One of my favorite quotes lately is by W. C Fields. He says: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it. W.C. actually went by the name “The Eccentric Juggler” on the vaudeville circuit back in 1869. I stepped into my kitchen one sunny Saturday ready to tackle a gingerbread recipe. Gingerbread, after all, has been in existence since 992…yes, that is right. I thought nothing could go wrong…This orange gingerbread recipe found in Joy Wilson’s Cookbook was the next recipe to try in my Sundays with Joy group. Ms. Joy has also blogged about this gingerbread as well. I was so excited to try this recipe…I am such a fan of gingerbread. This gingerbread had orange zest…I was sold! Sometimes it is the simplest of things that can a recipe to great heights.
A familiar process of mixing dry ingredients, whisking together the wet ingredients then folding the dry goods into the wet goods. Easy right? Add in 3/4 cup of hot water to make the batter super silky and smooth. I was ready. I measured, dumped, scooped, folded and put the batter in the 8X8 pan, and in it went to bake. I set the timer and headed to read a book with a cup of tea at my side.
There I was, happy as could be and about to enjoy some delicious gingerbread. And that is when it happened. I smelled burnt sugar. This was no dream…it was real. Sure enough, the fire alarm went off, the dog was startled, the cat ran to hide. I cautiously opened the oven door. I looked in…
So. Not quite the outcome I had expected…see why ‘not quite gourmet’ is my blog name?! I was determined to snap a picture on the pretty cake pedestal anyhow. Side note: I never do my food prop/ styling beforehand…except this particular time! I was SO on top of this.
Yes, there was a mess to clean up. I swapped out the hot tea for a hot toddy and got to work scrubbing the oven until it was all sparkly and clean…ditto on the dishes. Cleaning anything always works out my frustrations…is that weird?
I was going to leave this recipe at that. But I just did not (and still do not) understand the why of it all. Was it a miscalculation of ingredients? Did I not fold things in the right way? Why, why, why was running through my head. I tweeted out to Joy and she responded right away. She was concerned. I was VERY concerned I had even caused her worry! I felt guilty…oh.so.guilty!!! She totally has better things to do…like hang out with Ina and swap cookie recipes! I reached out to my Sundays with Joy group. It was such a hot topic – why did this happen, the ratio of wet to dry ingredients, the science of it all….round and round we went.
The next day dawned and I just had to try this recipe again. Partly because I wanted to see for myself if I just skipped or missed something. I followed the recipe to a ‘t’…as written…no changes. I measured, scooped, mixed, and still ended up with two pans worth of batter.
So, I went with it. Whatever. Stuff happens, right? And while I patiently waited for these to cool I improvised on a frosting. I added some powdered sugar, freshly grated nutmeg and dash of cinnamon to some mascarpone cheese. I spread on and added some festive candied ginger, orange zest and raspberries for garnish.
And I shared this cake. I shared with my Mom, with my students…everyone agreed it was a great cake. I loved how the orange just works with this cake. A student remarked that this cake tasted to him of how the holidays feel. My heart melted a little. (he totally ended up with half this cake to enjoy…all for him)
The first day, to me, this cake tasted fairly ‘salty’…I am thinking it was the baking soda cutting through. As the days went on, however, I felt that the ‘saltiness’ went away. This cake gets better with age in my opinion. Which is why I totally nabbed one piece for a midweek snack one afternoon.
This cake…though a hot mess the first time around…turned out just right in the end. Sometimes we have to just try again when things get all crazy the first time ’round. Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend!