Best brownies

So Paul Hollywood got hold of Dorie Greenspan’s brownie recipe and “fixed” it. I’m not sure why he felt the need to fix her recipe since on the whole, I think her recipes are pretty damn good but since I also think he’s more attractive, I went with his version.

I didn’t do any kind of research to see what he changed but I figured, it’s Paul Hollywood, how bad could it be? And since I was having dinner with a certified chocolate lover I made his recipe (see it here), sent to me by my friend Sharon. I followed the recipe exactly which is pretty unlike me, including trudging over to the Chocolate Sommelier to purchase cocoa nibs and milk chocolate chips which apparently are “absolute necessities” in this recipe.

I have to say, they were excellent. Excellenter when I made the leftovers into ice cream sandwiches with salted caramel ice cream.

Paul, call me to discuss.

Paul Hollywood vs Dorie Greenspan, you decide

The Great Egg White Menace

I have run with the bulls, scuba dived with hammerhead sharks, made macaroons and now . . . macarons. I thought macaroons were hideous nightmares. OMG. Still a part of the great egg white disposal. After the last disaster some know-it-all emailed me to tell me that I was not making macaroons, they were macarons. One is the coconut cookie (which is what I had made) and the other is the French egg white and almond flour cookie. She was pretty insistent until I googled for proof and she got off her high horse. This was not the Royal Indian Mounted Police but some other self important former mounted advertising traffic terrorizer who will remain nameless (Ann White). So the gauntlet was thrown, I just had to make macarons.

Jesus H Christ. What a hideous hoopla. Adding to which, I had no idea what I was doing, as is my wont. Whipping egg whites, refining almond flour, piping (I had a piping bag, I have no idea why, I have never done this before), and then baking . . . oh and then removing them from the parchment. O H. M Y. G O D. What a crazy hell. They would not be removed. They’d been bonded to the paper. Eventually after I’d nearly lost my mind in an unusually restrained display of strangled yelping and tortured hand wringing, I had the idea to freeze them and peel the paper off, necessity being the mother of invention. That worked and there was much self congratuliciousness. But these were not lovely pastel colored macarons like they have in France. These were droopy sticky miseries. They tasted fine, I do not have the most discriminating of palate and there was lemon curd in them, after all, but Paul Hollywood would not have approved.

Macarons (mac uh roh) vs Macaroons (mack uh roons)

Crumbs and crumbles

I had 3 chocolate cake layers in my freezer and since I will do a little entertaining over the holiday season, I need to get some crap out of there. I started with them. As you can see there was an issue with the “bake,” as Paul Hollywood would say. I believe they were a little over-baked, some more than others…the cakes at the back of the oven get baked quicker because the temperature on this brand new oven that I paid 600 billion dollars for, is uneven. 

I often give my cakes a “crumb coat” of frosting which keeps the crumbs contained in a thin layer of frosting which is briefly refrigerated and then refrosted without the unsightly crumbs embedded in the outer frosting. 

In this case we’re going to call it a “crumble layer.” The damn thing was falling apart. I smooshed chunks into the middle layer and spackled on the frosting to keep it all together and threw it into the refrigerator before I frosted it again. It looked a tad lopsided but it tasted fine and I didn’t have Paul Hollywood here to tell me the “bake” wasn’t quite what it ought to be. 

I am so sorry Julia

Can you ever forgive me?

I have tried about 40 different ways of making French bread but somehow I never thought to ask Julia Child. She was there all the time. And it was the perfect loaf (almost). Cook’s Complicated indeed. Paul Hollywood, whatever. How did I not come to her first?

That I have not thought to try her recipe and method is astonishing in that I have all of her cookbooks, watch and rewatch her shows. I have read the books she wrote, the letters she wrote (collected in book form), the books written about her. I dream that I meet her and for some reason always thought I would meet her in real life. That did not happen. And I imagine I will not meet Jacques Pepin either. I am sure we’d have been friends. Julia and/or Jacques, I’m not fussy. Well, I am fussy but not about that.

The bread I made was easy enough. Relied on visuals rather than specific times and she explains things in an easy to understand way. It really came out nicely with a crispy crackly crunch like French  bread but the interior, called “the crumb,” was too dense. Not light and airy enough. It was delicious but just a bit off the mark crumb-wise.

There actually are some people I call “the Crumb” but we won’t get into that now.

You can watch her video here. I miss her.

Off my meds

I’m gonna goddam make a loaf of French bread that tastes like it was made in France if it kills me…or until I am forcibly committed whichever comes first. And you probably won’t have to force me I’ll go willingly, I’ll freaking skip into the asylum (but in a masculine way).

These are 2 different attempts using 2 different methods. One is Paul Hollywood’s method, the other Cook’s Complicated, er, Illustrated, well, America’s Test Kitchen anyway, same diff. Neither require a lot of kneading. One rises in a couche, the other on a French loaf pan. One uses a 6 to 24 hour proofed yeast, the other just yeast. One used “strong flour” the other just plain ol,’ They rest for different amounts of time but basically they are very similar. Both require steam in the oven.

And yet, they were pretty much the same and neither one is like a French baguette. They were good but no crispy, crunchy crust with a light and airy crumb, as it were. They both had a chewy crust and a dense crumb.

Get used to it. I’m on a mission.