April 29, 2007

After This, You May Never Hear From Me Again

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


If you never hear from me again it’s because the Daring Bakers put a hit out on me. And I wouldn’t blame them either. I’m responsible for the disaster that was this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge. It was my turn to choose a recipe and I chose Martha Stewart’s Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake. Martha suckered me in with beautiful pictures and then pulled a Nigella fast one on me with an awful recipe. Other than my experiences with Nigella, I’ve never been so angry at a recipe. It’s not like I put out a small amount of effort either. This recipe required a serious amount of work, and a ton of ingredients, mainly butter. Despite my best efforts and following the recipe to a T, (highly unusual for me) the proportions were not right. I couldn’t even pinpoint what the problem was. I ended up adding more milk and an egg but I hear from the other Daring Bakers that some of them added extra flour. No matter what we did, the crepes were just off. Luckily though there was an amazing mousse to accompany the lousy crepes because otherwise I think I would have dumped this cake off the back porch for the raccoons and coyotes.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


From the crepe batter I was supposed to be able to make 32, 8 inch crepes. I only have a 10 inch crepe pan so I used that and ended up with 16 crepes. I would have had at least 6 more but I ate them when they fell apart as I tried to flip them. I didn’t even enjoy them when I ate them. It was simply out of angry. Eating them wasn’t even enjoyable but I wanted to destroy them and decided that mashing the crepes up in my mouth and swallowing them was the best way to achieve total destruction. Once the crepes were done though, most of the rest of the experience went alright. Or maybe I’ve just had time to cooldown and have forgotten about what it feels like to have spun sugar shoved under my nails. Ah yes, that’s a wonderful feeling, sharp, jagged pieces of sugar lodged under my finger nails. The cake was supposed to be decorated with a stunning arrangement of hazelnuts dipped in hot sugar to form long tails. The sugar covered hazelnuts were supposed to complement the hazelnut filling in the cake. But I didn’t make a hazelnut filling, I made a cashew filling.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


So I decided that my stunning sugar masterpiece would be a globe of spun sugar, studded with cashew pieces. I have no clue what made me think that I was capable of such a creation. I had never even seen it done before but for some reason I thought I could create it. I will take this opportunity to remind you that hot sugar has long been a nemesis of mine. This was no exception. I tried to drizzle the sugar over the top of a greased bowl with the idea that when the sugar hardened, it would just pop off the bowl and I could place it on my cake. Nope. Instead, it hardened to the bowl and refused to come off. This is where I ended up with sugar spears stabbing my fingers. I tried to pry the sugar off using my nails and instead of coming off in one lovely piece, it broke off in chunks. I ended up with a pile of broken sugar chunks that were certainly not stunning. I still thought I could make something out of sugar so I decided to try a different approach, I tried to gather spun sugar into a ball, to make a nest to put on top of my cake. Once again, failure. My patience had long since left me and I threw all of the hardened sugar into the garbage. This stuff wasn’t even good enough for the raccoons. I had just about resigned myself to the fact that my cake would not have a beautiful decoration adorning the top, when I spotted a box of fresh strawberries sitting on the counter. Strawberries require nothing more than a wash and a slice and I was certainly capable of that.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


The assembly of the cake was another pain. The crepes wanted to slide all over the place and the chocolate ganache kept pooling at the bottom of the plate instead of staying on the cake. Fortunately, the ganache was extremely tasty to I scooped it off the plate and into my mouth. You didn’t hear that…


When the cake was finally complete I didn’t even want to look at it let alone eat it. I served it to some friends and they absolutely loved it. That was perhaps the only redeeming part of the cake. It received rave reviews and requests to make it again. Ha! That won’t be happening! I still like the concept of the cake though. A tower of crepes covered in chocolate is a good thing, but this recipe wasn’t. Even when I had a piece, a day later, I wasn’t impressed with it. I could taste grumpiness in the cake. With each bite my mood worsened until it was like I was making the cake all over again. With all this misery I could write a country song.



Technorati Tags:

+ + + +

60 comments:

Elle said...

