After stumbling upon the Daring Baker phenomenon late last year and awestruck by the amazing individuals that created it and the many talented artisans contributing, I was inspired to join the ranks and challenge myself to improve my half baked baking skills. In all honesty, it would be more accurate to say that my talents lie in consuming baked goods rather then actual baking. Still on the New Years resolution high, I signed up early 2008 and was so enthused about February’s challenge of French bread, but alas I was not a daring Baker at all. Instead I was a rather cowardly and disorganized baker. I roped in a dear and talented friend (Hurrah for Kitty) to help me out. A friend complete with exceptional bread making skills and a camera. At the end of a stinking hot day with a lot of running around the end result tasted more Italian then French, but on the right angle could possibly pass as a baguette. Unfortunately self doubt and a ridiculous hectic work schedule led to a delay in joining the ranks of the Daring Bakers, so I decided March was going to be my month for getting it together and a good month to buy a camera. March was also the month I discovered……………….
My party cake did not want to come to the party
I must confess I’m not exactly the most precise cook. I have somehow managed to bluff my way through a lot of recipes in the past with many approximates, so I rather foolishly thought 'surely cake flour is just a fancy term used to describe any flour that you use to make a cake'. Right? Well I was wrong. I have made many a cake with plain flour and baking powder so this was what I naturally selected. I started with two lovely browned cakes that left my kitchen smelling divine and ready for a party, but even with my limited knowledge of engineering I was pretty confident that one can’t make layers out of something as flat as a pan cake. So I decided to take two, this time with self raising flour. This time I had myself two cakes all pretty and puffy until I overwhelmed them with my high expectations for them and they deflated upon landing on the cooling rack. Nevertheless they were at least 5mm higher then take one so more likely to withstand the knife.
I will admit that not being a coconut fan, I begrudingly purchased coconut flakes, but now I say thank goodness for chunky white flakes of coconut that cover a mulititude of sins eg cake layers that would fail a spirit level test.
A party for one
Important lessons I learnt from making a Party Cake
1. All flour is not created equal - clearly I need to find out what cake flour is and give that a whirl
2. One should actually follow instructions - I made a greater effort in my second cake mix to follow times in a more precise manner, I was slacking off a bit because my arm got tired from using a hand mixer (whinge, moan). What a difference it made to actually whisk for 5 minutes instead of somewhere within the vicinity of 5 minutes.
3. I really, really need to buy a fancy mixer