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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

TCB: Ethereal Pear Charlotte

This is a Special Edition Knitty Baker post, featuring The Ethereal Pear Charlotte from The Cake Bible. Why, you might ask, is it a special edition? Because, lovely readers, for once, I am going to post step-by-step pictures.

Before we get started, let me first say that I applaud you people out there who take step-by-step pictures. Man, it is time consuming to do this! Not only do I have to stop what I'm doing to take pictures, but also I had to wash my hand every single time. Maybe some of you don't necessarily wash your hands before you touch your camera. But my camera is 5 months old, it's my baby, and it's still pristine (I haven't even dropped it yet).

I thought you guys would like a peek of my messy work station. See on the corner the flours and cornstarch are sifted and thus ready to go.

Moving on to the actual posting, :). Here are the Red Bartlett pears. I am making 1/2 recipe so technically I only need 1 pear, but I like poached pears so I figured the more the merrier. We can always use extra poached pears for munching.

The pears are halved, peeled, and cored and are sitting (or laying) happily in their poaching liquid.

Next, I made the biscuit roulade. Here the yolks and eggs with sugar, ready to be whisked into submission.

My lovely red KA mixer in action!

Whisked eggs with sifted flour and cornstarch.

After the flour is folded, next up is egg whites.

The biscuit in the oven.

 The biscuit, measured and cut.
About 3 hours later, I took the stacked biscuit out from the freezer. 3 hours in the freezer is not enough to freeze the whole thing until solid - as prescribed by Rose - but at this point I was pressed for time.

The Charlotte mold ready for use.

And this is the part where the step-by-step picture ended. Why? Read on and you shall find out!

At this point I proceeded to make the custard for the Pear Bavarian Cream. I whisked the egg yolks, sugar, and gelatin together. Then whisked into it, the boiled poaching syrup from the pear. Next the whole thing is heated up until almost boiling and supposedly the mixture will thicken to be like heavy cream. Well, 10 minutes and counting, it is still liquid like mild. By the 15 minute mark, I gave up and strained it. And then I saw why it never thickened. I had a lot of egg yolks coagulation happening - so my whisking the poaching syrup into the egg yolks wasn't swift enough. SHIT (yes people I do curse sometimes. It takes a special event to have me curse, and this one totally qualifies!) At that time it was 5.30 PM, I still have loads to do in the kitchen and I do not want to start over!

While musing on what to do next, I whipped the cream and started on the Italian meringue - boiled the sugar syrup and whisked the egg whites.

And then an idea came to me. What if I added an extra yolk to the Bavarian cream, with some poaching syrup, and gelatin. It is risky, but technically it should work, and then at least I don't have to throw away all those egg yolks and it's not really starting over.

So dear readers, that's what I did. I took an egg yolk, 1 tsp of sugar, 2 tsp of poaching liquid. All these measurements are approximate. I didn't even bother to look at the recipe. In hindsight, that was pretty crazy and gutsy of me and I probably won't do it again. Anyway, I whisked the egg mixture real good. Heat up the liquid-y custard until hot then whisked it into the 1 egg yolk mixture. Next I heat everything up and in like 3 minutes, voila, the whole thing thickened like heavy cream. YAY!!! VICTORY!

And it was at this point that I realized I had forgotten to take pictures. Oops.. oh well, next time maybe :).

While the custard was cooling in the water bath, I did a victory dance around the kitchen area. And no, for those of you wondering, there is no picture or video of that one (and there will never be LOL).

The completed Bavarian cream, inside the Charlotte. To the fridge it went so the cream can set.

After 1/2 hour, it's time to slice the pears. The pears turned out a bit on a softer side, so it was a little hard to slice them evenly. This is when I was glad I had extra pears.

After two hours refrigeration, I un-molded the Charlotte for this photo shoot.

Tasting impressions:
Hmmmmm........... mmmmmmmmm.... mmhmmmm..... this is soooo goood! Again, my love for sponge cake is re-newed. I do like the Apple Caramel Charlotte better - because of the apples and the caramel-based Bavarian cream. But this one is really a close second. Now excuse me while I go have another piece.


  1. Chica!
    You outdid yourself… Step by step pictures, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants baking, dancing around your kitchen - woman we need VIDEO on that, because seriously I don't believe it, until I see it!

    I am still "tainted" on the apple charlotte, so I doubt I will attempt again this until, I really, really have to (somewhere in June 2011 when it’s Tom birthday, because he made me swear that I will do it again) but I got to say – YOU ARE GUTSY! And I love that the quick thinking paid off and you ended up with great results.

    Love, LOOOVEEEEE the pictures, specially the close up.

  2. That is beautiful--you are the Queen of Charlottes!

  3. Beautiful! I love the step by step, and great job figuring out how to fix your cream. By the way, I normally don't wash my hands when taking pictures. My camera is old enough that I'm not concerned about getting it a little messy, but I do wipe it off afterwards. When I was turning my puff pastry dough this weekend it got covered with flour a few times.

  4. Very nice! I am so impressed that you made another Charlotte. I honestly can't fathom the thought at the moment but perhaps after another few months. I enjoyed the pictures too.

  5. Great job Jenn! I am amazed by your quick thinking fix--that was so brilliant! I know, taking step by step photos is sometimes a big pain, which is why I am so inconsistent about it. However, sometimes a big bowl of stiffly beaten eggs is just too pretty to pass up. I'm with Raymond, I can't fathom making another charlotte any time soon. How did you talk yourself into it?

  6. Gorgeous, Jenn, and what a great save!

  7. Monica, THANKS! Am still not convinced about the video though ^_^.

    Marie, not sure if I am the Queen. Though it does sound nice LOL.

    Andrea, I think I will eventually get to that point where I don't bother to wash my hands.

    Raymond, thanks! The Bavarian Cream fiasco was pretty stressful.

    ECL, it's all about the taste. The Apple Charlotte was sooo good, so I was curious about the Pear one (also to compare the taste).

    Now that I've made the Pear Charlotte, I want to make the Apple one again. Hm.. maybe next year.

    Julie, I'm still patting myself on the back for the save :).

  8. The cake is beautiful!! I looooooove the step-by-step pictures. Now I really want to make the Apple Charlotte.

  9. I think I will have to make this for Christmas. It is really beautiful and looks like it is on the lightside. Ha thanks for the step by step god knows I need it when it comes to baking...B:)

  10. Lovely. Thanks for sharing. I am contemplating this for my DW's graduation in December!


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