Update 32: New Year's Goal: Become an "official" Gourmess by August 2010

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate. --Julia Child

Here we are at update 32, on August 1.  Only a month to go before I'm 32... I think I will be finishing on time -- if not earlier.  After this session, I have less than 10 recipes to go!!

The first Demonstration for Session 23: Génoise was La Génoise (Sponge Cake).  First, I lightly buttered and floured an 8 inch cake pan and cut an 8-inch circular piece of parchment so that it would fit inside, and then put it in the fridge to chill.  

I filled a saucepan with a bit of water and brought to a boil, then immediately removed from the heat.  Next, I set a heatproof bowl in the saucepan, making sure the water didn't touch the bottom of the bowl.  The bowl had a mixture of sugar and room temperature eggs (5 of them).  I whisked the mixture over the heat until it doubled in volume and formed a ribbon when I lifted it from the bowl.  It had become pale yellow, too.  I removed the bowl from the heat and whisked it for another minute and then slowly sifted in some cake flour, folding it into the mixture with a spatula--working carefully so not to create lumps.  Then, once all the flour was mixed in, I added some melted butter, mixed it a bit more and then poured the batter into the cake pan (once removed from the fridge, of course).  The book says to spin the pan slightly to even out the batter which will help the cake rise evenly.

The cake went into a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes--until it starts to pull away from the edges, is golden brown and sturdy/springy when lightly touched in the center.  When it was ready, I removed it from the oven and inverted it onto a wire rack.  I let out a huge sigh of relief when the whole thing came out of the pan in one piece.  (Usually, this is where my cake falls apart.)  I carefully pulled off the parchment paper and let the cake cool.

Once it had cooled, I cut it in even layers, moistened each layer with simple syrup (Sirup Simple is the next Demonstration for this session -- but we made it already in Session 20 so this time it was easy.) and then frosted it with buttercream icing.

Thinking about the last Demonstration for this session: Crème au Beurre (Buttercream) makes me a bit queasy.  One pound, three ounces is a LOT of butter.  I beat it into a pommade (beurre en pommade is butter softened at room temperature without melting or separating and beaten until light and fluffy) and set aside. Then, I put sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed pot and brought to a boil over high heat, cooking it to the soft ball stage (about 240 degrees) and set aside. I whisked 6 large egg yolks until very pale yellow and then continuing to whisk, added in the sugar syrup in a steady stream. Then, I beat the mixture for about 10 minutes more, until it had cooled and was smooth.  Then, still beating constantly, added in the butter a bit at a time until it was all added and creamy and smooth.  At this point, it tasted like buttery sugar.  I added in my flavoring -- pure vanilla extract, and mixed that in, then iced the cake. (Reminder: I am the Gourmess -- this is as good as it is going to get. No fancy icing tricks for me.)

I almost wish I hadn't iced the cake.  The book says "a properly made génoise should be light, buttery, and delicate with a dry crumb"-- check, check, and check! It was so delicious--moist and spongy-- that adding the buttery, rich icing just put it over the top. If left to sleepwalking or my own devices, I could have stood at the kitchen island and devoured the entire cake in one sitting. So, Chris and I each had a piece and then I promptly made us throw it out.

After all, I am turning 32 soon and I cannot have a huge derrière! ;)

On to Session 24: Frozen Desserts and Meringues!

Sweet dreams!