Sunday, April 25, 2010

When Life Gives You Meyer Lemons, Make Crepes: Mixed Results

This is my first "hey look, I made this" post in a while. Writing the previous post about spices has made me realize how passionate I am about food. Anyone who knows me would say, "Well, duh!" But ever since finding Mr. Right and the whirlwind romance, wedding, and now the Munchkin on the way, well, I've been distracted from my passion for food. Sometimes I diminish it as not important, not that healthy, too expensive, and so on. But then someone asks my opinion about something food-related, and I just explode with information in a way that totally overwhelms anyone standing within 20 yards. So. Guess I've kept it tamped down a little too long.

And so I had a baking adventure with crepes. Crepes are a pretty safe bet as a popular food. It's fun and a little bit fancy, and it brings back memories of blissfully wandering around Paris clutching a Crepe Nutella. Somewhere in my food explorations I stumbled across a photo of a crepe cake which made me drool. I mean, look at that thing! I like crepes, I love cake, and the idea of slicing into this confection intrigued me, but didn't motivate me to jump up and make it.

Evidently, I needed the proper filling to really inspire me, and lo and behold, after my spontaneous trip back to Santa Barbara in late March (more in a later post with photos), I had the inspiration. Lemon curd made with the meyer lemons I bought at the farmer's market during my visit. And voila, Martha Stewart again had a recipe! I set to work.

Making the curd was easier, quicker, and required less ingredients than I might have imagined. I was imagining the need for eight egg yolks, heavy cream, etc. which are all wonderful as ingredients, but I am hesitant to make foods that require food follow-up: as in, I would then have to make something with 8 egg whites, and I'd have to come up with something to do with the extra cream since you never use a whole container. But no, this recipe only needed 2 eggs, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice. Easy! I whipped it up with the lovely smelling Meyer Lemons and voila, had a completely addictive lemon curd in minutes, which I had to restrain myself from treating as lemon pudding and eating it all immediately. However, I decided not to make it into a mousse by mixing the curd with whipped cream because curd is super yummy, why dilute it? (And why buy cream said my inner cheapskate). I will discuss this decision later as the downfall of my endeavor.

Next the crepes. I was much less worried about this part as I've made them before and they don't require a lot of fancy ingredients either: flour, eggs, milk, a little salt, a little sugar. Easy! However, the crepey formation was a bit more challenging -- it takes forever to cook them all one by one in the crepe pan, 12 in all. But that's ok; the bits I tasted were really yummy and I was excited to try my new confection when it was all put together.

So. I pondered a bit on how to make it look pretty on the plate, and hacked off around the edges to try and make it look pretty, oh, and round like a cake. This was not as simple as I thought and it was neither fabulous before I did the edges nor afterward. Then I started layering in the curd, which also was trickier than I expected as some of the crepes stuck together so I'd skip that layer and then have to go back and re-slather between layers, which then made the other layers all off center. Finally, after some struggle, I got it on the plate and snapped the photo. And it was time for the ultimate determination: how good did it taste?

After all that work, maybe I had overly high expectations as it was really took a while and some frustration to make. Yes, it was good. The curd and the crepes were a nice combo. But it wasn't GREAT. It wasn't like birthday cake. It was more like, well, crepes with curd on them in a huge pile. The crepes were good but, not unlike eating cold pancakes, were a little bit of a weird rubbery texture. And the curd was nice too. I didn't love how after you sliced it, it kinda fell over and apart on the plate. So then, time to submit it to my official testers, wandering around in search of Saturday morning breakfast. They were puzzled and suspicious by how it looked at first (as pre-teens often are). After tasting it, the verdict: they liked it in a "hey it's a homemade thing that is sweet," but not in a "oh my, I want more right now" kind of way. Which pretty much confirms my opinion that it was good to try, but not a repeater.

And now I realize as I look at the recipe I did not choose to follow, if I had chosen to turn the curd into mousse by adding heavy cream, I think it would have had more of a creamy lemony crepey mixture that could be a lot better than what I created. Hmmm. Well. Now I know. This blogger made it much more successfully (click to see how pretty!) and was very happy with the results, so hey, go for it if you are so inspired. But it looks easier than it is.

It's funny, though, returning to my thoughts about my passion for food. As I was making this cake, I started having a running blog entry in my head. Planning and thinking about the right photos, discussing the pros and cons in my head with my reader(s); (I supose there could be more than just one of you -- hi mom). So, after a break from my baking adventures, I refound the pleasure of talking and writing about food. Ta dah.

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