Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

Recipe Rage


  • Please log in to reply
32 replies to this topic

#1 Mjx

Mjx
  • manager
  • 6,459 posts

Posted 10 September 2012 - 09:34 AM

I'm currently working my way through the most poorly conceived recipe I can recall ever making. To make things worse, I'm not out in the countryside or the subway system of a major US city, so unfortunately, roaming about screaming is not an option; it would confuse people.

The recipe is alleged to yield a strawberry layer cake (chocolate, optional); what I have on my hands is a something that looks like a metaphor for a destroyed childhood.

Five lopsided crackers clutch between them layers of brown... stuff with red chunks in it. Tomorrow, I'm supposed to top this monstrosity with a luscious-looking glaze that, according to the larger image accompanying the recipe, only enhances the luminosity of the strawberries it naps (HAH!), then roll out a strip of marzipan and wrap it around the perimeter, which I can see it will desperately need, to hide the more glaring flaws.

The image beside the recipe depicts what appear to be five thin layers of cake, with an abundant strawberry filling between each; chocolate is not in evidence.

This is not a recipe I would ever have chosen; my boyfriend's mother requested it for her birthday cake, because she liked the picture, and was firm about my using the recipe it accompanied (she wanted the version with chocolate).

I'd tentatively suggested making something that was based on the concept in the picture, and that I was 95% certain would look like the picture and taste pretty good, but although she'd never tried to make this recipe, she really wanted it used, and noted that the book is an old one.

The recipe for the cake layers sort of resembled one for pound cake, but baked briefly as thin circles, at a high temperature. I had doubts, particularly regarding part that stipulated spreading out the glue-like batter into rounds. Piping it was not an option, since there was no pastry tube or any alternative to it. I spread, and scraped, and did not curse in any of the languages I am able to say disgusting things in, although this was definitely the point that I began feeling a strong need to express myself. Alas, my boyfriend's mother was watching me interestedly, a happy smile on her face.

Civilization is a wonderful thing.

I finally shot the miserable 'discs' into the oven and watched them like a hawk for eight minutes, at which point I fished out them back out, noting with a certain grim satisfaction – not unlike that experienced when the inevitable happens to you when someone insists on using a power tool to open a watermelon in your vicinity – that the previously ragged discs of dough were now ragged biscuity things that were charred on one half, and pale and undercooked looking on the other.

I took a break to look up the author of the book. She is apparently dead, which thwarted my idea of phoning her – appalling Danish notwithstanding – and expressing my frank opinion of this unholy blot on culinary efforts.

I forged ahead. Filling? Filling. I cleaned a bunch of strawberries and sliced them. Then, you were supposed to melt chocolate over low heat and stir in the strawberries; when was that was nicely blended, you were supposed to follow with cream, and gelatine. Yeah, right. Clearly, the author hated her fellow humans. I warmed the cream, added the gelatine, poured that over the chocolate, stirred until it was smooth, added the strawberries, and wished really hard. And the chocolate-cream mixture didn't break. It looks pretty gross with those red pieces in it, but smooth.

Next, you were supposed to spread the filling between the layers. This is when I discovered that the recipe called for nowhere near enough strawberries. Each layer of 'strawberry chocolate' filling was actually a smudge of chocolate with about a dozen scattered slices of strawberry. So sad looking. By this point, I just wanted to get this over with. I pressed down the last of the layers, covered the whole mess with foil and put it in the refrigerator until tomorrow, since it supposedly needs time to set. I don't know. I'm kind of past believing anything that woman says.

Then, I firmly tried to not think about it. But, I couldn't seem to stop, and it wasn't just the hurriedly-buried-body-in-a-shallow-grave-in-the-back-yard-feeling. None of the components even tastes particularly good, so it isn't one of those awful-looking-but-delicious things; it certainly isn't going to look like the picture.

