Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Warm Ginger Cake Adventure

Lately I've been making a lot of food from the Bishop's cookbook. The recipes are incredible. The ingredient lists look straightforward, the instructions are simple, and yet magically the food turns out to be exquisitely tasty. Last weekend I made a warm ginger cake with caramel and cherries jubilee ice-cream. I didn't make my own ice cream but I did make my own caramel.

I thought I had succeeded on my first caramel making first attempt. Everything seemed right until I tasted it. Who would have thought that a food made with only sugar and cream could be so puckeringly bitter. Clearly I had underestimated the difficulty of making caramel. I went to Google for advice. Step #1, learn how to remove an inch of scorched caramel from a stainless steel pot. Baking soda and boiling water works like a charm. Hurray for chemistry. Step #2, learn how to make caramel.

I tried Delia Child's technique but it didn't work well with the gas stove. I couldn't simmer my flame low enough and a portion of the sugar burned well before the top layer had melted. Though the caramel had a nice appearance in the end, my taste test noted a clearly burned bitter flavour. I waited for the pan to cool so that I could throw away my failed experiment and try again. Christine was lured in by the silky smooth appearance of the caramel and couldn't believe I was going to throw it all away. She was so certain that it would taste as good as it looked that she dipped her finger directly into the pan of caramel. Note, loyal legions of blog readers, that this is a bad idea. Not only is molten sugar a lot hotter than boiling water, it has a habit of gluing to your finger. Luckily the pan had been cooling for a while and the burn was relatively minor.

I finally went to YouTube for help and followed these directions. This time I was so frightened of burning my caramel that I didn't quite let the sugar completely caramelize. The resulting texture was a bit crystally, but the taste was outstanding.

"This is the best cake I've ever had", raved one taster.

All this playing around with caramel makes me want to try a creme brulee again. What else can one do with half a litre of left over whipping cream? I recommend against putting mountainous globs on your waffles. Tasty, but sickening.

1 comment:

Nature Nerd said...

Ok, how come there were no home-made caramel experiments happening when you were my roommate?

- Loyal Reader