Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bernachon Palet d'Or Gateau

It all began quite innocently. I couldn't find my usual Green&Black's cocoa. Williams-Sonoma doesn't carry it any longer, and all I could find was another brand of Unsweetened Natural Alkaline. I will have to send for the Green&Black's, although when I looked online I couldn't find it there either. I don't know if this was just an omen or not.
I was interested in baking the cake by internal temperature. I have read recently that 190' - 205'F is a good range. I thought I would go for 200' and the 35 min. of Rose's recipe. Well, I guess this would have been closer to fine if I had remembered to start the timer. By the time I remembered, it was half-time. I was studying the cake. It was rising, but the sides were already giving evidence of shrinking yet the middle was looking wet. More of this exercise led to my finally taking it's temperature at 149' - uh oh. Very goopy and I have used up a peek. I waited a longer time. Watching. I had already set up the ganache, so that was ready to do, but I am not very multi-tasked and was suffering along with this cake, bemusing why this has to be so difficult for me. I had done everything just as directed, weighing, sifting - then I realized - Along with undermining myself by not starting the timer, I had neglected to use a cake strip. Well, that was part of the problem. Now, by the looks of things and the time elapsed, it was time for a temperature check. I don't want to open that door again, especially since it is looking moist in the center, but the sides are looking dark. So now the temperature is about 180' - I decide to wait to 200'. So I let it stay in and of course it went overtime. Just as the Forum advised it might if not on guard, and I frantically grabbed it out at 225'. It had increased temperature very quickly, just like caramel, and now is dry as a bone and has holes. So much for that. I still could blame it on the cocoa. On the plus side, I had remembered to add a few drops of chocolate essence.
Also, in retrospect, I see that the oven rack was in the middle. When will I learn. It usually just stays in the lower third of the oven but this time it wasn't. So we have three problem areas, and a lousy cake. It had to be the cocoa.

Next the ganache.
Once again, the alternate cocoa. This was easy. I mixed the ingredients and let it sit for the hour; then covered it in its glass bowl, letting it sit for the hours it took for the cake to cool. When I did take the plastic wrap off, there was a layer of glacine looking liquid butter on top. Even though the butter I had added was still holding its shape, I thought it could have been too high in temp. I just stirred gently for a long time to incorporate it, and had no further problem with the ganache.

When the cake was cool. I 'crumb coated it' for drill; refrigerated it for an hour and then frosted it.

I am aware this cake has big problems, but now the exercise at-hand is the glaze. The ganache is on the cake crumb coated refrigerated, then frosted as smooth as I could make it. After a couple of hours of hot knives, I was exhausted and went to bed with it tucked away for the night in the fridge. I laughed as I recalled the days when a few of us close girlfriends would say, "We know each other so well we know all the lumps in our leotards."

Still smiling about my friends' jesting, I realize the case of leotard-glaze revealing frosting-lumps has been daunting for me. As they say, "It's sheen is like the cover of a baby grand piano"- it does look so beautiful on Rose's book cover--- I check and double-check the mis en place. Then I begin. In retrospect, the first thing I think went wrong was that while I was quickly taking a few pictures of it, the glaze quickly reached the first plateau of 190'F even though I was taking it's temperature. Before I grabbed it, it was boiling heavily around the edges and getting thicker - too thick I thought, hastily removing it and straining the glaze into the metal strainer until 122'F. Reprieve.

Now, however, came the downfall of the glaze: - Unfortunately, my eyes had slipped down to the next paragraph in the recipe, and I had now begun to strain the glaze into the 2 cup measure [which was meant to be the step after the stirring in of the gelatin]. About 4 ounces into that task, my eyes suddenly caught sight of the little green bowl full of bloomed gelatin set to the ready. Drat. Now I am panicked, trying to stop the straining, finding another receptacle, and chocolate is oozing. I find another bowl, retrieve most of the chocolate and try to stir the gelatin into it. So, finally as directed in the first place, I strain these ingredients into another bowl stirring it gently - it looks like grits. However, I still cling to the hope that it will dissolve the gelatin since it is very warm. But it doesn't. And I wait to pour it onto the poor rock of a cake, and continue to take its temperature many, many times until it finally falls to just over 80', but it has gotten so thick. I remove the cake from the fridge and begin to pour - lukewarm brown grits fall from the cup, plopping onto the top of the cake. Well, now we know. I take the small offset spatula and begin to push it here and there, hoping to effect some semblance of a flat surface. So, the glaze was ruined by my allowing it to thicken past its 190'F, and by not stirring in the gelatin at that time the temp fell to 122-140', and then re-straining it. I feel it would have been pourable when it reached 80' under normal circumstances, as Rose directs. I refrigerated the cake over night. In the morning, I then applied a hair-dryer to it - partly to obtain shine, and partly in the desperate hope that maybe one gelatin grain would disappear. The leotard was just unforgiving. I don't see the glaze as being difficult at all, and will be comfortable making it again, just following directions! I can't even blame the cocoa.

