Tag Archives: baking fail

out of the oven

Martha Stewart’s Popover Fail

Perhaps it’s been too long since I’ve eaten a popover – a light and crispy eggy bread – but I couldn’t remember how it was supposed to turn out, as I set out to bake Martha Stewart’s recipe.

Some preliminary thoughts:

  1. I don’t have a specific popover tin, which Martha highly recommends, seeing as the tin is designed such that each cup is taller than it is wide to help with the vertical rise of the batter. Subsequent research shows that you can make popovers in any container really.
  2. The popovers are best served immediately out of the oven as they will start to deflate as soon as they are out.
  3. They rise from the interior steam, since the batter is so soupy – leaving a hollow middle and flakey exterior.
  4. Popovers are called Yorkshire Pudding in Britain and usually eaten with a roast or meat and gravy. I made mine for breakfast, but I think they would have been better suited to a meat dish.
  5. Martha Stewart’s recipe calls for powdered sugar, since I guess in the US it’s more typical to have a sweeter version than in Britain. Frankly I couldn’t taste any sweetness in my outcome, and further investigation shows many many recipes that don’t have any sugar…and so if it’s not actually sweet, why bother adding the extra sugar calories? Skip the sugar.

I easily made the batter since it’s very few ingredients: mostly eggs, milk and a bit of flour.

popover batter
popover batter – very liquidy

I tested three different vessels: 1. a mini muffin tin, 2. a larger ramekin (small dish) that I typically use for souffles or chocolate lava cake, and 3. a coffee mug.

all the vessels
all the vessels

Let’s start with the most obvious fail: the coffee mug. Remembering that there are all these “mug microwave brownie” recipes floating around, I thought, maybe I can make the popover in the microwave too!

Well just no.

up and up and over
up and up and over in the microwave

The whole thing rose sky high – almost straight out of the mug! But there was no way that it was going to crisp the outside (duh) and the end result was basically a rubbery omelette.

Now let’s move to the not-so-obvious fail: the mini muffin tin. There is a photo in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook of the final popovers’ exteriors, but no interior shots. So I thought the insides were supposed to be dry and bread-like, perhaps more like a brioche.

I used 1+ tablespoons of batter in each mini muffin cup, and they rose beautifully. When the tops were golden brown, I took them out of the oven and bit into one. It seemed underdone to me. A definite egg flavor, and even though there was the desired hollowness to the center, I wasn’t quite sure if the whole thing was “correct.”

See how eggy they look even here? Like little omelettes!

So I popped them out of the tin and threw them back into the oven on a baking sheet.

Well, if it wasn’t a fail before, it was a definite misstep at this point. The outsides burned and the insides didn’t seem any more cooked through.

Further research leads me to believe that indeed the insides are supposed to be kind of wet-looking. Maybe it was an unexpected success and I just don’t LIKE popovers? Could be. I have a friend-date to go to an NYC restaurant whose popovers she loves – some hands-on research will ensue and I’ll keep you posted!

And then there was the large popover in the ramekin made with 10 tablespoons of batter – double the suggested amount from Martha. I let it bake 40 minutes – 10 minutes past the normal cook time – just to be sure.

ramekin popover out of the oven
ramekin popover out of the oven – note the burnt minis beside it

The outside looked awesome – toasted and with an odd shape, just like many of the photos in the cookbook and on the internet. The inside was hollow and the dough seemed to be moist but a bit more cooked through, which I appreciated. The downside to this vessel was the fact that the sides and bottom COMPLETELY stuck, even with a liberal butter coating. Hmmmmmm….I’ll have to dig a little deeper here to see what I can do to remedy that. Any thoughts?

I can easily try this out again with some tweaks, given the quick and simple nature of the recipe and ingredients. In the mini-muffin tin, I would probably look to bake them initially a hair longer (maybe 15 minutes instead of 11) to try to dry out the insides a touch. I could also see myself making big ones in ramekins at dinnertime to be served with a roast….once I get a handle on the sticky bottoms.

Popovers to be revisited. Suggestions welcome!

 

Martha Stewart's Classic Crumb Cake

Sour Cream Coffee Cake: Part 2

When we last left off, I had completely messed up my measuring of nearly all the ingredients in Martha Stewart’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. (Which by the way, when I look back, is actually referred to as a “Classic Crumb Cake.”)

