On Saturday, I spent almost all day – and a good part of the night – baking for our Passover Seder meal. I had finished baking, packing and freezing mountains of Passover rolls and 3 types of macaroons by 10 pm. My plan was to finish off the night with 2 cakes. When it came to the second cake, I was tired. The NCAA Final Four was on and I wished that I could spend more time watching the second game and less time separating eggs.
Still, I had to finish my self-imposed assignment of doing all the Seder baking before bedtime. So I took a deep breath and forged on. The recipe was one I hadn’t tried before, but it looked intriguing – an orange almond fig cake. It came from a popular cookbook by a well known author and I was excited to try it. I checked to make sure I had all the ingredients lined up, glanced over the recipe to make sure I had the right pan, and confirmed that the baking time wouldn’t have me up all night. Then I set to work.
By now you’re wondering – where is this going? Homecook/blogger makes a cake from a recipe in a cookbook. Big deal. Ah, but not so fast. Even though I should probably bury my mistakes, not publicize them, I figure you’re entitled to know what happens when I don’t follow my own good advice.
Remember when I did a whole post on how one should “read recipes, completely and all the way through before you decide whether to use them.” That was Rule 4 of my 10 Rules for Meal Preparation Success and it's a pretty good piece of advice if I do say so myself. Of course, it also applies whenever you’re using a recipe, not just when you are preparing a whole meal.
Homecooks like me sometimes forget that well known chefs, cooks, and cookbook authors make mistakes, just like we do. And though one might expect that cookbook editors always catch an author's mistakes, that's not true either. Even if the author doesn't make mistakes, they can creep in during the process of galleys and revisions too.
In this case, I have no way of knowing how the mistakes crept into the recipe, but they were there - at least one and possibly two or more. If I had read the recipe carefully instead of skimming it in my haste to get on with the baking, I would have realized there was a missing step. A careful reading of the recipe might also have led me to consider how the batter was likely to turn out. In turn, that might have led me to recognize that the minimal liquid ingredients probably meant there was a mistake in the ingredient amounts too.
The missing step became obvious as I stood at my counter with 2 bowls of ingredients and no instructions on what to do next. At that point, I also realized that what should have been silky egg/lemon batter was instead a clumpy mess. I added some additional liquid (juice) and think I figured out the best way to combine the two sets of ingredients. Did I save the dish? Only time and a taste will tell.
After baking the cake, I unmolded it. I considered it a major victory when the cake appeared to be normal looking. I’m going to serve it this coming Friday (at our Passover seder) and promise to let you know how it turned out. In the meantime, I've got plenty of other desserts for the seder in case this one doesn't work out and I've penciled in a note on the cookbook in case I ever forget this adventure and go back to the recipe for another go-round.