Sunday, May 27, 2007

Gateau St. Honoré - Daring Bakers May Challenge


I fell down the rabbit hole, and the white rabbit looked at his watch and said:
Hmm, so you would like to be a member of the sacred Daring Bakers? Well let's see if you have got what it takes. You are supposed to make a Gateau St Honoré and it should be finished by the 27th May or else..... And then the Queen of Hearts jumped in and cried: Off with her head!

Thus I started my first challenge, by printing the recipe. And reading. Reading again. Lost count of actions. Started counting again. Giggled rather nervously. Put it away, far far away on the high shelve in the kitchen, because you know, it was only the beginning of May, plenty of time left. A couple of days later, recipe divided in what seemed to me logical steps, put in plastic covers.

FYI, a St. Honoré is a base made out of puff pastry, gets its height from piped pate a choux, is filled with Chiboust cream and decorated with filled cream puffs dipped in caramel. Yes please, you might want to read that again.

We are getting there. First try: cream puffs. Done cream puffs before. Made a first batch of cream puffs, filled with whipped cream, kids and husband ate them all. They were good. Made another batch.




Next step, puff pastry. No, I didn't, I legally chickened out. We were left with the choice of making our own or buying the puff pastry, (Helen, thank you for that one). I used store puff pastry, piped puff rings, got confused by the word "concentric" and decided to make one big coiling ring....Wrong!! Why?

Because if you make a coil you don't get to stuff as much of the delicious Diplomat cream in between the coil as you would like to. And eh, it helps that concentric rings probably wouldn't make your half finished gateau look like a dog turd...
Diplomat Cream? Chiboust creme! Oh yes, you would want to get as much Diplomat cream or Chiboust crème in there! (Which IMHO should be banned from the list of edible goods because of it's addictive licking properties). Making the cream was easy, lots of stirring involved and a bit fussing over the quantity of gelatin. I used gelatin leaves instead of powdered gelatin (I am not sure we have powdered gelatin here in the Netherlands, I think we don't), decided to use two leaves and finally added another one. Which I probaby shouldn't have done, it made my cream into a bavaroise.

We had the choice of using any flavor as long as it didn't change the color of the cream, I decided to go lemony and used a very Dutch, very old-fashioned liquor: Citroen brandewijn! I think most of my Dutch readers will recognize this as a staple drink at old-fashioned -birthday-parties. My grandmother and her sisters and friends used to drink this, in tiny cut glasses with a little sugar added. It's basically a lemon flavored brandy/gin reminiscent of the fashionable Limoncella.

It was a happy coincidence I was alone in my kitchen, together with my piping bag and the bowl. Hah who needs company when you have Chiboust crème? I know I don't. Of course by the time the puffs were filled, the gateau was finished, tucked in the fridge and the bowls, counter, tools were licked washed clean, I did feel the weight of my guilt/stomach....
May I remind you that I am usually not enamored by sweet things? NOT!

And then all there was left was making caramel, dip the puffs, and decorate. Simple. Oh yes and maybe make a spun sugar nest. Right.

S P U N ..... S U G A R.

Burned my fingers. Globs of caramel everywhere. Toppling of filled, dipped puffs. Trying to rescue toppling, filled, dipped puffs. Burned fingers again. Used a fork (Wow! Streak of genius!). Another belated streak of genius, I could have set them on their caramelly behinds on a non-stick surface which would have created a flat top. I wanted them coated in caramel, didn't want the flat tops, hence the toppling... No pictures here, wonder why? Moohahaha...

Alice: But I don't want to go among mad people.
The Cat: Oh, you can't help that. We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.
Alice: How do you know I'm mad?
The Cat: You must be. Or you wouldn't have come here
.

I tried spun sugar.
Let's leave it at that.

No, don't, I tried again, heated the caramel, squeezed the handle of a wooden spoon between the counter and a heavy cutting board, ingeniously located above the opened dish washer door!!! (A fine example of learning by reading!) And swished caramel on forks, back and forth. Globs. Drips.


Let the caramel cool a bit. Tried again. Oh you should have seen me waving my magic wand forks! Muttering all kinds of ugly words under my breath. Finally I gathered what threads I had and kneaded them into some form of nest. I've read you should cut the wires cut off at the bottom of your balloon whisk to get the best device) I didn't. And you know what? Caramel disappears in humid conditions...fast! By the time I was finished I can safely say I was quite clammy which could have effected the status of my sugarspin. So glad I took a couple of quick pictures....
This months challenge was co-hosted by Helene, from the beautiful blog Tartelette and Anita from the equally yummy blog Dessert first, they promised to post the full length recipe so if you would like to recreate, (or just read..hehehe) please take a look there, and don't forget to travel around the other Daring Bakers blogs (you can find all our members on the right) ... which I am going to do right now! Thanks for hosting girls, and for the challenge! I ran out of time and courage this time but I will make my own puff pastry soooon! Promise!

"But in the end, she emerges wiser with the learning involved in each situation. Everyone faces absurd choices in life. If you shrug off these choices as anomalies to your perfect life, you gain nothing. But if you try to learn from these absurdities, you will gain a lot of wisdom".
About Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carrol

40 comments:

  1. Spun sugar...wow! you guys are really daring. I watched a guy doing that on TV recently and he advised to put newspaper over all surfaces nearby for an easier cleanup.
    But Alice, uh Karen your final result is Fántástic!!! Congratulations!! I just love the way how you're discribing the process...but I can't say I feel the urge to make such a great creation right away.....

