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Refrigerated Cake

October 24, 2018

Maybe I’ll never publish the results from the Ninth Annual Tour de Donut. That would be a humdinger, wouldn’t it.

No, I won’t be that cruel. They are coming. For some reason it’s just proving to be a challenge to find the time to write a post tour post. Those take longer than most, because there’s a lot to cover, including at least a little bit of number crunching.

But there are always food topics to discuss, including even new ones that I’ve never brought to light, yet still have bothered me for a long long time. Although in this case, I’m starting to embrace cold cake with grace.

Just know this isn’t coming out of nowhere.

Last night, instead of dutifully writing up the results from the Wild Card round of the Tour de Donut I was out with some fellow local bloggers. Not Yelpers, mind you. Okay, well one of them was Burnt My Fingers who is also a Yelp Elite. And Sweet Love & Ginger just started Yelping. But dammit, they were bloggers first.

Anyway, the gathering was set for Uncommon Grounds in Clifton Park. It was a good call. Say what you will about Clifton Park, but it’s centrally located. And Uncommon Grounds is open late, offers a comfortable place to sit and talk, and is a great local business.

Part of me could have gone for a coffee. But I went for dessert.

There was a refrigerator case full of little cakes. Each was wrapped in an acetate band, to elevate its visual appeal, and presumably to help bolster its structural integrity. The question I was trying to untangle, is which flavor would be the safest bet. As a cream cheese frosting lover, the answer was obvious. Red Velvet. Industrial cream cheese frosting always beats out industrial chocolate mousse, or industrial buttercream for that matter.

Refrigerated cake is an exercise in patience. And it’s one that I’m actually starting to get behind. Because much like that impulse control experiment from the 1970s, you have to sit and wait before you can eat your cake. Oh sure, you can have a bite anytime you like. But if you eat it when it’s too cold, the icing will be hard, and the flavors will be underdeveloped.

Okay, fine. That’s probably not like the marshmallow test at all. But I don’t care. You get the gist.

Refrigerated cake isn’t just the purview of suburban coffee shops. Last week, I went to Blue Ribbon in Schenectady for dessert with Little Miss Fussy and we got a slice of the chocolate layer cake. You probably would not be surprised to hear that it’s huge. But it’s huge. It’s also quite cold. So the buttercream frosting is hard and brittle. The whole thing improves dramatically after allowed to warm up a bit.

So here’s the thing. I’m actually okay with this. It encourages me to eat the cake slowly. It turns the slice of cake into an event. It helps to build up the anticipation. I will even put down my fork in between bites, as I try to let time and temperature transform the slice of cake into its most desirable form.

And it’s a true pleasure to have a bite once the cake is at its optimal temperature… except, for one thing.

Perhaps there is some kind of food scientist who can explain to me what exactly the “refrigerator flavor” is all about. But it’s there. Clear as day. In the slice of cake at Blue Ribbon. And in the fancy cakelette at Uncommon Grounds. And it’s inescapable.

The center bites fare better. However forkfuls from around the edges are all impacted. Off flavors of stale air and must mar what would otherwise be a delightful eating experience.

Could this be prevented with a simple box of Arm & Hammer? I don’t know. What I do know is that refrigerating cakes is ruining them. Or maybe it’s thawing them too long in advance? Whatever the case, let the buyer beware. And if there any bakery owners reading this, maybe see what you can do about rotating product in and out of those cases.

Perhaps if something has been in there too long, you might consider selling it as a day-old. Because I’m thinking it’s taken more than a day to pick up these off flavors. So really, I’m cutting these places some slack. Let’s clean up our act Albany. This kind of aggression against baked goods will not stand.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Dave permalink
    October 24, 2018 10:44 am

    Refrigerator flavor = oxidation.

    • Dave permalink
      October 24, 2018 12:08 pm

      Oxidation of edible oils in frosting probably if we are talking cake. The shortening or butter. Or the oil in the cake. That’s my guess.

  2. October 24, 2018 11:07 am

    I was always terrible at that “emotional intelligence” experience. I gobbled my cookie immediately. But I’m more mature now. Proof, I was able to keep my mitts off your red velvet cake.

  3. October 24, 2018 2:08 pm

    I offer a complete non sequitur about cake and refrigerators…a couple of years ago I was gifted an entire rum cake from Civitello’s. The ONLY way I could stop eating said cake, was to place it in the freezer, even though I knew it would never taste the same again. The freezer, in this case, saved me from myself.

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