science involved that even a 1/2 teaspoon’s difference in water can change everything. But the adventure is in trying and not being afraid to fail. Well, don’t experiment when your name is on the line – always deliver your best – but keep trying until you find something that works for you. Failure, or not-quite-successes, are what build you. I’m not saying strive to fail, but don’t be afraid of it and learn from it. And don’t be surprised if i call you to “try something for me”…
photo credit: instructables.com