I can definitely understand someone pointing to a picture and saying 'I want something that looks like that'; I just can't figure out why anyone would be so married to a recipe they'd never tried. Still, the way I see it, if you offer to do something for someone, you do it on their terms (unless it's a business deal or something), although it's only fair to point out if you foresee a problem

So, fellow cooks, what do you do when confronted with a request to create something from a recipe that you can tell cannot possibly deliver what the picture/description suggests, and can only end in a berserker fit/stomach ulcer damage?

Have you found a strategy? Or do you just shrug your shoulders, and figure it's all experience?

Got any stories about requests involving recipes that didn't deliver?

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org


#2 Emily_R

Emily_R
  • participating member
  • 881 posts

Posted 10 September 2012 - 09:40 AM

Sounds awful. To be honest, my response would have been to trash it, make something using a recipe I've had luck with, and trust that my mother in law would never have known the difference. I don't see how anyone requesting you make them a birthday cake has even the remotest claim on what @#$$%@#$! recipe you use!

#3 MelissaH

MelissaH
  • participating member
  • 1,422 posts
  • Location:Central New York via NEO, CO, Pittsburgh

Posted 10 September 2012 - 11:30 AM

I think Emily_R has the right idea. Make something that follows the concept but that you trust, and when she tells you how much she enjoyed it, you can tell her the story.

MelissaH
MelissaH
Oswego, NY
Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

#4 pastrygirl

pastrygirl
  • society donor
  • 1,156 posts
  • Location:Seattle, WA USA

Posted 10 September 2012 - 11:41 AM

That is hilarious. I'm so sorry!

#5 Wholemeal Crank

Wholemeal Crank
  • participating member
  • 1,653 posts
  • Location:Los Angeles, CA

Posted 10 September 2012 - 12:00 PM

I will refuse if I can see at the outset that the recipe 'looks' unlikely to deliver. And if I went ahead and the results stank as badly as this seems to be destined too, I'll go ahead and make something as similar as I can with trusted recipes, that will at least taste excellent.

#6 rotuts

rotuts
  • participating member
  • 5,864 posts
  • Location:Boston MA

Posted 10 September 2012 - 12:04 PM

this sounds like something from the Olden Days: Martha Stewart Cook Books. which were commercial trash.

but I enjoyed your time spent in your 'review' of the Rx.

#7 Beebs

Beebs
  • participating member
  • 710 posts
  • Location:Vancouver, BC, Canada

Posted 10 September 2012 - 01:25 PM

So...what happened at the end? Did you boyfriend's mother like it?

(Bummer on the s*** recipe, btw, but hilariously funny story for eG!)

#8 ChrisTaylor

ChrisTaylor
  • host
  • 2,185 posts
  • Location:Melbourne

Posted 10 September 2012 - 01:32 PM

I would say ja, mum and then go ahead and find a better recipe and present it like the one in the photo. Give mum some rose wine or send her off to lunch with her son. My treat. And then, when she comes home and the cake is all perfect, well sure lady, you bet I baked with that recipe you've never attempted. Lies make smiles.

Edited by ChrisTaylor, 10 September 2012 - 01:42 PM.

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between


#9 Panaderia Canadiense

Panaderia Canadiense
  • participating member
  • 2,074 posts
  • Location:Ambato, Ecuador

Posted 10 September 2012 - 01:40 PM

I'm with everybody else. If the recipe looks dodgy, I'd follow the presentation photo only and use something trusted to produce something that looks like the picture. Anybody who orders a birthday cake from me and includes a photo of how they'd like it to look will get the flavour they asked for, made using a recipe I trust, and a final product that looks like what they wanted. I flat out refuse to use untried recipes for cakes, or really for baked goods of any sort short of cookies, which are generally foolproof and also very easy to spot disasters before starting.

I'm terribly sorry for you, but looking back on it you'll realize how funny it really was.....
Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

#10 Jaymes

Jaymes
  • participating member
  • 7,438 posts
  • Location:Houston, Texas

Posted 10 September 2012 - 04:03 PM

This is not a recipe I would ever have chosen; my boyfriend's mother requested it for her birthday cake, because she liked the picture, and was firm about my using the recipe it accompanied (she wanted the version with chocolate).

Alas, my boyfriend's mother was watching me interestedly, a happy smile on her face.

