Monday, May 20, 2013

So who did invent whipped cream?


Indianerkrapfen
Trying to cook from the 27-book Time-Life international series is overwhelming! I sit down to write a grocery list, happily flip through one book after another, and 3 hours later look up and don't have a grocery list which is cool because I no longer have the energy to go to the grocery store. I may have to refine my approach.

Indianerkrapfen. Not a pretty word in English, so we'll call them Indianer cakes. The recipe comes from The Cooking of Vienna's Empire (part of the Time-Life series) by Joseph Wechsberg, a revered food writer whose Blue Trout and Black Truffles I once read but remember nothing about. He offers an account of the invention of Indianer cakes that is so silly I almost don't want to waste the energy typing it. But will: A Hindu tightrope walker traveled to Vienna in 1850 and a woman was watching him traverse the tightrope between two towers when her husband told her to quit staring This pissed her off and she threw a lump of dough at him. The dough landed in a pan of hot fat and when she pulled it out she filled it with whipped cream, iced it with chocolate, and named the new cake in honor of the Hindu tightrope walker.
This is the stage where you think you have failed.
Do you believe that? Neither do I. Wechsberg also writes that a Viennese housewife invented whipped cream and while the Austrians do seem to eat a lot of it,  I don't believe that either. Wikipedia concurs.

To make Indianer cakes, you mix an airy batter of cornstarch, flour, sugar, and egg and bake in a muffin tin. Cool the muffin-cakes, which will be sunken and misshapen, scoop out the middle of each, and fill the hollow with whipped cream. Turn the cakes cream-side down and glaze the tops with chocolate. The cakes resemble profiteroles, but instead of firm, bland choux-paste shells, the Indianer shells are tender and sweet, like a French cruller. I loved them. Everyone did. They were gone in 24 hours.

The recipe had problems, principally, the glaze. You're supposed to melt unsweetened chocolate with water, sugar, corn syrup, and cream, then whisk in beaten egg at the end. I knew this was going to fail and fail it did, yielding a thin, oily fluid full of scrambled egg bits. I threw it out and made an easier glaze from Kaffeehaus by Rick Rodgers that worked beautifully. Rodgers offers a somewhat different technique for Indianer cakes that I want to try, as well as a more plausible story of their origin. I will print a recipe for Indianer cakes as soon as I've got it perfected because they are really, really special.
like greasy quesadillas, but less tasty
Less special: the Tunisian brik from Quintet of Cuisines. You place a mound of seasoned ground lamb on a square of fillo dough, crack an egg on the lamb, fold the fillo into a triangle, and fry for a few minutes. A diagram would have helped with the fillo origami and I also could have used a few words on how to fry the brik because: too fast and they will brown before the egg inside has cooked. This happened. Wet, gelatinous egg, tasty lamb, oily filo. I would give the recipe another shot and try to correct my errors, but just don't love savory fillo pastries enough to bother.

On another subject, I had to go back to Monterey this past weekend and saw something in the backyard of a historic adobe that reminded me of a big project I have not yet completed:
Oh, go away, not now.
I was so gung ho about our pizza oven last fall, but the weather got bad so we had to stop before applying the final layer of insulation and plaster. Now the weather is lovely again and all I want to do is sit on the deck eating cherries and flipping through books on Austrian pastries.

26 comments:

  1. Krapfen would be donut, so Indian donuts. Regardless they sound delicious and not too difficult, please write up the recipe.

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  2. I am in the same place. Trying to find the motivation to finish up projects that were interrupted. I hope you find your motivation. Think of all those dynamite pizzas you can make when it is too hot to cook in the house?! Any effect? Nah, me neither.

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  3. Those cakes look incredible. and profiteroles are michael's favorite dessert, so i hope the recipe comes before father's day. also, we will be happy to help you with finishing the oven. this weekend?

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  4. Even though the Indianers sound like enough calories for a month, I want to try them. They sound just too good to not at least try. You didn't finish the pizza oven? How'd I miss that? I really thought you had. Your caption made me almost spit my coffee on the keyboard! Now I'm hungry.

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    1. I finished it enough that we could bake in it, but when we did a lot of smoke came out of the roof so we could see where it needed a little more insulation. And then we put a tarp on it for weather-proofing in the winter rain. The yard would look a lot nicer without the tarp. I've just got to have a big cup of coffee one morning and finish.

