Well this week’s project was more assembly than actual baking, but it was still really fun. My sister loaned us her kitchen torch, so the immediate question was: Well, what can we torch? For a couple of days we looked around for excuses to bring out the torch.
What You Need:
- Cake or brownie (we used brownie, which made it wicked rich, but any fairly hefty cake would work.)
- A pint of your favorite ice cream. (We used chocolate chocolate chip.)
- 4 eggs separated.
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar.
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar (not absolutely necessary, but it does make the egg whites more stable.)
- Cooking spray.
- A smallish mixing bowl. We used a 1 1/2 quart bowl.
- Plastic wrap.
- A spatula
- A whisk or a mixer with a whisk attachment.
- A kitchen torch (your oven broiler will work in a pinch).
- Take your ice cream out of the freezer to soften. Just a little. You don’t want it soupy.
- Cut circles out of your cake/brownie so that you have three layers, each slightly larger than the last. The first should fit in the bottom of your bowl. The second should fit the widest part of your bowl. The third should be in between the two.
- Line your bowl with plastic wrap so that it is flush with the bowl and hangs out the top all the way around. You may need a couple of pieces. Now spray the wrap with the cooking spray to keep your cake from sticking.
- Put the smallest round of cake in the bottom of the bowl. Cover with 1/3 of the ice cream. Place the next disc of cake in the bowl. Cover with the remaining ice cream. Finish with the last cake round.
- Wrap the whole thing in plastic and freeze for at least 4 hours. We left ours for nearly 48. It was fine.
- Whip your egg whites until just foamy with your whisk or your mixer. Add the sugar and cream of tartar and whip until stiff peaks form.
- Remove your cake from the freezer and unmold onto a plate. Unwrap the plastic wrap.
- Working quickly spread the egg whites all over the cake dome, making whatever shapes you like.
- Use your torch to brown the egg whites. Be careful not to burn them!
- Slice and enjoy. You can’t really refreeze this, so eat up!
What we did right: We used flavors we liked and we got to use the kitchen torch we’d been wanting to use.
What we did wrong: Probably I’d use cake not brownie next time. The brownie, while yummy warm, was too hard when it was frozen.
There are several videos online of this process. This one is the best: http://www.marthastewart.com/348729/baked-alaska
This summer we’ve decided to take on a project. We are going to work our way through two baking projects each week all summer. We’re starting with Julia Child’s Baking with Julia both because it’s great and because there are lots of videos to help us along. We’re throwing in a couple of projects from other sources like Nigella Lawson, the CIA, and Martha Stewart.
So this is Week One. We decided to go for it and make croissants from scratch. We’re going to make them first and last to see if we can improve our technique and our product.
This was a very (ahem) ambitious project. I think we both agree that they tasted great, but looked not so great.
What we did right: We followed directions. We made several different kinds. We gave ourselves enough time.
What we did wrong: We didn’t trust our instincts that the dough was too dry. We didn’t stretch the dough enough before rolling the final croissants.
Here’s the butter. Seriously. Whoa.
And this is our first turn.
And finally (24 hrs later) our final croissants. We made chocolate, plain, and almond.
Thank you to all of the students, teachers, and administrators in San Antonio for giving me the chance to talk to you about writing.