Friday, July 6, 2012

Why Baking Matters, The Rant Part One

You'll forgive me if I take a moment, as I catch my breath between cakes, to give a little time to a fight that's been going on for quite some time. 

It's  real barnburner.

In this corner, I give you the heavy-weight champ of the modern age, INDUSTRIAL BAKING! 

And in the other, still fighting and scrapping by after years of domination from it's bigger, badder opponent: FROM-SCRATCH BAKING!!!!!

Can I tell you a secret?  I've been in both worlds.  I know what's going on in the bowels of your grocer's bakery department.  Let me tell ya.  Some of it ain't pretty.

I'm a cake guru, so let me just leave the bread and donuts where they lie.  I'm gonna walk you through the life of a typical grocery store cake. 

Mixing, Baking, Cooling and Packaging - happen at a nameless factory somewhere - en masse.

Cakes are delivered to grocery stores across the nation, frozen, and expected to stay frozen until they are pulled for decoration...who knows when that will be?  Also, they come in a variety of sizes ranging from rectangle to extra-rectangle.

In the "bakery," the rack of cakes - in ubiquitous white and chocolate - is rolled in and ot of its freezer home, and depending on when they arrived and how many orders are coming in, the cakes could potentially thaw and freeze every day for a couple of weeks before they're used. 

I'm not saying every grocery store does it that way, but some do.  It's not a health hazard, unfortunately,  But it is definitely a TASTE hazard.  Nothing says "celebrate" like the taste of freezer burn.  Sadly, I speak from experience there as wedding cake was a grocery store cake.  I know...I was before I knew better. 

Even better, if you're in the market for a wedding cake, the industrial baker will supply you with centuries-old round cakes in your choice of white...white...or...wait for it...white cake.  (Disclaimer: Centuries-old may be a conservative age estimate.) 

credit guess...99 years, give or take a few months.
Now, there is only one way to make medicocre cake something people will come back and buy again and again. That is where the tub of "buttercream" icing comes in.  (Quotations used to their fullest grammatical potential.)

Ingredients: Shortening (that's crisco, fyi), high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring (mmm...butter in a bottle!), and few poly-syllabic, hard-to-pronounce items that industrial bakers love to throw into things. 

Slap that on an inch thick, top it with a couple icing roses, and you have yourself 12-18 servings of $14.99 cake that will leave your guests feeling slightly nauseous and heachachey. 

My apologies if this post came off just a smidge caustic.  It's hard to watch good people eat bad cake.  It truly is. 

If you're going to celebrate - make every calorie a party!  It's not an every day food, so don't let it be an every day experience, for you or for your guests. 

Tune in soon when I walk you through the life of a Bake Lore cake.  But bring a might make you drool just a bit.  :) 

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