November 16, 2006

Testing.... Is This Thing On?

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I signed up to test recipes for Cooks Illustrated. From what I gather they randomly send you recipes and if you feel like testing it, go ahead, if not, no big deal. I forget what the first recipe they sent me was for. Maybe some sort of steak dish. In any case, I didn’t get around to trying it in time to give them input, (you have about 2 weeks from when they send it to you to test it). The second recipe they sent me was for crumb cake and I decided to give it a shot. Since I was testing a recipe I thought I would try to be really good and follow the recipe exactly. And I actually did! Who would have thought it was possible?

As for the cake itself, everyone who has tried it has enjoyed it, but I wasn’t overly impressed. Maybe for what it is, it’s very good, but not anything special. It’s a fairly plain crumb cake, not too sweet, nice with a cup of tea or coffee. It doesn’t knock your socks off but it would probably please finicky eaters who don’t like trying anything new or unusual, (ie- anything fun). It didn’t turn out quite like I expected though, but maybe I didn’t know what a crumb cake was. I think I was picturing a lighter, higher coffee cake and what I got was much smaller and more dense crumb cake. I also expected the top to be more crumbly, like a streusel topping. But the recipe made so much topping that it basically sank into the cake and didn’t sit lightly on top. The end result was by no means bad, it just wasn’t what I was expecting... I just went back and read the intro to this cake provided by Cooks Illustrated, I may have followed the recipe exactly, but clearly I didn't read any of the extra info. This is what they had to say about the cake:

"This is not a coffee cake, but rather a tender, buttery cake topped with loads of chunky crumbs that are more cohesive and less crunchy than a traditional streusel."

Well, I guess that explains things then, doesn't it? In any case, this cake also needs some dressing up if you’re going to take it out. The recipe called for dusting the top with icing sugar and without it I think you’d be embarrassed to take this cake anywhere with you. Maybe it would be more appropriately named Eat-It-In-the-Dark Crumb Cake. This cake’s like a country bumpkin, I’m sure she’s very nice on the inside, but she ain’t pretty to look at.

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I’m struggling with giving this recipe a rating. Like I’ve said; the cake is good, but plain. I think that was its goal though, and in that respect it succeeded. I like my sweets to have more pizzazz though. Yes, pizzazz. I doubt I’d make it again without adding some things to it. Maybe a jam layer in the middle… Some strawberries, raspberries or blueberries, fruit of some sort. Or maybe I’d top it with a caramel sauce. Or fruit and a caramel sauce. Basically I’d be this cake’s fairy godmother and transform her into something beautiful for the ball so that everyone would want a piece of her.


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13 comments:

wheresmymind said...

I wanna be a tester too!! *pout* lol

Abby said...

Call me a simple gal, but that's my favorite cooking mag/show! I LOVE Kimball's editorials.

Have you ever made/had Moravian sugarcake? I imagine it has German roots ...

Foodie's Hope said...

Looks wonderful! Guess what I have !!:)) Coffee cake with crunchy Streusel topping!:)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pepper said...

Great post Brilynn! Your pictures manage to make the cake look pretty appealing.

Jann said...

Very, very nice....beautiful looking cake....we will keep it down!

Anonymous said...

looks good to me...

Anonymous said...

I made a spice cake the other day which brought the same thoughts to mind: pretty good, but kinda bland. I wasn't sure if I liked it but then I decided it was perfect for the morning. Just sweet enough to compliment my coffee, but not so sweet that I'd have a sugar crash an hour later. Thank you for sharing the recipe and the CI connection! I want to be a tester. :)

Ari (Baking and Books)

Nabeela said...

I know what you're talking about brilynn. Sometimes when I'm cooking/baking something from a cookbook, I already have a picture in my mind on how it should look and taste like...and when it doesn't meet those expectations, it feels like a failure...even though the end product isn't that bad and everybody enjoys it

peabody said...

What a fun thing, I want to test too.

Anonymous said...

Nice post Brylin! :) And a fair view on the cake as well!

Anonymous said...

I'd still eat it! Coffeecake is delish and you make it look good even if it was semi-plain.

Rachel said...

That's fun, being a test person! I find I rarely like the CI recipes though.

Kristen said...

I'm sure when you are used to the greatness of Dorie, most things pale in comparison!