Squashed Strawberry Cake and Baked Fudge Pie

Published recipes are tested and idealized concepts executed with skill. The application of such perfection are, shall we say sometimes, less than perfect. Most always, still delicious, most always, opportunities for learning and creative adjustment. In the spirit of sharing the tasty and the ugly, just thought I’d report on my weekend baking experiments. I tried two recipes from recent issues of Southern Living Magazine. As I have previously admitted, I am incapable of following recipes. It might be symptomatic of my general aversion to authority and direction. So…. when I say I’m reporting on executing recipes, I mean, I’m confessing how I subverted or mutated the recipes, for better or worse. At any rate, I eat the evidence. Don’t judge me.

The first recipe was from the Community Cookbook section of the magazine for Fudge Pie. For the most part I followed the recipe. I was so proud of myself until I realized that I was supposed to mix in the pecans (and not merely scatter them on top like a pecan pie). No worries, the pecans got toasty and the pie was just as delicious (I imagine). Will I mix the pecans in next time? I don’t know.

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The second recipe was far more ambitious. It was the Strawberry Lemonade Layer Cake on the cover of last month’s issue. Mine does NOT look like the cover. My analysis of the visual discrepancy identifies three deviations from the recipe:

First, I did not use the 9 inch pan as directed. The 8 inch pan yielded a taller cake. A situation which would not be so bad except that the cake would not fit in my covered cake container. So, yes, I squished the cake (a bit) for the lid to fit. I’m not sure how detrimental this deviation will be at dessert time. I may have to pretend its a rustic strawberry shortcake or maybe I can dump it in a trifle bowl. Some creative adjustment may be required.

Second, when I squished the caked down, the delicious strawberry jam (yes! the recipe called for me to MAKE the strawberry jam) leaked out. Again, a situation, I’m guessing the magazine recipe did not call for. Instead of delicately sitting between the cake layers like a glossy red sweet and fruity buffer, the “jelly” behaved more like an oozing red sauce bleeding out of the white and red speckled cloud. Hmmmm. Was I supposed to boil the “jam” liquid more? Fear not, this is just another moment of creative rescue. I’ve decided to serve the left over red strawberry lemon syrup…yes…”syrup” not “jam”  as a drizzle over each serving of cake (spooned or sliced, as the first condition dictates).

Third, I did not add the red food coloring in the frosting. The cake looks good anyway. Just not like the image on the magazine cover. As you can somewhat see below (I’m afraid to take off the lid for a picture!), reality on the right and ideality on the left. I would eat both. But, my very own tasty ugly reality that I brought into being is what I have sitting in the refrigerator waiting to be devoured. Can’t I make my cake, have my cake and eat it too? Yay to glorious imperfect making and …….eating. Happy cooking and eating everyone!

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