A couple of notes from this recipe, fortunately, nothing major ;-)
A cake that is closer to a brioche than a typical cake. It is actually very close to a cinnamon bun. Delicious with coffee or hot chocolate.
I am very happy with the result! And proud of myself too! :-D
This is a recipe I have been wanting to try forever! I lived in Louisiana for a few years and just loved this tradition, how people eat this cake all Mardi Gras season. It was a neat way to end the day on Fridays at the office. People in Louisiana are always very convivial and I've learnt so much about the various traditions (besides what people see on TV) of the Carnival season in Louisiana. So this is a salute to those whose friendship made these years fantastic!
The recipe I found was this one. I don't remember when I found it but apparently it comes from the February 2006 edition of Southern Living. Well, I can tell you I am incredibly happy with the end result, so this recipe goes into the family recipe book!
Last weekend's project was "eclairs". I needed to revisit the dough I used for the cream puffs AND the recipe for the vanilla cream used to stuff them.
I remembered some lessons, forgot others and will need to do this again to keep improving. Not that I seem to run out of people willing to try the desserts...
All in all, this week's experiments tasted really good, I just need to work more on the appearance side of things. I would say that my major fault here is my impatience. I just want to go too fast. What is frustrating is that I KNOW I am going too fast as I do it but I can't seem to slow myself down. This was particularly the case with the chocolate ganache in this case.
The eclairs recipe
For the eclairs, I used this recipe, it is a basic recipe, pretty easy to accomplish. That was not the issue. However, I'm always amazed at how hard it is to deal with oven temperatures and length of baking. See, this recipe is used to make little cream puffs, eclairs and many more other items. Everything is different, different sizes, different thickness, so the temperature and length of baking will be different for each one.
Now, as you are baking, it is not so hard to say "ok, a couple minutes more". What is hard though is to keep track of how you modify the time for the next time you want to do this. And I haven't even figured out how to play with the temperature. How do you know which temperature would be the best for your project?
One of the lessons I had learnt from making the cream puffs was that the size of the batter you put on the sheet does not change much when baking, it doesn't rise and double volume or anything close to that. So I made sure my eclairs were close to the size I wanted in my final product.
However, in my first batch, I poured the batter in a kind of rope and did a "folded" rope to ensure enough width. Well, the result was disappointing. The rope was not thick enough or high enough, which means those eclairs were flat. And the two parts of the rope did not mesh completely during baking, which gave me eclairs with a weird valley in the middle. This batch tasted good but looked horrible.
So for the second batch, I kept the pastry bag closer to the baking sheet and made sure to pour more batter. Frankly, I could have gone even further. I should have ended up with a sausage-like batter about one inch thick. The other thing is how hard it is to keep that pastry bag steady and pour the batter in a uniform way. I ended up with some funky shaped eclairs.
All in all, taste-wise, this was a success. Look-wise, well, there is still work to be done...
The chocolate ganache
Technically, this was the easiest part, just melt chocolate and mix with some heavy cream. Once again, my impatience got the best of me and my chocolate was grainy and my ganache a bit too thick.
Now, I know why I was so impatient that day, it was the traditional day for crepes and I had guests over for crepes. Why did I start another project on the same day? Who knows but definitely not something to repeat. *embarrassed*
In the end, I'm glad to say I made eclairs. The taste was really good, so I know the recipes work, I just need to work on technique and appearance. and PATIENCE!!!
There is hope!
What is your weakness when baking?
'tis the season and with it, its delicious indulgences. One cannot help but look forward to this time of year and its traditions, especially the culinary ones, from bread, to cakes, pies or cookies.
Now, I'm not one of those who go crazy baking cookies... my last post about it was my latest attempt. I like them, don't get me wrong, but I'm not into making dozens after dozens and giving them away to everyone and all that... Instead, I have my favorites, memories of my childhood, that I am now sharing with my daughter. She now looks forward to these traditions, even though she's not yet interested in learning how to make them.
The Yule Log cake is a French/Belgian tradition. It is a cake shaped like a log, to refer to the tradition of burning a huge log for the 12 days of the Christmas season (then called Yule). This was supposed to bring good luck for the year. A mix of pre-Christian and Christian traditions here, as is often the case.
If you go to a pastry shop in France or in Belgium, just before Christmas, you will have so many choices in yule log cakes, going from extremely traditional to avant-garde modern, to ice-cream cakes. Needless to say, it might be a traditional cake, but you will rarely experience twice the same one.
So, a few years ago, I started making my own yule log cake, which is a rolled cake with a filling and frosting made to look like a log. I've never made twice the same cake so far and some have been better than others, but they've all come out pretty good. This year's cake was particularly successful!
My daughter chose the flavors: chocolate and mint! So, off I went to the great internet to find recipes. I found a recipe for a mint and chocolate cake but didn't like the filling cream, so I just used their cake and syrup recipes. I made up my own recipe for the filling and the frosting (nothing fancy or too precise either).