Sunday, November 20, 2011

Apple Cider Cake Fail--Sort Of

 Last week was Colonial Week for Monkey at school. This is a big deal for the fifth graders. They get to do all sorts of fun things like play colonial games and make colonial arts and crafts like silhouette portraits, cross stitch and orange pomander balls with cloves. Friday was the big culmination of the week's festivities. The kids dressed in colonial garb, had a feast of colonial food and danced the Virginia Reel.

I helped during the week with crafts and by volunteering to bring food on Friday. I prepared venison and was given an assignment to bring apple cider cake. The teacher sent home the recipe and it looked good. I decided my family would rebel if I made a cake for a bunch of kids at school and not one for our own family so I made two.

The first fail was that each cake called for four chopped apples. I had loaned out my food processor that day so I hand-chopped eight (quite large) apples into tiny pieces for the cakes. I was chopping apples FOR-EV-ER. By the time I was done I had a mountain of chopped apples. They filled my two largest glass mixing bowls.

After mixing the cakes and pouring the batter into the greased and floured pans, I put them in the oven for 30 minutes as directed by the recipe and went to do something else. After 30 minutes they were very nearly still liquid. It took an additional 45 minutes (for a total of 75 minutes) for the cakes to be done.

By this time it was nearly midnight and I was exhausted but I still needed to glaze the cakes so that Monkey could bring one to school in the morning. I made myself wait for another 15 minutes knowing that if I tried to turn the cakes out of the pans before they were at least a little cool, there might be a disaster.
Like this. Ugh. The waiting wasn't long enough. And this is definitely not what I was hoping for. But, I had another cake, so I just told myself that this would be the family's cake and the nicer one could go to school.
Only it didn't come out of the pan clean either. This is the nicer one. Pretty hideous, isn't it? But, there was no way I was making another cake at midnight so I decided it would have to do. It was just going to get eaten anyway.

The next thing I needed to do was glaze the cakes. The best way to glaze a cake of this sort is to brush the glaze on with a pastry brush which allows a lot of the glaze to soak into the cake (rather than pouring the glaze over the top). After fifteen minutes I could see that I still had a lot of glaze left so I just dumped the rest over the top. I was finished.

I dusted it liberally with powdered sugar hoping that the powdered sugar might help to camouflage the ugliness. It didn't really. Then I put it on a platter with a doily.  There is a proverb that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. This is proof.

See? Still ugly. At this point I didn't care. I just wanted to sleep. I have tile floor in my kitchen and my feet and legs were dead.

In the morning I sent the cake with Monkey. After lunch we went to watch him dance the Virginia Reel. He was glad to see me and came to tell me that the cake was everyone's favorite and they loved it. Oh, I thought, he's being sweet.

After the dancing I went to pick up my dishes and bring them home. A parent stopped me on my way out. "Was that your cake?" she asked. "It was amazing. Everyone loved it and kept coming back for more."
"Really? You're so sweet. Thanks for telling me. It sure didn't look pretty."

Then the teacher stopped me. "Your cake was the hit parade today. All the moms wanted the recipe and I told them 'it's the same recipe I gave you all but she must have put magic in hers or something'. People from other classes were stopping by to sneak bites of that cake. Thank you for sending it in!"
This is all that was left. Apple cider cake WIN!

It was extremely delicious. I guess this just goes to show you can't judge based on looks. So, I guess maybe it wasn't a fail after all, but when I make it again I will make absolute sure that the pan is very well greased and floured and that the cake has adequate time to cool before I turn it out of the pan.

Colonial Apple Cider Cake
4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I used golden delicious)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 pound butter, melted (2 sticks)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups flour

1 cup chopped pecans

1⁄2 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons apple jelly
2 teaspoons cinnamon (I reduced this and only used 1 teaspoon. Two seemed like too much to me.)
powdered sugar, for dusting

Place apples in large bowl. Pour sugar over apples and let stand for 10 minutes to extract
moisture from the apples. Add eggs and butter; scrape bowl. Add all but glaze
ingredients; mix well. Pour batter into greased and floured bundt pan or two 9-inch
cake pans. Bake at 350°F for 60 to 75 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes
out clean (remember the original recipe said 30 minutes). Allow cake to cool. 

Dissolve the apple jelly with the cider by warming them together. Mix in one teaspoon cinnamon. Brush this mixture over cake with a pastry brush. Continue brushing until all the glaze is gone. Dust liberally with powdered sugar.

So, I guess the take home message here is one that I keep having to learn over and over: It doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful.

*More on Colonial Week HERE.


runningfan said...

I'm very glad to hear a happy ending to that story!

Tanya H said...

TFS!! I'm so glad it worked out for you anyway! This reiterates my cooking, LOL! hardly anything I make ever LOOKS pretty, but it almost always tastes good...! :)