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Easy Bake Oven

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Hello CH-

I normally stick to my MSP board, but alas I need some advice on home baking. I love, love to bake. I have a great oven, great pans, great utensils, just really enjoy baking well. So my best friend is getting married and her shower will be in TN. I will be traveling there and volunteered to make the cake since the thought of some store bought hydrogenated frosting POC (piece of cake) just really irks me. So I talked with the girl hosting, and she said she has two round cake pans and that is it. Fine, I can pack a cake pan or two in my luggage. Then she also said she thinks her oven runs low so maybe I should bring an oven thermometer :P Well, lovely. I won't have enough time to bake a trial cake before hand. So here is my dilemma.

I am looking for recipes for either cake or dessert that is tolerant of a (crappy) oven and will still be fancy enough and delish enough for me to be proud of. I am sure any fussy bakers out there understand me. I don't want to go armed with my meticulous cake recipe only to have on side get burnt and the other not rise. So either tolerant in the oven, or no baking required, but something that says "I love my best friend and baking."

TIA

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  1. Can you find out if the hostess has a pizza stone? Because that will keep the heat more even once the oven gets to temp, and you can use the thermometer to monitor temp until it reaches and maintains the temp you need before putting your pans in the oven.

    1. Hi Tia -

      I have had this recipe bookmarked for a month or so can't personally vouch, but it looks amazing. It's a many layered cake made with crepes and since I make a pretty decent crepe (the secret is a little beer in the batter - yes, beer!), I plan on trying it out:

      http://ceramiccanvas.com/2009/05/crep...

      If you have a decent pan for the stove top (or pack one:), you won't even need the oven.

      Hope this helps.

      4 Replies
      1. re: fluffitude

        Fluffitude-

        My name is actually daniellempls (TIA means Thanks In Advance). But this sounds pretty cool. A little rich, but a good possibility. And it certainly has the coolness of looking like a cake, but not quite being cake. I can hold my own in making crepes, too.

        1. re: daniellempls

          LOL

          I was just going back to edit my post, but you caught me :)

          Was thinking, TIA is thanks in advance...the poster is gonna think I'm slow. Well, maybe I am, but that's beside the point.

          1. re: fluffitude

            looks delish, fluffitude. will it be OK for the last steps--caramelizing sugar with a blow torch, and refrigeration? wonder if you couldn't skip the blow torch. is it necessary for firmness? maybe it's just for crunch. maybe you could use something else, such as toffee.
            you're a good friend, daniellempls!

        2. re: fluffitude

          The crepe gateau concept is a simple one. Julia and Jacques did them on their joint cooking show. I think one of them alternated dark chocolate ganache with jam. A ganache or other pourable glaze/icing should be easier than meringue if the OP needs a simpler procedure. They had probably 14-16 crepes, so when served, the slice was placed on its side.

        3. I think you would be better off looking for recommendations for a good cake baker in that town.

          If you don't want to do that, make the cakes at your home and figure a way to transport them. Decorate the cake at the destination.

          Another idea would be to buy just the undecorated cake at a bakery...even a grocery store bakery then decorate it as you see fit.

          Another possibility is find another person going to the shower that can make the cake part for you to decorate.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Hank Hanover

            I think your ideas are all excellent. Depending on how far/long the OP is travelling, bringing the prebaked cakes shouldn't be a problem at all. Hey, I bring back two dozen bagels from NYC when we go.

          2. I would try either a carrot cake (very forgiving and can be made pretty with the usual nuts/fondant carrots) or a no bake cheesecake. The cheesecake can be made more gourmet with a sophisticated flavour (lime coconut, white chocolate ginger, etc) and can also be garnished.

            1. What about a cheesecake in a waterbath? The hot water will help keep the temperature in the oven steady and a low temperature is what you want for a smooth creamy cheesecake. I also love an overnight cheesecake for the texture--it's baked so low that it won't dry out.

              http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/ov...

              If not, I agree w/ weezycom about using something like a pizza stone, or even a cast iron skillet, to keep the temperature steady. Make cupcakes so you can pull the cooked ones out, if needed.

