It Led Me On
November 18, 2008
It’s been a while since I’ve posted a disappointing recipe, and this one was a real heart breaker. It’s not that there haven’t been less-than-stellar results in my kitchen lately. Oh, no, there have been more of those than I care to share. There have even been good recipes gone bad (just ask my friend Gena about my fairly disastrous take on this recipe which ended in one u.g.l.y. birthday cake). And there have been bad recipes that I can’t fix. I’m not sure which camp this recipe, for cranberry coffeecake, falls into, but I can tell you that it takes the cake (pun intended).
You see, this recipe led me on. I had been looking for a good holiday breakfast recipe (I don’t know why; I can bet my bottom dollar that my parents’ pantry will be bursting with an astonishing array of Woulette’s delectable pastries when I’m home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas) and this one had so much promise. It enticed me with visions of a holiday morning, mug of coffee in one hand and a thick slice of this garnet-swirled cake in the other, fat snow flakes drifting down outside. And, well, I fell for it.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
As I set out to bake the recipe, my crush only deepened. It was just so fun. I got to whiz up a couple handfuls of shiny cranberries with a shower of granulated sugar. Next, I mixed up a standard coffeecake batter, butter-and-vanilla laden and beaten into satiny folds. Then, then!, I spread some of the batter in the bottom of my trusty loaf pan, topping it with a thin layer of the sweetened, minced cranberries. I allowed myself a minute to swoon over just how gorgeous the cake was looking at this point. Then I covered it up with another layer of batter. And, because the first time around was so fun, repeat with another layer of cranberry and, finally, a top layer of batter.
Now, at this point, my hopes were sky high. How could anything so decadent (a whole stick of butter! nearly two cups of sugar! a couple eggs for good measure!) be bad? How could anything so beautiful go wrong? How could something as foolproof as a quickbread flop?
But bad it was, wrong it went, and flop it did. It was dry and flavorless and (by far worst of all) the thin cranberry layers which were supposed to bake into pretty red swoops and swirls through the sliced cake instead came out as a sad, splotchy mess that hardly showed up at all in some slices. I felt so duped. So used. So cheap. This recipe: it led me on.
I wish I could tell you that I was at least engaging in love-sick-gal remedies: sappy movies (I’m picturing Jake Ryan, cross-legged, leaning across the dining room table to kiss Samantha Baker, sixteen candles flickering in the background), ice cream out of the carton, turning the radio dial to a station that specializes in slow ballads. But, instead, I’m on a mission. I will find a new cranberry crush. Just you wait and see.
Recipe here, for the heartbreak prone.