Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a French pastry cooking class with my mother in law and sisters in law. We baked madeleines, an apple tarte tatin, and some eclairs.
At the beginning of the class, the teacher invited us to come share our baking horror stories and, when I told her I’d managed to set some scones on fire, she pressed me for more details.
Now, bear in mind, this is a lady who has interned at bakeries in both France and England. She can whip up a batch of cream puffs in her sleep. She’s probably seen every baking error in the book, so I was confident that she’d know what I did wrong the fateful morning I conflagrated a batch of breakfast pastries.
I explained to her how I cut the butter into the lemon ricotta scones, how I then pressed them into a greased scone pan, and then put them into the oven only to run to said oven in horror when thick black smoke started pouring up to the ceiling. The smoke detector blaring, I opened the oven to see butter bubbling up out of the scone pan and onto the bottom of the oven, where it was burning on contact and stinking to high heaven.
Of course, this happened to be the moment the friends we’d invited over for breakfast arrived. The chaos, stench, and mess definitely spelled out a sincere welcome, trust me.
After I relayed this story, the pastry chef wiped her brow with the back of one hand and said, “I’ve never heard of that happening before.”
You see, in a scone recipe, cutting chunks of cold butter into the dough enables the butter to be a rising agent. As the butter melts, the steam pushes the dough up to create little pockets of luscious deliciousness. Only in mine, the butter just leaked out to ruin brunch.
I have to imagine blundering a recipe so bad a pastry chef can’t even figure out what you did is some kind of accomplishment. Like, maybe in the great video game of life I’ve unlocked a new level and my badge looks like an oven on fire?
Question is, is that considered leveling up or down?