Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Attempting the Art of French Cooking: Reine de Saba with Crème au Beurre, Ménagère

So my copy of Mastering The Art of French Cooking by Julia Child is due back to the library. (Side note: It's very strange to check out a cookbook from the library, it creates extra pressure not to get the pages dirty).

I've enjoyed my three weeks of challenging cooking, and I've learned a lot, although I've focused more on the baking then on de-boning ducks and sucking out bone marrow.

So, I've made Le Marquis with Glaçage au Chocolat, Supremes de Volialle a la Milanaise with Beurre Noisette and Choux Broccoli Etuves au Beurre, and Clafouti aux Myrtilles.

This most recent recipe is very similar to the first cake I made and already I see my skills have improved because my technique in many ways improved, most notably my egg white beating a la Julia Child. (I know understand why Julie Powell's book about cooking Julia Child recipes chose to use an image of beaten egg whites)

If you click on the picture to the right you will notice some beautiful stiff peaks that were perfect for giving this chocolate almond cake the body that needed. It cooked up well, not flat and skinny like the last cake.

This cake was unique too, because I don't think I've ever made a cake where I mixed nuts into the batter. Because of the whipped yolk and the way the recipe's put together the nuts, even though I could have made them smaller, were completly suspended in the batter and mixed in evenly.

This cake, was kind of like a decadent brownie texture, with crushed almonds mixed through out. Yum.

And because we made a chocolate frosting on the first cake, we made one of Julia's butter cream frostings...this recipe, the first of three is by far the easiest, the other two look almost harder to make then the cake. But the frosting, while good, is not like any butter cream I've ever had, because it is so buttery. In fact, it's mostly butter, and eggs yolks actually.

My wife did an exquisite job frosting the cake and decorating, I think Julia would be pleased, and if she wasn't it's okay, because we were. The cake was delightful.

Certainly one of the most time consuming cakes I've ever made before, yet delightful experience. My wife and I made "Julia Cooking" into a date, and the process was as fun as savoring the delicious rich flavor of this chocolate almond cake, Reine de Saba.


AK said...

First I want to say that when I saw the first picture of the dessert I didn't know if it was actually yours or the picture from the cookbook! That looked like it came from a bakery. Well done Kim.

Also, did you hand whip the eggs? If so, I grovel at your feet. That is NOT a fun task (but should be attempted by all bakers at least once in their lives!)

I know that French cooking is the EXACT opposite of your preferred method (structure versus "free-form"), so I am very impressed with your work on these recipes. Every entry I read makes me want to ask Anthony for The Art of French Cooking, but I'm afraid he'll make me get rid of another cookbook and I'm not sure I'm ready to do that...

RC said...

Yes AK!!! Those egg whites are hand whipped --- whew! It's exhausting --- but honestly, Julia has good advice --- it's all the wrist, you wear yourself out in the shoulder if you do it wrong.