Playing with PerfectionWhat a difference a year makes! Betsy's blurb about kitchen disasters led me back to my Thanks?giving blog last year. Funny how you grow fuzzy about the negative things as time passes. When I read my blog it all came back vividly--like it happened last week. Two days ago last year was my moving day. I remember being exhausted and stressed and excited all at once last Thanksgiving Day.
When I went to make my annual Pumpkin Gooey Cake (or as we more commonly call it "Michael's Pumpkin Cake") I couldn't help comparing the ease of making it this year to the chaos of last year. I was between kitchens and at odds with the new oven (see previous blog). This year, my ingredients are within easy reach and my oven is an old friend--we've made some great baking memories together.
Sounds perfect and nearly boring in comparison to my last Gooey Cake--so of course I had to play with perfection.
Though I love the ease of the Gooey Cake and the consistently joyous reception when I take it to Thanksgiving Dinner at my friend's (and adopted family) house, part of me chaffs at the overprocessed, artificial nature of it. I'm not bashing the recipe or the cake--don't get me wrong, but my prefer-scratch-natural-ingredients nature wants it to be a better cake.
This year, though I am using a cake mix, I'm using one of The Cake Doctor's Mixes. Yes, they are more expensive than your ordinary cake mixes off the shelf at the grocery store but there are no artificial ingredients. She mentioned she cannot call them "all natural" because she prefers bleached flour to unbleached flour, but except for that small detail, they are the convenience of a cake mix without the artificial baggage. I was going to try one of Trader Joe's new cake mixes but decided to go with the one I purchased from QVC instead (yes, I bought the package and got the free frosting book). Trader Joe's is easily accessible and I can make another Gooey Cake (maybe for Christmas Eve's party!) and try it. Both TJ's and Cake Doctor's mixes are slightly larger than the average grocery store brand so I added a couple of tablespoons of cream to the crust to insure it was moist enough with the extra 2 ounces of dry ingredients. I could have stopped there but .....
I love TJ's canned pumpkin and use it or the organic canned pumpkin from Whole Foods now instead of my old standby Libby's. Maybe it isn't any better but I like that it is organic and I'm pretty sure it is a better price but I haven't priced Libby's for a while so I could be wrong there. TJ also has an organic powdered sugar. I normally have gotten powdered sugar (I'm a purist--only cane sugar like C&H--no store brands to save $$) at the mainstream grocery stores when there is a bargain but there were no bargains last week and I needed powdered sugar so I purchased a couple of bags at TJ's. I didn't buy it specifically for the Gooey Cake recipe but I was happy I had some when I got to the recipe today (the comfort of one kitchen and knowing I always have all the ingredients in my house makes me fearless not to check in advance).
I normally do not eat the Gooey Cake and go with a homemade pie for my Thanksgiving dessert. This year, thanks to my "better" Gooey Cake--I might go for the cake! Oh, and that link I found to showcase TJ's new cake mix...sounds like my kind of blog. I might have to go back and check that one out and add it to my bookmarks--who couldn't love a woman who cooks with Trader Joe's??
And this year--the Gooey Cake is starting on the floor of the car...don't want to play with the Fates too much!!