Thursday, October 1, 2009

evolution of a recipe

I previously talked about this pear torte as part of a post about modifying recipes. As I mentioned in the post, the torte came out a little denser and heavier than I would have liked.

As part of explaining how I modify recipes until I come up with what I want for the final version I thought I would give you the next step in the creation of this torte. I will start by pointing out, as you will see below, that it is not always a straightforward process. Inspiration takes over, mistakes cause you to go in a different direction, taste testers make suggestions that help you refine what you are doing. It's more than just a matter of measuring out ingredients.

First a huge thank you goes to my friend Teresa who gave me another bag of these most delicious pears. They may not look like much but they are fabulous in both flavor and texture. Unfortunately I am using a picture of the pears again because I forgot to take a picture of the torte before it was devoured by the folks at home and other taste testers.

I had originally thought to change the recipe by adding some applesauce to moisten it, or soaking the flour, or adding some fat; instead I made the following changes:

Whole Wheat Ginger Pear Torte
2 eggs
1/2 C. milk (the original recipe was 1/4 C.)
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 C. crystalized ginger chopped (this was a new addition)
1 C. evaporated cane juice crystals
1 C. whole wheat flour
1/2 C. all purpose flour (this was a tip borrowed from my King Arthur Whole Grain Baking book)
1 t. vanilla

The original recipe had cinnamon, this version has none because of the addition of the ginger

Preheat oven to 350 deg F
Peel, core, and slice pears
Mix together eggs, milk, salt, vanilla, evaporated cane juice crystals, and chopped ginger
Add flour and mix well
Grease a 9" cake pan
Coat the pan with evaporated cane juice crystals
Layer the pears into the bottom of the pan (the original recipe called for the pears to be folded into the batter)
Pour torte mixture over pears
Bake 40-45 minutes or until done

The torte was delicious, The balance of flavors was just right. The outer 1/2 of the cake was perfect, the middle of the cake had a more pudding-y consistency. I think the problem with the middle was either because of the way I arranged the pears (too many in the center made it more damp, checking the torte too early caused it to fall slightly, possibly not having the right amount of baking soda leavening*, or perhaps the pan was too big and I need to consider making this in my 8" pan and adjusting the amount of batter.

Comments from the taste testers were, "I would leave out the pears", "it needs more vanilla" and the rest all agreed that they liked it just the way it was.

So now I'm hoping that Teresa will once again generously offer some more of those fabulous pears and I can try again. I'll keep you posted.

*Shirley Corriher's book BakeWise says if there is too much leavening it can create too many bubbles in the batter which then rise to the top and cause the cake to be too heavy in the middle. The formula is supposed to be 1 t. of baking powder or 1/4 t. of baking soda for every cup of flour. Because I used both I did "fuzzy-math" to come up with 1/2 t. and 1/2 t. that may have been part of the problem. I really need to stop borrowing this book from the library and just break down and buy it, it's a great resource for bakers.

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