Sunday, December 03, 2006

More Bundts and the Trouble with Glazes

Once again, or still, I find myself behind. Cake writing cannot seem to keep up with cake production. There turn out to just be so many opportunities and occasions to make more cakes. Yet, finding time to actually sit down and write about the cakes is a bit more of a challenge. Consequently, we’re going to try a new approach. We’re going to go with the “theme” entry, thereby dispensing with two cakes for the price of one, so to speak.

I decided I needed mini-bundt pans. They just seem so cute, and Nigella has a recipe called Baby Bundts in “Domestic Goddess.” Ray kindly ordered me a mini-bundt pan from Target (sadly, unlike the Ziggy Marley CD, we did not end up with three of them. Due to some sort of a Target error, we ended up with 3 copies of the new Ziggy Marley CD. Every few days, when I went to the mailbox, there would be another one. At first I accused Ray of rampant over-clicking while ordering the CD. But, a little research on our part and an eventual explanatory email from Target indicated otherwise.) After ordering the bundt pan, he joked that maybe we’d end up with three of these as well. Would have been fun, but would also have presented a bit of a storage problem.

They arrived on Monday afternoon (They? It? One pan, 6 bundt molds. Singular or plural here? I'm not sure...). My father-in-law was still here, and I had Samantha and Alden for the afternoon, so I decided a little baking project was in order, just to christen the pans and make us something nice for tea.

Pretty easy to make, even when you are trying to share the task with two 6/7 year olds. Into the oven, good smells wafting out, and half an hour or so later, out they come, 6 very cute little bundt cakes. And, indeed, they did come out perfectly easily, tumbling nicely all over the counter when I turned the pan upside down (in this case, I simply sprayed with Pam).

The real problem comes with the glaze. Nigella gives a very simple glaze recipe, confectioners sugar (1 1/3 cups) and the juice of one lemon. Her recipe has an accompanying picture (it really was the picture that originally sold me on this whole thing, they are so damn cute). She describes the final product as looking like “snow-capped peaks.” Now that I am re-reading her instructions, and reading more carefully, I see that she says “add enough lemon juice to make the icing thick enough to ice the tops and drizzle down like snow-capped peaks.” (italics mine...) I used the juice of one half of a lemon. A really large lemon. She must be buying much smaller lemons than I am. After putting some juice in, I then added more, b/c I thought the stuff tasted a little too confectioners sugary. My mistake (in retrospect). My icing soaked into the cakes completely, leaving just the palest of sheens. No snow-capped peaks here. Alas.

I wanted to blame Nigella, but now I see that I really do have to accept some of the responsibility; I didn’t pay quite close enough attention to the instructions. The cakes still got consumed in very short order. But, I wanted the same effect her picture had. This whole mini-bundt cake thing warrants further exploration and experimentation.

Glaze turns out to be an issue. How to get it the right consistency; how to get it NOT to just slide off completely and puddle in the hole in the middle of the cake or pool around the edges; how to get it to look like there is some frosting, etc. While I feel like I might actually be gaining some skill with my general bundt cake making – that is, my cakes are coming out of the pan in one piece (pretty much), my finishing touches still leave something to be desired. Any advice from readers welcomed and appreciated.

The other recent bundt cake was Sour Cream Maple Cake with Lemon Glaze. I made this for a work-related potluck evening meeting. Pretty basic cake, butter, sugar (actually, maple sugar crystals, not regular sugar; see final paragraph below, for more on this), wet, dry, the usual. This cake also had a glaze, and this one tasted better (check out all the ingredients that go into it – link to recipe above), and stuck slightly better. But still, a fair amount of it seems to drip down the sides.

Most notable thing about this cake: it was a “better the second day” cake. It was okay the first night. But, I was not completely taken with it. Thought it was fine, but not remarkable. Next day, when I started chipping away at what was leftover, I decided it was absolutely yummy; Ray and I kept eating, and eating, and eating. Luckily, Alden had had some for breakfast in the morning, and had deemed it not worthy, because it had nuts in it. So, Ray and I pretty happily polished it off ourselves.

I have to say, though, for those of you who may be reading with an eye towards recommendations. I'm not sure I'd fully recommend this one. Quite pricey to make, between the butter, the sour cream, and, most significantly, the maple sugar crystals, which are a bit of a specialty item, and cost accordingly. Also, while I did not think it was hard to make, it is one of those cakes with a lot of parts, lots of separate bowls with sub-mixes, which ultimately get mixed together. So, while I would not consider it a particularly hard cake to make, it might fall into the high-impact category, and therefore not be such a great choice, in some respects.


Amy S said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy S said...

You know, there is a recipe for a coconut lemon pound cake, made in a bundt pan, in the most recent issue of Fine Cooking. It actually suggests that you poke holes in the cake, all over the cake, with a skewer, and then glaze it. When the glaze sets, it forms a lemony crust. Not exactly the snows of Kilimanjaro (for however long they last), but I've had a cake like this (minus the coconut, thank heavens), and it was, well, divine.

cake eater said...

I have a suggestion you may want to try for making a successful glaze: Read the recipe more closely! Ha!

cake eater said...

Really, the mini bundts were very, very yummy, even though they weren't "snow capped".

Clarissa said...

Boy, for a person who gets to eat a LOT of free cake... Cake-eater sure is a big old meanie!

as for Amy... really curious about whether this is Amy Scheffler or Amy Saks... My guess is Amy Saks.

Yeah - I've seen the "poke holes in the cake" approach in some recipes. I did actually do that with the Blueberry Buttermilk Bundt cake. Who knows if it made a difference.

You mention pound cake. This is a whole other line of cake baking that I am going to have to explore - both in the kitchen and in writing. Stay tuned.

Amy S said...

Wrong! It was me! I hope your friend Amy Saks has also had lovely lemon pound cake (everyone should, really, once or twice a year), but it was me!