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Cover: Founding Flavors

30Dec 12

Happy Holidays and For Heaven’s Sake Buy an Oven Thermometer!

This Christmas, I learned the importance of ensuring that your oven temperature is accurate when I attempted to make Black Forest Cake.  I was so excited as I navigated through the grocery aisles looking for sour cherries, powdered sugar, and chocolate.  I had found the perfect recipe so my fear of a disaster or having to endure several trails and errors was completely eliminated.  I could already hear the oohs and awes of family and friends as I walked in with my Black Forest Cake.  And, once I started beating the eggs with sugar and folding in the sifted flour, I took care to listen to the sound of the batter as it thickened to ensure it was just right.

I felt très Julia Child, waltzing around in my festive apron and opening the oven to bake the chocolate sponge cake layers at 325°F.  After exactly 15 minutes, I pulled out the cake because I was following the recipe to a T.  As I let it cool, I noticed it was about an inch flatter than what it should have been.   “No worries,” I told myself. “Who needs a three layer cake, when you can have a two layer cake!”  Well, that was the moment that my Christmas Day baking took a turn because not only was it an inch flatter, it also happened to be undercooked at the top, which by undercooked I mean that the batter started oozing out when I cut into it with a knife.  And, the bottom… was overcooked.  Just lovely.

Now, I was not only running late to Christmas dinner but I had no Black Forest Cake!  I frantically ran around town looking for a bakery to be open to salvage the day.  The pain of picking out another cake was too much to bare, so instead I selected an apple tart to ease the baking dagger going through my heart.  I had done everything right…the ingredients, the timing, and the mixing.  What had gone wrong?

While certain ovens may not distribute heat evenly or factors such as the weather might impact the final result of baked goods, like a sponge cake, people all around the world are still able to successfully create these desserts in their kitchen.  While you might not be able to prevent certain factors from occurring, there are some that can be remedied such as ensuring that the temperature displayed on your oven is the actual temperature inside your oven.  For me, this was the issue with the Black Forest Crisis of 2012.  Consequently, I have purchased an oven thermometer, especially after learning that ovens set to the same temperature can vary up to as much as 90 degrees!  So, do yourself a favor, and invest in an oven thermometer so that your culinary self-esteem doesn’t take a hit by your oven’s temperature being off!


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