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we're all used to the Wednesday/Sunday food sections of newspapers far and wide, national and local. I see corrections in the local or regional columns when called for, but there's never a way to critique the ones published on a national scale because the content is behind a paywall. I get the WSJ, but don't want to pay additional (I should get access to it all on line for free-the newspaper is not cheap) for their online edition. Very frustrating to try a recipe and have major problems with it and not be able to point out some serious issues. Specifically, the WSJ published a recipe from Dee Retalli, a pastry chef in London who's recipe is in the cookbook 'Rustic' by Jorge Fernandez and Rich Wells. 

I have made this cake 3 times.

First time was a total runover disaster, which I should have foreseen. This cakes calls for a 10" springform or if you don't have that, a 10" cast iron skillet. I went for the latter because that is what I had. Almond mixtures tend to really smoke when they run over, just so you know.

Tried again later with a deeper than normal 9 " springform. Happened again. Think it has to do with the 2 teaspoons of baking powder and quick activation in a 350º oven.

Invested in a 10" springform for '3rd times a charm' try. I was successful, but not because I followed the directions, rather I became a little obsessed with making this work. Checked my oven, followed with the recipe and eyed it warily. It came up to the brim...and stayed. 45 minutes later it was supposed to be done but while it was beautiful, it was a bowl of jello in the center. It was also browning at an alarming rate- the almond flour again? So I placed a sheet of tinfoil over it (beautiful top crust) and turned the oven down to 325º and carefully watched and tested for almost another hour. That's a big time difference. 

I found the recipe on cooked.com - credited to the above authors and cookbook albeit in Euro style measures and temps. All seems the same, so what are the odds that the recipe was misprinted twice from 2 different media?

All I can think of is somewhere down the line (in the cookbook itself?) the cook time and temp were off. The time on both reads 45 min. The recipe took at least 1hr and 45 minutes. methinks someone left out the hour...

The temp. thing is a little more obvious. Celcius to farenheight 350ºF does not equal 180ºC, more like 176ºC. Over almost 2 hours, I think that could make the difference between cooked and burnt? Sooo, I turned it down when I saw how fast it was browning to 325.

The cake stays in form while you pour the honey over it, then orange water, then 2(!!!) cups of sliced toasted almonds. I put 1 cup and there is no way another cup would have stayed on that cake. I cup settled up to almost an inch on a 10" cake...

Has anyone else tried this recipe or have the cookbook? It's a wonderful cake if you correct the time and temp., But I'd be really curious to see if anyone followed it exactly as written with success?

 

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I think the original yield is off.  If a pound of butter, 8 eggs, 4 cups of flour, etc  makes a 10" cake, it must be 4" tall!  I've been working on a wedding cake, and similar amounts of my vanilla cake have made two  9" x  2" round layers or one shorter 14" round.  Maybe in the restaurant it was baked as a half sheet and a little thinner, with more surface area for the almonds on top.

 

I agree that 2 TB of baking powder seems excessive, I stick with roughly 1 tsp per cup of flour.

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I do have access to the WSJ and there are 12 comments on the recipe, all reporting the same or similar issue.  Editing to say that after I re-read the comments, there were a few unrelated to that issue, so most but not all of them had problems.

 

Quote

Vesuvius made a smaller mess in Naples than this made in my oven.

 

Quote

I used a 10 inch Lodge iron skillet, and after about fifteen minutes in the oven, I started smelling something burning.  The batter had risen over the top of the skillet and splattered onto the floor of the oven.  I took it out, transferred the batter into a larger pan, and everything came out fine.  

 

 

Edited by blue_dolphin
to clarify that not all the WSJ article comments had the same issue (log)
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I get the digital edition of the NYT.  I made a comment once on a recipe to the effect that no one seemed to address the fact that the recipe didn't work as evidenced by the number of negative comments.  I got an email some days later saying they would not print my comment.  Neither did they address the fault with the recipe.

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So good to know that it wasn't just me, thanks for that-

I would definitely share my experience with WSJ, if allowed access- if just for other's education. I take it that no-one has corrected it on line either? even with all the comments? Sounds like lazy editing. 

On the bright side, now we know how to make it without the mess!

 

Did they mention the excessive amount of almonds?

 

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thank you! It shut me out when I tried the recipe the first time and was looking on line...that was last year? but the taste made me want to do it right, so I carried on.

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