In the first part of this story, I began to tell you about my adventures in making Gateau St Honore for the first time — a complicated, multi-stage dessert. In January, I was making the puff pastries in advance, as a trial run, to ensure that on Valentine’s Day the whole thing would come off without a hitch. Only problem was that on my first attempt at making puff pastry, I discovered that the inside of each puff was raw…
I’ve spent the time cooking these things, and when they’re done, I open up each one while they’re still hot. Let me describe what the inside of these puffs really look like. Once I split them open, I find a lump of uncooked batter that smells suspiciously (very strongly) of eggs. It resembles scrambled eggs, in fact.
So I diligently scrape out the scrambled eggs, as the Julia Child recipe says I will have to. I scrape it with my fingers, from each and every puff (1). It’s disgusting. It is so grim, in fact, that we eat a few of them and throw the rest of the trial batch in the garbage.
Distressed, I call my mother long distance. My mother can be difficult. One area where I can generally talk to her (and not get into an argument) is on the subject of food. She’s a good cook. She has 20 years more cooking experience than I do. And she’s from the south shore of Nova Scotia so she’s got this “easiest is best” mindset.
Mother says: “Use the recipe in the Purity Flour Cook Book.”
She always says this. When in doubt, use this book. It’s like my grandmother, who says “put a little ozonol on it,” like that’ll solve all problems. Rash, heartburn, broken arm. Well, if you’re my mother (let’s call her Sherri, since that is her name), well if you’re Sherri, you use the Purity Cook Book to solve all of life’s problems.
I try to argue with her that the four remaining recipes I have (including Purity) are identical – all include more flour than Julia (therefore the batter would arguably be less eggy). And I figured if I made the puffs smaller the second time, I’d solve the scrambled-eggs-centre problem.
But Sherri is insistent that the Purity book is old fashioned, and therefore more reliable. What about my collected Gourmet edition I’d gotten for Christmas? What about the new edition of the Joy of Cooking? No, Sherri says, stick with Purity.
She then says something snarky like “I’ve made almost every recipe in that book, including the pickles. And every single one of them has worked out.”
Well, doesn’t that sound like a challenge? Maybe one day I’ll take a page from The Julie/Julia Project, and I’ll make every recipe in the Purity Flour Cook Book just to see if my mother might be exaggerating. Maybe someday, but not today.
I did use the Purity recipe on Valentine’s Day to make the cream puffs (2). I’m sure it’s the same as the Joy of Cooking or Gourmet. But really, I had to do what my mother told me to do.
I might be 40, but I’m not stupid.
Stay tuned… in Part 3 you’ll get to see all of the pictures of the cake as it’s being made and assembled… and I’ll let you know my plans for Valentine’s Day this year 🙂
As always, I’d love to hear your feedback.
You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks and bon appetit!
Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef