cakes of woe: a tragedy

After posting about a cake that divides easily and tastes fabulous, it’s time to delve into a cake recipe that… did not turn out quite as planned. Abject failure would be closer to the truth.

The local library had a copy of Small Batch Baking, which features cakes, pies, and cookies reduced down to one- to two-person portions. I wasn’t so interested in the cookies – if you’re going to turn the oven on for two cookies, might as well make the whole batch and freeze the rest. But for cakes and pies, things that are both not meant to last as single or double-consumption items (or are dangerous when left lying about as temptation), it’s a pretty nifty idea. Even my half-sized blueberry cake gets a little soggy by the end when there’s only me to eat it.

The clever factor of the little cakes is supposed to extend to the preparation. Some of it does seem quite clever – using an individual loaf pan as a mock jelly roll pan for a roulade, using giant muffin tins as small cake pans, etc. And some of the individual cakes are made in cans. Regular small-sized (15 oz) cans, each of which gets through two or three turns before being replaced, which is simple and easy, since everyone uses cans… except I don’t really. I use canned tomatoes and, when I lack foresight, canned chick peas. But other than that, there are no cans in my repertoire. Which means I had to wait a bit before being able to make one of these recipes; fortunately, I remembered not to recycle the chick pea cans after a spur-of-the-moment curry.

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The test cake was a white chocolate cake; you can see the white chocolate (actual white chocolate, not white “chocolate” – never cook with the fake stuff). The experiment came out to an auspicious beginning in that the batter came together easily and looked and tasted perfectly normal.

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Even if it didn’t come out to much.

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Around here is where I started wondering if I was going to have trouble getting the finished cakes out because of the lip on the cans. The BFF has a can opener that takes the entire top off so that there’s no lip, but the cake was getting frosted, so anything imperfections would have been covered up.

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… and now you see why I put the picture at the bottom instead of at the top.

Getting them out wasn’t too much trouble – it was sort of like getting tennis balls out of the old-style cans – but that turned out to be the least of the problems.

These little darlings, which despite appearances were fully cooked, were inedible. “Leaden” is probably the best adjective. I ended up throwing them away with extreme prejudice, lamenting even the small amount of ingredients wasted. I’d toyed with the idea of picking up 2” cake pans if these had looked like cakes I’d want to make regularly, since the pans are cheap enough and I’d never use that many cans, but that turned out to be a moot point.

I ended up returning the book to the library without either buying cake pans or, for that matter, buying the book (which I could have gotten for $3 on Amazon). I don’t want to make two cookies at a time and, well, after some less than successful cake attempts, I’m back to learning how to make do with 6” pans and the wonderful world of freezing what you can’t eat.

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2 thoughts on “cakes of woe: a tragedy

  1. The chemical and thermodynamic issues in small batch cooking are very different than standard techniques, a handbook of food technology might be more valuable than a cookbook. The trash Macdonald’s sells as apple pie and peach pie are made 100,000 at a time but each one is an individual pie/cake.

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