Have you found a strategy? Or do you just shrug your shoulders, and figure it's all experience? Got any stories about requests involving recipes that didn't deliver?


The older I get, the less-often I find things that are worthy of the time and energy it takes to get all wrapped around the axle. If BFMom hadn't been there, I probably would have done what others suggested and dumped the thing into the trash and made a lookalike.

But as she was there, you had a great opportunity for an afternoon of unforgettably high merriment.

My "strategy" in that circumstance, as soon as I saw how far along the path of disaster we had come, would have been to crack open a bottle of wine, or better yet, rum, or maybe gin, and whoop it up as the thing got worse and worse. And therefore funnier and funnier.

You could have ended the afternoon with a "ta-dah!" type of photograph, showing all of the tipsy cooks.

And the spectacularly tipsy cake.

I did have such an evening, with such a recipe. It was a long time ago. It involved several dishes - one for chicken, and one for caramelized sweet potatoes flamed in brandy.

The entire dinner was a spectacular flop.

But fortunately, we were all well met friends of good cheer.

So we just wound up drinking the brandy, getting sloshed, and going home.
"And you, you're just a stinker."

#11 Lisa Shock

Lisa Shock
  • society donor
  • 2,242 posts
  • Location:Phoenix, AZ

Posted 10 September 2012 - 07:16 PM

When I worked for a caterer, we'd get requests like this. Often it was people who saw someone on TV make something and they printed the recipe from the tv show website and then expected us to make it for 600 people. We'd just price accordingly and give it to them no matter how stupid the method or how silly the food. That said, we did give people samples of or regular menu items, but, the temptation of a picture is hard to beat. I think people imagine some things taste better than is actually possible in some circumstances.

One vivid instance was a woman who wanted us to make about 100 loaves of a dill cottage cheese bread. (which she handed out for Hanukkah telling people that she made them at home all by herself) She didn't want us to scale up the recipe and use professional bakery methods. And, of course, the recipe used volumetric measure for dry ingredients. She wanted each loaf measured and mixed individually and kneaded by hand. We did it, it took the whole team of eight two days to do it and we did nothing else at all during that time. But, she paid us $27 per loaf and she came by to supervise the kneading part. If I'd been allowed to re-work the formula for weight-based measure and used the big Hobart, 1-2 people could have been done with it in 2 batches (maybe six hours total, tops) -at a retail cost of $7 per loaf. In the end the customer was happy, and we got paid.

#12 Mjx

Mjx
  • manager
  • 6,459 posts

Posted 11 September 2012 - 01:57 AM

I'm with everybody else. If the recipe looks dodgy, I'd follow the presentation photo only and use something trusted to produce something that looks like the picture. Anybody who orders a birthday cake from me and includes a photo of how they'd like it to look will get the flavour they asked for, made using a recipe I trust, and a final product that looks like what they wanted. I flat out refuse to use untried recipes for cakes, or really for baked goods of any sort short of cookies, which are generally foolproof and also very easy to spot disasters before starting.

I'm terribly sorry for you, but looking back on it you'll realize how funny it really was.....


No need to feel sorry, by the time I'd posted this, and read it to catch any typos I'd missed, I thought it was pretty funny! I'm almost looking forward to the next stage, just for its disaster potential, although I do want this to come out as well as possible, since it's a birthday cake.

I really did want to do what you (and several others) suggest, but...


. . . .Alas, my boyfriend's mother was watching me interestedly, a happy smile on her face.

Have you found a strategy? Or do you just shrug your shoulders, and figure it's all experience? Got any stories about requests involving recipes that didn't deliver?


The older I get, the less-often I find things that are worthy of the time and energy it takes to get all wrapped around the axle. If BFMom hadn't been there, I probably would have done what others suggested and dumped the thing into the trash and made a lookalike.

But as she was there, you had a great opportunity for an afternoon of unforgettably high merriment.

My "strategy" in that circumstance, as soon as I saw how far along the path of disaster we had come, would have been to crack open a bottle of wine, or better yet, rum, or maybe gin, and whoop it up as the thing got worse and worse. And therefore funnier and funnier.

