Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Day of the Steak and Cake Flop

I share my successes so I'll share my failures as well.

FAILURE #1 Steak in a cast iron skillet

I read these two sets of instructions for cooking perfect steaks in your cast iron skillets and thought it looked easy enough. You start it on the stove then move to the oven.

Where I went wrong: "always salt generously" it makes a great crust and a juicy steak--I guess I salted TOO generously because it turned out so salty I almost couldn't eat it, and I like salty food. I followed the advice to cook in the oven for 10 minutes and this was WAAAAY too long if you like your steak anything other than well done. So I took a beautiful filet mignon and made it taste like salty burned beef jerky, nice.

Another problem is the smoke. I mean, like A LOT of all the doors and it's still really smoky in the house an hour later lot of smoke. The recipe warns you that it will smoke, but I have to believe that this much smoke is not normal or nobody would cook steaks in the skillet ever. I wish I had taken a picture at it's worst so you could understand just how smoky it was.

FAILURE #2 vanilla cake with oreo buttercream

In theory this should have been gorgeous and delicious but, alas, that was not the case in my kitchen today.

White layer cake:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 egg whites, room temp.
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 2 9-in round pans. In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg whites one at a time, mixing after each. Beat in vanilla.

2. In separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternating with buttermilk in thirds. Mix but don't overbeat after each addition. You can do this part with a spatula instead of mixer.

3. Spread evenly into prepared pans. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Where I went wrong: My last couple of cakes have come out just a bit drier than I would like and I think it was from overbaking them, so naturally this one came out underbaked. I took them out at 25 minutes because they were pulling away from the edges slightly and the top kinda bounced back after I touched it. I guess it wasn't quite to that "spring back" stage that it should be because it is definitely a little batter-like still. Tastes good though:)

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup butter
4 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
5-6 Tbs milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar and vanilla. Add enough milk to achieve desired consistency.

Where I went wrong: I think the powdered sugar/liquid ration is off in this recipe because the end result tasted way too powdered sugary and not enough buttercreamy. I think it needs less sugar and more butter. I added crushed up oreos to the icing, but the oreo chunks combined with the texture of the icing made it impossible to spread. The not-quite-done cake kept coming off in chunks because it would get stuck in the cement-like icing. Let's just say I'm really glad this was just a practice/for fun cake and not one I was taking anywhere because I would have had to start over. I still think the oreos can work, the just need to be pulverized in the food processor first so they don't impair the spreadability of the frosting.

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