11 October 2009

soft really does mean soft

dough01 when you have an electric mixer, some things don’t really matter… like “softened” butter. before, as long as the butter wasn’t rock hard, the electric mixer made it nice and creamy for you without any trouble.

but when you only have a whisk, a wooden spoon, a spatula, and the muscles in your arm and hands… things are different.

“softened” butter is no longer “softened” butter but really does mean softened butter. that butter had better be room temperature and shiny and greasy and just like the consistency of a thick lotion.

i learned the hard way. one sore arm, an HOUR later, and a pate brisée later, i decided that for the next round i would stick the butter by a warm area to let it soften up.

and so making my pate sucrée was a breeze, as the butter was creamed in seconds and was a joy to work with. unlike the brisee where all i did was fight with it.

dough03but back to the brisée – the whole thing was a mess, starting with my not-soft-enough butter. like, how i finished making my dough, had it all wrapped and stacked… and realized i had forgotten an egg. rather than just let it go, my stubborn self added the egg back in at the very last step. the dough had a hard time absorbing any more liquid… so… we’ll see how this crust turns out. i’m sure it’ll taste fine, but i’m still going to make another batch, because i want to do it right.

but its okay – it was my first time baking in a month! plus it keeps me humble.

dough02and look at my dinky and wonderful scale. i would never ever try to bake without one. and note the milk – REAL, fresh milk. not this boxed stuff that so many french people like.

i am curious, though: 1) when baking, does it make a difference which milk you use, boxed or fresh? 2) patisseries/pastry chefs in france, do they used boxed or fresh? 2 i may never know, but for 1, i’ll be experimenting!

anyway, it goes to show, you can make something many times and think you know it very well… but take yourself out of your comfortable environment, (or stop for a few weeks) and it’s a whole new game! with new rules. and i’m more than happy to be playing.

peanutcheesePS: i went to the ocean again yesterday. i can’t get enough of it. 1 hour away from something so beautiful. and this time i pique-niqued with a few friends… with a lovely cheese… with no knife. BUT thankfully one of us had a necklace with a peanut that had a knife hidden in it. so we found a way to slice our cheese!

PPS: the cheese is brebis, made from sheep’s milk. heavenly taste. not-so-heavenly price. but worth it.

posted by cathy in evreux at 3:05pm on october 11th, 2009.


Emyr said...

Boxed milk usually have been processed with that UHT method, where it's heaten and cooled really fast and etc... But I'm not sure if the normal milk goes through the same process. Some things do change, it's noticeable when you're making it (amount of fat, texture, sometimes color and the time it takes to cook or to "turn into yogurt-I don't know the right verb in english" but the final taste has near zero differences. Recipes can be adapted for each milk, in the same way that heavy cream, sour cream, half&half can be adapted with few ingredients. I can't say wich one is used by the patisseries here or in France, but it's more likely that each pastry chef have it's own traditional recipes-and consequently, mostly made for fresh milk, if they adapted to the boxed ones as a consequence of better distribution/ easier to storage etc is still plausible.

I don't cook or bake that oftenly, but I've got used to not using scales... My mother have it at her home, but for day by day things I adapted to cups and spoon close measures, without noticeable side effects.

And finally, I must say that I really enjoy reading your posts, they give me a different perspective about things that I like and yet neglect too much (like cooking). Reading one of your good posts give me the inspiration to try new things at the kitchen( my kitchen is my lab for many things, from adapting dishes to working on new ones from the zero).

cathy said...

@emyr: hi there! thanks for such a nice and informative comment :) good luck with the experimenting in the kitchen, it's always fun to discover and try something new!