More adventures in the croft Advent kitchen
Will the Master Baker come to the rescue?
After a course of counselling and esteem building I was ready to open the Advent kitchen again and continue my exploration of Scandinavian Christmas baking. This time I vowed to follow the recipe precisely, and accurately measure and weigh all the ingredients. However, I decided to add the liquid carefully to avoid the sticky dough syndrome. I was ready – clean apron, a perfect mise en place, bowls and utensils ready, recipe to hand and specs on.
Mixing the dough was easy and although I did not add all the milk and butter mixture, it still seemed a little sticky. As the kitchen is a little on the cool I left it to rise for an hour rather than the specified 30 minutes. So far so good. The dough was still stickier than I would have liked, but with a prodigious dusting of flour it was possible to roll it out into the 60 x 15 cm rectangle and spread it with the almond filling. The filling paste of marzipan, butter, ground almonds and beaten egg was sweet enough for my palate so I did not add any extra sugar. Rolling the dough into a cylinder was not for those with more than the average number of thumbs and my kringle wreath looked like a lumpy sausage stuffed into a lisle stocking. The next initiative test was to get the wreath onto the baking tray – the solution was easy two large fish slices and a big palette knife, but the manipulation with only two hands was more tricky. By this time I was having serious doubts and wondered whether it might have been better to let it elegantly slide on to the floor. Undeterred I covered it with an antique, white damask napkin (the Master Baker is very particular about his bread cloths) and left it to rise. After the prescribed 30 minutes it has not doubled in size so it was left for an hour before putting in the oven.
After 30 minutes it looked like an incubating alien pod with tentacles spreading out over the baking tray – the Kraken wakes? After another 10 minutes it was a nice golden brown but cracking like a volcano. Time to call in the Master Baker for a second opinion – the verdict “give it another 6 minutes and let it cool on the tray”.
By the time it was cold, it had set – hard. Time for the taste challenge – glossy exterior, good almond flavour and not too sweet, BUT a heavy doughy texture. The post-mortem – “the dough was probably too wet and at some stage should have been lightly kneaded to work the gluten”. So I scraped my self-esteem off the kitchen floor again and the moral of the tale is don’t be seduced by recipe books with glossy pictures! This is the third failure from this particular book (Scandiliciious Baking by Signe Johansen), and three out of three points to flawed recipes rather than operator ineptitude.
Fortunately not all was lost, it made a great bread pudding!
As for the cookery book, it will probably gather dust on the shelf, some tempting recipes but with a big caveat emptor!