Monday, September 19, 2011

Obedience and the Cream Puff

Well, it was actually an entire batch of cream puffs. I’ve been making cream puffs for years. They always turn out good, if I do say so myself. I would even consider myself fairly satisfied with the end result, though I always thought it could be better.

Several weekends ago, Lori had her last day of work in the bakery and she wanted to take a treat in to share with everyone (and when you work in a bakery, what else do you take but baked goods??). She decided that she wanted to take cream puffs, so we got to work. I was determined that since these were not for my own wants, I wanted them to be perfect. So, I took out the recipe and followed it exactly! None of this “well, it looks like it might be done”, or “its close enough”. I wasn’t striving for close, I was striving for perfection!

The recipe says to bring the butter and water to a boil. Once this happens, stir in the flour until it is incorporated and starts to form a ball. You then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing each egg in completely before adding the next one. This is generally where I mess up. I usually have help that is so helpful, I haven’t actually mixed the egg in entirely before the next is dropped in. I don’t know if this is really key, but we did it this time and worked so well.

Then you scoop them out and bake them. The directions said to bake until golden brown and crispy. I always made it to the golden brown stage but was afraid of burning them that I never really gave them the opportunity to get the right amount of crunchiness. When I made them this time, I checked them at the appointed time and then added 5 – 10 minutes, checking frequently so they didn’t burn. When I brought them out, they didn’t fall like they have in the past. They were cooked enough that they kept their shape!! They were amazing to eat plain while they were still warm…just saying.

We made the pastry cream. Usually I just use a standard pudding mix…one box mix, two cups milk. When we went to Georgia in June, I decided to mix it up a little bit. With a little guidance from a happenstance website, I added a cup of cream and a cup of milk (I’ve made it since then and have done all cream…very good, but very rich and completely unnecessary). It makes it set up thicker and gives it an amazing taste. However, I put that good cream in compacted, soft pastry puffs and it was very disappointing. This time we had it right. Amazing puffs + amazing pastry cream = amazing cream puff!!

Now, if you are a chocolate addict like me, you must have chocolate on top of the cream puff. The recipe for my chocolate glaze/frosting is my favorite. It was given to me by a friend in college and I use it any chance I get. I have always wanted it to be thicker and better than I had made, but I had never been able to get it to work. This time, we did something amazing (new favorite word for this post…sorry!). We followed the recipe…again! It says to combine the first few ingredients in a pan until it boils for a minute. I have little patience for boiling things. Lori diagnosed this problem when, after only 20 seconds, I asked if I could move one. She looked at me with a look only a sister could get away with…you know, the one that says “you’re a moron”. I continued counting to 60 (1 minute) and started getting worried when the mixture started separating in the pan. I always thought separation in food prep was a bad thing. In this case, it was the best thing that could have happened! Thick, rich, fudging frosting/glaze (honestly, it was too thick to be considered a glaze, but it was perfect on the cream puffs).

I learned through this endeavor that obedience is fine. I followed the recipes before, I did what they said. This time, however, I followed the recipe with exact obedience. In this moment, I wondered what things in my life I was being obedient to, but could be exercising exact obedience. I’ve decided that if it’s something worth doing right, whether in the kitchen, at work, or anywhere else, I am going to be doing it with exactness.

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