You could have ended the afternoon with a "ta-dah!" type of photograph. . . .


That was just it; my boyfriend's mother was there, and once I started getting my knickers in a twist over the snags I hit, distress and my OCD tendencies (normally pretty much under control) took over, and my sense of humour and capacity for problem solving vanished. That and trying to make my far-from-poker-face not show distress of any sort.

And, as she watched me, she believed she was witnessing skilled, focused, deliberate activity, not desperate flailing.

Part of the problem is that my boyfriend's mother is one of the many, many people who truly believe that the ability to cook well (I'm not talking 'inspired', just 'reliably good') is a gift, something you are either born with, or you're not. She's convinced that she's really not much of a cook, and that I'm some sort of gifted expert, regardless of how often I've said 'Thanks, but I had a good recipe!'. The actual difference between us is cookbooks and outlook: I have a tiny, carefully selected collection of books that have taught me an incredible amount about cooking (and am something of a geek about the science involved), while she has a vast collection of iffy works that she trusts implicitly (and has little faith in her ability to consider the underlying science).

I couldn't think of any polite way to have her leave the room, and although the thought crossed my mind that wine might help things considerably, but I was afraid my embarrassingly low alcohol tolerance would lead to [possibly painful] accidents.

Next time, I think I'll just ask her to e-mail me a picture, and carry on from there. I'm partly to blame for the current mess, since I pressed her for details of what she wanted.

Pictures will be taken (if there was a Desserts with that Backroom Finish topic, this would kick it off nicely).

More stories?

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org


#13 PSmith

PSmith
  • participating member
  • 170 posts
  • Location:England

Posted 11 September 2012 - 07:44 AM

LOL - when I get home I will dig out my "pro" and "amateur" photos of a chocolate banana cake I made.

To be fair - everyone who ate some said it was delicious, but the recipe called for an 8" cake to then be cut with a sharp knife into a 7" cake to give a straight finish to the edge. Now this totally goes against my "minimal waste" philosophy - so I ignored this section. As a result my effort was a bit frayed round the edges.

It really does annoy me that some of the pros really do waste a lot of produce. I went on a cooking course and was dismayed at the amount of veg that was discarded as it would have compromised the presentation. I wanted to doggy bag it all home to make soup.

I do find that recipes from cookbooks do vary. I have yet to have a disaster from Delia Smith or Nigella Lawson as both are very explicit in their descriptions.

Edited by PSmith, 11 September 2012 - 07:46 AM.

http://www.thecriticalcouple.co.uk

Latest blog post - Oh my - someone needs a spell checker


#14 Kouign Aman

Kouign Aman
  • participating member
  • 2,653 posts
  • Location:San Diego

Posted 11 September 2012 - 08:44 AM

Pictures will be taken (if there was a Desserts with that Backroom Finish topic, this would kick it off nicely).

More stories?


There is a dinner thread for pix of food that looks bloody awful. I think dessert would fit in there just fine.
"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

#15 Mjx

Mjx
  • manager
  • 6,459 posts

Posted 12 September 2012 - 08:59 AM


Pictures will be taken (if there was a Desserts with that Backroom Finish topic, this would kick it off nicely).

More stories?


There is a dinner thread for pix of food that looks bloody awful. I think dessert would fit in there just fine.


Not sure this counts as food... :hmmm:



And here we go: pictures, as promised.

First, we have what appears to be a stack of inexpertly executed crepes:

StrawberryChocCake2012-09-11_21.06.28.png

When I left off the other night, I’d stacked the layers and pressed them down firmly in a spring form before refrigerating, not because that was something the recipe said to do, but because I had this idea that unless the thing was firmly stuck together, the fundamental lack of structural integrity would cause it to disintegrate when I was trying to make it look pretty.

I took this out of the spring form to get a better look at what I’d be dealing with. It still looks like a stack of misfit crepes fused together with... you know, let’s just move right along.

