January 29, 2009

The Spastic Baker

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

OK…So I joined the Daring Bakers a couple of months ago. I consider myself a pretty decent baker. A daring baker, even. So it seemed like a perfect fit.

Well, for the November challenge I almost burned down the kitchen, and in December when I read the 18 pages of instructions (realizing that I would need to take a day off from work, and easily spend $50 for ingredients) I bailed. So it was with great joy I found out that we’d be baking delicate French tuiles in January. There were three tuile recipes to choose from! We were challenged to pair with a fruit of our choosing! Easy and fun, right?


Before I got cracking, I read the Daring Baker message boards and saw that a lot of people were having problems monitoring their fast-cooking tuiles. The delicate, thin wafers (think fortune cookie) were burning around the edges easily, and difficult to work into the fancy shapes we’d be expected to. Note to self.

Given that, imagine my surprise when mine not only didn’t burn, they barely cooked. Mine were more like crepes (hey, at least it’s French!) and they puffed up and bubbled in the oven…just like a pancake...despite my slathering onto the chilled baking sheet in a thin, almost transparent layer. I figured as much would happen, since the batter was the consistency of plaster of Paris (look at me with all this French!).

And molding a cooked pancake…

ain’t happening.

As if that isn’t bad enough, I opened up my brand new pint of organic lemon sorbet while they were baking and it was crystallized.

Merde. (More French! :-)

So, I scooped up my pieces and did what any self-respecting baker would do. I drank a margarita (to take the edge off, mais oui), and accessorized with my random tuile parts.

I had just enough batter left to try one more. This time I dropped it onto a warm (the recipe called for chilled) silpat-lined baking sheet, which helped the batter spread. Ten minutes later (still quite a long time to bake. Hmmm...), with some over-the-top “staging” and a bit of resuscitation on the sorbet, voila:

Still thick and crepe-like, but a bit better. Once again, I point you to the amazing Tartelette, for her far better execution and the full suite of tuile recipes, along with her own fantastic fillings like a Bailey’s cream that I’m anxious to try. And her photos are to drool for.

There were a couple of good things came out of this. My purchase of vanilla sugar, which will be perfect for – what else – FRENCH toast!

And the raspberry sauce I made by simply heating a bag of frozen organic berries and adding a scant tablespoon of sugar, then giving it a whirl with the emulsion blender after the berries had broken down a bit. This is super easy and very delicious, especially when paired with lemon sorbet as I (eventually) did here.

With that, I bid you adieu.


Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Oh my goodness your last photos look incredible Laura! So gourmet in appearance!
I tried to make a stencil to do the pretty butterflies, but my batter stuck to the stencil and would not stick to the pan so I gave up and just piped little circles of the dough on the baking pan. I made the circles small and thin, using a small tip on my pastry bag, so maybe that is why mine came out thin? I didn't use the vanilla sugar but used a few drops of pure vanilla flavoring instead, so maybe that thinned down my batter?

It was a lot of work for a few cookies but they were delicious and I think I'd try them again and make them larger circles to roll and stuff them as they make an elegant looking dessert.

Don't give up! I'm sure lots of DB's had failures and just redid them and then show the good results -- it's all a learning process, which is why we do this.

You did a great job making yours look good in the end, so I think if your tried it again and spread the batter in a piped thin circle you'd have a good tuile and make it a masterpiece!

j.cro said...

My friend Stephanie is a trained pastry chef and she doesn't do Daring Bakers any longer - she said the same things as you - far too involved and far to expensive.

I'll find out what group she's with now and let you know.

BTW - my word verification is "patiol" which LOOK French. Quel super!

j.cro said...

and that would be TOO expensive, not to expensive. DUH

desiree@lookiloos said...

You're a braver woman than I Laura. But I did enjoy your baking story. Thanks I needed a good laugh!

Blondie's Journal said...

Laura...as usual you are quite the maverick. I do not like baking at all, too much room for failure, and I do not like cleaning up sticky stuff. Before I read your post I didn't even know what a tuille was!! Another thing that amazes me about french pastry recipes is that there may be only 5 ingredients but the instructions are 10 pages long!!

I think you did a bang up job, wish I could have tasted one! :-)


The Quintessential Magpie said...

