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Pete Fred

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  1. It's been a few years since I last made any, but my rain dance to the Gods of pastry includes... Cranking the oven as high as possible for the first 15 minutes or so (250C fan for me). This seems to 'set' the top of the cannele so that it barely clears the rim. The top (or bottom, depending on how you look at it) does get a touch more bruleed but that's something I like... Once set, I drop the temperature (160C fan) and cook for another 35-40 minutes. They usually take around 50 minutes in total, rotating the tray three or four times. I don't like leaving them in much longer because I find it thickens the shell... ...and they they get too dark and bitter. (That little hint of brulee on the bottom is just right for me.) I line the moulds with just a very thin coating of beeswax (no butter) and fill the moulds pretty full, just 5 mm from the top. That's 80g of batter in my Matfer moulds. (Mine were from Meilleur du Chef, too, but this was a decade ago and looking at the website now I'm not sure if they're still the same ones.) I leave them in the mould for ten minutes before upending, and they fall out easily. Like you, it used to bug me if they weren't an even colour all over, but after many batches I became much more relaxed if the top wasn't perfect... In fact, I quite like it when the dimple is a pale cream bullseye that shows off the vanilla seeds inside. Good luck with your quest. It's pretty much the only way you'll experience a good cannele: still warm an hour out of the oven, with a crisp, thin shell, and a soft, yielding interior. Can't be beaten. (By the way, I have never had a good cannele in France. Ever. I get suckered in every time I see them in a bakery or patisserie. And they always disappoint: chewy shell, dense and claggy inside, with fake vanilla and rum. So bad. Every. Single. Time. Maybe it's different in Paris or Bordeaux, but everywhere else I've been... merde.)
  2. Just for clarity… Seal bottom of rings tightly with a double layer of clingfilm. Once cooked and chilled, remove clingfilm and set the ring on plate. Gently warm ring with a torch, no need to go crazy. Carefully lift the ring up and away. Eat the beautiful thing you have made.
  3. Baked in metal rings. Then, once chilled, warm the rings with a blowtorch and lift clear. Surprisingly simple. 👍
  4. I don't bother with the water bath. Just stick it in an 80-90C oven until just set. And it's baked custard all day long for me. Try doing this with stovetop... 😉
  5. You just want something in the bottom of the saucepan to keep the bowl off the metal. (I think I read somewhere that traditional earthenware bowls can sometimes crack if touching the bottom directly.) In the past I’ve used scrunched up tin foil, jar lids, tart ring, silicone mat, tea towel. If you pour in enough boiling water to come half-way or two-thirds up the bowl, there’s no way it will boil dry in the hour or so it takes to heat through. Stick on the lid, bring it back to the boil, then reduce the heat so you can hear it gently bubbling away (no need for a rolling boil anymore) or you can see steam coming from the top of the saucepan. I’ve also done this in an IP-like. Same drill, just don’t actually pressure cook it.
  6. The pastry Gods are really giving you a hard time with this cake. Glad you (almost) got there in the end. It looks pretty cool as a giant doughnut. 👍
  7. Before you write off anodized aluminium, have a look at this article by Stella Parks. I stumbled on some dirt-cheap AA tins in a John Lewis end of line sale a few years back and have been very happy with them. The ones from Alan Silverwood are well regarded (Delia’s favourite, I believe!).
  8. Have you tried this technique? (I think somewhere else in his timeline there might be more detailed instructions, but this was the only one I bookmarked.) And there are videos on YouTube; just search for ‘perfect tart shells’ or similar.
  9. Its modern popularity is down to Pierre Hermé who championed it in the 90s, but I remember reading once that it was an old technique that just never widely caught on.
  10. It helps to work in a cool environment and not to dawdle, but you might be surprised how straightforward inverted puff is to make. And the results are definitely worth it, producing a delicate puff that melts in the mouth. Enclosing the dough and making the first turn is probably the trickiest part. You want the beurrage (outer butter) to be cool but extensible. If it’s too cold you get lots of cracking and raggedy edges. But once you get that first turn out of the way it’s a remarkably well behaved dough. So have no fear!!
  11. This exchange reminded me that I have some of the sponge stashed in the freezer. So, one tube of salted butter caramel, a carton of crème anglaise... ...and five minutes in the microwave later... ...tonight’s dinner is sorted. Happy days!!
  12. You over-filled the pan. As pastrygirl says, two-thirds full should be your rule of thumb, three-quarters max. 😁
  13. It’s a total pain. I refuse to use the stuff. There’s conflicting advice online (plus ça change!) so I stick with Nigella Lawson’s formula, figuring she and her her team might have at least consulted manufacturers rather than plucking it out of thin air. She recommends two teaspoons of baking powder (10g) to 150g plain (all-purpose) flour. It’s never let me down. 👍 Seeing as you have the book and wish to dip your toe further into British baking, have a go at Ms Gill’s version of sticky toffee pudding. I’ve made it a couple of times recently and it’s pretty bomb-proof. Steamed puddings can be a little daunting for the uninitiated but there should be some useful videos on YouTube if you’re unsure. And, for maximum Britishness, be sure to serve it with toffee sauce AND custard, which she inexplicably neglects. 😉
  14. I think one of the reasons you’ll often see British recipes use self-raising flour is because we don’t really have cake flour. Our nearest equivalent is self-raising flour as it’s more finely milled than plain (all-purpose) flour, with the added “bonus” of leavening included. I wish recipe writers would stop using it, especially in ways like this where, as you say, it seems utterly pointless to blend flours. But I guess Ms Gill does it because that’s the way the person who gave her the recipe did it, as did the person before her, etc.... until no one can quite remember why it was done that way, or questions if it was ever even necessary to begin with.
  15. Yeah, I think it’s a difference in terminology. What Italians call frangipane (almonds, butter, sugar, eggs), the French call crème d’amandes. Frangipane, in France, is a mixture of crème d’amandes and crème pâtissière. (Around a quarter to a third pastry cream). As I understand it, pithiviers should be filled with crème d’amandes, Galettes des Rios with frangipane. No doubt Madame Guillotine awaits anyone who fails to observe the rules! 😉
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