No one will put out a hit on you, Brilynn. Maybe one on The Martha...
Believe it or not, it was a great idea to have a recipe where I tried meringue buttercream for the first time & had fun with the spun sugar, although I did stab myself and drew blood with some hardened cooked sugar. My chocolate glaze slid down at first, too. But it did taste great to the guys...they didn't have to swear any to make the stuff.
Your writing is hilarious & I'd love to be a racoon in your backyard!

Freya and Paul said...

Oh Bri, yours still looks really good and if it's any consolation I sort of enjoyed making the cake, if only for the challenge alone and that's the whole point of the Daring Bakers! I love the idea of the Cashew Filling and the strawberries look really cute! It was a great choice of cake to make!

Laura said...

It's picture perfect Brilynn and I bet it tasted gorgeous but I know how you feel about trying to eat food that your angry with, it takes all the joy out! Amazing challenge and thanks for making my welcome to the DB's such an fantastic one!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Hit list - you are a silly girl! This was a perfectly fabulous challenge. The group is way much fun!
Yes, the recipe was out to lunch but I got to do so many new things that I would never have taken up on my own! And now I know how to make crepes just not Martha's chocolate ones.
Your cake looks perfect and the strawberries were totally perfect for it.
Interesting about how the emotion during cooking can actually influence how it tastes later ...

Lis said...

I so feel your pain.. it blows when we have high hopes for something and it doesn't turn out as we'd like.

But I assure you, there will be no hit put out on you, because this challenge was EXCELLENT! I learned how to make crepes (okay, sucky crepes, but crepes nonetheless!), I now own my own crepe pan and crepe spatula, I also learned how to make the best italian meringue buttercream EVER, I laughed, I cried, I threw food items around my kitchen.. it had EVERYTHING a challenge should have. =)

You done good! I love the strawberries and they would lend the perfect tartness to go with a sweet cake. Not too mention, I've never been able to fan out strawberries like that.. gorgeous!

xoxox

eliza said...

another yummy creation! boy...all of you daring bakers are busy workers this week, huh? now, i expect to hear from you again thoug because i love to read more posts in your blog ;)

breadchick said...

There will be no hitman with New Jersey plates on his black Caddy pulling into your driveway. This was just a lousy recipe, plain and simple..ok the recipe wasn't plain and simple but the lousy part was! Your cake is gorgeous. As much as I bitched and moaned about this cake to you and the other DBs and to MBH (poor guy was afraid to come into the kitchen all day yesterday...) the cake did turn out ok!! I too learned a few thing making this and that is the whole purpose right?!!

Quellia said...

I told you - it's not your fault, it's Martha's fault! (And the cost for that hit man shouldn't be much - just make him make the cake first, and then he'll volunteer to gun her down!)
By Martha looks standards - your cake looks divine!
Thanks for the challenge!

Jennifer said...

That is beautiful! I think my blood sugar spiked just reading your entry and Sher's entry about this cake! It sure is lovely!

Helene said...

Don't beat yourself up. I will never hunt you down...well, only for your ice cream!! Your cake is just absolutely gorgeous!
Way to go on handling the challenge!

Susan said...

After being burnt by Martha too many times, the only "patronage" she gets from me is flipping through her magazines while I wait to check out of the supermarket. She prides herself on never having eaten at a McDonald's in her life; I don't think she's ever baked a cake, either. Considering the pitfalls, though, the cake looks pretty darned good. It must have been a hoot to cut.

Claudia said...

...but it LOOKS pretty! And seriously - how could you know, other than it's a Martha recipe. And it could have been wrose. You could have thrown it against the wall like a good friend of mine did with a cake she was unhappy with - LOL!

Mishmash ! said...

That looks sinfully delicious !!!!!!!!

Claire said...

This reminds me of the tortes that we got so often in Kyrgyzstan. Layers and layers. This is so pretty but sounds like a lot of work.

Sher said...

I think your cake looks wonderful. This was a challenge--but i'm glad you chose it. It was not something that most people would ever tackle. And while I won't make it again in the near future, it was a huge hit with everyone who ate it. Thanks--I mean that.

Astrid said...

Your painful experience made for a good blog post, if that's any consolation. That's what I enjoy about blogs, the honesty of the real-life experience. Anyway, the final result looks striking.

Christine said...

I think you met and then surpassed your own challenge. The cake looks great. I'll bet it was delicious. I'm truly humbled my all you Daring Bakers!

