Reminding Myself, “It’s Just Cake!”

Every once in a while, things don’t work out the way you planned. Instead of getting to your friend’s party on time, you hit unexpected traffic and arrive too late to be even “fashionably late.” When it comes to baking or cooking, sometimes a well intended idea just doesn’t get off the ground. Or, in my case, bake up the way you thought it would.

Over the weekend, we had some rainy weather. Perfect baking weather, actually. I also thought it would be a good idea to haul out the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook and dust the cover off since it’s been a while since I baked something out of it. That list isn’t going to bake itself.

I settled on a muffin recipe that always intrigued me: Chocolate Cherry Muffins. For some reason, I’d been hesitant to make them since I struggled to find dried sour cherries in the grocery store. Still unable to find them, even after looking in three different grocery store chains, I grabbed the regular dried cherries off the shelf with a shrug.

Making It

With all the ingredients in hand, I set out to bake. But, since I didn’t want to make muffins, I decided to bake the batter in an 8-inch by 8-inch square pan (also known as a brownie pan). Muffin recipes are technically “Quick Breads” so this was an acceptable move. Unfortunately, the end result was far from “acceptable.”

The nice thing about this recipe was it’s really easy. I used my powdered buttermilk (a wallet favorite, if I ever knew one) and soaked the dried cherries in hot water (which was kind of fun, for some reason….watching them bloom). The batter mixes up pretty easier and uneventfully.

Once it was ready, I poured it into the pan, which I sprayed with some baker’s spray. As I put it in the oven, I knew it was probably too much for the pan, but said “oh, I’ll just bake it for longer than the muffin recipe. Can’t be that hard to see when the toothpick came out clean.”

Boy, was I in for a surprise!

Baking and Tasting It

The original recipe said to bake the muffins for about 20 to 22 minutes. Realizing that my rather full 8 by 8 pan would need more time, I set the timer for 28 minutes. After testing it and seeing that it needed more time, I baked it for another five minutes. This time, the tooth pick came out clean. So I moved the pan to a rack to cool.

It was hours before we cut into it. I served it as dessert after dinner. I was really looking forward to it, too. The cake had a chocolatey aroma and it looked great with little bits of chocolate chips poking up through it. Still, I resisted the temptation to cut into it.

Finally the time came for me to slice into the cake and get a taste of the fruits of my labor. Almost as soon as I made the first slice, I knew something was off. Most of the cake was underdone. And I don’t mean yummy fudgy brownie underdone, I mean like, really, really under-baked. It was edible. It looked almost like whipped chocolate mousse. In fact, only the four corners of the cake were cooked through.

A section of the cake that was actually baked properly. Really only the edges baked properly, despite the toothpick coming out clean in the middle of the pan.

I was quite disappointed. I put a lot of time and energy into this cake, not to mention the cost of the special ingredients like the almond extract and the dried cherries. Also, the tester came out clean, so I figured it was done. Clearly I was wrong. I started thinking things like, “Why didn’t you do more research to try and find a proper bake time?” “How come you didn’t bake it longer anyway, you knew it wouldn’t be done in only 32 minutes. It’s a big pan.”

I got down on myself for a while. Partially embarrassed, too.

But at the end of the day, I also had to remind myself that, “It’s just cake.” Sometimes failures or missteps happen in the kitchen. Luckily it’s not life or death (at least in this instance).

Bake on, readers!


2 thoughts on “Reminding Myself, “It’s Just Cake!”

    1. Hi there!
      Thanks for reading. I do not post the recipes I make that are created by other chefs due to copyright reasons. Unfortunately, I do not think this recipe is available online. However, it can be found in the Magnolia Bakery Handbook cookbook by Bobbie Lloyd.

      Liked by 1 person

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