It’s been a grip since I last posted, and I have been itching to get back at it. Work has been grueling and has turned me into a person incapable of resting. I have decided to use it for good instead of evil. In that spirit, and in the spirit of being jealous of the home cooks of the Great British Baking Show, I have made this treat using a mixture of some recipes I utilized during my time at Green Zebra and Spring.
I first started by thinly slicing some organic (which I only mention, because you are using the zest and what not, so maybe avoid the chemicals?) lemons, and simmering them in a simple syrup made with sugar and a nice floral honey. Once the pith starts going clear on you, you can pull them out (save the syrup for later) and lay them on a sugar lined baking sheet and toss them in the oven set on low 200 degrees F. You basically want to dehydrate them.
Next, I got the Chiffon going (Set the oven to 325 Degrees F):
3/4 C-All Purpose Flour
1/2 C-Pastry Flour
1/4 t-Baking Soda
1/4 C- Oil
5- Egg Whites
Rub a spring form pan with oil and dust with flour. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the oil and water in as well. Whisk the egg yolks on high until they are fluffy and pale yellow. They will stand up for a few seconds when you pull the whisk out. This is called ribbon stage, which is fancy. Pour it over the thick pasty batter, and rinse your bowl and whisk with hot water to move any trace of the fat from the yolks. Get your whites whisking to firm peak, and while that is happening, carefully fold the yolks into the batter to lighten it up. Once those are mostly incorporated, you can begin folding in your whites. Start with a third, to further lighten it, as a sacrifice, and then fold in the remaining three quarters just until incorporated. Pour the mixture into your lined pan, and put the cake in the oven. Bake until the top is domed and makes a crunchy fall leaves sound when you gently pat it. I topped mine with some granola for some extra texture, because I can’t keep anything simple. I cooled it to room temp, wrapped it and tossed it in the freezer to make it easier to slice.
I sliced a pint of blackberries in half for some color and zing.
Next, while the cake was chilling, I prepared my Bavarois, which is what non-Americans call Bavarian Cream, which before culinary school I previously only knew as doughnut filling. It is basically a créme anglaise with gelatin and whipped cream folded in at the end.
3 C- Cream
2/3 C- Sugar
2 C- Milk
Lemon Zest of 2 Lemons
Small pinch of Salt
I zested the Lemons, and scraped 1/2 Vanilla Bean Pod into the Milk in a small sauce pan on the stove. I separated my yolks into a medium bowl. I measured my sugar and set that aside as well. I kind of hate powdered gelatin, and I don’t have a lot of experience with it. I am mostly used to using leaf gelatin, but leaf gelatin is hard to find for commoners like me these days. I mixed the powdered gelatin in with just enough water to dissolve it. I heated it in very small increments in the microwave and stirred it in between, until it was no longer grainy. I covered it with plastic wrap and set it aside.
I whipped my cream until just before firm peak, and put it in the fridge til later.
Next, I heated the milk on low heat until it started to steam, at which point I whisked the sugar into the yolks. When the milk starts to foam up I poured about 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the sugar yolks and whisked it together. I added a little more, re-whisked and then poured all of the yolk mixture into the remaining hot milk in the pot and began whisking regularly. You will want to watch it for any signs of curdling, but you want to allow it to thicken slightly to almost a chocolate syrup texture.
This is where I am going to be honest in spite of myself. Mine started to curdle slightly. My thoughts are that possibly the zest had some affect on it, but this is purely non-scientifically based. In reality, I probably am just out of practice. While I am being honest, it has been years since I have made an anglaise, although, I used to make them 5 days a week. Never fear though, I was able to emulsify the mixture back together with my stick blender after I yanked it off the heat. I also took this moment to blend in the gelatin.
At this point, I made an ice bath in my sink and poured the goop through a mesh strainer into a stainless steel bowl and whisked it until cool. I waited a little too long, and mine was a little bit hard to incorporate my cream once the time came, so I would say that if you cool it to the point where it is no longer warm you are good. You don’t want to give the gelatin too much of a chance to firm up, because it gets lumpy. You see, I make ALL of the mistakes so you don’t have to! I am such a saint.
Now fold in 1/3 of the cream into the goop. That sacrifice will lighten the mix so it is easier to keep the fluffiness of the rest when you chuck it in next. Fold it in carefully just until incorporated.
After that I lined a round bottomed bowl with plastic wrap because I was afraid that my bavarois wouldn’t come out cleanly. In retrospect, it was stupid, because the end result was as crinkle-y as I had worried it would be. Next time, I would have just stuck with greasing the bowl as i first thought. I popped my lemon slices into the bottom.
Then I was like, heck toss in my blackberry halves too!
I scooped in some of the bavarois and spread it out over the fruit.
I popped the cake out of the freezer and cut it in half. I decided at this time, that there really was no need for the bottom half, because there really wasn’t enough bavarian cream for all that cake. I rewrapped the bottom half and refroze it for later fat-kid moments of weakness. I trimmed the granola-y top down so it’d fit nicely on top of the fruit covered in bav. I gave some clearance so it wouldn’t show through the cream.
I filled a piping bag with the remainder of the cream, and piped around it. Then I poked some holes into the chiffon.
I drizzled the slightly (pleasantly) bitter lemon honey syrup over the cake, because why not? You’re making a fancy dessert for no one but you and your husband on a Wednesday, so go nutz!
Next, I lined the drizzled cake with the remainder of my blackberry halves.
I piped the rest of the cream over the top of it all and smoothed it out. Next, I pulled the flaps of plastic taught over the top of the whole thing. Tapped the bowl and tried, unsuccessfully to get out all of the air bubbles, and tossed it in the freezer for a few hours.
Once I was fairly positive that the whole thing was set, I unveiled it to Eric. It was pretty strange looking with all of the wrinkles, which I was less than stoked about.
It still looked pretty neat though. My first instinct was, holy too much gelatin. There was no wobble, but also it was mostly frozen.
I sliced into it with a little difficulty, owing to the lemon slices, which I will admit, were mostly there for cute factor.
I have to admit, it was pretty alright. My finished product resembled my vision pretty accurately. My pastry experience and instincts didn’t disappoint me too much.
Also, it is pretty tasty. Alas, I am my own worst critic, and I always have things I would change. Always.
I’d try the Japanese-mandolin (eep!!) to try to get them even thinner, and after I simmered them, I’d have quartered them, so I could scatter them more broadly.
I was pretty happy with this, but I’d zest even more lemon in and omit the granola. I never can just leave something alone. There is always an “and then…”. I’d also do another layer, but less chunky, for aesthetic.
I’d cut the gelatin in half. I think something was off with my conversion from leaf gelatin to the powder. I can taste the cow hooves and bones. I think the end result would have been much lighter and fluffier with less, and would have still held together under refrigeration. The lemon needed to get amped up as well. I think the amount of zest was fine, but I would have added a tiny amount of extract if I had it. Also, I definitely wouldn’t have lined the bowl. It was such a bummer to see all those wrinkles after working for most of an afternoon to make a neat dessert.
Other than all of those things, I am a pretty happy camper.
Now who wants dessert? Anyone? Anyone?