Sometimes I think we should change the name of our site to Dominican Cake and Other Recipes.
A good percentage of the people who come to our site do it because they are searching for this recipe, this recipe generates more questions than any other, and it’s the one that seems to give most people the most trouble. I have my theories.
Judging from my experience and many years answering questions on this site, a good deal of these questions could be answered if people read the recipe and accompanying post carefully. Of course the vast majority of people seem to get things right; the percentage of people with catastrophic results is a small minority of those who read and try the recipes. The problem often lies in faulty equipment, stale or wrong ingredients, small mistakes (like opening the oven to check on the cake before is done).
To try to answer as many questions as possible I kept adding to the original recipe, but the Law of Unintended Consequences struck again; with more text to read some people just skipped the “unimportant” parts.
Before you think I am immune to this, let me tell you: I have made the same mistakes many times. Some recipes require little thinking, reading and preparation. You would have to be an incredibly lousy cook to mess them up, and at worst the result might still be edible. Some recipes are not like that. Baking requires precision and sticking to the recipe as if it were law. Only advanced bakers can change things with an idea of what the result will be. Cooking may be an art, but baking is a science.
My worst mistake was a combination of every mistake I warn would-be bakers about. A few years ago I got the cookbook How to Be a Domestic Goddess as a gift from Aunt Ilana. In it I found my favorite dessert in the whole wide world: Crème brûlée. I was very excited and eager to try it. I went as far as spending nearly a hundred dollars at a cookery shop in Santo Domingo to get my hands on a torch. And to debut my first masterpiece I decided to make it for my in-laws’ welcome dinner. Do I need to say what a mistake that was?
I am not exactly sure what went wrong. One of my theories is that the Dominican eggs I used were of significantly-different size than the ones Nigella used. Perhaps the sugar was not the same (did she use beet sugar? I used cane sugar), was it my skipping that teaspoon of orange flower water? Did I read everything carefully enough? Did I skip a step? Whatever it was it seemed unimportant at the time, but the result could not have been more disastrous. That lumpy, stiff concoction was far from the rich, smooth, sophisticated dessert that I yearned for, and with which I wanted to treat my gourmand in-laws. I wanted to curl myself up into a ball on the kitchen floor and cry.
So learn from my mistakes dear readers. Do not prepare an unfamiliar recipe – especially not a complicated one – when you have guests if you have never cooked it successfully before. Read recipes carefully, then read again. Make sure that you follow the recipe to a T (unless you are an experienced cook or baker).
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons amaretto (or almond flavoring)
In a heavy saucepan mix the yolks and sugar mixing without beating (to avoid producing bubbles). Mix in the vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour and cornstarch together and add to the yolks, mix well without beating, again, careful not to make bubbles.
Boil the milk. When the milk comes to a boil remove from the fire.
Immediately pour the milk, very slowly, into the yolk mixture, mixing well without beating (bubble thing again).
Boil this mixture over low heat and stir constantly but slowly (bubbles!) until the cream thickens (like greek yogurt).
Remove from the heat and pour into a glass bowl.
Add the amaretto and mix well. Keep stirring until it reaches room temperature.
Use as filling for your Dominican cake.