I also decided to use a much smaller bread loaf pan instead of the cake pan the recipe called for, which I do not own and was not willing to buy specifically for this recipe (although which will probably be needed for many a future cake recipe).

sour cream coffee cake going into the oven!
sour cream coffee cake going into the oven!

The coffee cake was in the oven, smelling delicious (although that could have also been the vanilla-scented candle I had going in the apartment). But would be it be okay – taste and texture-wise? TBD.

After 40 minutes of baking and 10 minutes of cooling. I took the plunge and sliced in.

Unfortunately the center of the cake sort of deflated and got a sunken look in the middle. However the overall taste of the cake was pretty good, if not subdued.

coffee cake
coffee cake – note the sunken mid-section

It was very butter accounted for by the butter in all the batter, the topping and the heavily greased pan.

Although overall it was pretty good, a few changes I would make along the way:

  1. If using the same loaf pan again, I would add less flour to the crumb topping and more cinnamon for a bolder flavor.
  2. The cake itself isn’t very sweet, which is fine, but I might actually sub brown sugar in for the white sugar, for a bit richer taste.

And so, as to the measuring goofs? Well, I’m sure the sinking center was caused by some mis-proportion of eggs/leavening/etc. Also, I may be overthinking it, but I feel like I’m getting a little metallic aftertaste…perhaps slightly too much baking soda or the brand which I’ve been using :/

slice of crumb cake
slice of crumb cake
sour cream coffee cake going into the oven!

Baking with Leftover Ingredients in 3 Parts: Part 1

Why does everything take me so much longer than it should?

This morning I realized that I had open containers of both heavy cream (from previously made caramel) and sour cream (from previously made cookies) that I would never use in everyday life (not liking the texture of sour cream or whipped cream and not using cream in my coffee), just sitting in the fridge, waiting to go bad.

So I turned to Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, which was the root cause of me having these ingredients in the first place, to see what recipes I could make to use them up.

I came across 1. Sour Cream Coffee Cake and 2. Mocha Roulade.

Each of these cake recipes has two parts: 1. Making the actual cake and 2. Making the topping/filling.

Since the Roulade filling needed to chill for a number of hours, I decided to start there, however that will have to come in Part 3, because today, I’m going to focus on the Sour Cream Coffee Cake.

I started with the brown sugar crumble topping for the Sour Cream Coffee Cake. As I typically do, I cut the recipe in half because 1. I never need to eat alllllll the desserts I make and 2. because I didn’t have the right size cake pan so decided to improvise with a standard, smaller, bread loaf pan (9×5) instead of 13×9. We’ll see how that goes.

What overall should take me 30 minutes somehow takes me at least an hour and a half, every time. I’m not sure why because I feel like I’m moving methodically and with purpose, but when I look up at the clock, so much time has passed. Maybe it’s the inordinate amount of hand-washing I do while baking? (Who wants raw egg on their hands?)

I made the crumble topping which basically amounts to flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and lots of butter to form buttery chunks (FYI this topping would also be great on an apple crisp).

coffee cake crumble topping
coffee cake brown sugar crumble topping

Then I made the cake batter. Or….and maybe this is what slowed me down….I had an incredible brain fart. What I understood to be a 1/4 cup measuring spoon was really a 1/2 cup measuring spoon. So while all my other ingredients (baking powder, baking soda, salt) were properly measured, I had inadvertently used WAY too much flour. Crap.

And since I had already mixed up the dry ingredients, I couldn’t think of a great way to salvage what I had mixed into the proper proportions.

So I started over.

I did, however, put the mis-measured mixture into tupperware to use for some future recipe.

After redoing the dry ingredients, I whipped up the butter and sugar. And darn it again. I used too much butter. Seriously, my brain is mush right now.

So I amped up my sugar, vanilla, eggs, and wouldn’t you know it, flour mixture, to compensate. Argh.

At this point, I’m fairly certain I have no idea what I’m doing or how this thing will even turn out because the ratios are probably out of whack, but oh well, pressing on because I’m not willing to start over again.

Adding the final touch – the leftover sour cream – a perfect amount left in the carton by the way – I spoon the batter into the loaf pan and top with about 1/2 of the topping because clearly even half the recipe was way too much. Making me nervous about the lack of surface area I have created on top of my cake….

sour cream coffee cake batter
sour cream coffee cake batter

It’s in the oven. 20 minutes left. Smells good. Wait for Part 2 to see if it’s gonna be okay. *grimace face emoji*

sour cream coffee cake going into the oven!
sour cream coffee cake going into the oven!