Sunday, 20 March 2011

Disasters in The Kitchen and then Redemption

After the success of yesterday's Banana Bread and the possibility of a terrific Lamb Stew and previous wins, I had much higher hopes for today.  But along the way it turned into what I feared was an Epic Fail.

I started with a Guinness Chocolate Cake topped with Bailey's Buttercream Frosting.  When I looked at the recipe, I had no idea how it would fit into three 8-inch cake pans or 1 bundt pan.  It did bring up a big question mark behind my eyes, but I dove in.  I followed the recipe to the letter (from simmering the beer and butter to mixing all the dry ingredients separately), but as everything started to go into the mixer bowl - that question mark just got bigger.

I pulled and prepped my 9-inch cake pans (that's all I have, my kitchen equipment is somewhat lacking).  I finally got around to using the Wilton Cake Strips as well.  Sadly, the cake strips would not just hold on - but I made it work anyway.  Turns out they actually work! 

Moving on.  I filled my cake pans - probably too much, but live and learn.  Slid my cakes in the oven and set the timer.  30 minutes is generally the proper cook time for 9-inch cake pans, I think.  I actually only used HALF of the batter.  What could I have done with the rest?  In the end I pitched it in the trash.

45 minutes later, the toothpicks came out clean.  But something didn't look quite right.  Took the cakes out of the oven, to cool on a rack.  Ten minutes later I dumped them out to cool the rest of the way.  And freaked.  The sides were moist and felt uncooked.  I even cut bits out of the bottom and center to check.  It looks cooked, but it almost seems UNDERCOOKED.  45 minutes!  It's GOTTA be done!  One of the cakes was very delicate and was starting to fall apart as it cooled. 

Oh geez.

I also decided on a white soda bread with caraway seeds.  The dough was actually really quite tough and I was wondering how it would come out.  After it was finished baking it had a very golden crust and was hard as a rock.  Another disaster.  Ugh.

On to the icing.  I KNEW looking at the recipe that something was out of wack.  I was right.  The icing was incredibly hard to spread and because the cake was so delicate it totally fell apart and ripped every time I tried to ice it.  I actually ended up kind of schelacking (sp?) it onto the cake with my hands.  It may be the ugliest cake in the history of the world.

I went on to de-fat the stew and cut up the lamb into smaller pieces and remove the fat.  That went pretty well.  Heating it up took forever though...

The Results:

The lamb stew was terrific!  I should have added an extra potato and thrown in some celery, but it was lamby and delicious.  I was totally thrilled to discover that my company LIKES lamb, so I shouldn't have been so worried.  Subbing in the Guinness for the wine was a fantastic idea.

The cake itself was absolutely rich and filling and decadent.  Moist and dense.  Yum.  The icing could have definitely been waaay better, but my company enjoyed it so that was the most important part.  I should have re-done the icing.  In my own opinion.  I'm not sure why I didn't just re-do it.  I didn't really have any time constraints.  Oh well.  Live and learn and move on.

The soda bread - after cutting through the crust, the inside was dense and thick - totally perfect for sopping up the stew juices.  Yum again!

In the end - the only thing I wasn't 100% happy with was the icing on the cake.  It always seems to work out that way though - there always seems to be ONE thing that I'm not happy with.

Today I've learned that I need to follow my instincts with recipes...  I've read enough recipes that I should recognize when something is off and look much closer.

This is the Cane Girl - signing off for now.

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