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  2. Ondanks je gevecht* met de caramel: het is een beauty van een taart geworden...!!!En gelukkig heb je de foto's nog, want hij is vast niet meer rond....

    * ging eens voor het eerst met een kerst zo'n nestje maken...was geen goed idee- later las ik dat het beter gaat op de achterkant van een pollepel....tjsa- te laat!

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  3. It looks beautiful! And very daring :)

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  4. Think I would have run screaming if this had been my first challenge. Looks great!

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  5. So now it's Alice!
    That is a perfect interweaving of literature and baking this cake!
    I am so glad you jumped down the rabbit hole with us!
    And now I can't wait for June's challenge when I'll be with you in your kitchen!

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  6. Karen, your cake looks amazing! I loved reading how you worked through the whole process - very funny! =)

    Well done!

    xoxo

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  7. Very nice! Lovely post!

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  8. Brilliantly mastered! Well done on your first challenge. I still love what you did with the spun sugar!

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  9. Oh, well done with your sugar! I gave up once I made one passable sugar basket and that was that!! YOurs looks great!

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  10. Gorgeous work! I love the fun and whimsical post - way to go on your first challenge! The spun sugar is such a lovely touch!

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  11. A really professional cake, what a great start as a Daring baker!

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  12. Yours is the first post I've read - I haven't even started mine yet - just got back from the store with a few missing ingredients.

    I'm not even going to attempt the spun sugar, yikes.

    Yours looks beautiful.

    So how did it taste?

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  13. Wat een leuke posting en wat een uitdaging. Maar je bent er zeker in geslaagd!

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  14. Oops I forgot the most important thing, you are so right Jenny!

    So...how *did* it taste? It was absolutely a lovely cake, next time I will be a bit bolder with flavoring the cream. My favourite? The combination of filled cream puffs topped with caramel. I can make myself a cake with just those components! Envisioning a croquembouche....

    Thank you all for yr sweet comments!

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  15. A beautiful cake, and great post!

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  16. Oh, Karen!

    You get the award for the most entertaining post! I just loved reading that. I think your gateau is gorgeous and thank you for explaining about the rings of choux pastry. I didn't realize that spacing them apart allowed for more cream. Of course it makes total sense now that you've explained it!

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  17. Karen,
    A great story and beautiful cake! You had me drooling when you were talking about the cream filling!! A big bowl of that and I would be one happily licking girl. I am at yours and Tanna's service as Sue Chef and Photographer for baking in your kitchen soon! Can't wait! Sue

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  18. Wow - I enjoyed reading your post! Great job on your first challenge....can't wait to see what you create next month.

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  19. Lovely post, I see a lot of myself in it. You seemed to have cracked it, well done!

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  20. Great witty post. I am so happy you are now a DB!
    Cake looks gorgeous and great work on the sugar!

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  21. What an great job on your first challenge. I loved the use of Alice in Wonderland in your post...very cleaver.

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  22. I do love the parallels with Alice. We did emerge wiser from this challenge I believe. You are right about spun sugar...it does dissolve quickly.

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  23. Beautiful! I like the double ring effect! Well done DB!

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  24. You are very funny! That cream was just too delicious, wasn't it?

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  25. your cake is magnificent!!! I know I'm bad (sorry to hear your finger hurt) as I couldn't help giggling since you wrote such a funny post.

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  26. Too funny! I admire your tenacity and will to succeed despite the globs of sugar.

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  27. Brilliant post and cake! I'm so glad you jumped down the rabbit hole and you weren't even late! Welcome to the Daring Baker's Tea Party ;-)

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  28. Your cake looks truly elegant. Great job!

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  29. Your cake embodies go big or go home, it's awesome!

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  30. I am glad I am not the only one with puffs in the middle. I guess some of the directions are up to interpretation. Glad to know that someone else thinks like me.

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  31. Well, Alice, you are in Wonderland now with the rest of us for sure :) Your cake looks great and I can just imagine the fun making the spun sugar. Glad you are one of the DBs!

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  32. Gorgeous, your spun sugar came out great!

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  33. Wow, wat een project! Knap gedaan! Ziet er prachtig uit!

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  34. I love how your sugar turned out. I was blabbing to my husband when I was doing my sugar, and of course, it stuck to the paper and I couldn't get it off. It ended up in the trash. Sigh.

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  35. Karen, what a wonderful cake! Your cream puffs are perfectly shaped!

    I had trouble with the cream, too - I couldn't stop eating it! :)

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  36. You quoted from Alice in Wonderland - one of my favorite books! I think you gateau came out beautifully!

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  37. Very daring indeed.What a great looking gateau.Impressive start.

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  38. Love, love, love your final result. Love all the piping and your caramel hair is making me envious. It is something I hope to one day aspire to. Fantastic job.

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  39. I love your Alice in Wonderland" reflection on the... um... genius behind our daring baker challenges. Congratulations on a beautiful final result!

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  40. Absolutely hilariously written, you're a star! Love the "Alice" analogy too, well done!

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