Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Delicious Disaster

A year ago today, Thanksgiving morning 2009, my co-worker Bethany woke up very early to prepare and bake a pumpkin cheesecake for her family's holiday dessert. She followed her recipe to a tee. Additionally, she baked her cheesecake for the amount of time and at the temperature given in the directions. When she pulled it out of the oven to cool, it was a beautiful golden shade on top — it looked perfect.

Bethany went upstairs to shower for the long and festive day ahead. When she returned to her kitchen, this is what she found!

Her cheesecake had collapsed! The innards weren't finished cooking. How could this happen? More important, how can you avoid the same tragic outcome with your holiday baking?

The Baking Answer Book has all the solutions to every baking problem you'll ever face.

To avoid a disaster like Bethany's pumpkin cheesecake, follow author Lauren Chattman's suggestions for checking the done-ness of your holiday cakes.

Some bakers ask:
Is the toothpick test the best way to tell if a cake is done?

Lauren says:
It depends on what kind of cake you are baking, and how you use the toothpick. For cakes with a crumb (including pound cakes, chiffon cakes, and layer cakes), the toothpick test is reliable. First, gently touch the center of the cake with a fingertip. If it doesn’t feel quite solid underneath the crust, keep baking it. If it feels firm, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out with batter on it, keep baking. If it comes out with a few crumbs, it’s ready and you should pull it out of the oven. If it comes out perfectly clean, hope that you haven’t overbaked it to a state of dryness.

Cakes that are creamy in the center rather than crumby (this includes cheesecakes and flourless chocolate cakes) should be tested with an instant-read thermometer or by following the visual clues provided in the recipe. An internal temperature of 150 to 160°F (66–71°C) for a cheesecake or flourless chocolate cake will ensure that the cake is baked all the way through while staying creamy in the center. In this temperature range, the cakes will still look a little jiggly in the center, but remember that the cake will continue to bake as it cools outside of the oven, and the center will firm up during this time.

Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving and the happiest of baking experiences in the coming months.

— Kristy L. Rustay, Marketing Manager

No comments: