I thought I had this in the bag but I was wrong. I will forever be known as Melissa “who-invited-the-kids-book-publicist-to-participate-in-the-middle-of-a-heat-wave-without-air-conditioning” Zilberberg. When Deanna and Kat told me Laura Calder’s French Taste was going to be our focus for the week, I was completely excited. Every single recipe in the book is mouth watering and my personal favourite is the Beef Bourguignon (p. 162). I figured a weeknight dessert was in order and I confidently picked the HAZELNUT ROLL (p. 246) as my challenge. I even envisioned how amazing I could make the final designs on the roll with the icing sugar and told Kat that I would bring in dessert for everyone. Oppsie. I am left with nothing but a pile of delicious cake and cream to show for my efforts….
It all begin well. I gound the hazelnuts in my Magic Bullet (yes, I understand that this may make pastry chefs of yore turn in their graves) but it worked pretty well. I preheated the oven (easy) and buttered my pan. The recipe calls for parchment paper and I think this is the first place where I went wrong. I had wax paper in my cupboard and thought this was an adequate substitute. Note: DO NOT ASSUME THAT WAX PAPER IS AN ADEQUATE SUBSTITUTE – it’s not. Of course, as I google it now I see that I could have found this out before ruining the dessert but I guess that just how I work. Essentially, I beat the eggs and sugar over a pot with an inch of boiling water and it tripled in size.
I sifted the ground hazelnuts and flour into the batter and poured it into the baking sheet lined with wax paper and baked it for 10 minutes. My sweetie pie, Murphy, hung out with me while I waited for it to bake. When it was done I flipped the cake out onto a tea towel – according to the recipe – and something didn’t seem right to me. I tried to peel the wax paper off and it was very difficult. Pieces of the cake were breaking off around the edges though I did manage to have most of the sheet of cake by the time I was done peeling.
I rolled it up in a tea towel and left it cool at room temperature. This is where I think I went wrong for the second time. I think the tea towel I used was too thick for cooling a cake. As the cake cooled I whipped the cream (which was amazingly delicious) and unrolled the cake in preparation to fill it with delight. As I opened the tea towel, the cake stuck to it and broke into several pieces (including a major break all the way down the centre). I think the thickness of the tea towel may have affected the moisture and the cake by trapping the steam as it was cooling.
So I tried to make the best of my situation by rolling a tiny little roll. I must say that the cake was very tasty and the cream was even tastier. I don’t feel so bad about my failure because, as Laura Calder wrote in her book, you often have to try a recipe several times before you can make it perfect. So, I am left with the delicious parts but no roll. I will certainly try this again (and perhaps not during a heat wave). Sorry to disappoint everyone but I somewhat take joy in being the failure of this challenge – mostly because I’m hoping my former George Brown baking-arts teacher might be reading this, shaking her whisk in disppointment.