Baker at Large: High Altitude Cooking Reviews Continue

Okay, so I am getting reports from my bakers-at-large who are testing recipes from the two books I received on high altitude baking. Unfortunately, two of my bakers reported that the recipe for popovers was a dismal failure. I understand that you have to really avoid beating the eggs to much but will ask Susan the author what her secret is.

In the meantime, here is another report:

The Taos Lemon Sponge Roll from Pie in the Sky is your basic Jelly Roll technique. I have always found Jelly Rolls rather daunting. I get the whole “wrap up in a kitchen towel while still warm” thing but, when you unwrap the cooled sponge to spread the filling, what’s to stop it breaking up? Answer: Nothing.

It will break up but if you spread enough filling over it, you can stick it back together. The other nerve wracking thing about Jelly Roll making is the Genoise technique for making the sponge. With this method, the only thing preventing the finished cake from having the texture of a piece of cardboard is the complex and difficult to manage relationship between eggs and air. I find this tricky at sea level and here, at high altitude, on a dry and breezy day, I was worried about getting it right.

The beating of the egg whites and the incorporation of the sugar went well and I was careful not to over beat and lose the silky, glossy finish on the egg whites. Achieving the desired “ribbon stage” with the egg yolks was a different story. Ms. Purdy cheerfully states that this could take 3 minutes at sea level and may take 6 or 7 minutes or longer at altitude. It took a full 20 minutes at high speed and by the end I was applying cold compresses to my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer in an attempt to keep it from bursting into flames. I may have quit before the exact ribbon effect was reached because, well, I love my Kitchen Aid Mixer and I couldn’t bear to see it suffer further.

The finished sponge was surprisingly good. The Jelly Roll technique was successfully executed and the end result pronounced “very good”. I thought it was better than very good, I thought it was bloody brilliant but then I like lemon.

In the interests of scientific integrity, I have to confess I didn’t make the lemon filling from the book. I used purchase Lemon Curd and
it worked just fine.

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This entry was posted on Monday, April 7th, 2008 and is filed under Baking & Cooking, Mountain Lake Resort.

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