Tweaking my Mom’s birthday cake recipe

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Tweaking my Mom's birthday cake recipe

Tweaking my Mom's birthday cake recipe

Ingredients

  • Lemons
  • Honey
  • Plums

Instructions

  • Yip, that's what I did and it was good. I'm an impatient and intolerant person, not my finer character points but every now and again and in miniscule doses they come in handy. In this case being impatient got me into a small spot of bother. Of course I should have known better, I mean I've been at this baking thing for a year now. On the first round of making the Burnt Honey and Plum Cake for my Mom I was under the pump to deliver it on her actual birthday and not at Christmas. I am a last-minute-dot-com person and that's when I don't have a choice to get things done. So I practiced the cake the night before. Which was her actual cake and not a practice cake essentially. Not a smart move and that's another thing I should know better than to do . I wasn't entirely sure about the quantity the cake would yield so I did a bit of an eye balling guestimate on the size of the baking pan to use. If you are going to call yourself a recipe creator then you have to make sure anyone who bakes your creations doesn't have to do all this. They are trusting you to do it for them. So Tweak number 1, use the correct size pan. The first round I used a 23cm pan, it was fine but because I'm an impatient person I did a very stupid thing. It's an absolute no-no amongst the baking experts and leading lights of a Pâtissier's fiefdom. Do Not Open the Oven Door. Well of course you need to when it's done but not before the requisite time. Remember now, I'm a cook first and I'd willy nilly do this anytime I liked, so it's ingrained in my behavior more than most. Magic takes a measured amount of time to happen in the oven along with the correct temperature for it to happen at. Willy Nilly doesn't cut it here in the baking world. The result of me impatiently opening the oven door caused my Mom's birthday cake to sag in the middle. Anyone upwards of 50 will agree saggy happens all around us, we don't want our cakes to sag too. I used the Laden-with-fruit hack to hide it, but I knew it sagged in the middle and I didn’t have time or the ingredients to make another one. I also knew because of my intolerant nature, I could not abide by the slightest bit of imperfection if I was to call myself a recipe creator. I decided to use 2 x 15cm cake pans for Burnt Honey and Plum Cake ver 2.0 they worked perfectly for this quantity of cake batter. I'll play around with other sizes, but for now I absolutely know these 2 x 15cm are perfect. I'm sure the 23cm will work too if I keep the door closed and apply Tweak 2 too.
  • Tweak 2, also related to why I opened the bloody door in the first place was that I'd set the oven temperature too high. Remember I'm impatient ! The top of the cake was starting to get too brown. This was meant to be Burnt Honey and Plum Cake not Burnt Burnt Honey and Plum Cake. I think that would have taken the joke about my Mom's cooking skills one step too far. I needed to get into the oven to quickly cover the cake with foil to slow the "burn" down. And that's when I interrupted the magic happening causing the cake to deflate. So for ver 2.0 I tweaked the oven Temperature to 160°C and settled there. Unlike the first round where I felt like a DJ at a disco with the thermostat turning up and down like a turntable. Crikey I can hardly master this skill of baking let alone adding DJ to the mix.
  • Tweak 3 Cut the fruit smaller - if I was using raspberries or blueberries the batter would handle the lightness of the fruit. Another reason why the cake dipped in the middle was the weight of the plums was too heavy. Initially when I put the plums on top of the bigger size cake the batter once heated could not support their weight. In the smaller pans and with thinner sliced plums the batter could rise better. Cutting through the cake the fruit in the middle sank to the bottom because that's the last part of the cake to cook. It gets warm so the fruit sinks here whereas on the edge the fruit stayed near the top of the cake. A further tweak would be to put less fruit in the centre of the cake. The only other way around this would be to change the ratios with the other ingredients, which I don't think is necessary if you understand the weight issue and why this happens.
  • Tweak 4Adjust the time more accurate so avoid opening the oven door. 30 min in and the cake looks like it's done but the centre is still deceptively jiggly. Check after 40-45 min. Perfection could be reached at 43 min. Keep an eye on it from 40 minutes. As you can see the variables are endless but if I've tested it then I want to say you will be able to make this cake too by following these instructions. The final tweak was to slice a bigger piece this time. My slice the first time round was entirely too small. I'm enjoying it in front of my computer whilst writing this post. Brian agrees all the tweaks made the difference to the lightness of the cake and the flavours too
Keyword: Baking Tips

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