StrawberryChocCake2012-09-11_21.06.49.png

I put the cake back in the spring form, since the next step involved pouring semi-gelled liquid over the cake (now topped by halved strawberries), so I had a hunch that working with it in a container would be an excellent idea.

The next step did not go smoothly. The should-be-gelled liquid was not noticeably thickened even after over an hour of chilling, but time was running out. I took the cake back out of the refrigerator, and proceeded to carefully pour the ‘gel’ over the cake, which ran off the strawberries as though they’d been waterproofed, to be eagerly sucked up by the topmost 'cake' layer, which then appeared to regret this, by mostly turning into an unbecoming paste.

I can’t say I was even slightly surprised.

When I’d poured over the last of the gel (which began sticking to the strawberries towards the end) I shoved the whole mess back into the refrigerator, where it proceeded to look like it was slowly bleeding to death.

I thought about getting completely hammered, but decided to roll out the marzipan, which distracted me.

A couple of hours later, I took the cake out of the refrigerator, and released it from the confines of the spring form:

StrawberryChocCake2012-09-11_21.08.59.png

There just... well, there isn’t really anything to say.

The marzipan did help:

StrawberryChocCake2012-09-11_21.09.43.png

But it sure as hell couldn’t fix everything:

StrawberryChocCake2012-09-11_21.10.26.png

I found the top layer disturbing and pasty, and the rest made me think of those Pepperidge Farm cookies with the chocolate in the middle, when they’re served by a relative who likes to keep them in the refrigerator. Not awful, but no flavour or anything, just a sort of crumb-y, waxy texture. But hey, there’s chocolate!

The cake was a hit.

Almost everyone thought it was a fantastic and fancy cake, except for my boyfriend’s mother (who knows me well enough to know that if I ask for feedback on my cooking, I genuinely want the truth), who agreed with my criticism of the cake. And she said, ‘Next time, let’s go with your idea’ :smile:

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org


#16 judiu

judiu
  • participating member
  • 2,245 posts
  • Location:South Florida

Posted 12 September 2012 - 11:19 AM

Well, bless her heart for THAT! To me this seems like one of the BEST reasons to keep a pet around! "Oh, Mom, Max ran under my feet and I tripped and..." Poor little critters, they can carry a wide load of alibis for putupon cooks! :blush: :biggrin:
"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

#17 Pierogi

Pierogi
  • participating member
  • 1,476 posts
  • Location:Long Beach, CA

Posted 12 September 2012 - 09:59 PM

Michaela, truth be told, it really *DOESN'T* look half bad. Especially after the addition of the marzipan coat.

Of course, it doesn't really look half good, either.

But that may be just because I really can't tolerate marzipan in any form.....

Seriously. It does look pretty. When I looked at the preview pictures, I actually thought "hmmmmmm, that turned out OK, didn't it?"

But I'm taking you at your word about the taste/texture/consistency. And good on almost MIL for recognizing the folly of the effort.
--Roberta--
"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley
Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

#18 Chef Joel

Chef Joel
  • participating member
  • 6 posts
  • Location:Crandall, Ga. USA

Posted 12 September 2012 - 10:56 PM

Bury the evidence out back somewhere, go to a local bakery and purchase a correctly made one. If you have time, reverse-engineer it.

It is difficult to correctly work a recipe if you don't have an idea of what the actual finished product is supposed to look and taste like.

I'm currently working my way through the most poorly conceived recipe I can recall ever making. To make things worse, I'm not out in the countryside or the subway system of a major US city, so unfortunately, roaming about screaming is not an option; it would confuse people.

The recipe is alleged to yield a strawberry layer cake (chocolate, optional); what I have on my hands is a something that looks like a metaphor for a destroyed childhood.

Five lopsided crackers clutch between them layers of brown... stuff with red chunks in it. Tomorrow, I'm supposed to top this monstrosity with a luscious-looking glaze that, according to the larger image accompanying the recipe, only enhances the luminosity of the strawberries it naps (HAH!), then roll out a strip of marzipan and wrap it around the perimeter, which I can see it will desperately need, to hide the more glaring flaws.

