I am having one of those weeks. One week were the world or (at least my oven) has it out for me. Blaming the tools is the sign of bad chef or baker however I think this does not apply to macarons. Over the weekend I am fulfilling an order for over 500 macarons. Yes only me making them and my sisters packing them for the joint business we have. How many have you made at one time? 100? 200? 50? Try making 6 batches of 50 macarons over the weekend on 7 trays, one tray at a time and in particular part of the oven.
That is only half!
From my record with macron making you would think this is easy for me; however I am using Italian method.
They say this method is better for beginners as it is hard to over mix and get wrong; LIES! I have shed more hair this month because of these macarons. They always come out with loop sided feet. No cracking or the shells, fine chewy texture but the shape was not right. That is number one peeve with macaorns is ugly ones. After 2 months of swapping trays, drying time, more mixing, oven changes and me changing my stoke technique; I finally got them to work! SO proud!
I don’t care if people think macaron are so over and that they have become something for the trend bin. A good macaron is hard to come by in commercial and pastry world.
Can we list the sins in one post? I will try; so let me draw on my experiences with some worst macarons I have tasted in Sydney.
Big ass super markets or fast food chain starting to buy pre made frozen macarons to serve as real “treats”- NO! NO! I can’t get over how bad these actually taste. Stale almond meal and overly sweet even with my black coffee.
Once went to a demonstration of macaron making to general public from a small bakery. I really dislike demonstration classes as I am fully a hands on person however I kept my mind open to improve my skills (all knowledge helps). Skip the boring commentary; I came to the conclusion that these were the most sub-par macarons I have seen in a bakery.
Not only did they use corn flour in their almonds meal mix; they were not piped evenly, had cracked feet or no feet, hollow middles, crunchy shells and a presence of almond essence was in the shell. I must admit the use of flavouring oil in them did make them taste like apple and bubble gum none the less artificial additives are not cool. A sinner of a macaron was tasted that day.
My number one pet peeve is Macarons that are not two even shells on each side. So you get bridge over the edge and the macaron does not sit right. – Why? Why would you do such a disaster of a product to actually sell for 3 dollars a pop?
I am cool and fully recommend bakers using the all shells at home; the taste of a macaron is still very satisfying and I do not want people to waste materials. It is only naturally that most first time macaron makers will not get 100 % success but they are not selling it for profit. Ugly wonky macarons are not fit for sale.
I pond the question after having these two experiences; are the pastry shops and macaron speciality shops are any better?
Conclusion: Not likely
In baking spirit, I will not call out the places with very bad macarons but you can expect that high tea places to one of the worst offenders. Are you as obsessed with a dessert as I am? Please make me feel better.
Doughnut muffins are the product of the lazy and fearful baker. I need some easy and NO fail after 2 months of fails. These muffins are delightful tender thanks to the butter soaked topping and the technique of folding only! I only use a maximum of 20 stoke for my batter to achieve this light texture but 5 more stokes will not harm it. You may see I have used Self-raising plain flour here. Self-raising flour may get a bad rep but it is easy way to get great muffins with milk, oil and butter. Plus who wants to always measure out 16 g of baking powder and 8 grams bi carb? Not me!
The oil and butter combo is a recent discovery for tender cakes that are weight downed, by well, fat.
Buttery, sugar coated muffins which are easier than the fried alternative. You can thank me later when you a batch of fresh baked muffins in under a 45 minutes. Freeze them if you have too many but I hardly doubt you will have a problem getting rid of them when the combination of buttery and cinnamon move through the house.
Chia jam is not new but I am convinced of it jam setting abilities. A delicious fruit mix of left over berries in quick jam is deserves to be spread on muffins!
Buttery Doughnut Sugar Muffins with Jumble Berry Chia jam
225 ml milk
85ml rice bran oil
85ml unsalted butter. Melted, cooled
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
350 g self-rising flour
30g oat bran190 g caster sugar100 g unsalted butter
150 g granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 200ºC, and use muffin liners in 2 muffin tins.
Beat milk, eggs, egg yolks, butter, oil and essence in a large bowl. Place flour, sugar, cinnamon and oat bran in another bowl. Fold wet mixture in to dry mixture. Only fold until it is combined (lumpy is ok). Using an ice cream scoop, divide mixture into each cup.
Turn down oven to 180C. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes until a skewer comes clean. Makes 18- 20 muffins.
Brush butter on muffins. Immediately roll in sugar.
Move to cooling rack after 5 minutes.
Jumble berry Chia jam
Inspired by Nigella Lawson’s Jumble berry crumble
Adapted recipe from The Kitchn
144g black berries
1 lemon, juiced and grated zest
1 table spoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons chia seeds
In a small saucepan combine the berries, zest and lemon juice. Bring to boil over low medium heat. Using a spoon or fork break up the fruit into a puree. Continue to do this for 5 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
Remove from heat and add maple syrup. Add the chia seeds and stir to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes to thicken. Place in sterilised jars. Keep in fridge; good for 2 weeks.