Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cooking is Science

Science is experiment.

Experiments do fail.


My post, Another Fruit Cake, contains a recipe for Tropical Fruit Cake which came out of Dorothy's recipe file. It is a light, as in color, fruit cake featuring Brazil nuts, dates and maraschino cherries. I vaguely remember Dorothy making this, though I preferred her darker Royal King Fruit Cake.

Ann remembers it, too.

So, for the first time, I tried to follow the recipe on Dorothy's card. Uncharacteristically I stuck pretty close to the directions and measures on the card.

The result was not good.

It made eight small loaves. It over baked, slightly, in an hour, rather than an hour and a half to two hours, in a cooler oven than called for (because my oven usually runs about 25o hotter than set). Each is an Andean diorama of Brazil nuts, cherries and dates barely connected at the bottom of deep crevasses with a rubbery sponge. There was not enough batter to cover the nuts and fruit, which is how I remember this cake. Separating the batter ingredients from the filler shows the recipe to be a basic sponge: Roughly equal parts of sugar, flour and eggs. (I think three eggs would be about three-quarters of a cup.)

So the problem would appear to be a mismatch in the quantities of fruits to cake. I would recommend cutting the fruit and nuts in half, or doubling the batter parts. Except. I double checked the recipe I used with the original card. They are the same. Here's an almost identical version of Dorothy's recipe that I found through Google.

Now I have about a pound of beautifully roasted Brazil nuts agglomerated to a scant pound of too dried out dates by a thin plastic sponge.

Maybe I could add more batter and steam it to rejuvinate the dates. Maybe I could break it up and start over with just the batter?

Maybe I could just start over?

Maybe I could forget it?



Update: Steaming makes the dates soft and the sponge less rubbery which saves the cakes. Moral: Watch the oven to prevent over baking. Still don't like the proportions.
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