The image beside the recipe depicts what appear to be five thin layers of cake, with an abundant strawberry filling between each; chocolate is not in evidence.

This is not a recipe I would ever have chosen; my boyfriend's mother requested it for her birthday cake, because she liked the picture, and was firm about my using the recipe it accompanied (she wanted the version with chocolate).

I'd tentatively suggested making something that was based on the concept in the picture, and that I was 95% certain would look like the picture and taste pretty good, but although she'd never tried to make this recipe, she really wanted it used, and noted that the book is an old one.

The recipe for the cake layers sort of resembled one for pound cake, but baked briefly as thin circles, at a high temperature. I had doubts, particularly regarding part that stipulated spreading out the glue-like batter into rounds. Piping it was not an option, since there was no pastry tube or any alternative to it. I spread, and scraped, and did not curse in any of the languages I am able to say disgusting things in, although this was definitely the point that I began feeling a strong need to express myself. Alas, my boyfriend's mother was watching me interestedly, a happy smile on her face.

Civilization is a wonderful thing.

I finally shot the miserable 'discs' into the oven and watched them like a hawk for eight minutes, at which point I fished out them back out, noting with a certain grim satisfaction – not unlike that experienced when the inevitable happens to you when someone insists on using a power tool to open a watermelon in your vicinity – that the previously ragged discs of dough were now ragged biscuity things that were charred on one half, and pale and undercooked looking on the other.

I took a break to look up the author of the book. She is apparently dead, which thwarted my idea of phoning her – appalling Danish notwithstanding – and expressing my frank opinion of this unholy blot on culinary efforts.

I forged ahead. Filling? Filling. I cleaned a bunch of strawberries and sliced them. Then, you were supposed to melt chocolate over low heat and stir in the strawberries; when was that was nicely blended, you were supposed to follow with cream, and gelatine. Yeah, right. Clearly, the author hated her fellow humans. I warmed the cream, added the gelatine, poured that over the chocolate, stirred until it was smooth, added the strawberries, and wished really hard. And the chocolate-cream mixture didn't break. It looks pretty gross with those red pieces in it, but smooth.

Next, you were supposed to spread the filling between the layers. This is when I discovered that the recipe called for nowhere near enough strawberries. Each layer of 'strawberry chocolate' filling was actually a smudge of chocolate with about a dozen scattered slices of strawberry. So sad looking. By this point, I just wanted to get this over with. I pressed down the last of the layers, covered the whole mess with foil and put it in the refrigerator until tomorrow, since it supposedly needs time to set. I don't know. I'm kind of past believing anything that woman says.

Then, I firmly tried to not think about it. But, I couldn't seem to stop, and it wasn't just the hurriedly-buried-body-in-a-shallow-grave-in-the-back-yard-feeling. None of the components even tastes particularly good, so it isn't one of those awful-looking-but-delicious things; it certainly isn't going to look like the picture.

I can definitely understand someone pointing to a picture and saying 'I want something that looks like that'; I just can't figure out why anyone would be so married to a recipe they'd never tried. Still, the way I see it, if you offer to do something for someone, you do it on their terms (unless it's a business deal or something), although it's only fair to point out if you foresee a problem

So, fellow cooks, what do you do when confronted with a request to create something from a recipe that you can tell cannot possibly deliver what the picture/description suggests, and can only end in a berserker fit/stomach ulcer damage?

Have you found a strategy? Or do you just shrug your shoulders, and figure it's all experience?

Got any stories about requests involving recipes that didn't deliver?


Edited by Chef Joel, 12 September 2012 - 10:57 PM.


#19 Mjx

Mjx
  • manager
  • 6,459 posts

Posted 13 September 2012 - 05:16 AM

Michaela, truth be told, it really *DOESN'T* look half bad. Especially after the addition of the marzipan coat.

Of course, it doesn't really look half good, either.

But that may be just because I really can't tolerate marzipan in any form.....

Seriously. It does look pretty. When I looked at the preview pictures, I actually thought "hmmmmmm, that turned out OK, didn't it?"

