The other evening I was watching the CBS “American Baking Competition” on T.V., when they challenged the home cooks to prepare a technical bake-off. The guest judges selection was a Napoleon Dessert. This is mostly baked in the shape of a pave, or rectangle. It usually consists of three to four layers of pastry and then in between, each is filled with pastry cream and ganache. Many times the pastry cream is flavored and sometimes even the ganache has added flavorings as well. They mentioned the bakers were to use puff pastry and I was momentarily befuddled. I thought for sure it was made using a dacquoise (meringue rectangle). Out of the six presentations there was only one presentable endeavor. The rest were all hot messes!
I grabbed one of my culinary books and proceeded to delve into the world of French pastry. Oh my! It had been too long since I prepared a dessert like this and I found that had to eat my own thoughts (in place of eating my own words). Napoleon is made using disks of puff pastry. I read up on puff and laminated dough (trying not to drool on the pages) and decided to get the ingredients tomorrow so I can make some next week. I’ll have to set aside a whole four hours to prepare, chill, turn and roll out (repeating this method X5) the puff pastry dough. When finished it will need to rest in the refrigerator overnight. The lamination is in the layers upon layers of butter-strewn dough. Incorporating a whole pound of butter, it starts out a little shabby and then is turned into the smoothest of dough. There is a total of 1,471 layers once it is baked … I have this on the authority of my Chef Instructor from LAC. The butter-cream I’ll make takes a bit of time and then I will freeze some of the blocks for later use, and I’ll also freeze some of the puff dough. This gives me the freedom to take it out and use it as needed. Better to have it ready (on hand) for those unexpectedly brilliant baking moments.
I visited Barnes and Noble Bookstore yesterday, just before closing. I had been instructed by my sister to grab the latest copy of “Poets & Writers”, a publication released every two months. She had told me about this a few months back, and so as I was at the counter, thanking the assistant for their help, I espied a carry bag with Nancy Drew on the front. He told me $1.99 was the price and I nodded my acceptance of this addition to my checkout total. He slipped the receipt along with the magazine into the bag and handed it to me. I carried my exciting new things outside, all the while smiling delightedly at the thought of all of my old Nancy Drew Mysteries at home on the shelf. My guilty pleasures! I had been thinking of revisiting my schoolgirl reads, because Nancy Drew and I spent many, many hours solving crimes together, as I helped her figure out who was responsible for this and that. Such fun! The small girl inside me is and always will be tucked away in my heart.
In the cabinet I also noticed some of the cups my sister and Joe had brought back to me after their travels abroad. I do not drink from them though, because I want them to remain unstained and intact. They’re more for decoration and as mementos of their thoughtfulness.
While there I peeked inside an old jewelry box I had became owner of, after the passing of Auntie, Jean Haislip Evans, in June 2001. Inside this box were some trinkets and costume jewelry. Also, there was a 1935 (stamped Hawaii) one-dollar bill. As you can see it has been autographed but I do not know by whom. I just noticed this is a “SILVER CERTIFICATE”. Now I will need to research this to learn what it means. Don’t worry … I’ll look after them Auntie.
So this is what I’ve been doing today and since it is still evening I’m sure I’ll think up some more things to get into before Joe gets back home.