Altitude is Everything

30 11 2015

IMG_4652This photo has been a family secret; hidden in my files for five years. I know it’s bad. I wish the picture better exhibited this colossal baking failure. The “before” shot displays the unadorned first attempt at hiding it under frosting. Doesn’t chocolate frosting make everything better? Clearly not. Notice the evidence of two swipes of little fingers across the top. I’m not sure who the culprit was, but I can safely guess that it was one or both of my two youngest children and not their big brother or cousins.

IMG_4654The “after” shot is the final product, presented as a joint-birthday cake to my husband and brother while on vacation. My creative sister-in-law (truly talented at everything!) brainstormed the idea to add marshmallows and chocolate syrup. These marshmallows were the special, ginormous ones meant for some amazing s’mores. The kiddos couldn’t wait to toast them over an open fire. Didn’t happen. We confiscated them with the intention of holding up the cake to keep it from becoming even more of a pancake. It did help some. Next came squirts of chocolate syrup to fancy it up. The positive about that stellar move is that it didn’t hurt the cake or alter its form in any way. We sprinkled the top with powdered sugar and added a few festive (and perhaps, confused) birthday candles, and voila!

How did this cake emerge from the oven looking like a crime scene, you ask? We followed baking instructions explicitly, except we missed that note every box includes about baking at varying altitudes. We didn’t even realize this issue until well after vacation. Rookies. We’re used to baking along the Willamette Valley at about 200 feet in elevation, and we threw this beauty together in Sunriver, Oregon at 4,200 feet. My advice for all traveling or relocated bakers out there is to remember what altitude you’re at and adjust accordingly. Your desserts—and guests—will know otherwise!


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