Poor Jim. This was his Father's Day cake, and I screwed it up royally. It's not a hard cake to make. In fact, it has a place on the quick and easy list, and rightfully so. It's a simple butter cake, with the addition of sour cream, lemon oil, grated lemon rind, and ground almonds. And yet, I totally messed it up.
When Sarah walked in the door, I announced that I had ruined the cake. She was ecstatic. "Oh, that's great," she said, "Is it bad enough for Cakewrecks?" It is her goal for a cake of mine to be pictured on cakewrecks.com. I don't find this to be a particularly supportive goal.
When she looked at it, she was disappointed. "Mom, it doesn't look like a wreck at all, it's pretty!"
But when I showed her the seamy underbelly, she had to admit it wasn't so lovely.
Here's the problem. I had all the ingredients ready to put in at the right time, and I thought I had done that. When I re-read the ingredients after I'd finished mixing everything, I realized that I'd forgotten the sugar. I was disappointed because it meant that the sugar wouldn't be added at the right time, which I believed would affect the texture. But at least it would be added. So I scraped all the batter in the pan.
Then Jim asked, "When did the almonds go in?" Or that's what I thought he asked. He says he asked, "When do the almonds go in?" I said, "When they were supposed to go in." He thought I said, "When they're supposed to go in." Then, after I smoothed all the batter in the pan, I saw the ground almonds, still in the food processor. Which shows, I guess, that you shouldn't have two old deaf people working in the kitchen together. I dumped the nuts on top of the batter, and stirred them in, but I could see it wasn't going to work out that well.
This is my new NordicWare Bavaria cake pan.
I love its intricate design, which is prettier than the regular Bundt cake design. It also makes it harder to remove from the pan. I sprayed the pan heavily with Baker's Joy, but a few dabs of cake still clung to the pan when I inverted it.
When the cake comes out of the oven, you poke holes in the bottom, and brush on some easy-to-make lemon syrup (lemon juice and turbinado sugar). After ten minutes, you invert it and place it on a platter.
I decided to put it on a plate, and then transfer it to the serving platter later. DO NOT DO THIS. You would think I'd have learned about transferring a finished cake after the ginger cheesecake broke in half. But some people learn the hard way. The cake was firmly embedded in sticky lemon syrup, and did not want to be moved. I finally transferred it, but let's just say the transfer did not improve the cake's looks. I ran to the garden to cut some roses to put in the center so you could not see how the cake was on the verge of collapsing.
I wish that I weren't getting so much experience in disguising disasters.
The truly amazing thing is that, after all this, the cake was good! A definite, although not overpowering, lemon taste, a richness from the sour cream and butter, and a moist but not heavy texture.
(Lots of lemon flavor from two big tablespoons of grated lemon rind, plus lemon oil (courtesy of Woody), plus fresh lemon juice in the syrup).
I'm very curious to see what it would taste like if I made it the right way, and it may be the first cake that I repeat, because how could you not like a buttery almond lemon cake that is still delicious even if you make serial mistakes?
Karen: "You made me think this was going to be awful, but it's really, really good."
Sarah: "This is the best cakewreck I've ever tasted!"
James: [big piece of cake in mouth] Gives thumbs up sign.
Jim: "Can I have the rest of it?"