Well, I almost kept my goals for the week! I missed two posts here and I didn’t list anything new in the shop yesterday. I did, however, produce a decent party last night so I guess it was a trade off. I was kept petty busy the last few days getting the party together.
We used to throw huge events for 30 people or so but, in our maturity, have decided to keep crowds more manageable at a dozen or less. We expected 12 folks yesterday but there were only 9 of us when all was said and done. It was an easy crowd - all family or friends that are even closer than family. No need to impress, just needed to serve up some good grub. I think we accomplished this and a good time was had by all.
The biggest challenge with this crowd is serving up variety. When you have the same guests over and over, you really want to think up something new and different in the way of food. “NEW RECIPE” and “GUESTS” don’t always go well together! This party’s experiment was officially called a “Snickerdoodle Cake.” It’s new name - “Ugly Cake.”
The Big Guy’s favorite cookie is a snickerdoodle. Since I didn’t get any cookies made this holiday, I decided to give him this flavor in a new recipe I’d found for Snickerdoodle Cake. Sounded like a great plan. It was a simple recipe, wouldn’t take long. Great idea for the party.
I whipped it up according to directions and then came to an ambiguous step in the recipe. Between combining the dry ingredients with the liquid ingredients and pouring it into the pan, the instructions said to “sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the cake.” Okay, if it isn’t in the pan yet, wouldn’t you say sprinkle it over the “batter”? If you’re calling it “the cake,” wouldn’t that infer sprinkling AFTER it was in the pan?
Assuming it was, ultimately, a basic cinnamon cake, I went with the pouring it into the pan first. (I have made cinnamon cakes before!) I then sprinkled the cinnamon sugar, according to their measurements, over the entire cake. It seemed to be a pretty heavy coating.
About midway through the baking process, I watched through the oven window. It looked a little strange. The batter was rising around the cinnamon sugar coating but not really absorbing any of it. (Most of my cinnamon cakes have kind of allowed the topping to sink in a little and “look” baked in.) When all was said and done, it was one ugly cake. The cinnamon sugar just sat there on top of the finished cake, like a heavy layer of dirt.
I was a little disappointed and definitely did not want to serve this “ugly” cake to my guests. Obviously, I didn’t do it right! I mixed a new batch but, before finishing it off, decided to go on line and see if there was another version of the same cake that might clarify that step or at least show a picture. There were other versions but they indicated doing exactly what I did. I didn’t find any pictures. (Obviously, no one else liked its “looks” either!) So, I did it again! This time I went a little lighter on the cinnamon sugar than the original recipe called for.
Once the second cake was in the oven, I played with the first one. Using a pastry brush, I cleaned off a fair amount of the cinnamon sugar. I figured it shouldn’t taste bad, it just wasn’t attractive. I didn’t want to waste it. We would live with it as a family.
Turns out, the second cake looked just about the same! This is simply an unattractive cake. The Big Guy and I tasted the first one. It tasted fine. It was actually fairly good.
When dinner was over and it was time to serve the desserts. I got out the brownies one of the guests brought, the pumpkin pie I’d made the night before and warned them all I was also serving “one ugly cake!” I think everybody had a brownie or two, a few tried the pie and ALL wanted some “Ugly Cake.” All pronounced it tasty, but “Ugly.”
As one guest put it, “When you think about it, snickerdoodles aren’t one of the most attractive cookies either but everybody likes them!.”
The moral of this story: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover - or a cake by it’s appearance. Oh yeah, there’s a second moral here, too: Don’t go with a new, untried, unseen recipe for guests. (Stick with what you know!)