As some of you know, I spend quite a bit of time on Pinterest. Fortunately I only discovered it after our wedding (I obsessively perused Wedding Gawker at the time) but as the owner of a new house and an avid cook it still provides plenty to waste the hours on. I use it to collect recipes, consider new paint colors and even collect cute animal pictures to send to friends when they’re stressed. But more than anything else I use Pinterest to come up with ideas.
I could list the projects–successful and not–that pinterest has inspired for a very long time. That’s sadly not relevant to today’s adventure. What is is the awesome and ubiquitous dessert that has dominated my food searches on the web: the poke cake.
A poke cake is very simple. Bake a cake, poke holes in it with a straw and pour unchilled pudding onto (and into) it. Top with relevant goodies–whipped cream, crushed cookies, peanut butter, fruit, you name it–and chill before enjoying. When done properly the pudding will have oozed into the cake, creating a masterpiece worth sharing. An example might be the oreo poke cake. Bake a chocolate cake, poke holes and top with vanilla or even cheesecake pudding. Top with whipped cream and crushed oreos and you’re in business.
Poke cakes seemed to me a fantastic idea, a new way of enjoying cake that allowed them to emulate other desserts without taking away the awesomeness that cake has on its own. My problem with them is that they seemed based on convenience and not quality. Every recipe I have found (and I’ve searched) uses a boxed cake mix and a boxed pudding mix. Nothing homemade. I make everything homemade, from flour tortillas to yogurt. The closest thing to a box mix we keep in the house is the box macaroni & cheese we hide at the back of the pantry for days when we’re just too tired to cook. There had to be a way to make a homemade poke cake.
I decided to choose a simple cake to attempt: the banana pudding cake. The pinterest version is super easy: vanilla cake, banana pudding, whipped cream, crushed nilla wafers. Because I was making everything from scratch (except the whipped topping, which an awesome person gave me purely coincidentally) I decided to simplify further and leave out the nilla wafers. (I have an amazing homemade nilla wafer recipe I use whenever I make traditional banana pudding but I didn’t feel like using up that much butter today.) My plan was to make a banana cake, top with a homemade vanilla custard and sliced bananas. The whipped topping would be added for individual servings.
It worked out…okay? I forgot to substitute banana for oil in the cake recipe I was using until after it was too late, so the cake remained vanilla. The custard turned out well but when I poured there seemed to be too much pudding in the cake-to-pudding ratio. When we tried it the ratio turned out just fine, but because I messed up the cake it didn’t taste much like banana at all. Also, none of the custard seemed to seep into the cake at all. Either I messed up the holes or the custard was too thick.
Part of embarking on an Artist’s Way journey is silencing your inner critic so that your inner artist can grow and not be blocked by negativity. I’m naturally critical of myself, not just because I’m a generally negative person but rather so that I can know what to fix next time. That being said, this cake did ultimately end up a success in the only place that matters: the taste. The custard was rich and the entire combination of flavors worked together very well. Matt had two helpings and offered to eat my share if I didn’t like it. So for this week’s artist’s date I succeeded in learning a lot, trying something new and using my creativity to adapt an online idea into my own reality. And I made something yummy!