Best. Decision. EVER!
The butter pecan cake was probably the best cake I have ever eaten. And since I misread the party invitation and made her cake a week early, everyone at work got to try it out too. I got nothing but rave reviews. In fact, the lab is now comparing all the cakes that show up against that one.
In the end I decided to make the first two cakes with each of the recipes. Each recipe should yield at least a couple extra cupcakes, so Joe and I can try them and decide which flavor and texture we prefer, and I can, at the same time, make sure that the Taste of Home cake will hold up in the pan.
Taste of Home Lamb cake results:
The original recipe said it would make 2 - 9" cakes. Since the lamb cake directions call for 6 cups of batter I figured I'd have more than enough leftovers for a couple cupcakes, but after filling the cake mold to the brim (it couldn't hold quite 6 cups, btw) I had only enough batter left for two cupcakes. In retrospect I think six cups may have been a bit too much batter for the lamb pan for this recipe. The batter was a little more runny than what I'd like for the mold and despite tying the little lambie up with twine he started to leak out of his head into the bottom of the oven (so that's what that burning smell is...). Luckily I had to put the pan with the two extra cupcakes in and noticed it pretty early. All future lambs now lay on top of a baking sheet and will be slightly less full.
The original recipe called for cooking the batter for 20 minutes at 350F. I think that is what I did for Katy's cake, but I never really go by time - just by appearance - cake color, spring after you touch it lightly and when the edges pull away from the pan. That's what you get for having to cook your wedding cake in your mother's convection oven - I learned quickly that some of the larger cake sizes have a mind of their own for how much time they want to take to set up. But I guess this is the real challenge of a lamb cake - you can't see inside the mold to figure out when its done. The Taste of Home batter barely rose inside of the lamb pan, so a toothpick inside his back didn't give any diagnostic information either.
I ended up taking the lamb cake out of the oven at 25 minutes - 5 minutes after the cupcakes were finished (but they also went in a couple minutes after the lamb). I stuck a toothpick into the lamb's back, but I couldn't really feel much of anything and it came out clean.
'I'll just take the mold lid off and check,' I thought. I'm not sure if it would've helped, but I should definitely have waited for the pans to fully cool. When I managed to pry the lid off, half of the lamb came with it. So I did what any baker would do - jammed the lid back on, hoping it would somehow stick back together during cooling. (I know that the gluten proteins do solidify during cooling - so I think there might be hope for that, actually.)
After cooling for another 30 minutes, I decided to attempt another demolding. This time I made sure to use a knife to unstick any cake from around the edge of the pan, flipped it over and (gently) shook it from the pan. The butt popped out, the main part of the body came out fine...and then the entire front of the the body underneath the head fell to pieces...revealing a completely uncooked inside. What a bummer. So I sliced off a chunk of the backside with which to assuage my disappointment and fill my tummy and into the trash the first lamb went. I should have probably taken a picture of the mess, but at that point I really just wanted to get rid of all the mess, clean up and get started again. He was, for sure, delicious. But he came apart everywhere. Even if I'd cooked him thoroughly I don't think he would have been a dense enough crumb for a proper lamb cake.
In the next post I'll show you the results of my second try at lamb cake.
When was the last time you really messed something up? Did you at least get to enjoy the mess or the leftovers?