It has been over a month since I have updated my blog. I am seized with an urge to apologize. But to whom, and to what end? If one truly creates for one’s self, why then am I so disturbed to find that my unique visitors have dwindled away practically to nothing, with a bounce rate approaching ninety-five per cent? These twin impulses—toward reckless self-regard and the approbation of others—neatly negate one another. This is the essential paradox of our time.
– From the genius New Yorker piece Le Blog de Jean-Paul Sartre, by Bill Barol
Well. I think Sartre said it better than I ever could, so I’ll leave it at that. Existential crises notwithstanding, it’s been an interesting year. When we last left off, I was working six days a week as the Executive Pastry Chef for Blend, one of Paris’ most highly regarded burger joints. As of this month, I am no longer there, and next month I will be officially unemployed. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be keeping myself busy. I’m
in the process just beginning to write a book – so far I’ve got an outline and a couple of recipes – and I’m also thinking about staging (i.e. working for free for a few weeks) in some of the best chocolateries, bakeries, and pastry shops this city has to offer. Oh, yeah, and I’m blogging again, too.
A few things I’ve baked in the interim:
Last Spring I made these apple doughnut muffins, inspired by The Hungry Dog. I meant to post the recipe, and then it wasn’t apple season anymore, and now I’ve decided I want to keep it for the book. But I will share this photo.
Over the summer, I once again had the good fortune to bake the wedding cake for two dear friends. Once again, I made cupcakes, but this time I added a small “topper” cake for the cake-cutting. I spent three days in Celine and Jesse’s kitchen, and naturally there were a few stressful moments the day of the wedding, but in the end I was very pleased with the final cakes. And the bride and groom seemed pretty happy, too.
Finally, just a couple of weeks ago, to show my support for the Hostess Bakers’ Union (it’s as good an excuse as any), I made homemade Twinkies for my football-watching friends. As I looked over the recipe I realized that like so many American classics, Twinkies also have their roots in traditional French technique. For starters, the cake itself is a type of sponge cake – a modified ladyfinger or biscuit cuillère. The cream inside is like a mousseline – pastry cream whipped with butter – the traditional filling for the classic French fraisier, in which it is sandwiched with strawberries between two layers of genoise, another type of sponge cake.
And then the way it’s put together is reminiscent of nothing so much as an éclair, poking holes in the bottom of the cake and hollowing it out, then piping it full of cream. I baked my Twinkies directly in my silicone molds, which I normally wouldn’t do, but I thought that the weird rubbery texture the silicone tends to give the exterior of baked goods was just what I was looking for in the case of the Twinkie. Also, fun shapes!
The jewels are my favorite, but that should come as no surprise.
Originally published on Croque-Camille.