Dude, Where's My Streusel?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

This may come as a shock to you (yeah, right), but something went very wrong with my Sour Cream Coffeecake.

First, this post might be short. Why? Because I went back to my beloved YMCA today (May 31, 2007) and tried those damn arm machines. My arms kill again. I'm close to calling Amnesty International to report that crazy pectoral fly machine (of course, I'm lifting a hefty TEN pounds!). I think this exercise stuff affects my cooking dexterity as I dropped an egg, butter tray, and sour cream container top tonight.

I tried the Sour Cream Coffeecake from Baking Illustrated (page 340). The streusel topping calls for 1 cup pecans, chopped...but I excluded these because one of my co-workers cannot eat nuts (and I'm not crazy about pecans). So that left my topping to be flour, sugar, dark brown sugar, cinnamon and butter - a pretty standard streusel topping, no?

I've measured the dry ingredients and was in the process of measuring the wet ingredients. 4 eggs - check. Vanilla extract - check. 1 1/2 cups of sour cream...hum...holy mother of [insert Deity here]. I got an 8 ounce container of sour cream...about 1/2 cup too short. So I drag myself (still in my gym clothes) to the most janky Ralphs on the planet. It is about the size of a 1 bedroom apartment and it's just, well, janky. This is the emergency Ralphs - you only go in an emergency. Of course, only one check-out line is open at 9 pm. Mr. Manager is checking and shouting orders to his staff (in addition to talking about the game...Now, it's totally fine to talk about the game, but you really don't need to absolutely STOP scanning items while doing this. Multi-tasking...it's a good thing.) Anyway, two people ahead of me purchase $1.00 per pound apples (with RalphsClubCard!) They pay. They leave. Mr. Manager finally starts to work on the next customer who is buying a huge Mylar balloon and is busy texting her friends while waiting in line. As Mr. Manager starts on the balloon purchase (and asking his staff who knows how to add helium to her sagging balloon...), the apple couple come back. They were charged $2.29 per pound! Turns out, after Mr. Manager thinks about it, their apples have two different stickers on them with two different numbers!!! Voids happen...very, very slowly. Refunds are given...very, very slowly. Apple couple needs to sign and fill out their address because the refund was more than $5. By the time I left, there were about 8 people behind me. The carts weaved around the magazines and into the Canned Meats aisle (yes, Chef Boyardee is only $1/can this week!) The lady at the end wasn't browsing magazines while waiting - she grabbed a novel. Whew! Thanks for letting me vent. Yeah...back to baking.

After I add the proper amount of sour cream, things look okay. Mixing is good. I'm to "increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute" and the batter is supposed to aerate and become pale - and I get pale!! Oh yeah, this cake is going to happen!

SCCC (you know, Sour Cream Coffeecake) bakes for 55 minutes. I open the oven while talking to my friend. Screams of "Where's My Topping?!" can be heard throughout Los Angeles. The top of my cake is absent any sense of the word Streusel. I think the whole thing melted into the cake...perhaps I should have reconsidered the pecans.

But wait! There's more!! If you buy the SCCC with no topping, you also get a cake with internal streusel stuck to the bottom of the pan!! How could you turn this down? There was supposed to be TWO layers of streusel (this streusel did not have nuts in it so I can't blame my lack of pecans). In the book, there is even a color photo of this coffeecake and it is beautiful. But mine has this globby mess at the bottom of the pan. No definition of Streusel. No beauty. No bringing this into work. Mr. Trashman gets yet another meal.

Alrighty then. I'm getting a little frustrated with this baking thing so I'm going to make a chemical-filled, emulsifier-filled box cake mix. I'm going to watch the movie Waitress this weekend because I heard the lead character bakes a lot (things like "I hate my husband cake.") Perhaps I can learn a few culinary techniques. Damn, I need them! (Yes, so much for the short post! :)
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