Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Politics of Pans

I shall title this piece “A Jackson Pollock Moment.” Look for it at your friendly neighborhood Sotheby’s.

My Jackson Pollock impersonation is a top view of the buttery, buttery (did I already say buttery?) vanilla-blueberry crumb cake from Gale Gand’s new cookbook. Now that I have come to the firm realization that science makes me gag, I have been spending a lot more time doing what I want to do, and much less time doing what I am supposed to do (the point at which this will bite me in the ass is rapidly approaching, I am sure). So I have been cooking, and baking, and reading, and watching TV, which I haven't done in years... and I have to say, relaxation is worth the hype.

Anyway, the cake I made: it was pretty to look at, pretty to eat, and pretty to photograph. The cake was smooth and luscious and lovely (but not after two pieces. Two pieces just make you feel sick, take it from me). A bit of brown sugar in the dough gave the sweetness dimension it would otherwise lack. The butter gave it... well... everything else. I may need to find a way to squeeze a little more vanilla into the recipe. Vanilla sugar instead of plain granulated, perhaps?

The part of the recipe that I thought absolutely inspired (and the reason why I will make this cake again and again) is removing a cup of dough for the crumb topping before adding the full amount of flour. Brilliant! The topping, light on the flour and heavy on the butter, turned out crunchy and light, not doughy. The crisp, crumbly top was a much needed textural contrast to the fresh blueberries that melted into jam and the silky smoothness of the 48 pounds of butter in the dough. Overall, a great recipe.

Crispy, crunchy top made the cake.

But. There is a but. I have a bone to pick with Ms. Gand. The pans she calls for throughout the book are not standard size! This particular recipe calls for a 9-inch square cake pan. I don’t have a 9-inch square cake pan. Eight inch square pan is the standard pan size for people who don’t have professional kitchens at their disposal (no matter how hard they try).
Eight, Gale! Not nine! I baked the cake in the too-small pan a little longer and it turned out just fine - a little underdone in the center, just how I like it. So, ha. I boycott the 9-inch cake pan. You can’t make me get one, Gale Gand, y’hear? Y’can’t. It’s a matter of principle.

See that Gale? That right there is an 8-inch pan. Eight. That's what it looks like. Take note.

Whew. That may be the sugar rush talking. Ok, yelling. Judging by the accent, I turn into a drunk West Virginia farmer when I am angry. Curious. Learn somethin’ new every day.

P.S. I wish to add the disclaimer that just because I have never owned a 9-inch square pan doesn't mean that many many other people don't either. However, I don't think 9-inch is nearly as common as eight.

P.P.S. If I have offended any drunk West Virginia farmers in this post, I guess I sort of apologize... Kind of.

1 comment:

JC said...

Great post, I can almost taste the cake! And as mentioned on the previous post, the photography is coming along nicely. Glad to hear that relaxation is worth the hype. I heartily agree!