Monday, August 22, 2016

Deconstructing a Recipe

Food Term 'deconstruction'
When it comes to food, "deconstruction" — a riff on the term coined by French philosopher Jacques Derrida — it refers to the idea of breaking apart elements traditionally combined together to make a dish, and serving the items separately in a unique way.
An example would be

deconstructed beef stew where the beef, liquid, vegetables, and potato are isolated and served in an unconventional presentation.  Or it can be taking a dish apart and reforming it in a different way.

But often the cooking term is applied to a dish reformed using scientific methods like emulsifiers and foams and 'airs' and all sorts of weird textures. They break a meal down to it's 'core' and twist it around and make it different so you look at it in a new light. So a cheese is no longer cheese – it is a foam or a crisp something strange like that. 

Today's post:Deconstructing a Recipe
Cook's notes: This is my take on deconstruction. I found this recipe on Pinterest Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake
The picture shows a luscious lemony, fluffy and creamy cake. In fact so good when I pinned it on my board recipes to try several people inquired if I had tried it. So always up for a cooking challenge I took up the task of deconstructing Sally's three pages of ingredients and directions to a manageable number to make this luscious looking cake.  In the process I found it necessary to streamline directions and make adaptations to cake but particularly for the frosting. While my efforts produced a lovely and very tasty cake (what's not to like about lemons and blueberries) it did not resemble the above Pinterest picture.  
I decreased the amount of lemon juice and zest used in the cake recipe and the amount of cream cheese and butter used in the frosting from original recipe. I have yet to figure out how adding lemon juice and lemon zest to batter would produce almost a lemon curd look in the Pinterest cake picture. The batter was just the right amount for two cake pans rather than suggested three cake pans. Cooking tip: do not over measure your flour as it will result in heavy, dense textured crumb. 
Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake
Cake Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 sticks of butter and 1/2 stick of margarine (total 1 cup) softened to room temperature 
  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  •  1/2 cup brown sugar
  •  4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 TB. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. almond extract 
  • 3 cups sifted all purpose flour (spoon and leveled) or for a lighter crumb you can use 3 + 1/4 cups sifted cake flour instead
  • 1 TB. Saigon cinnamon or 1-1/2 tsp. regular cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (no substitution) 
  • zest and juice of 2 medium sized lemons
  • 1-1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not thaw)
  • 1 TB flour mixed with a sprinkle of cinnamon   
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 3 TB. butter, softened to room temperature 
  • 3 -1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 TB heavy cream or half and half
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
Cake Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking spray to grease 2- 9 inch cake pans. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl beat butter and margarine until creamy about 1 minute. Add in sugars beat until creamed, then adding in eggs, vanilla and almond extract.  Beat mixture a full 2 minutes.
  • In another bowl toss together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Slowly add dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Beat on low speed for 5 seconds.  Add the buttermilk, lemon zest and juice. Stir lightly until everything is just combined. 
  • Toss blueberries with 1 TB. flour and cinnamon. Fold into batter. Batter is thick do not over mix.
  • Divide batter among 2 pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.    
Frosting Directions: 
  • Beat cream cheese, butter, lemon zest and vanilla extract for 2 minutes. Add in powdered sugar and cream. Use more cream if needed to get frosting the right spreading consistency.  
  • Frost cake and refrigerate until frosting sets about 1 hour. Then place a few toothpicks in cake and lightly cover with foil and refrigerate until serving.  
To substitute cake flour for all-purpose flour use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour for every cup of all-purpose flour.


  1. I admire your tenacity in tackling new recipes, especially ones with many steps.

  2. I do love a cooking challenge but what to do with a whole cake and only two people


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