Life's better with cake and a sprinkle of fairy dust
I’m starting to get the hang of things. Mondays to Fridays, I start the mornings sitting in lectures on the science of baking. For the better half of the day, I slave in a kitchen alongside other students mostly a decade younger than I am. I’ve suffered burns on hot trays and scrubbed my fair share of stainless steel mixing bowls.
Weekends should be the time to unwind, but the bakeaholic in me will not desist. Between catching up on housework and scrubbing stubborn stains out of my chef whites, I squeeze in time to replicate what I’ve learnt during the week in my home kitchen.
Though the lecturers often encourage experimentation, the rigorous curriculum leaves little time for deviation from the tried-and-tested formulae. Weekends are when I try to find answers to some of the questions that have confounded me during the week.
This weekend I experimented with chocolate short paste.
In school, we made short paste with a butter/ margarine blended fat that, to be honest, tasted quite awful to me. One lecturer would always add some vanilla essence to the short paste, I suspected, to mask the distinctive flavour of the cheap fat used.
The gears started turning in my head. How can I make this different? How can I make it better?
I made the same recipe but replaced 5% of the flour weight with Dutch-processed cocoa powder. Some great things are accidentally invented, but not this one. The short paste was short, alright. So short and crumbly, the tart case actually started to disintegrate while the tart was being assembled. Hence, the unsightly crumbs in the picture. I would have transferred the tart to a nice plate for a picture, but it was so crumbly and delicate, I decided not to risk it and left it in the box instead.
Was I disappointed? Maybe a little. But not enough to stop me from trying again. If anything, this gives me an excuse for another experiment for another weekend.