My sister’s birthday was Saturday, so I thought that would be a perfect opportunity to make this cake and not have to watch it devoured in a matter of seconds by the four of us. A whole cake for four people is just silly.
But the usual logistical nightmares meant my sister and the assorted other guests would not be joining us this weekend.
Plan B was cupcakes, but the cake was so glorious that I couldn’t bear to reduce it like that.
Plan C was making the cake, but sending a quarter to the neighbors and another quarter to #1 Son’s girlfriend and her mother.
The best-laid plans of mice and mothers …
So, I made the cake. It was after piano lesson and grocery shopping, so I didn’t start till almost 3 in the afternoon. That was dumb. It’s a cake. I’ve made cakes before. I know how long they take.
Couldn’t find my 9-inch cake pans. (I have sons who have lived in this house their entire lives and still can’t manage to put things away in the same place two times in a row.)
Couldn’t find a non-warped 9×13 pan. (That one’s my fault. I really need to upgrade my baking pans.)
But what’s this? A Bundt pan! It holds the same amount as two 8-inch pans!! Yes!!!
So I made it as a Bundt cake. I buttered and floured the pan, but skipped the parchment â€” my imagination was just not up to the task of figuring out how to line a Bundt pan with parchment. It baked fine and slid right out of the pan, smooth as silk.
I sliced it into four layers with considerably less angst and cursing than I was expecting, and crumbled the bottom-most one.
Then I made the frosting, increasing the amounts by 50 percent because I like frosting, and so that I could fill the center hole with lovely, fluffy whiteness.
From comments I’d read from other TWDers, I knew the sugar-water part of the frosting was going to have to cook for a while, and yet I didn’t start it till after 8 in the evening. I’m not always the brightest person around. But I had the cake, and I had people waiting for dessert, so I did it despite knowing it was dumb.
Put the egg whites in the mixer. Put the sugar and water and cream of tartar in the pot. Stirred. Boiled. It got up to 230 fairly quickly, maybe 10 minutes or so. And it stayed there. And stayed there. And stayed there. Maybe 20 minutes later it was up to 240. And it stayed there. And stayed there. And stayed there.
I had started to beat the egg whites when it hit 235, just like the book says, and they were done, so I turned the mixer down, just like the book says.
I leaned over the mixer bowl to see how the whites were doing, and when I looked back at the thermometer it read 250. Literally 10 seconds had elapsed, and it had jumped 10 degrees.
Husband later mentioned a slightly burnt aftertaste. I hit him.
But back to the slightly overcooked sugar syrup. I soldiered on, pouring it into the egg whites and beating them till they cooled. Here’s something I hadn’t considered: Increasing the ingredients by 50 percent increases the output by 50 percent. This was not buttercream frosting â€” this stuff was essentially marshmallow fluff. Marshmallow fluff that expands a lot when it’s beaten.
Filled my five-quart Kitchenaid right up to the top, but luckily no further.
It tasted kind of weird, though, beyond the aforementioned aftertaste. It tasted almost lemony. I figured that had to be the cream of tartar, although I’ve never noticed a flavor from cream of tartar before. It was a little offputting, at least to me. #1 Son liked it a lot.
Slapped the cake together pretty quickly â€” it was well after 9 by this point â€” but it looked pretty good, if I say so myself. #2 Son lovingly applied the cake crumbs.
The recipe says to refrigerate the cake for an hour before serving. That was not going to happen. We ate it. We mostly liked it, although we weren’t overwhelmed. That lemony taste turned me off, and I’m not a big fan of chocolate cake to begin with.
Husband: It didn’t thrill me in any way. The lemony taste of the frosting was overwhelming.
#1 Son: I really liked it. Something gave the icing the slightest hint of lemon, and it worked beautifully. The texture of the cake was also perfect; not too mushy, not too crumbly, but a happy, top-of-the-brownie-like middle ground.
#2 Son: I liked the cake, but the icing wasn’t very good. It tasted weird, so instead of eating the leftover frosting, I just put it in a bowl.
So I covered it with plastic wrap and stuck it in the fridge, hoping for a better tomorrow.
I got one.
Twenty-one hours or so later, the lemony taste had gone, and the frosting was sweet and pillowy and lovely. The cake was fudgier, more like a brownie than cake. I liked the whole package much better. As for those people who live in my house:
Husband: It was better the second day, because the cake had more of a brownie consistency. But I didn’t find the chocolate taste at all special, and I found the icing tooth-piercingly sweet.
#1 Son: I really liked the contrast between the almost too dry cake and the frosting the first day. The second day, the cake got a moistness and a fudginess that I felt equalized the textures more, so I didn’t like it as much. But the flavor and texture of the icing intensified overnight, and I really like that.
#2 Son: It was overall much better today. The sweetness increased, which was good, because it decreased the weird taste in the frosting, but it alsoÂ started hurting my teeth. I would eat this again on the second day, but not the first. And I really do recommend milk with it [slurp].
Oh, and #1 Son, brilliant as sometimes, sprinkled cinnamon over his slice. That was amazing.
So there you have it. Mixed opinions, as usual, but I was happy. And that’s really all that matters.
Check out the myriad variations dreamed up by the other Tuesdays With Dorie bloggers. And if you want to try this cake for yourself, buy the book or head on over to Confessions of a City Eater, where Stephanie will have the recipe for you.