Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Squint And It Looks OK

One of the things that bugs me (aside from ill-fitting shoes and knives put away in the wrong slot) is putting up yucky-looking pictures on my blog. I must confess that I have a folder bulging with delicious meals and desserts that I've prepared but I am not eager to post as the pictures are either bleh or downright nasty. Like a proud parent sending her child off to the first day of school, I want my little blog to look it's best.

But there are times, and recipes, that I have to close my eyes, or squint, and hit the publish button because the recipe is so good and I can't bear to not share it with you. Today is one of those days.

Just in case any of you are suffering from the delusion that everything that comes out of my kitchen is a feast for the eyes, as well as the tummy, I'll talk you through the process of photographing this cake. Hopefully you'll have a laugh, then go bake the cake, because it's worth it.

I made this soup and realized the pictures were bland so I went to the store and bought the most beautiful pears I could find, just to take their picture to dress up the post.

After I'd done that, well, I couldn't just waste the pears. So I found a recipe that called for exactly two pears and I had all the other ingredients. But, hold the phone, it called for a cup and a half of vegetable oil. Euwwww- that's a lot of oil! Thankfully, from my low-fat cooking days, I learned that you can easily substitute up to 1/2 a recipe's oil with non-fat yogurt or applesauce. Since I had yogurt, I went with that.

The cake came out of the oven late at night. I had to have a slice to see if it was as heavenly as it smelled. Yes, it was. Divinely moist, tasting of pears with a hint of cinnamon. Then it was time to take pictures. The lighting was poor and I realized after I looked at the pics that I'd have to try again in the morning. But in the morning, the glaze was as wrinkly as a senior citizen in Florida without sunscreen. Not a good look.

So I thought, I know! Pears + caramel = delicious, so I'll drizzle some lovely caramel over the top. Well, drizzle would have been good if I hadn't overcooked the caramel to the consistency of shoe leather and had to press it onto the cake. Now my lovely cake looked like it was going to the prom in a caramel-colored duct tape prom dress with the slip showing. Tacky. I even tried to get some sexy, caramel dripping shots. It looked much more like something that would take out a filling than something sexy. DIY dentistry is not sexy.

But the good news was that sitting under the cake dome softened the caramel so that my teeth were no longer in danger. And it really was delicious. The recipe goes in my keeper file. Not the pictures, though.

Moist Pear Cake
- adapted from Taste of Home

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup non-fat, plain yogurt
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 cups finely chopped peeled pears (about 2 medium)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 Tbsp milk
caramel sauce (optional)

1- Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. with a rack in the center of the oven. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

2- In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat eggs on medium speed. Gradually add sugar, oil, and yogurt; beat thoroughly. Combine the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda; add to the egg mixture and mix well. Stir in the pears and vanilla; the batter will be stiff.

3- Spoon the batter into the prepared tube pan. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate.

4- In a small bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Drizzle over the warm cake. Or, if you prefer, drizzle with caramel sauce. Cool completely.


Jennifer Jo said...

Lynn, Brace yourself for my comment, and don't snort too loud when you read it, but... actually, I think those shots might be some of your best (not the number two pic, though). I'm serious!

Sarah said...

HAHA That picture of the cake on the plate looks like it has globs of peanut butter on it. And the one with the Carmel just on it, kind of looks like... while, someone horked on the cake. Oh mom, you are to funny. You really need to start shooting wider more often. You zoom in a little to much. I'll talk you through it later, but I was looking at cook books and some other food blogs, and MOST shots are wide (which is what we learned in school as well). So, lets chat. Good job on the truly nasty food photography and being brave to share it :-)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

"But in the morning, the glaze was as wrinkly as a senior citizen in Florida without sunscreen." Now that's an image I won't soon forget!
The 2nd shot gets my vote for mouth-watering.

Jessica said...

Are you kidding me?! It looks incredible! My mouth is definitely watering.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Lynn I'm sure that line "But in the morning, the glaze was as wrinkly as a senior citizen in Florida without sunscreen." should be outlawed as there are going to be a lot of key boards with coffee on them in the morning when reading it. And you're right it does look just like that.
If you say it was that good I believe.

CookiePie said...

Oh no - sorry you had so much trouble! But that cake sure looks delectable :)

eatme_delicious said...

I don't know what you're talking about - that cake looks delicious! I know what you mean about being reluctant to post photos you're not happy with. But when the recipe is delicious like this one it's definitely worth posting!

Marjoke said...

I love your pictures and maybe your standard is too high? For instance that slice of cake on the blue white plate looks very tempting to me.

Melinda said...

You are a hoot. Pictures smitchers.
It looks wonderful to me!.

Now I am wondering what you are thinking when you see the pictures on my blog... My children have wrinkled clothes and dirty faces?
David Bailey, I'm not.

Michelle said...

This sounds delicious!

grace said...

oh yeah, i know all about the poor-picture situation. sometimes i look back and see one that i thought was lovely at the time but now appears horrendous. these aren't bad at all, and it doesn't hurt that the cake itself sounds completely appealing. and caramel sauce would not be optional for this eater. :)

NKP said...

I think the cake looks great.
There are days, when I am posting, that I have to ask myself - "Do I put up the pictures that make everything look orange.. or the ones that make everything look blue?" They can't all be good!

Martha said...

I think your cake looks delicious and much more importantly, I'm sure it tastes great!

Maybe it's time to move beyond the food porn and back to the concept of substance over style, instead of vice versa?

Thanks for sharing the truth of just how hard it is to take a photo that captures a dish's true beauty.

Peabody said...

I think those look good to me. And that cake, oh my, yes!!!
Especially with caramel icing. Swoon.

Anonymous said...

I am new to taking food pictures so I am totally in awe that you think those are less than beautiful! The things we do to take a good picture, though... yesterday I put some cheesecake squares on my kitchen floor because the lighting was better down there. Just had to take the picture quickly before the dog got there first!

Maria said...

Looks good to me! I want to dive right in!

Deborah said...

I think it looks great!! I used to have a "Bad Photo Sunday" on my blog where I would post recipes with photos that I hated. Luckily, the days are longer now so I get more sunlight, but I'm sure I'll be doing it again when winter rolls around again!

Anh said...

wow. What a nice pear cake you have there!

Eva said...

I really like particularly the last picture! But I know what you mean by unshareable though tasty creations..;-)

Lien said...

These pictures are beautiful, too perfect can be scary too, so picture 2 is soothing for the nerves, that even if it goes wrong it'll still be alright.
Looks delicious!

Jill said...

It's great to see all the beautiful photography on food blogs and be inspired. But, honestly, it's so comforting to read about other people's mistakes and know you're not the only one that has things turn out not exactly as planned! Thanks for sharing this with us.

White Toast with Butter said...

That caramel sauce looks to die for.

Aimée said...

Fiddlesticks! I'd be happy if my photos turned out half as nice.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

My blog is also for my family so I post "ugly" photos all the time, but I am glad you shared thsi recipe, warts and all:D I can't wait for seasonal pears:D