Reading this recipe I was completely overwhelmed by the faff factor. Five pages of instructions for six cakes - are you freaking kidding me? Six teeny tiny cakes with four component parts - seriously? Beurre noisette - as well? Life is too short. Especially on a Sunday morning.
But I took a deep breath and decided that Sunday lunch needed *something* lemony to cut through the aftermath of roasted pork belly. And I also wanted to test if my oft moved Wondra flour really was best before 27 January 2011. Ha. My flour is older than my youngest boys. By a comfortable margin.
So come Sunday morning I set out on the marathon of the Lemon Posset Shortcakes. But it wasn't a marathon. Even with the beurre noisette, it was a no more than a shortish jog around the block. The individual shortcakes are essentially a genoise sponge. This just means that there is no chemical leavening from baking powder or bicarbonate of soda. The fluffy texture comes from beating the warmed eggs for five minutes or so until they quadruple in volume. I went with time because I am not good at measuring increases in volume in an graduated bowl.
|Browned Butter - beurre noisette for the fancy amongst us|
|Quadrupled slightly warmed whipped eggs|
|A portion of the egg emulsified with the browned butter|
|The final mix delicately folded by a grown up|
Then so long as you gently fold everything in, and you let the ages old Wondra flour work its magic you and you cook it for the right length of time and you have sufficiently greased the texas muffin tin, you will most likely end up with a delicate mouthful of browned butter amazingness. This is definitely for the light of touch - I had to keep telling the ever keen and ever helpful Patrick that this was a cake that could only be made by grown ups. Patrick was quite pleased that he was too strong and powerful to mix these delicate little cakes.
Rose warns not to open the oven before the minimum time lest the cakes sink. Mine were cooked at the 15 minute mark - not pulling away from the sides, but most definitely cooked. I think I will try 13 minutes next time.
I baked these in a texas muffin pan. There were a few tense moments trying to set them free. Line pan with paper! Once released they were brushed with a lemon syrup. Because I didn't have the fancy shortcake pan, I had to carve out an indentation to hold the lemon posset. The carving resulted in three tiny sponge sandwiches which Patrick happily had me share these two with his brothers. He is a clever little cookie, because when I returned to the kitchen he had moved his chair in front of the cakes and was sampling the full article. As well he is cute.
|Patrick with the mini victoria sponges - genoise indentations|
|Patrick's further sampling|
|Wondra can safely extend their recommended shelf life|
Lemon posset - in my mind, posset was filed under easily digestible food for the elderly and infirm. I think this was completely misfiled - and my mind is usually a steel trap of efficiency! And it should definitely not just be the preserve of the elderly and infirm. Actually it probably shouldn't be eaten by the infirm - all that cream? Rose's lemon posset is three ingredients: cream, sugar and meyer lemon juice. Meyer lemons are clearly stocked beside the unblanched sliced almonds, so hence I just used the juice of a lemon and a half and a clementine/satsuma/mandarin - that is, an indeterminable easily peeled citrus. Perfect - but I would highly recommend straining it (just as I now reread the recipe and Rose is way ahead of me and recommended the same - huh, the things you learn when reading the recipe).
Rose's posset recipe was to melt the sugar and lemon juice together until near boiling point and then in another saucepan to scald the cream. Then the cream is stirred into the sugar/lemon juice. Which is fine. Except I was busy faffing about trying to work out if I was making a double batch or a single batch. And before I knew it my subconscious had measured a double amount of sugar into a single batch of cream. And right when I reread the recipe to work out what double the cream was I worked out I had invented a new posset method. So the new tested method is as follows:
- Bring the cream and the sugar to scalding point (small bubbles around the edges, faint steam)
- Stir until the sugar dissolves whilst keeping it at scalding point
- Step away to have a Skype conversation with your Mum for about ten minutes before remembering about it.
- Swear and run back into the kitchen
- Sieve it
- Stir in the lemon/citrus juice (but remember to sieve that too).
- Pour into a shallow pie dish
- Put it into the fridge for about four hours
- Hope for the best
- Catalogue stuff up as an another Um moment for future defence if required.
The posset was perfect. Mine had the same consistency all the way through. Which was great as I had plenty left over...
No Um defence was required because these little cakes were absolutely perfect. From last weeks "not one of your better cakes" to this weeks "the best yet", you are clearly only as good as your last bake. We did have different taste testers this week, ones who haven't eaten nearly so much cake, and they were probably both on their best behaviour. But Chris ate one as well as Isaac and Patrick finished off his partly consumed cake and all three gave it the double thumbs up and they were most definitely not on their best behaviour. Thomas was on a hunger strike because lunch wasn't sausage/chips/broccoli so he missed out completely.
|Isaac couldn't get the cake in his mouth fast enough|
No idea what is up next week. I know it is Hamantaschen but I have no idea what these are. No pictures, so I know my interpretation of these will be perfect!