Friday, 9 January 2009



This week I finally got to do some baking from Dorie Greenspan's "Paris Sweets". I'd got the book for my birthday, but the craziness of Christmas and New Year meant that I'd only been able to read through the recipes, and hadn't tried any out yet.

I didn't have much time, so I did the very first recipe in the book, butter biscuits from the Poilane bakery (home of the famous pain Poilane sour dough loaf). They are called "punishments" as a bit of a joke, as the blurb leading up to the recipe explains. I even attempted to make them in the same way Greenspan describes Lionel Poilane making them, in a flour fountain. I got the dough together eventually, but the counter in our kitchen is too small to get a proper sized fountain going.

I baked these in T's gas oven, which I am beginning to think is a little cooler than the dial suggests, so I was worried that they weren't throughly cooked. I have frozen half the dough though, so I can test the other half in my oven which is electric and a bit more predictable than T's.

From the perspective of a resident of Scotland, where shortbread is pratically a staple food (and as someone who also managed to acquire 500 sticks of shortbread last summer after a charity raffle gone wrong) I found the texture of these a bit odd. The addition of an egg meant that they weren't as "short" as shortbread, but they were some how crispy yet soft at the same time. Reading the post by Greenspan on her blog, I am intrigued by the idea of butter tasting. I used Country Life (unsalted) to make these, but they didn't taste that buttery to me. I have been eyeing up some Italian cream butter, buerre d'Isigny, Bridel Sea Salted butter and goat butter in Waitrose recently. I think next time I have some spare money (and have been to the gym lots) I shall spend an afternoon eating bread and butter and seeing which one I think is best.

Star Shaped

Having delved in to "Paris Sweets" my opinion is now slightly altered from my first look at it nearly a month ago. Although most of the measurements are in American cups, there are gram measurements next to it, so that makes life a bit easier. The annoying element now is that most of the recipes are based around using a stand mixer, which I don't have. I'm sure most Parisian pastry chefs didn't have stand mixers until recently either, so it's a bit of a pain to reconvert the recipe back to something that can be done by hand. My initial assessment that it was a book for special occasions also has changed, and I can see myself attempting most recipes in this book at one time or another.

(I also charged the batteries on my dSLR so prepare for slightly better pictures from now on!)