The Great Hall
Rose Levy Beranbaum The Great Hall: Rose Levy Beranbaum
By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 10:48 am: Edit

Has anybody used these books extensively? I have used the Cake Bible for years but now my students cannot successfully complete her Italian Meringue for buttercream. I have worked with them and watched them, but the sugar always gathers at the bottom of the wire whip instead of incorporateing into the egg whites, no matter how carefully they pour them onto the whites. It has become a bone of contention. Any suggestions? Does anybody know how I can contact her?

By Adelie (Adelie) on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 10:53 am: Edit

I'm so intimidated by her that I read the "Cake Bible" like a novel, but have never dared attempt her recipes. (Keeping in mind that I'm not trained, just an enthusiastic home kitchen hound.)

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 10:57 pm: Edit

("but the sugar always gathers at the bottom of the wire whip instead of incorporateing into the egg whites, no matter how carefully they pour them onto the whites") it too hot, or not hot enough?
let me think................
(sawing sound, burnt wood smell,clank!riiippp!, oopps!!!)...gotta get back to ya, the new girlfriend is here and shes a whole lot more pretty than this screen!yikes!!!

By Maxwellscook (Maxwellscook) on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 11:26 am: Edit

I am not a chef, but I have made a few cakes in my time... If I may. I am guessing that the temp. to which you are cooking your sugar is too should be (and I looked it up :)) 258 deg. F (120C). failing that I can't say. I just have never had the problem..GL.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 12:11 pm: Edit

I still think, off the top of my brain that its, well should come off the stove and go right into the mix, in a thin steady stream thinner than a pencil.
Sorry, I have no idea why this is happening.
and I don't know the recipe.
also, I have not used this for many years, cause its just not a stable, long shelf life product.
and you can't do with this that you can do with a stronger type of buttercream.

By Point83702 (Point83702) on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 02:22 pm: Edit

I'm not a baker or patissiere. I had a problem last year that sounds similar and when I changed to a different brand of frozen egg whites the problem disappeared. Just a thought.

By Kinglear (Kinglear) on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 08:13 pm: Edit

Rose Levy Berenbaum's books are almost scientific in their approach to a recipe. She gives volume measurements and weights to each ingredient. Though she is meticulous in her descriptions of baking processes, sometimes I feel she assumes the people making her recipes have a greater degree of skill than the average home baker. Of course, even the most thoroughly tested recipes can have a problem in the process description.
My hunch from reading your post is that the sugar is cooked to too high a temperature. If it stiffens with just marginal contact with room temp air, it's too hot.
I don't use a thermometer when making swiss buttercreme, but I have a great trick for you to try-works every time for me. Combine your sugar and a little water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and test the consistency frequently by dipping a paper clip bent into a loop into it. As soon as a thin film of liquid sugar fills the loop, blow a thin stream of air through it. When you can blow the sugar into a delicate string of little bubbles, it's ready to be added to the meringue. This is also known as the soft-ball stage. Works every time.
To get in touch with Rose, call her editor at her publishing company, usually listed in the acknowledgements. I think she may be published by John Wiley and Sons in Hoboken NJ. She's pretty responsive, from my experience--just be prepared for a long conversation.

And don't offer to buy her lunch--but that's another story.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 10:39 pm: Edit

paper clips, blowing bubbles,... your breaking my heart.
dosen't anyone use a "thermometer" anymore?
drop a small piece on the table?
or in cold water?
all these new kitchen gadgets... Paper Clip?
do they have a pocket for it in those knife roll-up things?
see, when I was a young snot nose student we all didn't have all those fancy knife wrap up thingys,
we just jammed the knife down behind our belts.
we went through a few belts sure, but it looked great!
thats just before we left the building and walked five miles home.
in the snow.
up hill both ways.
in the dark.
with no gloves.
or rubbers.(didn't need them then)
or a hat.
carrying our little brother.
with foil wrapped left overs from lunch to feed the family, and the goat.
MAN, childhood was tough!

By Kinglear (Kinglear) on Sunday, February 29, 2004 - 09:06 am: Edit

The swiss pastry chef who trained me (Palace Hotel, St Moritz, Switzerland) taught me the paper clip trick-actually, it was a truffle dipping loop, but paper clips work fine too. His reasoning was that thermometers always get broken and missing just when you really need them-so learn how to do the work without them.
We also tempered chocolate without a thermometer-benching and the lower-lip test.
He also iced cakes with perfect sides and tops without a cake wheel-taught everyone else to do so as well.
We made our own pastry tips from plastic stenciling material to suit our decorative needs too. Ever notice that the one star tip that is just the right size and shape always goes down the drain or in the trash?

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Sunday, February 29, 2004 - 10:37 am: Edit

I did, do, was taught the same way.
I was just having some fun.
choc. on the lip,
no wheel, all this stuff we learned to pass.
a good friend of mine is Swiss, Damian, Ex Chef in Cinn. at the Omni Hotel, maybe you know him.
One of the best Chefs I ever worked with.

By Kinglear (Kinglear) on Sunday, February 29, 2004 - 02:11 pm: Edit

Sorry Spike, I don't know your friend. My time in St. Moritz was spent in bowels of the hotel working, working, working--and that was over 20 years ago. Only got to ski once in 6 months and that was only to show my Swiss friends how little a US southerner knows about attacking snow and slopes. A blast for them, humiliating for me.
Unfortunately, I've always felt the Swiss do not the the culinary praise they deserve--all those French soaking up all the glory. I love their self-effacing style, yet committment to quality, cleanliness and efficient organization. All the chefs I met were hardworking, respectful of those on their way up and always willing to share any information
Try the loop trick next time your thermometer breaks. Saves you the 25 bucks buying a new one.

By Rpd144000 (Rpd144000) on Wednesday, April 07, 2004 - 12:49 pm: Edit

What does Bo say? Does the Professional Pastry Chef cover that?

By Jonesg (Jonesg) on Sunday, April 18, 2004 - 01:13 pm: Edit

2 possible problems occurin here.

1 The sugar is cooked beyond softball stage to hardball. I do it by hand with a cup of cold water. I don't know what the temperature of softball would be but you probably went past it, it helps to pull the syrup just as it approaches this stage, let it quit bubbling , crank the machine up to high and start pouring.

2 also it really helps to lift the bowl til you can hear it contact the whip slightly as you pour the sugar in.

It has happened to me for both reasons, I scooped the sugar lump out and put it more water, warmed it up to soften and added it back.

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