For the Red Hot Chili Peppers, mix blood, sugar, sex, magic and a Hungry Man portion of ink and you get a musical masterpiece. For a baker, it’s not as simple as throwing together the basic cake ingredients: flour, butter, eggs, and sugar to deliver sweet success with regularity. If you’ve followed this blog with regularity, you know there have been plenty of cake blunders along with the successes.
So when I heard beloved chef, teacher, and radio host Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of NPR’s The Splendid Table recommend a cookbook called The Cake Bible to a flumoxed baker, I thought, “Move over, Aunt Martha, I’m gonna get me some religion via author Rose Levy Beranbaum.” Kasper vowed for every cake in “The Bible” describing the recipes as fundamental and essential.
Paging thru, I felt like I’d found a kindred spirit in Beranbaum…more scientist than artist in the kitchen. She gives a litany of tips for guaranteed cake success; a few I knew, like having all ingredients at room temperature, and some I didn’t, like not using butter to “butter” your cake pans (she recommends Baker’s Joy spray). The Cake Bible also reads like a history of the cake. Within pages, I learned that the simple Pound Cake is considered The Mother Of All Cakes. Mother Of All Cakes? I better know how to make that before I go one cake further, I thought.
I used farm fresh eggs, small batch milk, Land O Lakes Butter, extra fine sugar and cake flour. I followed the recipe, the sidebars, annotations, footnotes, and tips to the letter. And my result was…
And then I tasted it, this, The Mother Of All Cakes, whose recipe resides in the Genesis chapter of The Cake Bible, a cake described as comparable to those yummy dense Sara Lee cakes we ate as kids, only with a lovely homemade quality, and…it was terrible. Bone dry and virtually flavorless. Talk about your creation myth!
Not ready to lose my religion just yet, I’ve decided to make this cake again and again until I get it right. In fact, I am baking nothing BUT this cake until it lives up to its promise. I mean what kind of baker am I if I can’t bake the cake from which all others are derived?
Can you help? Any suggestions on what I might have done wrong? Or do I need to get Lynne Rossetto Kasper on the blower? I will get this right, come hell or high water. Amen to that, right?
Vampire Weekend - Diane Young