March 05, 2010

When Recipes Need Tweaking

I usually only bake if company is coming or Christmas is approaching. But the cold north wind howled all day, with constant gusts of 60-70 km rattling the windows, and the sky was a bone chilling grey. Turning the oven on and working with chocolate seemed like a warm and comforting way to combat Mother Nature. 

Despite many years of baking, I have rarely made chocolate cake from scratch. The danger of producing a dry one always seemed so high. A couple of weeks ago though, with Movita and Derek coming for supper, I managed to produce an absolutely awesome chocolate butter cake  from the joy of baking website. Buoyed by that successful endeavor, I browsed a variety of websites today for a chocolate cupcake recipe, eliminating a few that looked good because they called for Dutch cocoa, which I did not have in the house.

Now Julia Child said that a very large percentage of recipes (90%, I think!) were not well written and contained mistakes. That makes sense to me as baking is, after all, a combination of both art and science, so the writer has to possess calculating creativity. Despite measuring accurately today and following the recipe directions faithfully, the cupcakes turned out to be so overly light and airy that it was absolutely impossible to get them out of the tins intact. The tops separated from the bottoms and many of the bottoms came out in sections. Although they contained both cocoa and melted, unsweetened chocolate, they tasted like... well, a particularly vapid cake mix! I think the photo could be accurately labeled The Chocolate Cupcake Massacre.

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