Trial and Error, an Ongoing Process

As my better-half and I continue our journey towards competing in an IDOS 3-Pot Cook Off, we decided to prepare two recipes at our local Dutch Oven Gathering with the Prairie Dog Chapter of the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society. Steve was inspired by Alton Brown‘s Good Eat’s show about Braciole and I wanted to see if I could bake and frost a pretty and yummy carrot cake, based on techniques and recipe from the May/June 2012 issue of Cook’s Illustrated.  The bottom line was that we have a long way to go in our outdoor kitchen before we will be ready to compete!  Fortunately, our friends didn’t mind and ate everything we prepared.

The carrot cake recipe was perfect for our 10″ dutch ovens.  The goal was to have four thin layers so that the cake had a nice height and was visually appealing.  The shallow layers cooked in less than 20 minutes at 350 degrees, just as the recipe stated.  I was only able to get three layers out of the recipe, but that was fine with me.  They cooled quickly and were easy to remove from the dutch ovens, thanks to the parchment paper on the bottom.  The cakes were perfectly cooled and ready for frosting well before the cake was due to be delivered to the serving table.

However, the frosting was a sloppy flop.  The hand-mixed (no power equipment allowed at IDOS competitions!) frosting came together well but took a LOT of elbow grease.  I put the frosting in our cooler to chill for about 20 minutes, but when I needed to frost the cake, the frosting was runny.  I went ahead and did my best but as you can see, the visual results were far from what I had hoped for.

Here are a few lessons learned in case we actually decide to bake this cake for competition.  First, I needed a cooler dedicated only for the cake.  It needs to be BIG!  A big cooler would hold enough ice and have room for a bowl of frosting and the layers.  It would have helped chill the cake layers more thoroughly.  Second, I should have started work on the frosting as soon as possible so that it had as long as possible to hang out in the cooler.  Third, I substituted light butter, which I now blame on the super soggy frosting since it has oil in it and does not harden the way that real butter does.  Fourth, if I want four layers out of this recipe, I need to increase the volumn by 20%.

Steve was very disapointed in his Braciole because it fell apart when he served it.  The stuffing didn’t stay inside the flank steak, despite his careful attention to tieing the roll together with butcher’s twine.  We don’t know why it didn’t work but suspect that the meat wasn’t thin enough and we wonder if the meat was seared well enough.

We learned a lot from our experience and are encouraged to keep on trying!

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One Response to Trial and Error, an Ongoing Process

  1. Pingback: Four-Layer Carrot Cake | Texas Iron Chef

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