This is how you learn.
That is what my grandmother told me when I first took an interest in baking during the holiday season and was disappointed in how a batch of cookies came out. By trying, by messing up, by learning from mistakes, and trying again. It is how you learn.
This one sentence has become a sort-of mantra for me during this baking project, and it perfectly sums up what happened this week on the baking front.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, I have been on the lookout for a few great festive recipes. I had a few bookmarked, unable to settle on one that I really wanted to bake. I was extremely indecisive; that is, until I saw a picture of an amazing looking raspberry chocolate coffee cake from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Oh, that Sally. I have already mentioned on here (a few times, in fact) how much of a fan of hers I am, and after seeing that picture, I promptly decided I would be making that cake.
And so I did.
I used strawberries instead of raspberries since I have been on quite the strawberry kick in the last couple of weeks. I can’t get enough of them. I want them in everything, and I couldn’t resist putting them into this cake, especially considering the chocolate. Nothing says Valentine’s Day quite like chocolate and strawberries.
And on the topic of chocolate, I did a little substituting there as well, using Baker’s semisweet all-purpose chocolate instead of dark chocolate chips. My fiance isn’t the biggest fan of dark chocolate, and I just happened to have the Baker’s chocolate on-hand because I was going to make a chocolate tart but never did take the plunge into actually making it. Even in baking I can find a way to be unmotivated.
I learned a few things while attempting to make this cake. The recipe calls for half of a stick of softened butter, but because of how cold it has been and how cold my house gets at night, my butter never completely softened. This resulted in chunks of butter that would not break down completely, and because of that, I accidentally over mixed the batter. Over mixing is something that Sally stresses not to do in her recipe. It only makes sense that I did exactly that. Of course I did.
In other lessons, I have always looked at chocolate as I view any dish that contains melted cheese–can you really have too much? Turns out that yes, yes you can. I used my food processor to chop the chocolate into smaller pieces, thinking that the end result would be smaller chunks of chocolate. That isn’t exactly what happened. While there were plenty of chocolate chunks, I also wound up with a sort of powder, and instead of chocolate being an accent to this cake, it wound up being a main ingredient. I also used too many strawberries. Way too many. So many that they liquefied while baking and the center of my cake was a gloopy, strawberry and chocolate mess.
Even though my cake did not look nearly as beautiful or appetizing as the pictures that accompanied the original recipe I followed, it tasted really great hot, right out of the oven. I was excited by that and, to be honest, a little comforted, since I knew damn well I had messed this poor cake up beyond recognition. However, as soon as the cake cooled it became unbearably tough and the flavor just fell completely flat. I am taking full responsibility for that, though; like I said, I messed this cake up badly. But then again, this is how you learn.
I can almost guarantee you that yours will not come out as bad as mine did.