In week 3 of our baking adventures, Chris and I really stepped it up a notch. Rather that baking just one item, we took on two at once. The first was this spiced orange cake and the other is a bread loaf that I’ll be writing about shortly. But for now, let’s focus on this cake.
Everybody loves cake
After two successful bread loafs, it was time to try our hands at a cake. Once again, we found this recipe thanks to the Great British Baking Show Masterclass tv show. My mouth was watering just watching the show. But that was nothing compared to the amazing aroma in our kitchen as we made this amazing cake; a Spiced Orange Cake with Orange Mascarpone icing.
This recipe starts off kinda interesting. You need to cook a whole orange for about an hour, let it cool completely and then chop it up, skin and all. This was a first for me. And honestly, I wasn’t quite sure how that was going to work out. But, we forged on.
After the orange is ready, you make two cakes. These cakes have a bunch of spices in them, plus you use a portion of the chopped up orange right in the mix. By this time, the kitchen already smells amazing.
When the cake comes out, you have to let them cool and then slice them in half. Horizontally. This was the first fun challenge. But, Chris knew a trick. She used dental floss, wrapped it around the cake and then basically used it like a saw. I’m not gonna lie, I was fully expecting that we would be remaking the cakes. But, it was amazing and worked perfectly. I wish I would have shot some video of it. Next time.
Next, we made the icing. OK, seriously. I could have just sat and eaten the icing all by itself. The stuff was amazing. I’ve you’ve never had mascarpone icing before, well, you’re missing out and you should fix that issue immediately!
As we were reading the instructions, we realized that we had 9″ cake pans instead of the 8″ pans that the recipe called for. We didn’t think it would be a big deal, so we forged on. While it didn’t turn into a HUGE deal, two issues did come up because of the difference in the sizes of the pans.
The first issue was the height of each cake. Remember, we had to cut the two cakes in half. Because they were shorter than they would have been in the proper sized pan, it had potential to be a big issue. Luckily, it wasn’t.
The second issue popped up while we were constructing the cake. The process is that you lay down one of the layers of cake and then use 25% of the icing. Then, add the second layer and add 25% of the icing. Repeat twice more for layers 3 and 4.
It was during the construction of the cake that we had to make an executive decision. As we were spreading the icing onto the first layer, it looked to me like it was going to take more than 25% of the icing to cover this layer. Then, as we finished up the 2nd layer, I was even more sure that we weren’t going to have enough icing. Why not? Well, a 9″ cake has more surface area than an 8″ cake. So, we made the decision to leave off the 3rd layer of cake. This wasn’t a tragedy or anything like that. After we finished making our 3 layer cake, rather than a 4 layer cake, we broke apart the 3rd layer and used a spoon to scoop up the remaining icing. Believe me, it did not suck.
To this point, we’ve had two very successful bakes. Both of the loaves of bread we baked came out really well. A couple people have jokingly (I hope they were joking) that we should a bakery. My response was basically, “at this point, we’re not bakers, we are instruction followers.” We are a long way from being comfortable with just doing our own thing. And honestly, I wouldn’t want this to become anything more than a hobby. That said, I’m looking forward to the point where we’re concocting our own recipes for items, even if that day isn’t anytime soon.
Even though we aren’t creating our own recipes, twice during this bake we didn’t follow the directions exactly. I already told you about using the 9″ pans, but there was another issue that played a part in the lack of icing coverage. The recipe called for 9 ounces of mascarpone cheese. But the containers at the store were 8 ounces. By itself, this probably wouldn’t have been a big issue. However, compounded by the fact that we were using the larger cake pans and this, I believe, played a big part in our lack of icing coverage.
This was definitely a learning experience. Moving forward, we’ll definitely follow instructions a bit better. Especially when it’s our first time baking a specific item. At least if we follow directions the first time, we’ll have a baseline knowledge of how the bake should workout. After that, we’ll feel a bit more confident in making alterations to the recipe.
That said, this was still the best cake I have ever made in my life. It’s possible that it’s the best cake I have ever eaten. I’m trying to think of a time when I enjoyed a cake more and I’m coming up blank. This cake is flat-out awesome. We will definitely be making it again
translating a recipe from the UK often presents these challenges due to measurements and differences in products and packaging. I also find challenges when the manufactures change/reduce the size of the products we buy instead of increasing the price hoping we consumers don’t notice. Believe I notice. Messes with my recipes all the time. and I wonder what the difference would be if we just made more cakes in more pans with less batter, rather and slicing them in half. Seems like it would be easier to me. But would the outcome be different?
Yeah, the conversion from the UK based show has been fun and interesting. We found ourselves looking things up on Google a fair bit. Oh, and because our digital scale does pounds/ounces, we’re constantly asking Siri to convert grams to ounces for us.
As for cooking extra cakes and NOT slicing the in half, I don’t think it would be a bad thing at all. it would be one TALL cake, though. Not that I would be complaining.