              Personally, I'd probably go with a tiramisu. I use a springform pan, line the lady fingers like a picket fence around the edge, assemble the rest in the center. Remove the sides if the pan and add some ribbon to "tie" it up. It's very pretty. You can make your own ladyfingers, keeping a close eye on them but even if they're a little dry, all that filling makes it good. A trifle would also work but the sponge cake might be a little trickier. But, even if the cake doesn't turn out perfectly, the custard makes up for it. You can use seasonal fruit and make a beautiful layered dessert.

              1. If I found myself in your position, I would bake at home and decorate there. It's not difficult to wrap the layers in plastic on cardboard cake plates, if need be, then wrap the layers in aluminum foil and layer them in a box with bubble wrap all around to keep them stable and safe. They'll travel well no matter what form of transportation you're using. Indianapolis is probably close enough to drive, so if that's what you're doing it gives you tons more leeway! Take anything you'll need! Anyway, I've done a lot of cakes in my day, and I would take the well baked at home cakes with me, then a pack of disposable pastry bags, a handful of couplers, and a box or two of decorating tips and I'm good to go! Maybe some flower nails. I would plan the decorating of the cake ahead of time so I'm sure I'll have everything I need. Whatever you decide to do, have fun!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Caroline1

                  Lord, woman,is there ANYTHING you don't know how to do??? You continue to amaze me.

                2. I agree that you should bake the cake layers at home and transport after wrapping well. Frost once you get to your location. Don't take chances with someone else's oven.

                  1. Wow- these are great ideas! I really love the idea of baking the cake at home and packing it up and decorating there. Makes perfect sense. You can whip up frosting anywhere. And I will be flying since it is Minnesota to TN. Hopefully the TSA won't give me any guff.

                    The crepe gateau and trifle seem like good options, too. Cheesecake is yummy, but probably a little heavy for a summer afternoon. Or not.

                    Do you think the hostess girl will think I am a total brat with my pre-baked cake? I suppose I don't much care as long as it looks and tastes good ;) It's at the end of Aug, so I'll post a follow up pic, thanks so much for the advice!

                    19 Replies
                    1. re: daniellempls

                      There was a report on TV this week about a woman who was flying with her elderly, wheelchair-bound mother. The mother couldn't chew so daughter checked with airline ahead of time about bringing applesauce and other soft foods in a cooler for her mother. They gave her permission but the TSA people wouldn't let her through and when she got in a tug of war over the cooler, was arrested. Let the traveler beware. I would not try to take the cake on board unless I had permission in writing, on letterhead. If you are committed to bringing the cake, it seems to me wiser to find out about the bakeries in that area and pre-order something from one of them. If it's a larger city you should be able to get recommendations on CH.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        One--cake is a solid, TSA won't care. Two--she should really check the baggage, anyway. Bake the cakes, freeze, wrap well in cling wrap, put back in the pan with a cake round on top, and you'll be in great shape. I took a 5 tier wedding cake to hawaii like that a few years ago.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          I just flew with our baby and all of her liquidy accessories, and the TSA website and employees all seemed to agree that anything frozen solid (like, for instance, our juice boxes, which we were using in lieu of cold packs for the milk) wasn't a problem. So if you're really in doubt about the cake, and if it'll survive the freezer, I'd try that, as modthyrth suggests. The website does say that it has to be frozen absolutely solid, though. Any slushy stuff will result in hassle. Since even a partially-thawed cake wouldn't be slushy (hopefully!) I doubt there'd be a problem.

                          Graygarious, that's a crazy story, and according to everything I read before our trip shouldn't have happened. Which I suppose is why it made the news! We brought milk, medicine, fruit, yogurt, ravioli, etc., and had no problems.

                        2. re: daniellempls

                          The hostess will probably be thrilled that you're not going to be 'making a mess' in her kitchen while she's stressing about hosting a party. Having the cake already baked will mean lower stress for you too, and more time to hang with your friend. A win all around. Have a great time.

                          1. re: daniellempls

                            >>"Do you think the hostess girl will think I am a total brat with my pre-baked cake?"<<

                            Well, it's hard to frost a just-baked cake, anyway. Doing the baking hours (or even a day or more) ahead of time is common enough practice in a commercial bakery - why not pre-bake when you're going homemade?

