add another to the pile…

mmm cake, moist and chocolatey and warm from the oven. the fragrance is intoxicating and inviting and as annoying as annoying can be!!! another batch for the ever growing pile of cakes on my table. just one more that isn’t quite what i want it to be. never mind it even though it tastes good, it just ain’t right. at this point, i am tired of chocolate cake. or at least tired of chocolate cakes that don’t do what i expect them to do. that sound, it’s just me heading back to the kitchen for one more attempt at this lovely cake.

that takes the cake

no, really, take the cake. go ahead, take it. for the love of pete, just take it!!! part of the process of formulating recipes is testing them out and having the chance to see the differences that come with changing the proportions. it can be frustrating too, especially if it doesn’t yield the desired results, repeatedly. that is where i am at this point. close but no cigar and in possession of a growing mountain of chocolate cake on my kitchen table. one more adjustment should do it, i hope. but not tonight, i’m out of unsweetened chocolate and ambition. the fat lady hasn’t sung for this cake yet, but roger daltry has and tonight, that’s close enough…

just pluggin away

it’s a never ending cycle…measure, mix, bake, clean, taste, measure, mix, etc. today’s exercise in futility was a chocolate fudge cake. although, it wasn’t a total disaster, just more of a disappointment.

to do this properly, i have to work like a non pro. that means sometimes i have to do things differently than i normally would as a professional. take this photo, here i am mixing the batter with a dinkiest of hand mixers. it was a hand me down from a former employee in a past life. it struggled with the batter and i was skeptical that it would even make it to the finish. darry came into the kitchen and announced “i can’t smell the corned beef anymore because all i can smell is the motor on that thing.” once again, we were sharing the kitchen but at the moment, i had the counter and he had the stove top.
the layers came out of the oven looking perfect. they were completely level and looked like winners. but looks ain’t everything.
as perfect as they appeared, there simply wasn’t enough sugar in the batter. on to round two…
this time i lugged out the beast and mixed the batter with it. now i have been told that it is unreasonable to expect the user (the person who purchases and uses my cookbook) to make a major purchase in order to complete a recipe but this is one exception where i suggest you do just that. i am not being paid to say this so don’t think that i am getting anything for this but i recommend to anyone who is a frequent and adventurous baker to purchase one of these stand mixers. rather than list it as an expense, view it as an investment. these things are nearly indestructible and they last-mine is 20 years old and still working. we won’t mention the fact that i no longer have first gear and there is no such thing as a slow start when using it. and that fine layer of flour that coats the entire kitchen is just another sign of genius, isn’t it or so i keep telling myself.
the added sugar definitely improved the flavor but i think now that i need to adjust the leavener-they sunk slightly in the middle. after i make a trip to the store for more chocolate and a few other things, i’ll be ready for round 3.
having filled the dishwasher to capacity, again, i was forced to do the dishes by hand. lazy elves, they are never around when you need them.

cake for breakfast

i found this chocolate in one of my favorite international markets. it is columbian and this is the unsweetened chocolate, they have a sweetened one too and it is very similar to ibarra but not quite as good in flavor. i had picked up a bar a while back and while scavenging in the pantry closet, i found it and decided to use it.

version 3.0 of the chocolate mashed potato casserole cake. potato casserole cake??? yes, potato casserole cake. the potatoes make a moister cake and add structure as well. but casserole, who makes a casserole cake? that is just a reference to the dish i used to bake it in. it could be baked in a regular 9″x13″ pan but around here lots of cakes get baked in glass casserole dishes when they are going to be served at a pot luck dinner. why do the usual, why not try something new?
yummy chocolate cake and light fluffy frosting. the breakfast of champions-or a couple of snowbound nashvillians…

come on baby light my fire

because of the snowy weather, i left the cafe early yesterday. since i was home earlier than expected, i decided to put the time to good use and test some recipes. sounds good in theory but i was a bit distracted and didn’t get started on things until mid afternoon. i finally got the cake i wanted to test in the oven and then had to move out of the way so darry could cook dinner. we have a small kitchen and there just isn’t the space for two professional chefs to work side by side. well, not these two any way…

so there i was, sitting down at the table watching him cook while i waited on the cake in the oven and it was taking longer than i wanted it to. as i waited, i watched darry prepare the chicken for the stirfry he was going to make and we chattered about the day and the weather and who knows what else. and as i sat there, i became aware of what looked like a little black insect flying through the air. a spider? no maybe a fruit fly…a fruit fly in january? then i saw another and another. at this point i asked darry, “what is that black stuff?” his reply, a very loud “OH @*#%!!!” ( you should understand this), the grease is on fire!”
at this point, it was mayhem. he grabbed the teapot which was on the back burner so that he could slide the pot off the heat and proceeded to drop it into the hot grease. he then grabbed the teapot again, tossed it in the sink and moved the pot of grease off the burner but by now, the flames were really big. i ran and grabbed the fire extinguisher, yes we actually have two, and stood there dumbstruck. as many times as i have read the directions on it, i have never had to use it. he grabbed it from me and said i know how to use it and he did just that. he quickly put out the fire and i checked on the cake in the oven…just another day at our house. considering all that we do in the kitchen, that was a first for us in 25 years together.
then it was clean up time. what a mess that made. the extinguisher probably contained about 1/4 cup of fire suppressing powder which in theory isn’t very much. put that into a pressurized container and watch out. it was everywhere. a fine yellow powder coated the entire counter, stovetop, wall and there was even some in the oven because it went into the vent. darry and i spent the next hour cleaning it up.
so as you can see, there is never a dull moment here at our house. even after 25 years, we still have something to talk about each day. but i may have to declare a moratorium on any culinary procedure that requires a large pot of hot oil. oh by the way, the cake was terrible and that was no surprise. version two was better but still not a winner. version 3 took the blue ribbon and now it is time to test the frosting out…