Today was my day to bring in breakfast for our office.  We trade off Fridays, and it’s a good system- every Friday I get free breakfast in exchange for bringing it in every 12 weeks or so.

There is a DEFINITE hierarchy of breakfast-bringers in our office.  It’s a startlingly regular topic of conversation.  There is one woman who is notorious for bringing whatever random half-eaten foods she has around the house. (1/3 of a wedge of brie anyone?  perhaps a moldy strawberry?)  Our most senior resident just brings in a dozen dunkin donuts.  (People groan, but he can get away with it because he is, and I’m not exaggerating, 82 years old.)

Early on in my tenure here, I established myself as a real contender for the title of “favorite breakfast bringer.”  I love to bake, and breakfast for the office is a perfect time to test muffins, scones, quick breads, etc.

Today was no exception.  I wanted to try something new and fabulous.  For Christmas, I got this cookbook:

Now, people all over the blogosphere LOVE this cookbook, and it is beautifully designed and all of the recipes look positively drool-worthy…But.  I have tried five recipes out of there now, and three of them have outright not worked properly, one was only meh, and only one was truly delicious.

Undeterred, I decided to try their recipe for lemon loaf, which calls for a truly alarming quantity of butter, plus sour cream, plus EIGHT eggs.  And the expensive, lovely Meyer lemons I just found at TJs.  I tried not to think about its calorie content as I whirred the ingredients together in the food processor as instructed, poured it into pans, popped it in the oven and an hour later….

Gross, greasy, fallen cakes.  Like a brick.  No crumb at all- just mushy grainy greasiness.

If there is anything more culinarily frustrating then trying an awesome-looking recipe that ends with pulling cakes out of the oven at 10 pm and discovering that they are too terrible to bring to work the next morning, I haven’t found it.

Worst of all, because I have a reputation to maintain around here, I felt like I couldn’t just show up empty handed.  So I had to start over.

I knew I couldn’t use the same recipe- I’m not a total idiot- so I turned to one of my go-to cooking sources: Smitten Kitchen.  She recommended Ina Garten’s lemon loaf cake, and when I looked at the recipe it seemed a lot more logical (cream the butter instead of melt it; use buttermilk instead of sour cream; a little more flour, a little more lemon).  So I tried it.  The cake crowned nicely, and looked good enough to bring into the office.

Lemon Loaf

We just cut into it and it is AWESOME.  My reputation remains intact.  My coworkers will not stage a mutiny.  Best of all, I get to eat tasty lemon cake all morning.

I really want to give Baked another chance, but this may have been the last straw.  The only other possibility I can think of is that my oven temperature has gone wonky, so I’ll be heading out to buy an oven thermomteter this weekend.  If there’s no temperature problem, I think it’s curtains for Baked.  Sorry, pretty cookbook!