You can see how lumpy it was below.

And gritty.

I cut the cake and was confronted by a myriad of holes and dry as a bone. It will require much ice-cream.

My list now includes: An oven thermometer [finally], two more pizza stones, some Green&Black's cocoa -- and learn to use my SousChef software that speaks the directions in its little computer voice!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saint-Honore' Trifle

Creating this trifle has long been anticipated by me. My hesitation was because of the room in my 4' x 8' kitchen, and concern for not having space to make the spun sugar. Finally, however, I decided to go ahead. These were my experiences:

Day 1: First I obtained gorgeous strawberries.
My friend remarked to me that it was interesting that these were California berries from the local market, and not from growers here in Poteet, Texas, the Strawberry Capitol, and known for the sweetest strawberries. Poteet celebrates, and is famous for their April festivals, held this year on April 10. In actuality, it is true this California variety at hand was not as sweet as those from Poteet. I helped them along by rinsing them in Champagne vinegar, tossing and draining them, cutting and then macerating them for a short time in superfine sugar. They were scrumptious.

Day 1: Baked the cake and cooled completely. Chilled before leveling and torting.
Cut to fit trifle bowl. Wrapped for the night.

Mixed apricot and marmalade with
Grand Marnier. Saved to spread the 4 layers with the mixture.

Prepared Grand Marnier syrup and saved for syruping the trifle layers as composing.

Day 1: Made up two other mis en places: Gathered and measured/weighed ingredients for chiboust cream. I needed 5 yolks instead of 4 to make the 74 grams; used vanilla paste for the little seeds and a Madagascar Bourbon bean.

--and measured/weighed out the whipping cream ingredients.
Time for bed.

Day 2:
First, I spread marmalade mixture on each of the 4 layers of cake that had been leveled and cut to fit trifle bowl.

Made the chiboust cream.

It seemed a little sweet, but maybe because I had used Castor sugar.

To begin the assembly of the trifle, I placed the first marmalade-bottom-layer in trifle bowl; moistened the top with Grand Marnier syrup; covered with chiboust cream and then strawberries. Continued until the top layer, which was syruped and creamed. Wrapped and refrigerated the trifle overnight.
Day 3: I Prepared the whipped cream with the intention of making large star drop-flowers all over the top of the trifle. However, after placing them around the perimeter, I ran out of whipped cream. So - strawberries in the center seemed like a good alternative. Then I finished and refrigerated the trifle.

Day 3: Now, I plastered an area of the kitchen with newspaper and taped down the oiled dowels. I brought in a little step stool, and readied the cut-up whisk and the Thermapen.

I boiled the sugar to amber at 360 degrees, and tested it until it quickly began to fall into strings. I waved it across the dowels, delighted to see the angel hair strings take shape. Hooray! It works!

This endeavor was made easy for me by examples such as Marie's and Monica's. Without those examples, I question whether I would have attempted the sugar-spinning adventure because I thought the space too small in the kitchen. But when I watched Monica and Marie, I realized that Monica really didn't use much space at all, and that for me it was a possibility after all.

Spinning completed, I gathered it into a loose round shape and sat it in its oiled glass bowl. Then brought out the trifle and placed it on a table with the spun sugar crowning it. SO pretty.

I have removed the crown several times and put it back into the freezer in it's oiled bowl, covered tightly. It seems as if it freezes well there, as Rose notes, and can be used again - if there is any left, of course.

The first portion was served to the terrified husband, for having survived his horror as his wife-gone-mad wielded a sharp object around in the air with burning strands emanating from it -

And, then to delighted friends and neighbors . . .

Of course, this divine confection is breathtaking, a vision - not to mention the fact that it is angelic with all of its elegant composition of flavours and textures. Indeed, glorious. And, I am happy to say that I was able to complete it. Now I shall go reward myself. Mmmmm!