Do you follow recipes to a T, or do you play around with recipes, making adjustments?
Well, considering that most of the cooking that I do is baking, so naturally everything that I make has a recipe which needs to be followed to a T. I’ve learnt several times over the years that when you adjust a recipes ingredients, even slightly, it can have such extreme effects.
It could mean the difference between a cake rising far too much, and overflowing the tin, and dripping all through the racks in the oven, and then burning on the bottom; it could mean a cake rising and then rapidly falling, leaving a whopping great crater in the centre; not following a recipe has resulted in flat cakes, mixtures that have a nasty taste to them, cracked cheesecakes, gritty buttercream, and a lot of time, effort, money on quality ingredients all wasted and being dumped in the bin out of pure frustration.
There is nothing worse that buying premium quality ingredients (trust me, when you use cheap ingredients, you can taste it in the final result!), which costs a bit more money, only to then have the final result turn out to be a complete failure. I find myself standing there feeling so deflated and defeated because I’ve just wasted all this time and effort on something that either looks completely disgusting, or actually tastes completely disgusting. And why?? Because I didn’t follow a recipe.
However, in saying that, the last couple of cakes I’ve made, have had a different outcome.
The last cake I made was a chocolate-orange cake. I followed the recipe to a T. Step by step I did exactly as the recipe stated, and ended up with a mixture that simply didn’t fit into my largest springform – it came right up to the top! So I had to split the mixture into two tins and make two cakes, and even then, both of them rose so much, they were only just slightly below the lip of the top of the tins. So I continued on, I made the buttercream, and when the cakes were cooled, I halved them, filled the middle with buttercream, iced it and stuck it in the fridge.
The next day I took the cake to work for the masses to devour, and got nothing but praise for it. One by one I was getting these compliments from coworkers, telling me how delicious it was, and how much they were loving it. I didn’t get it. See, as I was slicing the cakes, I had to cut the ‘domes’ off the tops of the cakes to make a flatter, more even surface. So I got to chop up the domes as ‘chefs treats’ – which is something I do with all the cakes I make! – and I had one bite, and thought that it was one of the most disgusting things I have ever made. I was just appalled that I had made that. That’s not something that I would ever want to associate my name and baking reputation with. It was just an embarrassment. How could I have made something so disgusting?!?! I followed the recipe exactly. If anything, I had to cook it for longer than the book stated, simply because it was still runny after 80mins in the oven.
But regardless, I had invested so much time, effort, and money into making this cake, I couldn’t bring myself to simply throwing it in the trash. I still took it to work, and they practically inhaled it. I don’t understand it, and cannot explain it. I thought it was simply far too bitter and unpleasant… but evidently I was the only one who felt that way.