Da' Diva said...

I'd love to join the Daring Bakers but I don't know where to join? Can you help me out??

my recipe site is...
http://reciperush.thedomesticdiva.org

Ivonne said...

Don't worry, Brilynn. We still love you!

Actually I didn't have as hard a time as I thought I would, mind you I didn't make the cream filling.

It was an interesting challenge. And your end result is just beautiful! I would gladly dig into that!

Mary said...

I thought about doing the whole cage of sugar thing too but after working on the cake for so long that I was too exhausted to continue. So I took the photos sans sugar work and called it day. And don't fret too much. I had fun working on this DB porject.

Peabody said...

No hit on you...but where is the recipe. I thought the person who picked it was suppose to post it. Not that I think anyone is going to make this :)

valentina said...

Brillyn, your final cake looks stunning.You and Sara ( I haven't read all the posts yet) had a great idea of using strawberries to decorate. I didn't succeed. Please forgive me. I did try but this cake was a challenge I didn't conquer.

Marce said...

your cake looks amazing, Bri, and there´s definitely no prize on your head. Even though it was definitely on the frustrating side, everyone loved the cake and it was definitely a challenge, so I´d rate it as a success (though I am slightly traumatized when it comes to crepes at this point in time and wouldn´t mind taking a break from them for a few months).

K & S said...

Amazing! this looks gorgeous. All that hard work paid off.

Ellie said...

This is gorgeous! And even though it was painful as all heck - at least you gals gave it a try, right? We live and we learn ;)

tammy said...

A pain though it was, it sure looks good. I laughed my way through your post, which was just what I needed after a frustrating day of child-rearing (that recipe isn't working out right, either).

Mercedes said...

don't worry, you are still loved, and i for one enjoyed the challenge. the cake looks great!

Sara said...

A hit...OF LOVE! They can't all be winners. And on this one it might be a good thing. If it was really really good, then we'd all keep making it and get fat and have heart attacks!

Truffle said...

That is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen! Oh gosh!

Jasmine said...

Oh dear...I've read a few posts on this and none of them sound truly happy...I'm sure I'll find one who was very happy with the entire thing.

I blame MT for all this frustration...I've never had one of her recipes work...

j

Ilva said...

I have to say that my family enjoyed eating that cake much more than me, I suppose it is because I expected it to be completely divine after all that work. But it's good and I'm happy you choose it so that I can say that I have tried a Martha recipe!

kellypea said...

Gorgeous photos -- it makes my teeth hurt thinking about the sweetness. Yummmmm...

Gattina said...

almost see this darling put her middle finger up... but your cake is really stunning!

veron said...

he.he..don't worry Bri , we love you enough not to put a hit on you. I did not do the sugared nuts either because I didn't have the energy. You've got a lovely looking crepe.

Little Foodie said...

I shall make some time to read through your older posts. This was so funny. I clicked on your blog through Freya and Paul's Writing at the Kitchen Table. Both cakes looked beautiful and very brave. I'd have had my head in the oven within the first half hour.

Meeta said...

Are you kidding? No one is going after you Bri. As a matter of fact I thank you for giving me the chance to try my hand at something so "Daring!" I will probably never make it again but still I and I think we all still love you.
Your's looks incredible and the strawberries add wonderful color to it. Bravo!

Madam Chow said...

Brilynn,
It looks beautiful! And I, too, have had disastrous experiences with Martha and Nigella. Another time, I used a food newtork recipe for an almond cream crostata - like the recipe you used, all the proportions were off, and I was left with an inedible mass of expensive butter and almonds. That's why cookbooks like Dorie's become so popular, don't you think? The recipes are tasty and they WORK!

gilly said...

Hi Bri! Trust me, no one would ever put a hit out on you! I learned SO MUCH doing this challenge, and did a TON of new things that I probably would never have attempted on my own. I thought your cake was stunning - I LOVE how you fanned the strawberries out, and your cashew filling sounds amazing!

Glenna said...

Don't you hate inanimate objects with a mind of their own? You guys did really well with an obviously shoddy recipe. Looks beautiful in the end. We'd never know it was such a frustrating piece.

Jessica said...

