Monday, September 05, 2005

Praline cake

Since New Orleans is famous for its food, I thought it would be a good idea to make some New Orleans-style goodies and bring them in to work to raise money for the hurricane victims. After rejecting beignets (which don't keep well) and king cake (out of season), I decided on New Orleans pralines, using the recipe in Joy of Cooking.

Sadly, I found out that the dire opening paragraphs of Joy's 'Candy' chapter ('Most candy recipes require a considerable degree of patience, time, attention and practice to get right ... Fudge can overcook in just the time it takes to retrieve the right spatula') weren't hyperbole. The candy refused to set and remained sugary goo. In desperation, I tried freezing it, but that only produced cold goo. By now it was Sunday afternoon, and I'd promised to bring the treats in on Monday morning. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I decided to make some coffeecakes (Joy's yogurt cake recipe) and put the failed praline mixture on top instead of streusel.

The results, to my surprise, were delicious. Most of the 'topping' seeped down to the bottom, so the cake would ideally have been served turned out of the pan like a pineapple upside-down cake. It wasn't practical to do this at work, but the cake still had a wonderfully rich flavour and texture. It attracted lots of praise and requests for the recipe. The latter was difficult, since I couldn't very well begin by saying: 'Make some pralines, but get it wrong.' (If it's any help to you, I think my mistake may have been not to get the sugar hot enough. Also, when I baked the cakes, I found I had to do so for much longer than the recipe directed - about 50 minutes, instead of 25-30. That may have been because the topping was still cold from the freezer, though).

Oh: And we raised £35 for the British Red Cross's new
Katrina appeal. Which is more important than all of the foregoing, of course.

In other bake-sale news, the women's softball team at
Geneva College in Pennsylvania have donated the proceeds of their pepperoni-roll sale to the hurricane victims, instead of spending it on their spring trip as planned. This is interesting not only because of the students' generous act, but also because before I read it I didn't know they ate pepperoni rolls in Pennsylvania.

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