Monday, May 09, 2005

My Latest Kitchen Disaster and My Newest Kitchen Gadgets

Last Saturday, I finally started baking for Amina and Murat's wedding cake. I used the Yellow Butter Cake recipe from the Cake Bible which I made with success many times before (although I have to say that my last try was several years ago). While it is not fun writing about my very unsuccessful experience, I thought that this is something I should include in this blog since it may help some of you to avoid a few disasters of your own, or maybe just remind you that you are not alone when you have a less-than-satisfactory kitchen experience.

My first try was with 2 6-inch cakes, and the batter first raised up really high, and then fell all the way down. The cakes did not have the fine texture typical of a good butter cake but were quite large-grained. When I researched in the Cake Bible, I found out that a fallen center and a coarse texture in a butter cake can be due to three reasons (listed in the order of importance): a cooler-than-required oven temperature, too much baking powder, and underbeating of the batter. I eliminated the last possible cause since I had timed myself well during preparation, and prepared the batter again, this time for 2 8-inch layers. Since I thought that the culprit was the baking powder, I decreased it. The result was fallen cakes again, maybe not as badly fallen as the previous batch, but fallen all the same.
For the third batch, I used my old jar of baking powder and decided to give our 2nd oven downstairs a try. I knew that it was not a good idea to make two changes simultaneously, but I felt that I was running out of time since we had plans for the evening. I made the batter for 2 6-inch cakes and whisked the pans downstairs. When I opened the oven door half an hour later, I saw that one pan had overflowed a little bit and then fallen, and the other one had fallen so badly that you might have thought it was baked in a bundt pan instead of a regular one. At this point, I had to wrap up my baking project to go upstairs to do the mountain of dishes, and clean up my kitchen.
I took some of the cakes to the mosque where the kids ate them. Some of my friends said that it was the evil eye, and they prayed for me, my future cakes and the couple-to-be. And today I bought myself an oven thermometer and a set of measuring spoons (which I never felt the need to use until now). Armed as such both spiritually and physically, I will attack the butter cake once again, and will share the outcome with you, be it good or bad.