When cakes don’t come out right

Yoli wants everyone to know that her cakes don’t always come out right. Usually it’s because she forgets to add a key ingredient. Such was the case last night as she was baking a special cake for Valentine’s Day.

Yoli forgot to add sugar, but didn’t realize it until after she pulled the cake out of the oven and saw it had not risen very much. So she had to bake another one, this time with all the ingredients.

You can see a comparison of the good cake (left) and the messed-up one (right) in the photo above.

Fortunately, we have girls whose palates are not particularly discerning, especially when it comes to pastries.

Yoli offered them some of her “bread” and they have been happily chowing down on it ever since.

Yoli’s culinary creations

Ale cheddar boule

Here’s a little photo gallery of various — mostly baked — foodstuffs Yoli has made over the years. (Truth be told, this really only scratches the surface Yoli’s culinary adventures. Usually we forget to take photos!)

Looking for Springerle molds

So the Post-Dispatch recently published a story about Springerle cookies.

I pointed it out to Yoli because I knew she would be interested. How right I was!

The first thing that caught my attention was the recipe’s use of “hartshorn,” which is actually baking ammonia. This is an ingredient that is not cheap or available in every store.

We happen to have some that we bought in Bolivia, because Yoli has some recipes that call for it. Let me tell you, when you bake with ammonia, it will stink up the house. But once the smell dissipates, the cookies or whatever taste great.

Yoli was excited to try the Springerle recipe, but the problem is molds. There is a local artist who hand-carves them. His carvings are amazing, but at $20-30 bucks a pop, it’s a more expensive way to get started than we would like. We are hoping to find used ones at a thrift store or maybe some resin copies … something more affordable.

We did actually come across two Springerle “boards” at 309 Antiques here in Ferguson, but they are $50 each. Apparently, many folks collect these hand-carved molds. Yoli just wants to bake with them.

Anyhow, anyone out there have any local Springerle resources?

The mysterious Portuguese recipe

Speaking of recipes, Yoli has some recipes she’s been saving for almost 20 years. Many of them are hand-written or cut-and-pasted into a little notebook.

Last night she decided to try a recipe that she had wanted to make for a long time. The recipe was written in Portuguese, and it was called “Torta de Chocolate,” although it really looked more like a pie than a cake. She had found the recipe on the street back in Bolivia and had always wondered how it might taste. Now was her chance to find out.

(And yes, Yoli knows enough Portuguese to be able to prepare this recipe)

But there are always some monkeys to throw wrenches into things. In this case, the monkeys were named Jadzia, Ludi, and Josie.

All the girls wanted to be in the kitchen watching Yoli as she cooked. Ludi was standing on our step ladder, Jadzia brought in a stepstool from the bathroom, and Josie was just crawling and doing whatever.

When Yoli went to fetch a pan from the basement, Ludi sprang into action. She took Yoli’s good vanilla, and poured all of it into the mixture for the torta’s filling. The cap fell to the floor, where Josie eagerly picked it up and began licking it. Jadzia the eager spectator didn’t bother to call for help.

Suffice it to say that Yoli threw all three out of the kitchen, cleaned the mess, and continued cooking.

I got to taste the torta last night. It was very mousse-pie-like, but the crust was like a very firm cake rather than a pie crust. Very tasty, but it had enough vanilla flavor that it almost had an alcohol taste.