                            PS - my most recent effort was a fruit basket cake, and it got rave reviews. Most internet recipes are terrible, but if you use lots of fresh fruit and an icing of whipped manufacturing cream the end result is pretty amazing.

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              Alan -- What is manufacturing cream?

                              1. re: karykat

                                It's heavier than heavy whipping cream. Over 40% butterfat. It whips up so firm that you can sculpt it. Usually just available in places that sell to restaurants.

                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  This isn't the first time someone has asked about this. Maybe you could post it on its own thread.

                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                    Are you talking about Pastry Pride type frosting?

                                    http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product....

                                    I find it similar to Cool Whip, though you get to control how thick you whip it. For a simple topping, I prefer a whipped cream, gelatin if necessary. But, you can actually decorate with Pastry Pride, roses, scrolls and all.

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      Nope. Manufacturing cream is a natural dairy product. The only ingredient on the list is Heavy Cream (Milk). But because of the high fat content, it whips up so firm that you can run it through a piping bag and make scrolls.

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        Photo

                                         
                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          Thanks, I'll have to look for it.

                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                            Alan, I've never seen it in anything less than a half gallon contaner. Have you? My god, can you imagine what a half gallon of it could do to my hips?

                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                              I too buy it by the half-gallon. A four-layer cake takes a quart. The other quart makes a LOT of ice cream (any less than 2-3 parts milk and the ice cream is too rich).

                                2. re: daniellempls

                                  I think it's sweet that you want to do this. At the same time, if I were hosting a large shower for someone and planned it out, including a store bought cake, and I had to make time and a place for someone to make a cake in my house, it would throw me off. If you could offer to make the cake, w/out inconveniencing her, that would be perfect. But, if it's somehow going to get in her way (I know how much space and time it takes me to make frosting, decorate a large cake), I'd ask first and make sure. How did she sound when she gave the excuses that her oven doesn't run true to temperature, that she didn't have enough cake pans, etc.? Did it sound like she was making excuses? It sounds that way to me from the way you're describing it.

                                  Playing devil's advocate, looking at it from her view...

                                  I can imagine this a thread on Not About Food: I'm throwing a bridal shower for someone, have it planned out on what we're going to make/serve, including a cake from a place I love. Her best friend who is flying in, has just called to inform me that the idea of a store bought cake irks her and not only is she going to bring the cake, she's going to need my kitchen to do so, all while I'm trying to put everything else together.

                                  I'm not sure if this would matter to you since you've said you don't care what she thinks as long as it looks and tastes great. But, it could seriously inconvenience/irk the hostess and that could put a damper on the party.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    Wow, chowser, I think that's a very good point. 'Course only the OP knows the exact words and tone of voice so perhaps a total non-issue. But, yeah, like you say, could be one of THOSE NAF threads :)

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      Yes, that's why I asked what the tone was first. It could be a great welcome addition, or someone could get her nose bent out of shape.

                                    2. re: chowser

                                      The hostess is one of the bridesmaids, and I am another- I just happen to live in MN and she is hosting in TN. As we were trying to sort out menu and responsibilities, I knew I couldn't help that much with other things (menu, decor..) as I would be flying in but would really love to bake the cake/dessert. I don't think she was making excuses, as I will also be staying overnight at her house, and don't think she'll mind if I'm up early using some counterspace. I think she was letting me know what she had available as we were covering bases in planning.

                                      I am still in between bringing a prebaked cake with or going for one of the other great dessert suggestions (crepe gateau), but I think I have been influenced to avoid baking it there. Esp b/c of the altitude, forgot about that.

                                      1. re: daniellempls

                                        That sounds helpful and nice. I've probably read the Not About Food board too long about over-eager guests that the thought hit me. Personally, given all the constraints of having to bring your own pans, bad oven, altitude, I'd bring a prebaked cake, not try to bake it there. And, plan what type of frosting to use because someone who doesn't have a good working oven might not have a good mixer, either, in case you were planning on a buttercream.

                                  2. If you do bake the cake there in TN, remember to take altitude into consideration. There are mountains in TN, and we tend to not think about altitude in Mn. I am an accomplished baker where I live, but I cannot even bake cookies in Tahoe!