Tuesday, November 13, 2007

keeping it real

There will be no photo this time. I'm too embarrassed.

Fueled by my recent bread-making successes, I guess I got a little cocky and a lot careless. I tried the Pain à l'Ancienne again and botched it, resulting in a thin, soft, and mottled crust. So sad. I did a lot of things wrong: I added too much water to the dough, let it sit out too long on the counter, cooked the bread on the lowest rack too far from the heat, didn't put in ice cubes for steam. Ugh.

But today, I really made a mess. I wanted to make this apple and goat cheese tart I saw on foodbeam. Seemed easy enough and I thought I could throw it together quickly while my son ate dinner. Boy, I was wrong. Here are a few of my follies:

- wrong dough. I was in a hurry and I didn't know the German name for puff pastry. I tried to guess by the package pictures. Eliminating pizza dough (that was easy), I selected Kuchenteig with the picture of baked apricots with some sort of crust. I don't know what I bought, but it sure wasn't puff pastry. It was more like cardboard.

- wrong apples. My default baking apple, Granny Smiths, are hard to come by here. And I forgot the recipe called for Pink Ladys (which are a little rare around Zurich right now, although I did see them at Jelmoli today). So this time I asked the farmer's market vendor for a good baking apple. He sold me Boskop, about which I later read this lovely quote: "It is of good size but does not rank high in quality; the texture is somewhat coarse, and the flavor rather too acid for an agreeable dessert apple." I expected the apples to bake down, carmelize, hold their shape. Instead, they fluffed up like puff pastry (at least something fluffed up) and the peels popped off and burnt. They actually tasted quite good but the texture was bizarre.

- frozen cheese. I bought the goat cheese a couple days ago and in that time, it had jostled its way to the back of the fridge. My old skool fridge has temperature issues: the bottom is practically room temp, while anything that touches the back wall freezes. So I went to slice the cheese and the back half of it was frozen. However, it didn't make much difference since it all melted in the oven.

- soft ball instead of sauce. I never trust a recipe on the first time round, so of course, turned up the heat on the sugar/butter sauce to help the carmelization process. I've made lots of tarte tatins and I figured this was what the recipe wanted (although it specifically said, cook on low!). I looked away for a couple minutes and the sauce had suddenly turned into soft-ball caramel candy, which is not very easy to pour over a tart.

Aaaaaaah. I wish I was the type of cook that could go "off book." But I must tediously follow each recipe instruction to the letter with no distractions to get any decent result. So much to learn, so little time.

1 comment:

Astrid said...

Oh dear, sounds like a painful experience.
Just so you know, it's Blätterteig (I'm sure you know this web site, but if you don't, it's a great source for translating to and from German: http://dict.leo.org/?lang=de&lp=ende. You can see the expression "puff pastry" at the bottom of the article on "puff")
But then again, you'd have to have access to it from the supermarket!)

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