In Praise of Odds and Ends

Not terribly often, but often enough that it bears remarking upon, I get comments that this or that recipe has created “leftovers”. I do my best to avoid that, especially in cases of spare materials that don’t freeze well. Pastry cream springs to mind. That said, there’s much to be said in favor of leftovers, especially if you engage in the pastry arts with any regularity. A few cups of random buttercreams, some poured fondant, bits and pieces of various cakes, even crumbs can come in handy for who-knows-what.

This week’s recipe is case in point. The base of my little mousse cake is made of génoise, but all I need is a small disk of it, a circle maybe four inches across. It’s a little silly to go and make a full sheet of génoise if I’m only going to use that much. As it happened I had a couple of pieces stashed away in the chest freezer in the basement. Sure they were a bit past their prime, about three months old, but still quite serviceable. And frozen, they were easy to cut. The joconde I made from scratch even though I had a little of that hanging around as well.

My point is that it’s always a good idea to make a little more of whatever you happen to be making. Speaking for myself, if I want to try a recipe that calls for one cake layer, I’ll make at least one more. If I need one sheet of sponge cake, especially a fussy one like joconde, I’ll do two, since who knows when I’ll have the patience to make it again? It’s a habit that keeps my low-temperature larder full of base materials that can be pressed into service at a moment’s notice.

And that’s important, because the fancier the pastry I want to make, the more component materials I need. And who wants to have to make all that stuff from scratch over and over again? These days, when I look over a fancy pastry parts list I’m not nearly as intimidated as I once was. Ah yes, I have some of those choux shells already made I think. I’ll swap some thin-sliced yellow cake for the génoise and beat a little raspberry jam into the buttercream from last month — done!

It’s one more way to make your home kitchen feel and perform more like a professional pastry kitchen, where there’s always a lot of interesting stuff hanging around, waiting to be used.

One thought on “In Praise of Odds and Ends”

  1. It also helps to share with more groups to make 2 or 3 times the recipe instead of 2 or 3 recipes. Less work and time. I do the same. I hate waste and I’ll figure out something to make with leftovers or use them for enhancements on things I am baking. Just made cake crumb cookies from half a pound cake that was less than stellar as a cake but made great cookies. The other part ended up with some berries as a cake based bread pudding instead of the more traditional brioche or Italian bread cubes. Love finding ways to make leftovers work for me!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *