Oops! That was baking soda,
not baking powder

sodaI was making a carrot cake for my brother’s birthday over the weekend and after I added the baking powder into the mix, I realized the recipe called for baking soda.
At this point, it was too late to start over. The party was in a few hours and I didn’t have time to buy new ingredients.
I knew soda and powder were leaveners, but I didn’t know the difference. In a panic, I added the four teaspoons of baking soda listed in the recipe to the two teaspoons of baking powder already in the mix.
I poured the cake mixture into a pan and put it in the oven to cook for an hour. I immediatley started googling the subject to find out what to expect from using too much leavener.
Thanks to Simple RecipesI learned that baking soda is made of sodium bicarbonate and is a base. Baking powder is a baking soda mixed with an acid like cream of tartar. Apparently, I could have used three times the amount of baking powder (twelvet teaspoons) instead of using the baking soda.
As I watched the cake cooking, it looked great until about 10 minutes before it was done. Because there was too much leavener in the cake, it had risen a little too much and the middle collapse about a quarter of an inch.
carrot cakeFortunately, the flavor and texture were still great. The cream cheese frosting hid any of the imperfections and no one ever complains about having too much cream cheese frosting.

Lessons learned:

  • Read recipe closely
  • Baking soda needs acid in the recipe to work
  • Baking soda adds a slight salty flavor to a dish
  • You can replace baking soda with baking power, but you can’t replace packing powder with baking soda
  • When enough cream cheese frosting, almost anything is edible.

A lemon layer cake
with a sour disposition

I am not a fan of lemon bars, loaves or cakes primarily because I have had too many bad experiences eating lemonish flavored food. The texture and flavor a weird gelatinous material with a slightly sour taste layered on a dry yellow cake is one of my least favorite desert experiences.

In order to shake off my negative association lemons and desserts, I wanted to find a good recipe for lemon layer cake.

I knew I was on the right track when I stumbled on a recipe from Saveur with a description of a lemon infused masterpiece with lemon zest, lemon tart syrup and lemon curd frosting. Yum.

I was unsure how many lemons I needed to make a cup of lemon juice and a little more than ¼ cup of lemon zest. In my eagerness to avoid returning to the store to purchase a few additional lemons, I purchased 24 lemons and only used a dozen for the cake. As a result, I will be drinking lemonade for the next week.

eggsMaking the curd was probably the most interesting part of preparing the cake. Cooking ten egg yolks and 1 ½ cups of butter into a smooth creamy textured created a decadently delicious frosting and potentially a heart stopping dessert.

The cake was light and fluffy, but the rich lemon flavor of the curd made the cake a big success.

My advice to anyone interested in making the lemon layer cake is to make at least 50% more frosting than the recipe recommended.

Here are the ingredients for anyone considering making this tart treat.

For the cake and syrup:
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for pans, sifted
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp. lemon zest
4 eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

For the frosting:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup lemon zest
1 tsp. kosher salt
10 egg yolks
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract