As my photography’s improved, I often look back at my earliest posts and I just want to do it over, for sake of getting a better photo. I’ve made madeleines before, though with this round I get to do another take with more detailed instructions – adding things that I do to make my life easier, like putting the madeleine pans on a baking sheet (or cookie sheet) so that it’s easier to take in and out of the oven, but didn’t think of adding to my first instructions.
Madeleines are little cakes, and they’re probably best known from the “madeleine episode” from Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. (I quoted this passage when I posted my first madeleine recipe.) A near paradox of the madeleine Marcel Proust described and those who try recreating, in vain, the one he described is the crumb: madeleines are generally moist and soak up liquid like a sponge, whereas it is implied that M. Proust’s madeleine was dry and required to be dunked in the tea, sort of like biscotti. However, it is suggested by some theorists that perhaps the madeleine didn’t exist as there is no mention of it or any other baked goods that triggered childhood memories in M. Proust’s personal writings, and that it only served as a vehicle for this trip down memory lane.
I’ve become fixated on these “squat, plump little cakes” again, to quote M. Proust, since I got blueberries. And since blueberries and lemon go so well together, well – why not?
This August’s issue of Martha Stewart Living has a whole bunch of things I’ve never heard of before – buckles, slumps, and, what we’re focusing on today, spooms. Yes, spoom – not spoon. (The auto-correcter is trying to proof my apparent misspelling.) It turns out spoom was once a favourite dessert in England, according to Wikipedia, and it’s name derives from the Italian spuma (foam). It’s a kind of frothy sorbet, in which fruit is folded into an Italian meringue and frozen. Another way is to fold the meringue into the frozen sorbet, and freeze again.
Peach Melba is considered a classic dessert, being invented in the early 1890’s by Auguste Escoffier, a French chef at the Savoy Hotel in London, to honour the Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba, whom the chef was a fan of. The presentation of the newly created dessert in the soprano’s name was true theatre: Chef Escoffier used an ice sculpture of a swan (which featured in the opera) to present the dessert, which carried peaches that rested on a bed of vanilla ice cream and topped with spun sugar. Later, he would make a new version of the dessert with the peaches topped with a raspberry puree or sauce.
In the case of this version of Peach Melba, peaches and raspberries are used and in place of the ice cream, an Italian meringue is made before pureed raspberries and peaches are folded in and frozen. Italian meringue is a cooked meringue (sometimes done over a double boiler) so there is no risk about the consumption of raw egg, such as salmonella.
just fooling around with photo editing
As part of my foodie interest, I remember reading about clafoutis on Wikipedia – a French dessert with cherries, traditionally unpitted, baked in a kind of pancake batter. It’s difficult to describe what a clafoutis exactly is, although I’ve found the best definition yet, so far, in a book called The Patisseries of Paris by Jamie Cahill and Alison Harris (which I read as an Amazon preview), describing clafoutis as “a cross between a pudding and a cake”.
When other fruit is used instead of cherries, clafoutis becomes flognarde, although this distinction does not seem to be made, at least, in the English-speaking world. That’s why you’ll see a variety of “clafoutis” that aren’t made at all with cherries! Whenever I see one of those kinds of recipes, for a clafoutis made with fruit other than cherries, I’m always quick to inform others. My definition for flognarde is “clafoutis without the cherries.” One day I’ll make a clafoutis proper, but for now flognarde is what’s on the menu.