Week Six - Soufflés
I have heard that soufflés can be a bit tricky, but watching the video I am full of confidence, how hard can it be, it pops up and it's cheesy.
The roux method seems to be nice and easy. My medium peaks hold in the egg whites and it looks like a Christmas scene. I feel confident folding in the egg whites into the roux (I haven't added any nutmeg because I don't like it, but I love cheese and my wife Sian is looking forward to having a meal cooked for her).
I pop it into the oven and then I started to feel a little unsure. I have used two large moulds instead of four small ones as the recipe asks as I can't find any - but it all seemed to be going well nevertheless.
I take them out and they wobble, are soufflés meant to have a wobble? Sian resoundingly says, no.
In they go again, how do you tell when they are done? Sian says I shouldn't keep opening the oven door as they will fall.
It's at this point I realise maybe they need something to accompany them for dinner, so beans and mash are hurriedly put on.
OK, the soufflés are kind of golden on the top and have risen, that must mean they’re done! Out came two lovely risen soufflés. I turned the dishes out but they stuck fast. The moment I try to free them from the moulds, both promptly deflate like popped balloons into shrivelled blobs at the bottom of the moulds. These blobs are scrapped out and consist of a nice (and very tasty) crust; a slimy (but still tasty) middle, and bottoms that will forever be stuck to the moulds – bum!
Week Five - Walnut Cake
I am not really one for cakes or for Walnuts, but this is one that the kids would love.
This time I decided to read the instructions before watching the video…
Making the cake mix went well - although my mix didn’t go a creamy white so I was mildly concerned. All was in the oven in no time at all.
Then the strawberries - that was a little messier. Mine were a little over-ripe - great for squeezing through the sieve but not great for slicing. I might as well have been trying to cut them with a spoon - things got very messy.
The cream took no time to make - I really like this bake, at least until it was time to test the cake. I stabbed it with a knife but it did not come out clean…back into the oven. I continued to check every couple of minutes for the next 15 minutes, getting increasingly more concerned. What do we mean by clean? The knife didn’t look dirty, but it did have moisture on, and it had been like that for some time. I gave up and took out the cake - which then proceeded to take ages to cool down - way past the kids bedtime - so much for their treat. After they went to bed I put it together and I must say it looked good.
The next day the kids got to try it. I thought it was actually delicious (apart from the filling as the strawberries were squishy and a bit flavourless). I have put on a few pounds on this one as I ate most of the cake. The kids tried it and Alex liked it, Oli wasn't impressed, but I think they've just decided they don't like my food, Sian said it was a bit over cooked but seeing as the last one contained pasta and herbs, this was much improved. My mother-in-law enjoyed it too!
Week Four - Pastry
So that we can eat it for dinner tomorrow, I am doing my first school day bake. I will make the pastry tonight and fill and cook it tomorrow - fingers crossed.
I like the look of this dish so much that I have decided to cook two lots - one for me and one for my family. I feel confident enough to break out the port. :)
The dough doesn’t fit on my clingfilm and I haven’t got the right type of tin to make it in, hopefully it will still cook OK. Oops, the pastry is a bit too small for the pie dish, quick patching up, no-one will notice.
Looks OK as far as I can tell…
A confident start. Both pastries are looking good. I have put two lots of everything out.
The leaves and cheese are in the cases ready for the liquid to be added- but they take up too much space. Something is wrong. Check the video - I have it all correct. Sian asks if I have read the instructions … there are instructions? I just watch the video each week. I check... it seems I am meant to cook the leaves - bum.
It takes forever to separate the leaves and cheese. Separation complete, I’m amazed how long it takes to separate grated cheese from chard and the pastry case. The instructions say it is meant to soufflé, does that mean it’s going to try and climb out of the tin? After staring at it for a while I decide to put it back in the oven for a bit. Everything else seems to go smoothly.
I loved it; Sian liked it; Oil loved the cheese but really did not like the greens or the pastry; Alex spat it out…dramatically.
Week Three - Dim Sum
Brought down to earth right at the start – I am not good enough yet to crack eggs straight into the flour. It's hunt the shell time again – yay!
The pasta dough seemed really easy to make however I forgot to cook the mushrooms… ho hum.
Ok, the pasta roller is great but I am struggling to get the nice smooth shine, it's quite sticky. Maybe it is because of the grainy brown flour, maybe because I forgot to add the cornflour, maybe both - who knows!
Cut my losses on this one and start again with some white flour.
Attempt 2 – the paste looks good, but ends up very long – longer than the space I have – oops :) I have stopped at setting 6 due to a lack of space and arms.
Making the sauce was quite relaxing.
Oli – thumbs up but only wants one.
Alex – bleurch.
Myself and Sian – the dipping sauce was great but next time I need to get the pasta thinner as it ended up slimy and rubbery.
Week Two - Meringue cake
This has got to be perfect as I have not got enough eggs for it to fail. I separated the yolks using the shell (and fingers) with only one puncture – luckily I took the advice of using a spare bowl!
The meringue whisked up so quickly that I thought I had got it wrong, but no – lovely peaks, and even better with the sugar in.
I spent ages gently scooping it onto my baking sheets and it is now safely in the oven. While the Meringue is doing its crazy long cooking, the ganache is now melting on the hob. It turns from lumpy cream into chocolate ganache really suddenly.
A couple of hours later and the meringue is looking good. What I thought was the easy bit, the ganache, has not thickened at all however – let's call it chocolate gravy (even after some fridge time). The meringue has cooled really quickly so I'm going to assemble it. I pour over the chocolate and the caramel and it pours out of the sides and all over the baking sheet (I haven't got any plates big enough to hold it).
The cake is crunchy on the outside with a nice chew in the middle. Thumbs up from my youngest son! :)
Week One - Brioche
The bake started well with only a slight hurdle, which was when I realised I was using dried, not fresh yeast and deftly scooped some back out of the mix - phew!
Fishing out bits of egg shell turned out to be a surprisingly slow process.
I was surprised at how quiet the machine was - 20 minutes later and my gloop was a bit runny so I added more flour, so far so good.
Spreading the mix on the paper, I wondered if the extra flour was a bad decision – my mix seemed somewhat firm. There were a few lumpy bits but I hoped they would simply cook out.
Ah – a slight mishap, I might have forgotten something important - a cooking box. It looks like my masterpiece may have to be a different shape to Raymond's.
My mix is still sticky. I placed it on a marble slab and in the fridge to let the cold work its magic.
Erm… it seems that there are two sides to grease proof paper – and I used the wrong one!
…… 30 mins later …….
A sigh of relief - It looks, cuts and tastes good!
Stu works to protect our environment for his day job, but it seems it’s his family’s taste buds that are in real jeopardy. When it comes to the kitchen, the father of two has all the enthusiasm, but none of the skill; as demonstrated by his recent baking attempt. Realising key ingredients were missing for his cake recipe, Stuart decided to substitute sugar with herbs, naturally, and mixed in dried coffee granules for flavour. And for added texture, he thought it only reasonable to add dried pasta. Stu, known for regularly dying his moustache an array of vibrant colours, has even managed to burn jelly! He hopes the Kenwood Disaster Chef competition will encourage his family to lift his ban from the kitchen.