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Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Fail

A lemon cake seems like an appropriate dessert for Easter dinner, right? A Simple Lemon Cake, made in one pan, with simmered and pureed lemon slices would be both easy and delicious, right? And the recipe is from the fine folks at Everyday Food Magazine, a part of the Martha Stewart empire, so it has to be a good recipe, right?

Wrong. Apparently the recipe testers were absent the day this recipe was approved for publication. I followed the directions exactly, and poured the batter into a nine inch round pan as directed, but noticed immediately that there was too much batter for the pan. For a moment I thought of transferring the batter to a ten inch pan, but then I thought "Nah, these guys are professionals, and I'm not. I'd better do what the recipe says." It's not the first time I've made the mistake of not following my instincts.

After the directed 40 minutes in the 400 degree oven (too high for cakes, but what do I know?), the cake was golden brown on the outside and totally raw on the inside. Another ten minutes, and now the cake was over-browned and cracked, but the skewer I used as a cake tester was still pulling up raw batter. After calling up Beadmom in a panic, we decided to lower the temperature to 350, cover the cake with foil to prevent more browning, and cook another 10-15 minutes. This time the tester pulled up moist crumbs, like it was supposed to. I pulled the cake out and set it one the rack to cool. And it collapsed ten minutes later.

Doesn't this look appetizing?

After 20 minutes, I inverted it out of the pan and let it cool completely, but with little hope. And when my friend stopped by that evening and we cut into it, this is what we saw:
Technically it was cooked, but it was very dense, almost the constistency of fudge. Bread-y, kinda raw fudge. Yum.

I go online to the Martha Stewart website, and lo and behold, they completely changed the recipe by cutting most of the ingredients by one third, adding and removing a few others, and changing the cooking temperature, so that it is now a very different recipe. Was there an explanatory note on the changes? Of course not. Did the fine people at Everyday Food let their print customers know? Of course not. I checked subsequent issues, and there was no errata.

Wrong pan size, wrong cooking temperature -- these are major errors in a recipe, exactly the kind that are supposed to be caught by the recipe testers that all cooking publishers should have. So what the hell happened? I was not at all pleased to waste my time and money on this, and for company, too. Good thing I had a strawberry-rhubarb pie in the freezer.

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