Sounds like everyone was having a hard time with this one. I'm seriously enjoying the mental picture of coyotes and raccoons dining on crepes though, ha. Martha Stewart meets Animal Planet.

Alicia said...

It still looks so very pretty... and yummy. :) I love how silky the top looks.
I made a cheesecake with a strawberry fan on it sometime last week. Soon as I finished with photos - I was devouring that strawberry - covered in yummy chocolate!

Heather said...

Brilynn, I can see how all your hard work and love of baking got you to your finished product. I never would have guessed that it would have caused so much pain.
I really wish I could have had a piece.

Kristen said...

I bet all of the new daring bakers are wanting to turn in their aprons at this point :)
Seriously though... your cake looks amazing and it does look like it was a lot of hard work!

lynn said...

I laughed so hard reading your post - I've had cooking frustrations and totally related. I especially liked the "tasting the grumpiness in the cake." But for all the anger, your cake looks beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Oy, what a horrible experience. I saw Martha make this cake on her morning show and was so impressed by it, but you and the other Daring Bakers all said the same thing: pain in the bum process with mediocore taste. You saved me from a very frusting afternoon of baking in the future -not that that's any consolation! And I don't think anyone will put a hit out on loveable you! It's Martha they'll be after.


Ari (Baking and Books)

Kelly-Jane said...

Well, it DOES look fabulous! I like chocolate and strawberries too, and hey, at least it's an experience that you will all remember for a long time! :)

I have always thought I would like to make this cake (note to self - use different crepes!)

KJxx

Patricia Scarpin said...

Brilynn, your cake is divine - not to mention how I love the way you write!

Maybe I'm an alien or something, but I really had fun making this cake and I'd love if you could check my post, since I wrote something for you.

xx

Lydia said...

I hope Martha is reading this post.... As always, I'm enjoying reading all of the Daring Bakers' write-ups on this month's cake.

Cheryl said...

You are a brave woman to show you face after all of the posts I have read today.

Yours look so good and even and the coating is just perfection. I am right with you on the toppings. I could have never taken on those hazelnuts. Strawberries are also my friend.

Columbus Foodie said...

I'm laughing, only because I had the same thoughts re: the sugar, and ended up almost ruining one of my Le Creuset saucepans - and it was quite painful trying to pry pieces of stuck on sugar with my fingernails.

But it ended up looking quite lovely, regardless. :)

Virtual Frolic said...

WOW - that's such a beautiful cake!! I'm sure it tasted wonderful! I do understand your frustration though. I hate it when I spend so much time, resources and energy making something and it seems that everything goes wrong. Sometimes the end result doesn't taste bad - but it's hard to get over that aggravation.

Anyhow - if you're not gonna eat the cake - um..want to send it on over to me? =)

Kirsten said...

HOLY crap that is funny. Sorry, I know it may not be funny yet for you and the daring bakers, but WOW what a recipe.

Seems like one of those they purposely screw up so they can be smug. :)

Amazing effort, and it looks delicious...for what that is worth

Kirsten said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alice Q said...

Oh how awful - there's nothing worse than a bad recipe, and Martha and Nigella have definitely suckered me before too. It's enough to make me glad I didn't join the daring bakers until next month!!

Alice Q said...

P.S. - for a recipe that routinely causes injury, the cake actually looks pretty good! It was a great idea for something different, so don't beat yourself up too much!

joey said...

Oh Brilynn! Your cake looks perfect! And as you can tell here...everyone will still come back for more when it comes to you and baking :)

Maria said...

I know it was a pain, but great job! Your cake looks amazing!

winkies6 said...

Maybe you guys should have done a Dobos Torte instead? I can't believe the torture you all went thru with this horrible recipe! Maybe like that guy on Peabody's site, you should demand your money back from Martha... Heh heh!

ejm said...

I know it's wrong to laugh at the misfortunes of others but I just can't help myself.

Brava for actually making this cake. I know I wouldn't have bothered.

-Elizabeth

P.S. So... what is May's daring baker task?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that the process was so unpleasant to you, but i am shocked that you dislike nigella so much. I feel like she is my best friend. I've never made anything bad from her and everyone loves all the things i make from how to be a domestic goddess. I wonder whether it was just the particualr recipes you used.