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    2. Go for it. The insulation over the dome was really easy when I did it. Much, much easier than the clay-sand mixture. I also had an easy time with the plaster, once I decided to ignore that hippy Kiko Denzer and go with something from OSH, rather than his earth-and-straw nonsense. A friend and I did it in less than an hour. My oven has been tarp-free ever since.

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  5. I love that you are delving into the Time Life Foods of the World series. I collected all of them throughtout my marriage but foolishly sold most of them when we sold the house. When I tried to find my fav cabbage roll recipe I remembered it was in"The Cooking of Vienna's Empire". Long story short, I found the recipe book online and bought it back!
    You are my hero for building that pizza oven too.

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  6. There is a corner of our yard currently occupied by blackberry brambles, morning glory, a dead tree and some Mock Orange bushes that never smell good that would be perfect for a pizza oven. Maybe if we ever get around to clearing the corner, we can aim to get around to building the oven.

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  7. LizA (A for Austria)5/21/13, 12:25 PM

    Yay for Austrian pastries! It always puzzled me why there are so few books on Austrian cooking and baking out there; nothing beats Austrian sweet dishes! :-) The Indianer I know are a kind of sponge (no fat, that kind of sponge).

    Krapfen can be doughnuts, but they can be other things too - for example, there are Schlutzkrapfen which are a kind of ravioli filled with spinach. There are quite a few non-sweet Krapfen out there.

    Finally, the story about the Indian does not make sense. In German, "Indianer" refers to American Indians only, while "Inder" refers to people from India....

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  8. I am half Austrian and half Hindu by appreciation and I predict a black forest cake in your near future.

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  9. But how does one eat the Indianer? It seems that when you eat it the cream on the underside would fall all over your lap? Or do you flip it and eat it chocolate side down? HELP US

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    Replies
    1. I was trying to figure the same thing out! Tipsy, please explain the logistics of eating this dish - and ooh! Does it look YUMMY! :) Best, Ida

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    2. The cream and the Indianer are very COLD and really hold together. I think I did eat them upside down but I wasn't paying attention. With the next batch, which I'm making today, I will. Plus, they're not like a cupcake -- you eat them in 3 bites. Very airy, both the shell and the cream.

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    3. LizA (A for Austria)5/25/13, 6:14 AM

      I am not sure what your recipe says, but in Austria these are not open at the bottom. You half them either in the middle or a bit lower and take out some of the (baked) dough so you get a cavity (or if you halved, two cavities). Then you fill them and put them back together.

      That said, as a child (and these are very evocative of childhood! a typical treat for children going to a Konditorei with their grandparents) I found them very hard to eat, as the cream has a tendency to come out on the side. But I guess yours were smaller anyway - traditional Indianer trays are slightly bigger than muffin trays (drat it, the result is bigger!)...

      Here is a link that shows an Indianertray - although professional pastry makers might use something different...

      http://www.warberger.com/Hera-Indianerform-12-fach-antihaft-38x29cm

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  10. I would like to know how to eat the Indianer as well. And I would like for you to finish the pizza oven and begin baking amazing pizza with homemade dough and homemade cheese. Camembert pizza? with a few walnuts scattered over it? then pull it out and quickly thow a handful of arugula on top so the residual heat wilts it? just a thought! okay, hungry now.

    Too bad about the brik. It looked so promising.

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  11. I really want that recipe for the Indianer!

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  12. Those krapfen look amazing! I was lucky enough to be staying with friends in Bavaria during Fasching, the period before lent, when it's customary to eat krapfen. There were so many different flavors and my hosts took their responsibility to make sure I tasted every kind very seriously. Ah, to be young with a metabolism...

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  13. Hi Jennifer,

    I know this is terribly off-topic, but I couldn't find your email address to tell you that way.

    I'm at the part in Buy the Butter, Make the Bread where you were talking about how you'd never found a good way to store chicken stock.

    The way I do it is relatively hassle-free and has never failed me yet: just grease up a few muffin pans and ladle the stock in the muffin cups til they're just about full. Then pop them in the freezer overnight. I've found I can stack two or three pans on top of each other as long as I stagger them to the side a bit. The next day, take them out of the freezer and let them sit a few minutes, then stick a knife down the side of each cup til the frozen stock pops out. Put them in a ziplock bag and stick them back in the freezer. DONE. Each muffin cup of stock, when thawed, equals 1/3 to 1/2 of a cup. Hope that helps!

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    Replies
    1. That's a pretty great idea. Better than ice cube trays. I worry the stock would slosh out when I closed the freezer drawer, but if I was careful I'm sure it would work.

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