But I'm taking you at your word about the taste/texture/consistency. And good on almost MIL for recognizing the folly of the effort.


Thanks (erm, but the sort of bloody-looking clots of gel..?)! By the way, you might have liked this marzipan, if you simply don't care for almond flavour; this had no flavour at all. Nothing. A vague sweeness was discernible, but I have (very, very distant) memories of sampling Playdoh that was far more flavourful than this.


Bury the evidence out back somewhere, go to a local bakery and purchase a correctly made one. If you have time, reverse-engineer it.

It is difficult to correctly work a recipe if you don't have an idea of what the actual finished product is supposed to look and taste like.


Well, as I said, to my stunned... stunnedness (I know, not a word, but I need it here), the cake was greeted with enthusiasm, with almost everyone taking seconds, or even thirds, and the remainder was scarfed down by my boyfriend's father early yesterday. The cake is effectively buried.

Alas, I not only knew what the cookbook wanted me to believe the cake would look like (pictures), but reading the recipe gave me a pretty good idea of how it would actually look (plus a sinking feeling); I could see there was a gap yawning chasm between the two. Trying to get a poorly designed recipe to work is pretty much like trying to assemble an IKEA dining room set with a several crucial structural elements missing. Possible, but it's not going to be pretty!

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org


#20 SylviaLovegren

SylviaLovegren
  • participating member
  • 1,103 posts
  • Location:Toronto, ON

Posted 13 September 2012 - 05:50 AM

Somewhere in the dim recesses of my memory is a similar cake that I read about, pretty sure it was in a Scandinavian-American cookbook. Many thin layers of crisp cake layered with fruit and cream (maybe it was a jelly?) -- it seems like a classic northern European torte idea.

I don't think yours came out looking half bad. And your story -- with the perfect bitter tone! -- was wonderful.

#21 judiu

judiu
  • participating member
  • 2,245 posts
  • Location:South Florida

Posted 13 September 2012 - 07:51 AM

Mjx, I think you can find a similar, and hopefully better, recipe if you google 'stack cake'. They have long been an American favorite, I beleive because the thin layers could have been cooked in a dutch oven or even an iron skillet over an open fire, spread with jam and 'stacked' into a passable cake. HTH!
"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

#22 Mjx

Mjx
  • manager
  • 6,459 posts

Posted 13 September 2012 - 10:23 AM

Somewhere in the dim recesses of my memory is a similar cake that I read about, pretty sure it was in a Scandinavian-American cookbook. Many thin layers of crisp cake layered with fruit and cream (maybe it was a jelly?) -- it seems like a classic northern European torte idea.

I don't think yours came out looking half bad. And your story -- with the perfect bitter tone! -- was wonderful.


I think this was supposed to yield cakey layers, at least, my boyfriend's mother was expecting something quite different, based on the pictures (as I was). She did say it sort of reminded her of a kiksekage.

Mjx, I think you can find a similar, and hopefully better, recipe if you google 'stack cake'. They have long been an American favorite, I beleive because the thin layers could have been cooked in a dutch oven or even an iron skillet over an open fire, spread with jam and 'stacked' into a passable cake. HTH!


My initial idea, when I was shown the pictures of the desired result, was to go with the very tasty and reliable recipe for the cake layers for a Boston cream pie (from Cook's Illustrated), which would have yielded something that really looked like the pictures, but that was vetoed. I could have insisted, but I really hated to feel like I was browbeating someone about her birthday cake (read 'totally wimped on this'). But next time I make a cake of this sort, I know I'm not going to have to worry about this ;)

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org


#23 pastrygirl

pastrygirl
  • society donor
  • 1,156 posts
  • Location:Seattle, WA USA

Posted 14 September 2012 - 05:43 PM

Somewhere in the dim recesses of my memory is a similar cake that I read about, pretty sure it was in a Scandinavian-American cookbook. Many thin layers of crisp cake layered with fruit and cream (maybe it was a jelly?) -- it seems like a classic northern European torte idea.


