All of you who’ve been after me to put up more of my missteps and mistakes — I’ve traditionally demurred as a thorough log would require at least one, if not several more, blogs — today is your day. Yesterday’s Napoleon fiasco is worth noting if only as an illustration of the ways in which pastry-making and architecture are related.
What happened? I attempted to make a batch of Napoleons with a pastry cream of insufficient thickness, is what. Had I stuck with my standard preparation, all might have been well. But no, I had to go and get all fancy with a new French iteration with less starch and more yolks. It came with assurances that it had the stuff to support two stories of pastry. It was creamy and luscious, but turned out not to have the stuff to maintain my structure. Have a look:
See? Laying it on you can see its tendency to run. That doesn’t make it bad. This slightly-runny cream would be wonderful in, say, Paris-Brest. But look how it wants to ooze out in all directions, despite my attempts to shore it up. I pressed ahead anyway since my pastry sheets were already damp.
I knew I was losing integrity at this point, since the top layer was ever-so-slowly trying to slip off. I got all the way to the trimming, hoping to eke out maybe one good Napoleon for a photo, when the whole thing fell apart in a sloppy heap. It happened about a tenth of a second after I took this.
No, I didn’t get a picture of the aftermath. I was too busy cursing like a longshoreman. And I threw the whole thing out in frustration before it occurred to me that my fiasco might have educational value. next time I’ll remember to preserve my screw-ups for posterity. I mean really, why should my wife and daughters be the only witnesses to my failings? There’ll be more where this came from.