Mildred Knoff’s Orange Puff Cake

During the yoga class, which I took before baking this cake, my kind teacher pointed out that we call it yoga practice not yoga perfect. I loved this and it helped me feel better because I was having trouble holding the poses even getting into the poses. Later with the challenges of my puff cake, again this idea helped me. My goal to become a better baker entails practice. If I were already perfect, I would have a different goal.

Practice. It’s not that I’m unable to follow steps or complete the techniques. Experience is what I need and practice provides that. Recipe writers have tested and retested, practice leads to flawlessness.

Maida alludes to her own practice with this cake in her introduction. She says this was her father’s favorite cake; that he said it turned any day to a good day. While he was living with her she made him one cake each week so he could have a slice every day. That’s certainly a lot of practice. So, of course she knew exactly how long to beat the egg whites and how they should look;

how long to beat the egg yolks and what it means to fold them in gently but thoroughly; what thoroughly is and how much you can do that without messing up the delicate batter; same for the flour, how much gentle handling it can handle and still come out fine.

I’m sure, unlike me, she was not nervous to fold too much and then end up with a batter not fully mixed. Perhaps this is why she recommends mixing on a flat platter instead of a bowl. All this I managed through and thought I was ok, but then came the tube pan. I’m sure Maida knew that batter will leak from a loose bottom tube pan, even though she does not say to wrap it. My orange puff cake forgave me, though. Despite a good amount of batter leaking though the bottom of the pan, it baked fine with a cookie sheet underneath it. Maybe my cake was not as puffy as Maida’s but I can see why her father loved this one.

Next time I will know better, this was just practice.

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