Friday, 22 June 2012

Welcome Summer!

Eagerly gathering to discuss their filling.
As it turns out, I'm nothing like a fast food restaurant! That's good news. I already suspected this was the case but it's now been confirmed!
A few months back, a dear friend asked me if I could make macarons for her wedding to which I enthusiastically agreed. I made two batches this past Wednesday evening (Summer Solstice!) and save for a few duds (okay about ten duds out of the approximate 100 I made) they were all nearly perfect! I couldn't believe it. Maybe it was the sun shinning outside. Maybe it was the cold beer by my side. Maybe it was the excitement to share in the wedding of two really super lovely people. Maybe it was that I was finally able to find a half inch piping tip rather than just piping from a cut open end. Who knows for sure but whatever it was, it proved that quality doesn't have to be sacrificed for quantity, even with something as finicky as mes petites macarons. If my next try goes this well, I might be ready to graduate on to flavored shells. Oh my.....

Saturday, 9 June 2012

3 Strikes You're Out? Hells No! Get me a new bat....

You know the old saying "When it rains, it pours"? This has never meant a whole lot to me until today, as I sit typing this entry with a BandAid on one of my typing fingers.
This morning started out grey and by 2pm it was full on raining outside and hasn't stopped in hours. With the rain has come some stormy weather in my kitchen as well and rain drops pouring from my frustrated eye balls.
Butter cream requires that you boil sugar until it reaches exactly 115 degrees Celsius. Boiling sugar with a candy thermometer that isn't working...blah. Cleaning rock hard, boiled sugar off of the pot, thermometer and beaters three times....double blah. Cutting yourself on hardened sugar (you bet there was blood)....triple blah.
What did all this teach me? Well for one, i need a new candy thermometer and secondly that sugar can be a real asshole sometimes (maybe the folks who avoid refined white sugar like the plague are on to something?). Despite this, the cupcakes I also made today (banana with peanut butter frosting) turned out beautifully. They'll go well with banana butter cream (that worked on the fourth try) filling for the macarons.
Notice I didn't even touch on the macaron shells themselves yet. They were okay. First batch was perfection, second and third I over macaroner-ed (over mixed) so they were somewhat unsuccessful. Frankly after this butter cream trouble, the shells are off the hook this time around.

It all made me long for simpler times when baking just required measuring with cups and spoons rather than scales. And meant turning on the oven, tossing the pans in and forgetting about it for 20 or so minutes. And knowing that as long as you didn't forget an important ingredient, things would turn out just fine.  Sigh*

Saturday, 2 June 2012

You can't spell "Bicycle" without "Cocky".

My human feet are nice enough but these feet are better.
 Well, it's been several weeks since i last baked; life has just been busy. But in my head I thought: "Ah it'll be like riding a bike!" Not the case.
Tomorrow I'm going to feed my macarons to people who aren't only family members/close friends. I would like to impress these folks but alas, a great deal of my macaron shells were jerks: many of them slid over and were a messy disaster. Obviously I'd also like to impress you, my readers, so the photos I've included only feature the best in show but rest assured, half of each of the four batches were f#@%*ed up. (Just as I'm only showing you all the few pretty ones, I will carefully place those same few on top of the rest tomorrow when I take them to meet their fate so that the other guests at the party will think they're all that lovely. Sneaky)
Not terribly surprisingly, the baking seemed to be a crap shoot yet again-some on each of the pans were actually perfect while others were a mess. But as usual (and here comes the cocky), they tasted great. Tonight I made Orange Cream (hello orange colored filling that tastes like Creamsicle) and Maple (hi there cute pink filling) butter cream fillings which, combined with the tasty macaron shells, made for some pretty badass tasting little pastries.

Hm, at least my hiatus from baking hasn't caused me to lose much ground as far as baking technique goes (things were the usual disaster there) nor have I lost any arrogance in terms of how tasty my pastries are: I'm strutting through Flavor Ville, y'all.