I splurged last week and bought a heavy vintage copper specialty pan for this classic dish. Did a trial run last night using the recipe from Molly Stevens' "One Potato Two Potato". Followed the directions in every detail. Terrible failure...soggy, grey, crisping the top took WAY longer than the allotted time, and crisping the *bottom*, well, there wasn't any.
After this failure, I went to Escoffier and checked--basically the same recipe.
Then.... on to the French Culinary Institute recipe, which is markedly different: http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/coo...
The FCI method involves building the "cake" in the pan base, pre-warmed on the stovetop, then upping the hob's heat for a sear before covering and baking for a much shorter time. The cake is flipped into the lid, and the uncovered lid goes back in the oven until the *downside* is browned.
The FCI method seems to make sense, the bake-only not so much.
Are there any experts here who can shed any light on why August and Molly use only the oven?