Sometimes the kitchen just gets you down. I think it happens to everyone from time to time. Currently, it is happening to me.
A few weeks ago, I made a cake for my dad’s birthday. Something very strange happened. Even though I had made that exact recipe hundreds of times (literally), it didn’t work. My cake batter climbed up my beaters and nearly stopped them from rotating. I made 2 cakes that day, and decreased the xanthan in the second. They weren’t right, but they were still good.
Fast forward to today. My xanthan gum has multiple personality disorder. I am sure of it. Two years ago, Roben Ryberg was at my house preparing some things for a North Texas GIG meeting when we realized that not all xanthan gum is created equal. Now I am quite certain that there can be big differences between batches from the same company. You see, I had recently refilled my jar of Bob’s Red Mill xanthan gum with more Bob’s Red Mill xanthan gum. My first attempt at cake this morning climbed up the beaters. I baked it, and we’ve been snacking on it (because it’s still tasty). For the second batch, I decreased the xanthan gum by a whole teaspoon, and it STILL climbed up my beaters, but just a little less.
I baked that one, and called it quits with the yellow cake.
For the chocolate cake, I used some different xanthan gum, and it seemed alright. However, I could not get rid of the tiny lumps of cocoa powder (something else that’s never happened to me before). I baked it, and it formed a big lump on one end, which went away when it cooled, but the cake was still lopsided.
This is where the discouragement really began.
Since I had a few different food allergies to consider, I just went with the Pillsbury icing this time, which usually does pretty well for me, but is not quite as shapeable as I would prefer. Well, have you ever been to Texas? It’s hot here. As I’m writing, it is 104 outside and my air conditioner is pumping like crazy to make it 76 inside. Why 76? You see, the icing started melting off the cake, so I turned the thermostat down a few degrees. It didn’t work. And because I used 2 9×13 cakes together to make a large sheet cake, I can’t stick it in the fridge.
Are you wondering why I am telling you this?
It is in hopes that those of you who are experiencing “baking troubles” will realize it’s not just you. I tend to think of myself as a fairly good baker, but everything has just been conspiring against me lately to bring me down.
But I won’t let it.
At least, not for very long.
Hopefully, this cake will still impress a 10 year old boy.
In case you’re wondering, I used Fruit-by-the-Foot to make the racetrack, and put real Hot Wheels cars on the cake. The candles are by Cake Mate and spell out “happy birthday.” I got the cake box and cardboard tray at Michael’s arts and crafts store. I was going to make a flag and write something witty about Courbin turning 10, but I decided not to press my luck today (since the icing keeps melting off the cake).
I guess I just need to keep practicing. Anyone need cake?
Oh, and if you haven’t noticed, I now have a promo code for a 30-day free trial to Zeer Select. Give it a try and let them know what you think.