Tuesday, January 8, 2008

We live in a Topsy Turvy World

I'm just glad that it's not called the topsy turvy pineapple upside down cake. If that were the case, I'd have to come up with a new set of lyrics for "I Am a Model of a Modern Major General" and honestly, I'm really not up to that task.

And, just to get it stuck in your head...here's the first verse:

I am the very model of a modern Major-General,
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news,
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.

and a picture of Henry Litton playing that wonderful part in Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance.

We made the Pineapple Upside Down Cake (CB pg 92). Every so often we think a recipe is going to turn out the way we want it to, that we are going to like it and it'll just be beautiful. This was one of those times. 

(Did you see that opening photo? J got a new camera and now we're all about the lighting and the cropping and the making the pictures sing with beauty.)

Once you get the butter and brown sugar moistened in the pan, you place the rings of pineapple on the bottom and put cherries in the wholes and fill in around them with pecans. Then you mix the yolks and sour cream, mix up the dry ingredients and add butter, remaining sour cream and aerate for 1 1/2 minutes. We decided against doing that as in previous cakes, we suspect this had lead to holes. We mixed it until it formed strings of dough that connected the paddle to the bowl- only 20 or 30 seconds. It looked really pretty in the bowl. Why would this differ from RLB's instruction? Maybe we beat at too high a speed? Maybe we can't tell time? Who knows. The important thing is that we are not stubbornly following the recipe and have learned from our experience. When the batter looks "pretty" as we call it, stop beating. Good enough!

Then you pour it into the pan and bake 40 - 50 minutes. It was really that simple. Our cake was done at about 45 minutes. The top was a nice golden brown and it was firm, but springy.
This cake had a moist, loose crumb, and was springy and hole free, when we cut into it. We couldn't wait. And Rose did say it could be served warm or at room temperature.
My one change would be to cook the brown sugar/butter mixture a bit as the top didn't caramelize quite as much as I'd have liked it to. One of us suspects that is due to the addition of pecans which hog valuable surface space on the cast iron skillet. J was very reluctant to include the pecans, she might have even used the word blasphemy at one point. I thought they were very good. This was one cake we didn't want to share. But given my New Year's resolution, we decided to give a slice or two to Dave and Natalia, who reported enjoying it.

We also made Swedish Pancakes (CB pg 108). Somehow in Carb Fest '08, we missed one pancake recipe. These were light and lovely, a cross between a crepe and a pancake with more egg. The hint of lemon zest in the batter added just the right amount of perk. RLB suggests the traditional Swedish lingonberry sauce as an accompaniment, or a dusting of powdered sugar. We used boysenberry jam, whipped cream and raspberries, and they were a stupendous light bite.

The directions for mixing are only one sentence! So, they are simple to make and an elegant approach to breakfast. They were a perfect transition from Pancakes and Waffles to Crepes. We will have Crepe Fest '08 in a couple weeks, so look out!

This next week, we will be on hiatus. My work takes me to Pittsburgh for training. We will return to baking and all it's glory on the 21st. J may dazzle you in the meantime with the German Chocolate Cake that K enjoyed on his birthday, or more dog biscuits - she and her mother have been testing some new recipes for our 4 legged friends, or who knows what.

My main goal for doing this blog was to spend time with Janet. Together, we make each other laugh and think. My secondary goal was to become comfortable with baking. Happily, both of those goals have come true.

Today J and I were talking about what we'd like to do once we finish the Cake Bible. A few things became clear: 1. We will continue, but obviously we won't be rebaking the Cake Bible, 2. We will try things we've not tried, paella, bread baking (I've not once made a good loaf of yeast bread).

This means more field trips, more variety in our recipe choices and we'll probably throw in some food history as we learn it and through all that come to a better understanding of this wonderful thing called cooking.

Don't be surprised if you show up and it's no longer just about cakes.


1 comment:

Julius said...


What a gorgeous cake!

Loved reading your post.

Julius from Occasional Baker