April 1, 2014

In Celebration of Baking Mistakes!

Selfie channeling Groucho Marx and Julia Child on April Fool's Day!

Whoever said that baking is a precise art had it all wrong. If there were a Pastry Hall of Fame, an entire section would be devoted to the best baking disasters of all time. Three of the world's most beloved desserts were actually created by mistake—the result of a preparation error, a wrong ingredient or an oversight of one step in the process. These accidental recipes produced more scrumptious desserts than ever imagined.

So celebrate April Fool's Day by baking to your heart's content. No need to be so cautious in following the recipe. Your mess-up could become a masterpiece! 

1.) Chocolate Chip Cookies
This all-time favorite cookie is said to be the result of a baking mishap. As the story goes, the owner of Toll House Restaurant in Massachusetts, Ruth Wakefield was preparing a batch of chocolate cookies when she realized that she'd run out of cocoa powder. So she substituted semi-sweet chocolate for the cocoa powder. Wakefield thought that the chocolate would melt during baking and become dispersed throughout the cookies. Instead the chocolate pieces retained their shape within each distinctive vanilla-flavored cookie—for the surprisingly perfect contrast of flavors and texture.  

Perfect Chocolate-Chip Cookies Recipe from "San Francisco Flavors"
(favorite recipes from the Junior League of San Francisco)

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup of packed brown sugar
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking pan with parchment paper. *In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy. *Beat in the eggs and vanilla. *Add the flour, salt and baking soda, and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips. *Using a tablespoon, scoop spoonfuls of dough onto the baking pan. *Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. *Let cool for 2 minutes before serving.

2.) Tarte Tatin

The most ubiquitous of French desserts has a humble pedigree. This fabled apple tart was the unintentional baking invention an an untrained baker, Stéphanie Tatin. The Demoiselles Tatin (sisters Stéphanie and Caroline) often prepared apple tart for the guests at their charming hotel in the small town of Lamotte-Beuvron, France. One day in 1898 was especially busy at the hotel. In the flurry of hectic preparations, Stéphanie placed the apples in the pan but forgot the tart crust. When she took the pan out of the oven, she realized her mistake. As a quick fix, she put the tart dough on top of the cooked apples and then put it back in the oven to bake the crust. When the crust was golden brown, she removed the tart from the oven and flipped it over. The result: Tarte Tatin, an upside-down apple tart with perfectly caramelized apples.

Tarte Tatin Recipe from "My Château Kitchen" by Anne Willan

Ingredients
For the Pastry Crust (Pâte Brisée):
1 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons (100g) of unsalted cold butter in small pieces
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons of cold water
For the Caramelized Apples:
3 lbs. of firm apples (such as Granny Smith) peeled & quartered
4 tablespoons (75g) of butter
3/4 cup (150g) of granulated sugar

Directions:
*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit *Make the pastry dough - and refrigerate for at least one hour. *Melt the butter in a 10" or 11" frying pan (or Tatin mold) and then add the sugar. *Over medium-low heat, caramelize the butter and sugar until it turns golden brown. *Arrange the apple pieces in the skillet, pack them together as tightly as possible. *Cook apples on the stovetop over low heat for about 10 minutes, until the apples soften and absorb the caramel sauce.

*Roll out the pastry dough to a circle slightly larger than your skillet. *Cover the apples with the dough and tuck the edges of the dough down into the pan and poke a hole at the center of the hole. *Bake the tart in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. *Remove the tart from the oven, allow to cool for 20 minutes. *Cover the skillet with a plate, turn it over to invert the tart. 

*Serve warm with crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream. 

3.) Gooey Butter Cake














This is a pound cake gone wrong. The resulting dessert is a cross between a buttery cookie and a custard. The origins of Gooey Butter Cake are more difficult to ascertain. The recipe may have originated from a baker who got confused while prepping ingredients, mixing up the proportions of butter and flour. Despite the mix-up, the cake ended up to be incredibly rich and delicious. 

Gooey Butter Cake Recipe:

Ingredients:
2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of whipping cream
Apricot or raspberry jam

Directions:
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. *Prepare cupcake molds by placing two cupcake liners into each mold. *In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. *You can use a wooden spoon or electric mixer. *Next add the egg and then gradually incorporate the flour, baking powder and salt. *Spoon the batter into an 8" cake pan. *Finally, drop one spoonful of jam into the center of the cake. *Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown. *Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Copyright © 2014-2015, Lisa Alexander. All rights reserved.

2 comments:

Liz Gladstone said...

I volunteer to take on any of your mistakes if they look like those!

Miss Patisserie said...

Thanks, Liz! I will invite you over to sample my next "disaster" dessert! :)