Can't say I think of 'crisp' and 'cake' as words that belong together :shock:

#24 SylviaLovegren

SylviaLovegren
  • participating member
  • 1,103 posts
  • Location:Toronto, ON

Posted 14 September 2012 - 06:19 PM


Somewhere in the dim recesses of my memory is a similar cake that I read about, pretty sure it was in a Scandinavian-American cookbook. Many thin layers of crisp cake layered with fruit and cream (maybe it was a jelly?) -- it seems like a classic northern European torte idea.


Can't say I think of 'crisp' and 'cake' as words that belong together :shock:


Hah! The cake I remember (and haven't been able to find, going through my old cookbooks) had cake batter that was spread thin in rounds and baked crisp, almost like a cookie. Then the crisp rounds were layered with some sort of filling. I WILL find it.

#25 Kerry Beal

Kerry Beal
  • participating member
  • 9,943 posts
  • Location:Ontario, Canada

Posted 14 September 2012 - 06:28 PM



Somewhere in the dim recesses of my memory is a similar cake that I read about, pretty sure it was in a Scandinavian-American cookbook. Many thin layers of crisp cake layered with fruit and cream (maybe it was a jelly?) -- it seems like a classic northern European torte idea.


Can't say I think of 'crisp' and 'cake' as words that belong together :shock:


Hah! The cake I remember (and haven't been able to find, going through my old cookbooks) had cake batter that was spread thin in rounds and baked crisp, almost like a cookie. Then the crisp rounds were layered with some sort of filling. I WILL find it.


I've got one like that - layers of cookie type dough glued together with a cream of wheat mixture. It's quite yummy! You cut it into little diamonds so it looks more attractive.

#26 SylviaLovegren

SylviaLovegren
  • participating member
  • 1,103 posts
  • Location:Toronto, ON

Posted 14 September 2012 - 06:54 PM

Well, I couldn't find the layered cake in my Scandi cookbooks, but I did find the classic Dobos Torte online. The layers are made as I remembered -- a small bit of batter spread thin and baked crisp. http://www.epicuriou...bostorte-104023

#27 prasantrin

prasantrin
  • legacy participant
  • 5,468 posts

Posted 15 September 2012 - 07:49 AM

I think the recipe seems very similar to vinarterta, the Icelandic version of a Viennese torte. http://etherwork.net.../vineterte.html is the most "authentic" recipe I've seen (a good vinarterta should have almond extract, though I always omit it, but it should also have a layer of marzipan on top).

I've seen modern versions made with different fruit fillings (blueberry, saskatoon berry, peach, etc.).

#28 prasantrin

prasantrin
  • legacy participant
  • 5,468 posts

Posted 15 September 2012 - 07:52 AM

http://etherwork.net...rtertainfo.html has more information of vinarterta and its links to Denmark/Norway/etc.

#29 judiu

judiu
  • participating member
  • 2,245 posts
  • Location:South Florida

Posted 16 September 2012 - 08:03 AM

IIRC, most stack cake receipies call for a 'rest period' before serving so the filling can soften the crisp layers back to a cakey consistancy. HTH!
"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

#30 Mjx

Mjx
  • manager
  • 6,459 posts

Posted 17 September 2012 - 12:36 AM

IIRC, most stack cake receipies call for a 'rest period' before serving so the filling can soften the crisp layers back to a cakey consistancy. HTH!


Absolutely! I've made stack cakes, in fact. But this was supposed to be a layer cake :blink:

According to the images accompanying the recipe, the layers were supposed to come out of the oven cake-textured cake: soft, flexible.

These layers emerged from the oven crisp and dry.

My boyfriend's mother, who has experienced over six decades of baked goods here in Denmark, expected them to be soft and cakelike; she was quite surprised at their being crisp!

The layers did sort of soften, what with being sandwiched with the chocolate-cream-strawberry filling overnight, and then some, but... Well.

Essentially, this was like following a recipe for Boston cream pie, and having the layers turn out like rounds of short-bread :wink:

But hey, three of the six people who ate it thought it was the bomb, so not an entire failure!

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org