Thursday, February 9, 2012

Collapsing Cappuccino Cinnamon Squares

Recently, I borrowed Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home To Yours cookbook from the library. There were so many delicious looking recipes. Not to mention that for some time, I've been drooling over the blog posts from those bloggers who are a part of Tuesdays With Dorie and French Fridays With Dorie. This past weekend, we decided to make one of the recipes: Cinnamon Squares. We opted for the Cappuccino Squares option, which meant stirring an additional 1 tablespoon of instant espresso into the milk before mixing the milk with the other wet ingredients. The house smelled wonderful. The cake was puffed and starting to pull away from the edges after the full baking time of 40 minutes. The toothpick came out clean. We took it out of the oven to let it cool and within 15 minutes this happened:
Massive volcanic crater in the center. It completely collapsed. I was so upset! The last time I had a crater cake was the one and only time I made homemade brownies (about 12 years ago). That time, the edges were cooked way too long and were dry/hard while the center was gooey, undercooked, and inedible.

We went ahead and made the melted chocolate topping anyway, hoping that the center was just... soft?!
Of course I couldn't wait very long to try the cake. I cut myself a corner piece and encountered another disappointment: the center filling was basically a bottom crust. I started questioning SP, who put the cake together. Did he pour in half the batter before sprinkling on the filling? He says he did and the filling must have sunk. I don't know if he did or not because after measuring everything and helping mix a bit, I was off in another room doing another chore when he poured half the batter in, sprinkled with the filling, and then poured the rest of the batter on top. 
So the center sank. The filling sank and became a crust. How did it taste? I'm torn. Part of me wants to say delicious in spite of the sinking issues, but... I can't quite love this cake. It's not horrible. I can taste the cinnamon, the coffee, and the chocolate. The topping is wonderful, if a bit messy. But the cake, while moist, seems a bit too crumbly. Every time I take a forkful, crumbs fall off the forkful and bounce around the plate. I end up mashing up a bunch of crumbs in the fork tines to eat it. I prefer my cake non-crumbly.
We spent a few days eating the edges of the cake before finally getting to the middle of the cake. Our fears were confirmed: it was undercooked. We tossed the center. The strange thing was that in the center, the filling was in the center, not on the bottom. It didn't sink. Below the filling was cooked but above the filling was not cooked and was where the volcano crater happened. Strange.

I spent a lot of time looking at all the blog posts about this cake, and while I saw a few photos showing a somewhat sunken filling, no one seemed to have the center collapsing issue. I guess we should have left it in longer, but... all indications were that it was cooked and this was not my first cake baking experience. This is the only time I've ever been wrong about whether or not a cake is done baking.

(The long ago brownies do not count because there was something just wrong with them - I knew the center wasn't cooked, but leaving the pan in only caused the edges to burn while the center stayed wet. Even after twice the baking time, the center was still not cooked. I remember scooping out the raw center and then chiseling our the edges because the edges were so burnt and dry and hard. Those brownies were just evil!)

Would I make this cake again? I'm not sure. It has a mix of some of my favorite flavors. It's easy to make. It's possible a few tweaks would help, like pouring in more than half the batter, then the filling, but a filling with milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate, not bittersweet, which I find I am not enjoying all that much, and I'd bake it longer.

But... it's disappointing enough that I can see me just not wanting to deal with it again. Only time will tell if we ever revisit this recipe.

For now, I know this for sure: we will not be trying any Dorie Greenspan recipes for a while because this is the second one we tried and the second one we disliked. The first was a Blueberry Sour Cream ice cream. To be fair, we have since discovered that we do not like an additional cream/fat like sour cream or buttermilk in homemade ice cream, but... we weren't the only ones who disliked that blueberry ice cream. No one else at the picnic especially liked it. We ended up letting it melt down the sink drain.


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  2. Looks yummy even if it didn't turn out as planned!