She Cracked - Everyday Baking Blog at - 73804

Everyday Baking

She Cracked 
Feb. 1, 2009 8:56 pm 
Updated: Oct. 30, 2009 5:18 am
      Well, it's a little embarrassing to admit, but not everything I bake turns out beautifully. Every once in a while I forget to add baking powder to cornbread. This weekend I baked an exceedingly unlovely coffeecake. Let me qualify this by saying that it was something of an experiment: I had some leftover cheesecake filling and thought I’d make a "surprise inside" cake—my favorite kind. ("Tunnel of fudge" Bundt cakes, cream-filled cupcakes, turnovers…I love anything with a filling.)
      Now, I have made filled coffeecakes successfully before. I usually make a sour cream coffeecake that has a very thick batter; you could stick a fork into the batter and it would almost stand upright. Since I didn't have any yogurt or sour cream, I used a different recipe. Even though the batter ended up very thin, I decided to proceed as planned (my first mistake). I folded in some frozen mixed berries and poured half the batter into the prepared pan. I then poured the cheesecake filling over the batter; since it didn't sink to the bottom, it looked like everything was going to be fine. I topped the cheese filling with leftover berry sauce, poured on the remaining coffeecake batter, and topped the whole thing with streusel. "Well, now!" I thought, as I put the pan in the oven, "This is going to be one gorgeous cake!" I sat back with my coffee, pleased with myself.
      An hour and a half later, I wasn't quite so cheerful. It's tricky figuring out when something like this is fully baked: a tester isn't going to come out clean, since you're piercing the filling. I kept baking the thing an additional five minutes, testing with a skewer, then a paring knife, and then deciding it wasn't quite done. After more of this back-and-forth, I thought, "You're just being paranoid." The coffeecake smelled wonderful. The top was brown, the streusel was crunchy, and it had baked about a half hour longer than I'd originally estimated. I took it out of the oven (my second mistake). After letting it cool for about a quarter hour, I released the springform pan. As I looked at the cracked, broken coffeecake with the sunken center, I thought, "Uh-oh." The middle was still gooey, the fillings had sunk to the bottom, and the whole thing looked a mess. Did this stop us from eating it? Of course not. We just cut stubby little slices, leaving the oozing center alone, and had our "brunch" in the early afternoon.
      And what's the lesson behind my little story, you ask? There really isn't one…but by posting the photos, I'm sharing my shame and reminding myself that every so often, I do make some pretty ugly baking mistakes.
It doesn't look too bad, does it?
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Cracked Coffeecake
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What a mess! Cheese & berry filling sank to the bottom. The still-raw center is oozing, too.
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Feb. 2, 2009 7:58 am
It doesn't look that bad to me! Of course, I'm sure we have different standards! I would've probably gone out and got some vanilla ice cream, and had it warm a la mode!
Feb. 2, 2009 10:34 am
Heck I would eat it! I'm glad to know even professionals make mistakes sometimes.
Feb. 2, 2009 10:36 am
Yeah. We usually just hide 'em. :) A bread baker I know once hid a batch of burned baguettes in the trunk of his car, so the other bakers wouldn't see them in the trash!
Feb. 2, 2009 7:13 pm
Frances, I wonder how many people will read your story and try making your coffee cake. It sounds delicious even if it did not turn out. Thanks for sharing.
Feb. 2, 2009 8:25 pm
Hi Frances. I have serious fear of baking, but your story has shown me that there is life after cracked coffeecakes. Thanks!
Feb. 3, 2009 10:16 am
Thanks for the comments! Coffeecakes and muffins are usually pretty forgiving and adaptable, so I hope people are inspired to take a few chances. At my first baking job, I had to come up with a different flavor of coffeecake every day, using the same sour cream coffeecake batter. Sometimes I'd make a cocoa-hazelnut streusel filling to swirl in, a peach-pecan topping/filling, or strawberry-rhubarb...coffeecakes actually became one of my favorite things to make there.
Feb. 4, 2009 7:50 pm
Hi Frances Cute story. Thanks for sharing. I've only recently developed an interest in baking, but my other true 'love' is the real reason I'm posting. I'm a writer, unpublished as of yet, and I'm a currently working on a story about a female baker. It's a romance. Anyway I really don't know that much about baking, other than what I've read off the back of the box. (Hopefully I haven't frightened you yet.) I could really use some day in the life kind of input. Would you be interested in supplying this baking newbie with some information or is that too much to ask? If it is, I totally understand.
Feb. 11, 2009 3:59 pm
Ah, SandySue, I'm flattered but I'm afraid I can't help with that. Are there any bakeries in your town? Or a community college with a culinary program? I'd suggest asking around--most people who work in the food service industry have *plenty* to say about it (Have you read "Kitchen Confidential"?!). Good luck!
Feb. 11, 2009 4:45 pm
Thanks for the tips. I will definitely look into those. :)
Oct. 30, 2009 5:18 am
I just found your blog and love love it. Going to the store to pick ingtredients i need for coffecake. Is it important to get the best ingredients or what i can at wal-mart. And maybe you can help me with this also I've been on the hunt for a recipe for melt in your mouth fudge. You know were you close your eyes and savor every bit of it as it melts in your mouth.
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About Me
I am thrilled to be able to combine my love of the written word with my passion for food in my job at I have a background in publishing and in the food service industry, both "front of the house" and back. I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America's Baking & Pastry program and have worked as a baker and pastry cook in Wisconsin, for a season at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, and at bakeries in Seattle.
My favorite things to cook
My baking career really began when I was in first grade and my family was living in Germany. Every morning my father and I would walk to the local bakery for bread and an afternoon treat, like Apfelkuchen. I love dark sour breads, baking anything with yeast in it, and anything that requires hours of patient work, like croissant and Danish doughs.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Food we ate while camping. Animal pancakes. My mom's meatloaf. My grandfather's breakfasts.
My cooking triumphs
I think a baker's real triumph is getting to work at 4 am, day in and day out, so that there are beautiful pastries and loaves of bread on display when the bakery opens three hours later. A personal triumph was making my own wedding cake.
My cooking tragedies
Heavens! Too shameful to list: all that wasted dough, those burnt nuts, spilled milk to cry over....
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