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Need help fleshing out old, ultra-concise baking recipes


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Need help fleshing out old, ultra-concise baking recipes

vjb | Dec 8, 2012 09:21 AM


I have some old, handwritten, ultra-concise recipes from Alsace that seem like aides-memoire for the cook. Where they mention an oven temperature at all, they say only "gentle oven" ("four doux" in the original French), and I don’t know what that means. Most lack baking times. Some list only ingredients. By the way, egg whites are "battus en neige", which I take to mean they’re beaten into stiff peaks and not just frothy. Any French-speaking bakers out there, please correct me if I’m wrong.

Sometimes weights of dry ingredients are given in grams, sometimes they're given as 1/2 livre or 1/4 livre. According to a source I found online, one livre is 200 grams, so I've rendered such recipes in grams using that formula.

If you were to turn the following ‘recipes’ into recipes-for-stupid-people, what would you add to the instructions? The translations are mine, as are comments/questions in square brackets.

1) Little hazelnut cakes: 100gr hazelnuts ground with a bit of sugar, 100 gr powdered sugar, 8 egg whites, lemon zest. Beat the egg whites, mix with the hazelnuts and the sugar. Butter the moulds and bake in a gentle oven.

2) Chocolate croissants: 100 gr ground almonds, 100 gr sugar, 50 gr chocolate, 2 egg whites (use a little more if the eggs are small), not beaten, a pinch of cinnamon, one ground clove. When it’s well mixed and the dough is of even consistency, roll it out and form little crescents. Let bake slowly.

3) Chocolate cake (good recipe) [sic]: 6 eggs. Beat the yolks with 100 gr of sugar, 50 gr of ground almonds, 50 gr of grated chocolate, beaten egg whites. Butter the pan with melted butter. Gentle oven.

4) Little tea cakes: 4 egg whites, 300 gr of sugar, 200 gr of flour, some ground almonds and a little fleur d’oranger.

5) Carrot cake: 100gr of crushed sugar [powdered sugar? orig: sucre pilé] , 100 gr of cooked then grated carrots [sic], 6 eggs, 100gr ground almonds, lemon rind. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar, add the carrots, then the almonds and the beaten egg whites. Also add the lemon rind. Butter the pan and put into the oven 3/4 hour. [I'm leaving out the icing instructions]

6) Good Madeleines [sic]: 8 eggs, for flour the weight of 7 eggs and for butter the weight of 6 eggs, for sugar the weight of 8 eggs. Cream the butter, then the eggs and the sugar for half an hour. The egg whites beaten. [what might beating by hand for half an hour translate into for a mixer?]


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