See those popovers in the top picture? I've made several patches lately, like, every weekend for breakfast, and they've come out perfectly. Each time, I've worried and fretted upon placing them in the oven, certain they weren't going to puff this time, and then upon gazing into the oven through the little window, discovered, to my utter joy, that no, they actually did puff!
Last week I got the notion to make cream puffs, glorious delicious cream puffs. I found a random recipe online and while I nervously watched them the same way I did the popovers, they puffed perfectly and I began to grow confident.
I checked out Comfort Foods by Jamie Oliver at the library. Remember my reading goals? Well if there's one thing I enjoy reading, it's a well written cookbook. Nigella Lawson's are my favorites. She can make anything sound delicious, even beets and carrot salads. She makes me wish I liked raisins. And, she's British. What's not to love? Jamie Oliver is fun too, though his foods are often a little strange sounding to me. Come to think of it, before this week, I don't know that I've ever cooked any of his recipes, though I've read several of his cookbooks I've gotten at the library. Comfort foods, that sounds great. British comfort foods: yes, just labeling them "British" automatically elevates the comfort level a notch.
So, I tried out his recipe for cream puffs. I made a double recipe because I was planning to print them to little afternoon tea party we were having with some friends. I pulled the batch out of the oven, and sadly, they had.not.puffed. My confidence in my ability to make puffy egg pastries waned a bit and I grew suspicious, but didn't know what to be suspicious of yet. Obviously, I had made a perfect batch last week, so what could have gone wrong this time? Maybe it was the double batch I had made. Maybe I had added an extra cup of flour in when doubling. Maybe it was the recipe...Unfortunately I hadn't followed the recipe to the letter- that could have been my problem. I have trouble following recipes to the letter. I had used water instead of the called for milk, because I had never seen a recipe for choux pastry dough before that called for milk. Well, I decided to give it another try, this time a single batch, and obey Jamie Oliver: just make a single recipe, use milk, and bake it at the suggested oven temperature, even though other recipes I'd looked at suggested a higher temp.
This time the little pastries began to puff a bit, though not as high as I would have liked, and then, when I took them out of the oven, they deflated depressingly within a minute. I tried to fill the little puffs with whipped cream still, but they would have none of it. There was nowhere for the whipped cream to go because they didn't have a big air filled cavity. Dejectedly, I realized I would have no beautiful cream puffs to take to the tea. And I still don't know what/who to blame. I'm sure another minute or two in the oven would have helped, or should I have gone with the higher temperature I've seen other chefs recommend, Alton Brown being one of them? Is it the mile above sea level that wreaked havoc on my recipe?
Instead of a photo of beautiful cream puffs, I'll leave you a picture of Pepper, instead. If ever it were possible for a dog to absorb and learn to appreciate classical music, it is she. I'm curious what it sounds like to her ears. Random noises? Is she as relieved as the rest of us when Gideon begins to learns something new on the piano?