Laura, I'm laughing so hard I'm crying! OH, I loved that title! LOL! You are so funny! I needed that laugh, so thanks, girlfriend! And the pictures were a scream... loved the margarita break, but hey, in typical Shorehouse fashion, you pulled it off! They looked FABULOUS in those last photos!

I'm coming over to have a margarita and a tuile (sp). I'll have to speak Spanish, though, and leave the French to you! ;-)



Sheila :-)

The Quintessential Magpie said...

I had to double check to make sure I didn't say "toile." LOL!


Sheila :-)

rh said...

I have some pre-mixed cookie dough in my fridge that I just have to stick in the oven. I'm too lazy to do that. I'm just eating the raw cookie dough.

Sue said...

poor dear.....you tried, but the end result looked very nice...but If I were you I would not have posted the link to the other blog...daughter is joining the Bakers for next month. I can't wait to see what the challenge will be...I might join in in March....

Joyce said...

Oh Laura, I knew there was a connection with you! You are a hoot!! I think you did a GREAT job! Big kuddos! xoxo

Laura @ Shoot-Scoop said...

Can I come down for dessert and a margarita some time? DEEEE LISH

Heather B said...

Great job on your tuiles! They look wonderful!

Lorrie said...

Oh Laura, this is a funny post, you are definitely brave and you've got perseverance. I'd have taken the margarita break too! Your final results are very impressive!

Jen r. said...

Loved your story! Margarita's make everything better!

Tartelette said...

I have been thinking about this for a minute because I disagree with J.Cro. Granted it is easy for me to disagree since I am not in your kitchen and I am not in your finances...But, you can trust me when I say that I am on a budget, a real tight one since I decided to take months off to write, but I find a way to make the challenge by being as McGiver as I can in the kitchen with tools and ingredients but I agree that some challenges are expensive. The hazelnut gateau for example almost gave my husband a heart attack until I decided to use cashews instead. Which is another thing, I would have no problem sitting one out if I deemed it unreasonable and feel free to email the founders about it.
Re-making it and changing groups because of difficulty issues. Sure that is your prerogative if you wish to but here is what I offer: next challenge, let's do it together. Laura and Helen....no matter what it is. Let's pick a day and plough through it and we can scream or laugh about it. Buddying up is a great way to go about those. Sometimes I am standing there with the recipe and I draw a blank and you saw what happens in that case: I go crazy :)

From the look of it, it seemed like the tuiles were too thick and a little egg white added to the batter might have helped. I did not have time to check the forum much this month but that would have been my first suggestion.

You showed true Daring Bakers spirit.

Let me know if you need a punching bag for next month and I'll be happy to oblige...seriously.

abeachcottage@typepad.com said...

hey Laura, you are one brave girl, I have 3 recipes I can bake, no way do I venture any further

I really enjoyed this post, just what I needed, I'm hot and crabby and a laugh did the power of good!


heidi said...

That margarita save looks awesome!!!! You are truly brilliant AND inspired. Great job on the dessert too.

Marianevans said...

Nice recovery! I'm glad you got such a spectacular result after all!

please sir said...

Oh it looks great! I'm sure the drink helped! Thanks for your comment and loved your chicken and the egg correlation - so true.

Tabatha said...

What a fun post!! And yes I agree gorgeous plating!! Thanks for sharing.

Debbie said...

WOW - Amazing and yummy looking and they even have a great artsy flair! I'm licking my chops.

Blessings and Happy Weekend - Debbie

black eyed susans kitchen said...

You crack me up! I am impressed not only at your attempts (plural), more than I would ever have done, but your brilliant instinct to go the margarita route as a method of staying calm and sane. It looks like they came out great.
♥, Susan

A Day That Is Dessert said...

You are so funny! Love this story and the photos. Hope you're enjoying your weekend!

tam said...

WoW looks so professional girl! Good job! You just needed to get into the right frame of mind to complete your masterpeice! LoL!

Even your drink looked good-nice photos!~Tam:D

Pearl Maple said...

Great post full of creative inspiration and way too much fun.

Followed your link on Completely Coastal and ever so glad we got a chance to visit.

Thanks for sharing all these fun ideas about living a creative life on the beach with lopsided baking no less.

Ms. Tee said...

You're so funny, Laura! Your titled cracked me up~ :) I think you did a great job on your tuile, too. I've never tried anything like this, but I can guarantee you it wouldn't look as good! ;)