Monday, June 30, 2008

Jen Wah

My friend Jen loves cake, the kind filled with apricot jam, then glazed with apricot nappage, decorated with some toasted almonds and served with a creamy, luscious Crème Anglaise. Jen Wah actually doesn’t exist but every time I make Genoise (jen-wah) I think of my fictitious friend. Genoise is the standard cake recipe for many French dessert creations. I’ve spoken about it before probably a couple of times, but as I am in Level III dishes purposely repeat themselves so I can master them over and over again since they may show up on my mid-term – which is next week on July 9th – I’m trying not to panic. At the end of the night there are so many plated Genoise cakes that I can’t help diving into the sweet dessert myself.

I used to be afraid of pastry and cakes after a failed attempt as a 6th grader trying to make pound cake. I’ve been troubled ever since! I remember the daunting task of making that cake, the recipe called for mace instead of nutmeg. I had no idea what mace was but I insisted that my mother buy it so I could bake the recipe exactly as it was written. I think I brought it in to elementary school for a bake sale, it was a little dry, not too sweet, sort of boring. My friends said it was good but I didn’t believe them.

So I carried the dread of being an iffy baker at best and became quickly interested in savory foods and preparing dinners. So, making desserts is not my thing, I’m not a sugar-holic. If you come to dinner, please do bring dessert!

That night my Genoise was good, not as stellar as it was the last time I made it and now I know why – as I was adding sifted cake flour into the batter I could tell I lost some volume, so the cake was a little drier than the last time. It still rose to a respectable level, I didn’t burn my almonds like I usually do, my Crème Anglaise was not grainy, and I plated on time…even a bit early I think.

Jen Wah and I… we’re good friends, she tells me the truth about my baking skills, and I keep her happily sated with lots of cake.

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