Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This ain't my Momma's cake!

Lazy Daisy Cake
Well, actually it is, but not quite.  For a while now I have been wanting to make a Lazy Daisy Cake which is a basic white cake with a coconut topping that I remember from being a kid.  I do not actually remember my Mom making it often but I have this small vignette memory of asking her about the name and liking the coconut topping and that has made the nostalgia factor quite high.

After getting the 'fancy' coconut sometime ago and using most of it for something else I finally got to the lazy daisy cake last Thursday night.  My first challenge was finding a recipe.  Though I remember my Mom having it in her personal recipe book - a little book of clear index card protectors with hand written recipe cards (they said "recipe card" at the top in orange script and were lined in orange with a special spot to note the source of your recipe) - it is not one that I have anymore and my Mom isn't around to ask either.  I was a bit skeptical about typing "lazy daisy cake" into the search bar but I got lots of results and chose this recipe at cooks.com.

It turned out to be the easy, quick recipe I was expecting and the much anticipated coconut topping that you baked on was there too.  Everything went well, the baking time was right on and I placed my topping on the warm cake, spread it out and put it back in the oven at low broil.  I walked away.

When I checked back things looked pretty good, the edges looked right and the topping was quite brown.  I took it out and realized that all was not as great as I had hoped, the centre was still very moist and slightly sunken.  Drat.

I could have just left it, and that is likely what my Mom would have done.  Putting it back under the broiler would have burnt it and there was nothing inedible about it.  Aaaanndddd, here is where we leave my Momma behind.  Faced with the dilemma of how to brown and crisp up the centre to perfect the cake I did what any self-respecting 21st century foodie with a very well equipped amateur kitchen would do - I got out the blow torch.

Lighting up the torch I began moving it briskly over the centre of the cake.  Quickly the coconut topping began sizzling and shortly I had some browning.  I kept at it though trying for the crispness of the perimeter.  In not too long, I started to have blackening - uh-oh.  I shut off the torch and re-assessed.  I could have walked away.  Instead, realizing I still didn't have the dry, crispness I sought I moved some of the topping around, thinning the centre slightly and moving some of the dark bit out of the line of fire.  Back to the torching, same process, its getting closer now.  Oh, starting to blacken again.  Torch off.  And out.  Enough I decided.  I did not have look as right as the edges but it was closer, and I was starting to be sure that I would be serving Cajun-topped cake if I didn't just walk away.
...and now with the blackened bits...

I realize that ending is a bit anti-climactic.  No burning cake - or kitchen - and it was even quite good eating, but let's look at the aftermath a bit.  As I said, it was a good cake.  Light, moist and buttery with the topping offering a slightly caramel crunch.  Then there was the middle of the top, not so much caramel, but rather chemically and charred.  As I ate I was reminded of my blow torch technique with each charcoal flavoured and fuel scented bite.

I am happy with the cake, and some nostalgia was served, but next time I will just not dump all the cold topping in the middle of the cake but spoon small amounts over the whole top and spread from there in hopes of minimizing the issue I encountered this time.  I will also accept a slightly moist, chewy topping in the middle if I must and pass on the blow torch topping.  Not crisp seems preferable to chemical charcoal for me.
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