Monday, November 16, 2009
Monday Must Have: Find your favorite kind of CAKE!
Let's talk CAKE.
I have a theory...there are two kinds of people:
Group #1) Those who like cake, and
Group #2) those who say they don't.
I find this interesting, especially the second group who claim that they are not cake people. To them I would say that they haven't had the opportunity to taste a really GOOD cake. I've been given this reason time and time again, when meeting with clients for a wedding cake tasting during a consultation. Actually, when I hear that, I have to hold back a grin, because I know that they are soon going to change their perception and move to the first group of those that like cake. I take them on as a challenge to help them open their eyes to the wonderful world of cake; quality cake that is.
I think there are several reasons why people say they don't like cake. Their experiences have included poor quality frosting or too much frosting, dry cake, or cake made with inferior ingredients. I know that some people love boxed cake mixes, but a box mix can't compete with a cake made from scratch, using quality ingredients.
Most celebrations revolve around the cake; weddings, birthdays, baby showers, office gatherings, and holidays. We have all had some kind of cake at one time or another. And on top of that, there are many flavors of cake to choose from--white, yellow, chocolate, marbled, cherry, red velvet, lemon, orange, strawberry, carrot, and on and on. Everyone has their preferred flavors and then you could really divide the cake people into chocolate lovers and the rest. But that is another topic for another post.
What makes a cake really GOOD?
I believe that there are three key aspects that make the difference between a "just OK" kind of cake and a "WOW, this cake is AMAZING". They are: ingredients, technique and the correct ratio of a QUALITY frosting to the amount of cake layers. All three of these attributes are very important and when they are done correctly, you will have a DELICIOUS cake. If even one of these are missing, then the cake is less than excellent and just becomes another cake that isn't memorable (or at least not memorable in a good way).
Ingredients = Need to be fresh, of good quality and the amounts need to be measured accurately, so the cake will come out correctly every single time it's made.
Technique = A cake needs to be mixed using the correct method. Cake batter can be over mixed, under mixed, ingredients incorporated at the stage or at the wrong temperature--all of which can result in problems during the baking process and ultimately the final product.
Correct ratio of a QUALITY frosting to cake = More frosting is not necessarily better. The icing on the cake should compliment the cake or enhance the flavor, not take over completely. And a quality buttercream makes all the difference. Ever eat a cake with too much frosting and the taste leaves a lingering unappealing aftertaste on your tongue? You know the kind I'm talking about--this can ruin a potentially good cake. Picture a smooth, creamy buttercream that is so silky and is filled with a vanilla flavor that works with the moist cake, so that one bite is never enough. That is what GOOD cake should taste like.
I know I haven't mentioned the appearance of a cake. Yes, it should look appealing, because seeing the cake is the first of several senses we use and that first impression is important. My goal with every cake I make, is to make it beautifully delicious; which means it needs to look inviting and with that first look, you just know that the taste will match or exceed its appearance.
Back to those clients I have had over the past several years that have come in to taste wedding cake samples. I'm happy to have them come in and sit down to taste different flavors of cake to help them make a decision for their big day. I've even had the bride or the groom mention again, how although they really aren't cake people, that they just need to find something that will be suitable for their guests. I just smile and say, "It's OK if you don't eat the entire piece of cake, but just give it a try." I cut them a piece of the cake, made just hours before, and set it in front of them.
And then I watch and wait.
The bride loves cake and digs right in. The groom, tentatively cuts his with his fork and takes a small bite. I watch as a look of surprise passes over his face. He goes in for a second bite. Neither is saying anything, but I'm hearing sounds of enjoyment. And then it happens--the moment I've anticipated and enjoy every single time. The bride asks the groom, "So, what do you think?" The groom doesn't say anything, because he is on the last bite of cake and the plate is almost as clean as it was before the cake slice was laid on it. Finally, I hear "WOW, this cake was so GOOD! And I don't even like cake!"
And just like that, another non-cake person experiences a change and is open to moving up to the first group of those who like cake. I love watching this happen. It's just another perk to doing what I love and sharing it with others.
If you haven't enjoyed a really good slice of cake--keep looking. It's out there. Sometimes you have to taste many kinds of cakes from different sources, but you will find it. And if you happen to be in my area, try a Jillicious Cake--you might just become a member of group #1; those who like cake. I love a challenge.
What is your favorite kind of cake?
P.S. My current favorite is the Caramel Hazelnut Spice Cake (pictured in this post) & the latest edition to the completed 2009 Jillicious Holiday Menu found here.