Sunday, April 8, 2012
matcha, yuzu and adzuki tea cake.
I am a huge huge fan of Pierre Herme. I aim to collect all his books one day. So, when I heard that one of his latest books (latest?), Pierre Herme Pastries, has been translated into english, I had to get it. Even though like most of his books, it was pretty pricey.
I didn't do much research beforehand. If I had, I would probably realize all the criticism circulating around about it. This book, sadly, is poorly translated, and does not do the pastry chef justice. But the fact is, I didn't do my research beforehand, so now I have a problematic pile of recipes before me. Nevertheless, I'm still in awe of the innovativeness of them all. Mr Herme manages to take classic timeless recipes and gives them a little twist with his obsession with quirky flavours. At least, they seem quirky to me. Black pepper with adzuki beans anyone?
This book is right up my alley, being one who tires of the common and boring combination of flavours easily. I bookmarked nearly half the recipes in the book, and nothing is stopping me from baking them all. And that is some determination I must say. Some recipes have up to 6 or 7 components. (Insert jaw-drop here.)
Before I venture into those complicated recipes, I decided to start with something easy and quick- a matcha, yuzu and adzuki tea cake.
And now, the problems start coming.
Firstly, there was a terrifying amount of sugar. The cake was meant to be baked in a 11 x 4 inch loaf pan, which is pretty close to a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan capacity. And check this out- 1 3/4 cups of sugar. Not including the soaking syrup. Throw in another 5 tablespoons for that.
Obviously I reduced the sugar quantity but it still ended up being way too sweet. Especially those areas which were moister with syrup. Personally, I don't think the soak was necessary. The cake was not that dry. Perhaps Mr Herme thought it was required because the cake boasts a modest amount of fat- just 7 tablespoons of butter for the entire recipe.
Texture wise, the top was strangely crumbly but not in a dry way, while the bottom had a closely-knit crumb which held together fine.
Instead of yuzu, I substituted a 50-50 mix of orange and lime. The flavour of citrus really stands out in this cake. I'm not a big citrus fan so I thought that the cake would be better without it. Just my opinion. I also omitted the green tea glaze, which I could tell had faulty instructions, because I used up the last of my matcha powder for the cake.
Lastly, the adzuki gelatin. I suspect that the recipe might have left out a step of mashing the cooked red beans into a paste before gelatinizing it as after freezing and slicing, parts of my gelatin broke off because the beans were left whole. Plus, the picture in the book showed a rather homogenous texture of the adzuki gelatin. Yes, this is one of the recipes which calls for black pepper. Although I don't really see the point of it because it doesn't show up at all. Still, you can't fault the classic combination of green tea and red bean.
Overall, I wouldn't call this a smashing success. I hope that my few years of baking experience will help me get through the glitches in this book. It would be such a shame to give up on it just like that.