Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Tale of Two Cakes

This week I made two different cakes - one good and one evil.  Can you tell the difference?


Let me give you a hint:  much can be hidden under icing.

Let's begin with the evil - and I don't mean evil in the sense that "this cake is so good it's evil".  The cake was inspired by a cake I saw in the August 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living.  (Yes, I am an unapologetic Martha fan.  Think of me what you will.)  The look of the cake absolutely intrigued me.  It was layers of pastel colored cake covered in creamy white buttercream.  Upon reading the article and recipe, I was less enthusiastic upon learning it was a frozen rainbow chiffon cake made not really of cake, but essentially meringue with fruit puree.  Despite the fact that, at the time, I didn't have sufficient freezer space for such a project anyway, making a frozen cake in August in Southern Illinois is asking for trouble.  But I did come up with another idea.  The result of that is the iced cake on the left, or what I refer to as the antithesis of cake. 

I have very strong convictions about what cake should and shouldn't be.  According to "Dawn's Rules of Cake", this cake is, essentially, everything I think cake should not be.

Dawn's Rules of Cake
  1. Cakes should always be made from scratch.  This one is not.  I used (gasp!) boxed cake mixes.
  2. With the exception of dietary restrictions, cakes should always have butter.  This one has canola oil.
  3. Eggs should be cracked from their shells, not poured from cartons.  Egg whites from a carton were used in this cake.
  4. Cakes should not contain artificial colors and/or flavorings.  These cake layers are colored and flavored with unsweetened Kool-Aid.  It doesn't get any more artificial than that.
  5. Buttercream should not contain confectioner's sugar.  Four pounds of the stuff in and on this bad boy.
So given all of that, why did I even made this cake?  I'm still working on that, but all I can come up with is just for kicks.  To me, it doesn't even taste good.  Yes, I did taste a bite of each layer.  It reminds of of SweeTarts.  Kids would probably like it, but I'd never do that to a child.  And it's still in the refrigerator because I have no idea what I am going to do with it.  It's just not something I'll give to people I like.  I'm not even sure I'd give this to people I don't like.  Plus, I had absolutely no intention of eating the slice I removed for the picture so now it's also a broken and bandaged cake as I put the slice back. 

In summary, this was not a well-thought project and I'm feeling like I wasted time, money and ingredients.  Apparently I think keeping it in the refrigerator for now will temporarily assuage my guilt. 

It's my story; I'll tell it how I want.  Now, on to the good.

Earlier this month while visiting family and friends back home, I wandered into the newly opened Goodwill store with my friend, Bonnie.  I bought a small suitcase for my dad so he'll no longer have to borrow one when he comes to visit.  I also found a little copper-colored squirrel mold that matches a couple of molds that were my Grandma's, and a vintage egg slicer.  But my coup de grace was a cast aluminum bundt pan for a little under $9.  I've been wanting a bundt pan for awhile, but wasn't excited about shelling out the $$ for one.  My $9 pan has seen better days and I was concerned some of the scratches and flaws would be a problem.  Not so.

I used the pan on Tuesday to bake my favorite apple cake.  This is my go-to fall cake.  I absolutely love it and I don't know why I only make it once a year, other than it makes it seem more elevated in stature when it's an annual thing.  Sort of like only having pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.  This time I did omit the chocolate chips from the recipe and used two cups of chopped walnuts.  The apples I had on hand were not tart and I didn't want the cake to be cloyingly sweet.  They were barely missed.  I did eat the slice missing from the photo at the top, and even broke the rule of waiting until the cake was cool to cut it.  I guess maybe this week was about breaking rules.

Instead of greasing and flouring the bundt pan, I used Wilton's Cake Release.  While the cake release probably violates the artificial ingredient rule, the stuff just plain works.  The cake came out of the pan beautifully, even from the areas that were severely scratched. 

Since I do like this cake so much, getting rid of it wasn't a problem at all.  Over half of it went to work with the hubs, some went to a friend, and I kept several slices for myself.  I was sad to eat the last slice last night.  Maybe I'll have to go back to the orchard and get some tart apples and make this again with the chocolate chips.  After all, I need to see how the cake will release with the chips in the batter, right?

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