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January 1, 2001
a year ago
three years ago

Fallen Angel Food Cake

For a few short minutes of this day I was swapping tapes for the Iron Chef Marathon. I think I managed to get the 23 hours of it that I had left to get. Yay! After the 5am swap, I just fell back into bed with my splints on and slept like the dead until 10.

John made yummy breakfast and I insisted on eating pumpkin pie, as it was getting a little dried out and better to just eat it and be done with it than wait on it to throw it out. It was a yummy breakfast. John wanted to go out and do some errands and I decided that I had no desire to be inside the house all day today, so I went with him. We went north, to Longmont and the Country General to return some no pest strips that were made by the same people that had made the kitchen safe strips. Problem was that these weren't safe in the kitchen, so we had to take 'em back and they didn't stock any of the ones we'd had before. So we went on to the Home Depot, where we looked around and the guy that was helping me gave me the instructions of using some dishwashing liquid in water and just spraying it on the plants I wanted to protect! Then I could just rinse the herbs afterwards and they'd be just fine for eating.

Mom and Dad called when we were home again, and I had fun talking with her about her birthday. Yeah, she's born on New Years Day, which was really cool when she was a kid. She got the whole world to celebrate with her. That's neat. She'd called to tell me that she really liked her birthday present, and I was very glad that she did. It's really fun to have someone tell me that they really liked what I picked out for them, especially if it wasn't that expensive, but had taken some thought and effort to find.

I then did an experiment. Cooks Illustrated had a "Perfect Angel Food Cake" recipe that I had been irresistibly drawn towards. It's why David sent me an angel food cake pan. I'd been wanting to try it for several months. So I did. I couldn't see chucking a whole dozen egg yolks, so I'd bought powdered egg whites. The recipe had said that it would be just fine to use them. So I did the recipe straight. I know, I know... there should have been some altitude adjustments, but I couldn't fathom what. The chocolate tortes I'd done hadn't had any leavening, either, and had mostly turned out as desired. Since they were mostly leavened by egg whites and the angel food cake was solely leavened by egg whites, I think I was assuming that it would work as the torte worked.

I beat up a dozen egg whites with cream of tarter and salt, and then beat in the sugar they asked for as well as the few teaspoons of flavorings, vanilla (a powdered vanilla as that's what I had), lemon juice and almond extract. Then I folded in the cake flour and more sugar as instructed. Six ingredients is all there were. Into a 325 degree oven, and I didn't really want to make it hotter as I didn't know if it would burn the mostly-sugar exterior more quickly than necessary. In the first ten minutes of baking it rose beautifully, puffing up to the edge of the cake pan, and then, after I'd seen it at its glory, it fell.

Fell hard, too.

By the time the baking time was done, it was half the height of the pan, the crust stuck to the pan was caramelizing and nearly burning. When I had cooled it and cut it, there was a very, very dense ring on the inside of it that was nearly translucent with solid, cooked egg white and sugar. There was a relatively thin layer of light cake above that, that I did taste. It tasted good. It had horrible texture, though.

It made me sad. That the first experiment of the year literally fell. Sniffle.

Sure enough, though, by the time I'd tasted it I was plotting my revenge. Probably need less sugar, less egg white, and more heat to set it all faster and harder more quickly. In the meantime, we watched the Rose Bowl because Purdue and the University of Washington were in it and I played Final Fantasy VII. That was fun. It was also very nice to be able to watch the game while the VCR was still recording away.

John was great and planned dinner after the game. He took me out to the Outback and we happily ordered the small prime rib. The waitress came back and apologized, they didn't have any more, so John ordered the filet mignon and I went to the rack of lamb. It was as succulent as ever, savory and neat. The Caesar salad, however, had patches in it that were so salty they were bitter, so I couldn't eat all of it. While we waited we started talking about what it was we really wanted in life. Where do we want to live? What do we want to do? What is it that we're trying to get to?

So many possibilities, especially when one simply concentrates on what one wants. The real approach is to figure out what it is, then figure out what it'll cost and finally figure out what one needs to do to get there. The mildly disheartening thing is that I couldn't figure out what I really wanted to do, long term. Nearly all of my thoughts and concerns have to do with short term. Getting the Fish out healthy, surviving work until my leave, and what should I eat? I haven't got good long-term desires, and it was really obvious when we were trying to think of things, especially when there are no restrictions.

It really struck me, though, that with Fezzik gone, I really do appreciate John a whole lot more. All the things that I might have not done for Fezzik, I now realized that I could still do for John and that I'd be more likely to do a lot of things for the Fish simply from losing Fezzik and being, now, unable to do for him what I could have when he was alive. Maybe I will do more things. Maybe I won't, but at least it's another consideration.

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