Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Trifle... for A CHANGE IN ALTITUDE

Last night was book club night, and I spent several days thinking about what kind of dessert would echo the theme of the book.  Since the book was about the decline of a marriage after a mountain-climbing incident, the task wasn't easy.

BUT--at one point in the story, a character mentioned that another character always served trifles.  Ta da! Easy.

Now--I don't know about you, but a trifle has always seemed insultingly easy.  Don't you just throw some store-bought sponge cake, vanilla pudding, and strawberries into a bowl?

So I decided to use my new cookbook--BAKING AND PASTRY, the textbook from the Culinary Institute of America, and I found that making a trifle wasn't so simple.  But oh, it was delicious.

(BTW, if you have to feed an army or a large group, this is the cookbook for you!)

Step one: red currant jelly into bowl

First, I had to make the spongecake, so I made that on Saturday night.  Actually, I made FOUR huge spongecakes, because these recipes don't come in small batches.  :-)   But I didn't mind, because I knew I could freeze the cakes for later.

Sunday night I had to make the pastry cream, and since that recipe would only keep for three days, I did make a a small, one-pound batch.

2: Bake a lovely sponge cake. (or buy one.) 
And finally, last night I had to assemble the trifle.  I began by coating the bottom of the trifle bowl with currant jam.  Yum.  Then I blended sherry with simple syrup, reserved that in a bowl.  Cubed the spongecake, then poured the sherry/syrup mixture over the cake to moisten the lot.

Then I had to whip 16 oz. of heavy cream; easy enough, and into that I blended the pound of pastry cream from the fridge.

Finally, I cut up some lovely strawberries and mixed with a package of fresh raspberries.  Then into the bowl they went--jam, cake, fruit, cream, more cake, more fruit, more cream.  Finally, I piped rosettes around the top, and made a mini-mountain in the center, to honor our book. :-)

And then--ooo la la.  It was delicious, if I do say so myself.  I have a feeling I'm going to like this new cookbook.  :-)

Cut said cake into cubes, then cover with syrup mixture. 
Hope your baking adventures are delightful!

Cover with fresh fruit of your choosing. 

Cover with cream, then repeat. Smooth top, pipe on decorations. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Baking and Pastry--the textbook

Somehow I stumbled across a literal textbook last week called Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft.    Yes, I know it's expensive, but they had a used copy available that was reasonable, so I ordered it.

And all I can say is--wow.  This HUGE  book is a text for the Culinary Institute of America, and it's very thorough not only in baking techniques and equipment, but also in recipes (or "formulas.")  And you know all those elegant plated deserts you can find in upscale recipes?  Yep, they're in here.  You can now make them yourself, if you've a mind to impress someone.  :- )

Tonight I made their formula for madeleines, a small batch that came out very well.  But I decided to bake a trifle for my book club Monday night (because a lady in the book made trifles), so I used their recipe, which begins with sponge cake.

Well, the problem with using a restaurant type cookbook is that you have restaurant type sizes.  The recipe made FOUR sponge cakes (I didn't mind, since I knew I could freeze them) but called for something like 755 grams of eggs and then 9 ounces of egg yolks.  I cracked over two dozen eggs and STILL didn't have enough, so I hope the cakes taste okay.

I have to say that they came out looking beautiful--tall, elegant, and golden in their eight inch pans.  So step one of my trifle was a breeze, and I can't wait to begin the rest, in which I'll have to make pastry cream, whipped cream, and some simple syrup (but I think I might have some already made in my pantry . . . will have to check.)

I've been hard at work on my next book and often work into the night, but on those days when I finish early, I love going into the kitchen and baking something.  Even if it ends up with the neighbors or in the freezer.  (I've had to get strict about calorie counting again. Oh, well. Such is life.)

I hope you are doing well.  What have you been baking lately?