Simple recipes often have some important techniques.

I’m back and ready to go with lots of new information to share with you.  This morning I decided to go back to an old favorite and play around a bit.  Normally I am purist when it comes to baking.  I like the best ingredients and I usually follow the recipe closely.  I have been known to make mistakes in the method because I thought I already knew how to do it.  This recipe is an example of that.  I baked the cake a month or two ago realizing part way through I had not followed the instructions.  Oh well, it all ends up in the pan. Right?  Wrong.  The first photo is the cake when I did not follow the method exactly.  The second shot is today’s cake.

I followed the method exactly but I sifted the flour as per a secret I read about that Julia Child swore by.  Plus I soaked the maraschino cherries in amaretto for 30 minutes before putting them in the batter.  I love maraschinos but they seem to lack the flavor I recall from my childhood.  I expected a bigger difference in the two cakes.  I thought the first cake had an uneven top but really the second cake looks no different.  Did it make a difference to the cake by sifting?  The distribution of cherries is no better in the second cake despite dredging in flour and being very careful when I folded them into the batter.

Two important techniques come from the method of this simple recipe for Cherry Cake (, Five Roses Flour, 22nd Edition – an old Canadian favorite from many prairie kitchens).  The first thing is the addition of dry ingredients and wet ingredients.  Why should we start and end with the dry?  The second thing is dredging fruit in flour before mixing it into the batter.  I am going to explain the theory behind these two techniques, next wek.Image

Bake with your nose.

Today while I was making peanut butter cookies I realized that if I am in the kitchen, I tend not to use the timer but rather can smell when the item I am baking is almost done.  Take notice the next time you are baking one of your regular items.  A couple of minutes before the timer goes off, you will notice that you can really begin to smell the baked item.  In my experience most oven temperatures are inconsistent.  Pay attention to the smell and it may save you from overcooking something.  By the way, the cookies were delicious!  Perfect on a lazy, grey afternoon  My favorite recipe from one of the Moosewood Collection books.