Saturday, January 28, 2017

Following Directions Or Not

As any nervous or perfectionist home chef  will tell you directions are crucial in everything - well sort of.Sometimes you have to go on your gut feeling about a certain recipe or cake. There are times when being a bit of a rebel helps in creating the perfect dish.

I had to go off course when I baked gingerbread today. It was the Pillsbury brand and usually their directions are pretty exact. Everything went well I add the required one egg and one cup of water. I beat it close to eighty strokes, making sure all the lumps were broken and the batter was silky smooth. I poured it into a throwaway cake pan - I used one that fit their requirements 8" by 8".Then I baked it in a 375 F. degree oven for the required twenty-five to thirty minutes. At the end of that time I tested it with a cake tester, expecting to see a clean probe. Nope! The middle was still runny!!! That was a shock. There is always panic and the instant thought of "what did I do wrong? Was it because I used an aluminum foil pan as opposed to a metal or glass one? Of course, I put it back in for another fifteen minutes. After forty-five  minutes in the oven, I did the test again. The probe came out relatively clean. I was happy.At least I wasn't going to serve a cake with a raw middle.

What could have gone wrong? Was it my oven? I don;t think so. Mine is almost brand new. What I think did go wrong? It could have been a misprint which does happen from time to time. Initially, I thought that twenty-five minutes to half an hour was too little time for a thorough bake. A scratch version would take an hour to thoroughly rise and cook through. Surely someone from Pillsbury's test kitchens must have realized this when they tried out the mix and wound up with a runny inside.If this is the case for many home bakers just go with your gut feeling. Always have a cake tester handy as well. These are invaluable  in seeing if any cake or cupcake is done. They help to prevent a half baked baking project, vital if you're making a special occasion cake. Toothpicks and even a straw from a broom can stand in if you don't have a tester yet.  Another great help is reading the directions a few times to make sure you'll get it right. Sometimes we transpose numbers. and those stick in our head. We think  the cake or cookies need to be baked for 25 minutes when the directions actually reads 52  to 55 minutes.

Should home chefs and bakers follows instructions. In most cases, yes.. However follow your gut instinct if you think your recipe isn;t quite right. It results in a thoroughly baked cake instead of a half baked disaster.

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