Thursday, March 25, 2021

first fruits of my B&C Market labor

I left work even earlier Wednesday evening so as to get to B&C Market before its 8 p.m. closing time.  I succeeded.  The baking-goods store contains a wide variety of items, and I admit I went a bit nuts when I entered the store.  What the store didn't have, alas, was the 26-cm Bundt pan I'd been looking for.  Instead, there was a 22-cm non-standard Bundt-ish pan, the kind with the taller-than-usual "chimney" in the center.  I bought that pan, along with several other items (click to enlarge):

from L to R: a 9-inch pie plate, a dough cutter, a cinnamon-bun pan, two measuring cups, a tiny whisk, the much-ballyhooed Bundt pan, and a flour sifter

I immediately discovered that the new Bundt pan, thanks to its overly tall chimney, had trouble fitting into my oven.  My first thought was Not again!—but I realized I could place the Bundt pan on the recessed tray that came with my oven, and that would lower the pan enough to pass under the oven's top burners, which wouldn't need to be on, anyway.

Not long after that, I set myself to prepping the rum cake.  There were certain changes that I needed to make because the cake recipe I had chosen for this endeavor was pretty much the same as the recipe for my moist and awesome chocolate cake.  First, I wasn't using any chocolate this time, and instead of the cocoa powder and Nutella/cream mixture I'd used with the chocolate cake, I added vanilla pudding (not the instant kind, but the kind that requires you to add the pudding powder to milk and bring everything to a boil).  Second, I also added an extra egg:  the addition of pudding to an already-moist cake recipe meant that the cake would be sliding along the spectrum from fluffy to dense and mushy; the extra egg was added to provide a bit more structure.  Third, because I was baking the cake batter in a deep Bundt pan and not the shallow cake pans used for making layer cakes, I had to lower the baking temperature from 350ºF to 325ºF and bake the cake for significantly longer—close to an hour, in fact.  I buttered the inside of the Bundt pan, tossed in and spread around a bunch of slivered almonds, just as Mom used to do, then I stuck the Bundt pan in the fridge to let the butter harden up (the butter was acting as glue for the almonds; I needed the nuts to stick firmly to the sides of the pan).  After that, I made the cake batter, using my single-whisk Braun hand mixer to bring everything together.  I poured the batter into the now-cool Bundt pan, set the pan on the wire rack inside the oven (this turned out to be a mistake), cranked the oven to life (325ºF, 55 minutes), then started washing dishes.

There were two minor disasters.  As I was washing the dishes, I could smell the cake.  This was a red flag:  I shouldn't have been smelling the aroma of well-cooked cake this early into the baking time.  I lumbered over to the oven, and sure enough, I had set the oven to use both the top and bottom burners.  I quickly twisted the dial to set the oven for the bottom burner only.  By that point, the top of the cake (which would eventually become its bottom) had acquired a distinct suntan, but no actual burns.  I finished washing the dishes, watched some YouTube, and waited.  With about thirty minutes to go, I checked the cake and noticed it had puffed over the edge of the Bundt pan (note to self:  next time, hold back on the batter), and cake batter had begun dripping over the pan's edge and onto the oven's bottom.  Dammit.  I realized I shouldn't have placed the Bundt pan on the wire rack, so I changed the rack out for the oven's solid tray/rack.  This would prevent the batter from dripping over and charring at the bottom of the oven.  I also took a huge risk by removing the cake from the oven so as to clean up the spilled batter.  You're never supposed to remove a cake mid-bake and then put it back into the oven:  whatever rising agents are in the cake (baking soda, baking powder) won't have the potency to continue raising the cake after it has had a chance to cool.  I took the risk, anyway, telling myself that this whole thing was one huge experiment, and if everything went wrong, then all I had to do was not bring a cake in to the office.  I cleaned the oven's bottom, put the rum cake on my solid rack, cranked the timer to 35 minutes to make up for lost time, and put the cake back in the oven as I prayed to the cake gods.

When the timer dinged, I did the old chopstick test, inserting a wooden skewer into the cake to check for doneness.  The skewer pulled out perfectly clean, which I found miraculous:  I'd been expecting sludge because I had let the cake cool while I'd cleaned the oven.  I let the cake cool—an official cooling this time—for five minutes, then began the well-remembered family ritual of using the skewer to poke dozens of holes into the cake.  The next part of the ritual:  spooning the rum-butter syrup over the cake, bit by bit.  I spooned out about half the syrup, let the cake rest a few minutes, then spooned most of the rest of the syrup over the cake, coating it as evenly as possible, and letting the syrup drain into all those skewer holes.   Right now, the cake is resting.  I won't risk taking it out of the Bundt pan until the morning.  

Here's what the cooling cake looks like:

Luckily, the smaller Bundt pan means the cake will fit perfectly onto one of my restaurant-grade, heavy-plastic dinner plates, so that makes transportation easy enough.  I'd still like to buy a full-sized cake carrier like the one my mother used to use (see here), but B&C Market doesn't sell anything in that size, so I'll have to look elsewhere.  Bangsan Market, which is close to where I used to live back when I taught at Dongguk University, might have something; it's a market that sells plenty of baking-related products.

Later today, I'll slap up photos of the cake once it's been liberated from its Bundt pan.  I've already shaken the cake inside its pan to make sure the cake's sides aren't sticking:  I want a nice, clean release when I turn the pan over in the morning, and I'm very worried that the top of the cake (which is currently its bottom) will be burned and fused to the pan, causing rippage the moment I turn the pan over to extract the cake.  I was tempted to release the cake from its mold right now, but then I realized that it'd be better to let gravity assist in the rum-butter syrup's continued permeation of the cake.  Go, Bacardi, go!

So expect more pics soon.  Next up:  making pizza rustica for Friday's lunch.  I'm not doing this because I have to or because I planned to:  it's simply that I now have an awesome 9-inch springform pan, and I'm dying to break it in.  Right now, my dilemma is this:  I have the ingredients to make a quiche, but if I'm to make a proper pizza rustica, I need to buy a whole different set of cheeses:  ricotta, Pecorino, and low-moisture mozzarella.  I admit I'm kind of leaning toward quiche right now, but we'll see.


John Mac said...

Speaking as a person who only uses boxed cake mix, I found this baking adventure fascinating. Didn't have a clue about some of the steps required and the creative problem-solving involved. The unflipped cake looks good. Nice job!

Kevin Kim said...

Mom's dirty secret was that she used boxed cake mix, too. Not sure I ever saw her make a cake from scratch.