Monday, 9 September 2013

Floating Islands (floating egg) - episode 3

This week I made floating islands which are meringues floating on top of crème anglaise (posh custard) with a bit of spun sugar placed elegantly to finish. It was two thirds a success. The crème anglaise was divine and the spun sugar was good. The only let down were the meringues which although they looked adequate, to me they just tasted of egg. Co-incidentally they are made up of just eggs and sugar but for me the egg was definitely prominent. Oh dear lord I just read that back in my head and I cannot believe what a foody bakey snob I have become. When I started this blog I had no idea that baking would take over my life to the extent that I would scrutinise every minute detail of the taste of food.  I've come a long way.

 On to the recipe. You will need:

For the crème anglaise

For the meringues
For the spun sugar
  • 100g/3½oz caster sugar

    First I made the crème anglaise in its initial form which is the form of a poaching liquid for the meringues. I gently heated the milk, cream and vanilla paste. I didn't know what vanilla paste was and there seemed to be none in the supermarket so I bought vanilla pods (SO EXPENSIVE) and scraped out the insides of one of them. This felt pretty cool because you see the proper chefs on masterchef etc using vanilla pods and scraping out the seeds. I'm such a pro now it's untrue. 

    The recipe says bring the liquid to a simmer over a low heat but the recipe then  moves on to the meringues and I was concerned the liquid would overheat. I kept checking it and it did form a bit of scum on the surface but seemed to be okay. 

    Smile and pour. Perfect.
    For the meringues I whisked the egg whites in an electric mixer until stiff peaks formed. Then I added 150g of the sugar one tablespoon at a time and it really did go glossy and lovely. Small pleasures.

    Yep doesn't fall on to my head

    ANYWAY, you then make quenelles using two tablespoons. Spell check doesn't think quenelles is a real word but I beg to differ and Mary Berry is really very angry. I was surprised how decent my quenelles looked - just as good as the bakers on the show, if not better. I then placed each quenelle in the poaching liquid, making sure the liquid didn't simmer too much, and turned them half way through. At this point they looked really unappetising and to be honest they didn't become any more appetising by the end of the process. After the poaching they sat on a wire rack draining while yellow liquid seeped out on to the work surface and they looked unusual, lets just say. 


    You are then supposed to sieve the poaching liquid into a jug but I completely missed seeing this instruction. It turned out daym fine so no worries. The next stage was whisking the egg yolks and sugar until it was pale and fluffy although mine was more like a pale paste with no fluff to be seen. You then pour in the poaching liquid, whilst whisking continuously, then transfer the whole thing into a pan over a low heat to thicken until the mixture 'covers the back of a spoon'. I managed to eat most of the mixture at this stage by continuously putting a spoon in and licking it. The creme anglaise thickened eventually and tasted amazing - really strong vanilla and very sweet. 

     Finally I had to make spun sugar. I heated sugar in a pan without stirring it which seemed a bit strange because I'm sure people on the show were stirring, and adding water too...I believe there are different ways of doing it. It took forever for all the sugar to melt so I sat down with a glass of champagne and listened to 6music - this was middle class cooking at its best. Hey, I can't help it if my mum left me a glass before she went out (pity champagne frankly). 

    This baking malarkey is tiring

    6music accompanied the simmering sugar perfectly!  So dramatic haha!

    When the sugar had finally melted I oiled a rolling pin and flicked the sugar over it with a fork to average success. I managed to create two nice balls of sugar for two desserts but the rest of the sugar fell on to the baking paper underneath. I think there is a knack to this that I don't have. 
    The washing up wasn't fun
    All in all the dessert looked good and tasted good, apart from the quenelles which tasted eggy. 

    I won't be making this again anytime soon because the multi-tasking was too much for me and I didn't like the quenelles. I will, however, be making the creme anglaise because it was quite easy to do and could be served with cake which you bought from a shop. 

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