A very happy Saturday to all! It’s been awhile since we chatted about my latest kitchen adventures. I started this recipe testing series earlier this year because I know many of you are also fascinated by how and why baking recipes work.
So far this year:
- recipe testing #1
- recipe testing #2
- recipe testing #3
- recipe testing #4
- recipe testing #5
- recipe testing #6 (aka the dancing mixer escapade)
I haven’t been deep in recipe testing since my work on croissants. There’s been some cookies, bread, and cheesecake— but nothing zapping my energy or stealing my soul like those 81 layers of butter and dough.
But there’s two recipes I want to discuss today. First… Boston cream pie. This recipe was in partnership with America’s Test Kitchen and comes from their new cookbook The Perfect Cake. I didn’t test this recipe myself, but HAVE to share my experience baking the recipe. (Which, by the way, is utterly fantastic. Look at it!!)
The first time I baked the sponge cake layers, I waited patiently for them to cool. My pastry cream was chilling in the refrigerator, my chocolate was chopped and ready to melt into glaze, and my cake stand was sparkling clean. Once cool, I ran a thin knife around the edges of the sponge cake layers, just as the recipe instructs, but my cakes would not budge. My heart slowly shattering in a million pieces, I tried everything I could to salvage the cake layers as well as the time, ingredients, and energy I just spent baking them. I quickly blamed it on forgetting to grease the cake pans, had a few choice words about my silly mistake, closed the cookbook, and decided to try the recipe again the next day.
The next day came and the lighting was perfect. I was going to photograph this very cake today! Determined and refreshed, I prepared the sponge cake batter, used different cake pans, GREASED THE PANS, and baked the cakes. I threw the slightly cool cakes into the freezer because I definitely didn’t want to miss this beautiful lighting! The cakes cooled quickly, I ran a thin knife around the edges of the sponge cake layers, just as the recipe instructs, but again… my cakes would not budge.
Heartbroken, frustrated, tired, and about every other annoyed emotion, I locked myself in the pantry to scream, then grabbed the cookbook to reread the recipe because surely ATK wouldn’t steer me wrong.
And I was right. I glanced over the recipe directions where I found the words “line pans with parchment.” I realized that I had greased the pans on the first day and it wasn’t my mom brain being forgetful. Friends, if you try the Boston cream pie recipe– and I remind you of this about 45 times in the recipe directions– line your cake pans with parchment paper. This direction isn’t in the recipe just for fun; it’s very real and if you skip it, it’s very not fun.
By the way, I saved all the sponge cake scraps in large ziplock bags and froze them. I’ll thaw and make cake pops one day this summer. I’m thinking with strawberry frosting instead of vanilla!
Onto my next kitchen adventure, which is another lesson in the importance of following directions. Angel food cupcakes, a new recipe I’m publishing on Monday, are scaled down from my angel food cake. In my cake recipe, I give several tips and directions to ensure the softest and fluffiest angel food cake crumb. Angel food cake should be light-as-air, but if you skip over a couple steps, you’ll be left with:
Shrinking Angel Food Cupcakes
Angel food cake batter is delicate, as all of the leavening (and texture!) comes from whipping air into egg whites. I’ll explain all of this in the recipe on Monday, but it’s important to (1) use superfine sugar, (2) sift the dry ingredients slowly into the egg whites, and (3) mix the batter as lightly as possible so the egg whites don’t deflate. In a rush and thinking I’m invincible, I treated the batter like trash and was left with the pan of cupcakes above. Shrinking, shriveled, and deflated cupcakes comparable to the patience I was losing at that very moment. Later that morning, I read the recipe again– MY OWN RECIPE– and actually followed it.
Here’s what I learned after a week of sticking sponge cakes and deflating angel food cupcakes: read the directions. We’re all guilty of skimming recipes and glazing over instructions, so hopefully my two careless mistakes can be reminders for you! 😉
- Baked Alaska: have you ever made/eaten it?
- Do you make your own pizza crust or do you usually buy it?
Have a great weekend and hooray for the royal wedding!! ♥