Monday, March 21, 2011

Still not convinced

Of all the chapters in the Edmonds book, the ones I'm having the most trouble getting through are the  'baking with Edmonds' and 'desserts with Edmonds' chapters. Baking with packet mixes doesn't come naturally to me, and instead of just using ingredients I have in the cupboard, I have to specifically go buy the mix.

Recently I've made a point of buying cake mixes when they're on special, so I have them when I want them, which meant that I was able to choose black and tan square (p70) when I was looking for something to bake last night.

Since there's no recipe in the Edmonds book for traditional tan square, (an odd omission, don't you think?) I expected this to be a similar sort of thing. After all, it did have a condensed milk-based caramel filling like a standard tan square.

Using cake mixes does shorten the time required to mix up a cake... slightly. Used to the usual 'cream butter and sugar, etc, etc' method, I found it slightly odd to simply tip the packet mix into a mixer, add water and eggs, and beat. Then you just mix in some melted butter and the mixture is ready to use.

Meanwhile, I had been meting some butter and condensed milk in a pot with a little golden syrup. This mixture melted and thickened very quickly; in fact I think I overcooked it a little. I spread 2/3 of the cake mixture in a sponge roll tin, then tried to spread the caramel filling over.

It wasn't easy, as the base was soft to the point of almost being runny, and I didn't seem to have nearly enough caramel to cover the whole base. Nevertheless, I managed to spread it in a thin layer, in some places covering the base, but mostly kind of smeared into it. The rest of the cake mixture went on top of the caramel, and the square went into the oven.

After 20 minutes, the slice came out feeling spongy but cooked. As it cooled, I cut a piece and tried it. I have to say it was disappointing - there wasn't nearly enough filling, just a slight swirl of caramel here and there, and the slice itself was more of a flat cake than a slice. It's nice enough, but given the choice, I'd prefer normal tan square.

I can see that cake mixes make a reasonable cake, and perhaps might mean that you can mix up your cake in five minutes rather than ten, but I'd still rather bake from scratch. That's just my own preference though - I know many people choose cake mixes for convenience and reliability, so don't let my prejudices prevent you from doing things whichever way you like!

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