Wednesday Vignette – belated, and some things we learned.

So, Christmas happened. We had invited about twice the number of people our table could comfortably hold and were scrambling to finish all the cooking and rearranging of seating. Both Tuesday night and Wednesday slipped by in a whirl without me posting. Apologies for that. Being that this was the epicenter of the Holidays for so many of us, I didn’t think anyone would mind much, as I imagine most who might read my weekly musings would probably be just as busy as we were. Anyway, there is a Swedish saying that goes something like “if there is heart room, there is butt room”. (Om det finns hjärterum så finns det stjärterum.) This Christmas operated on that principle. Our Christmas was crowded but fun and wonderful – which was fun for a change. So often, it’s just us, so this was a nice change.

We wanted to try something new this year, and push ourselves a little. We decided to channel our inner, dormant pastry chefs, and picked a chocolate raspberry cake out of the Cordon Bleu book on Complete Cooking Techniques. Luckily this particular book tells you everything you need to know, and it was admittedly fun to learn something new.

Cordon Blue Gateau des Deux Pierre

This is the recipe and the ribbon making instructions. Thank heavens for those! And for the magic of silicone baking mats…

Gateau des Deux Pierre

This is our result. In retrospect, we should have made the ribbons thinner to make them more pliable—like those in the perfect book picture. We tried to diffuse our own rather stiff and imperfect chocolate ribbons with raspberries and mint leaves, which are obviously absent in the cool elegance of the book photo. The raspberries in that cake are contained in the interior – fresh as well as in the form of Chambord.

Things we learned from this:

  1. The sponge was a bit dry, despite being drenched with simple syrup, mashed raspberries and Chambord. Wonder why…?
  2. Good tools are essential and can make any attempt easier. An offset spatula goes on the wish list for next year.
  3. There is chocolate, and then there is CHOCOLATE. Know exactly what you’re buying. I bought a good brand, but it was WAY too pure and dark for our application. In my holiday rush, I didn’t think much of what it was going to be used for – I just grabbed the last one off the shelf, without much thought. We had to add vanilla sugar to make the mousse palatable. Turned out well in the end, but added an extra step and some scrambling to adjust the bitter taste.

Still, we were happy with our accomplishment. And now, I want to bake other pretty, delectable things, because it was really fun to do. This could become a dangerous new distraction…

Hope you are all enjoying the various treats of the Season. Happy Holidays!

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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14 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – belated, and some things we learned.

  1. Grace says:

    I think yours looks BETTER than the example in the book. It sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas. Here’s to a happy 2020.

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks Grace! 🙂 Yes, here is to a 2020 we can all be proud of. I think it will take guts, determination, some sacrifice and perseverance, and definitely some introspection about what we value as a specie and as a nation. I HAVE to believe that we can get our collective shit together before all hope is lost.

  2. Kris P says:

    Imperfect or not, I’m very impressed by both the effort and the visual delivery. Tweaking it on the back end to fit the taste buds of your guests is to be expected. (I bought an expensive chocolate-raspberry mousse cake for my guests and its taste was only so-so.) I can’t wait to see your future products. I’m glad you enjoyed a joyful celebration!

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks, Kris! What a bummer that your cake was not what you thought you paid for. I suppose that is one undeniable benefit of making it yourself, even if it doesn’t look quite as professional. I can tell you that this little exercise makes me admire the contestants in The Great British Baking Show even more than I already do. And, with guests about to arrive as we scrambled to finish it, I think I can fairly say that we got a taste of the kind of stress levels they experience too. We’re not quite ready for prime time yet… LOL!

  3. bergstromskan says:

    Yes, yours looks much better than the original, and I am sure it tasted at least as good. Your family make a skilled team, Anna. Congratulations

  4. linda says:

    That is beautiful , and much better than the one in the book !

  5. We are attempting to wind down 🙂

  6. annamadeit says:

    We are too. We were incredibly lazy the day after our party, but I think that was alright. I think we earned a day of total leisure!

  7. Your cake looks fantastic, I’m sure it was delicious. We also celebrated with more people than usual this year. It does make a nice change.

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks, Jason – it was so much fun! The next day we all rested, ate fabulous leftovers, and built a jigsaw puzzle. The cake was pretty good, but next time, I will choose a less dark chocolate for the mousse. Wasn’t paying attention when I bought the chocolate, and the recipe didn’t specify what to get. I had to sweeten it quite a bit to make it palatable. Lesson learned. And, an offset spatula goes on my wishlist for next year. I think the chocolate would have been easier to work with, with more suitable tools. 🙂

  8. annamadeit says:

    It was lovely, thank you! And yes, a house full of people was so much fun. Don’t get me wrong – I love hanging with my family, but when it’s just us, even if it’s special, it still doesn’t really feel all that different from any other weekend. Having company kicked it up a notch – or two. 🙂

  9. hb says:

    Very impressive baking! If it is chocolate it is my favorite. Happy New Year to you, and let us hope 2020 is a good one.

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