Tarte Tropézienne, a popular cake in Saint-Tropez pastry shops, was described by Pierre Hermé to be mythique. At least that was how Dorie Greenspan recounted in her book Baking Chef Moi (the recipe can be found on page 82 or here at Food52). With that in mind, I set out to make this “fancy” cake along with other bakers at Tuesdays with Dorie this week. Please check the blogroll to see their creations.
Things went in a different direction than anticipated. While I was kneading the dough, before the butter was added, my Kitchen Aid mixer began to sputter. I steadied the machine. Wrapped a kitchen towel around the glass bowl while holding down the mixer to prevent it from slipping and skidding on the countertop. All of the sudden, the glass mixing bowl cracked and broke in pieces. I was reaching for all the wrong levers to stop the paddle from spinning. Meanwhile, fragments of the glass bowl, some big and some small, were shattered all round. You can see tiny shards of glass on the surface of dough, which was still hanging around the paddle attachment over the broken bowl. What a sight! (In retrospect, I should have switched to the dough hook, and not continuing to use the paddle for the task. I might have been able to avert the disaster. I should know better.)
Time to throw out the dough as well as the butter sitting next to the mixer. Time to clean out the debris on the kitchen counter and the floor from the carnage. Nothing can be salvaged. It was tedious to remove every teeny bit of broken glass in all the nooks and crannies. If I want to make the cake, it’s time to do over and, calmly, gather the fresh ingredients (dry yeast, milk, all-purpose flour, sugar, eggs and butter) for another batch.
Then I discovered that the motor of the mixer had stopped running properly. The mixer was smoked. It was history. The strain of the extended kneading and 20+ years of continued service must have taken a toll on this poor classic Kitchen Aid mixer. If I still want to make the cake, the brioche dough would have to be done by hand. The task requires 15-18 minutes mixing time at medium speed in an electric mixer. Decision time: continue or abolish?
I took the plunge. I was not ready to surrender. I mixed the ingredients and kneaded the dough with all my might and grit. For a while, I thought it was a lost cause because the shaggy dough just wouldn’t come together. The butter was melting. I put the dough in the refrigerator to chill so that it became more workable in my hands. When all else seemed to have failed, my biceps/triceps took over and came to my rescue. Watching the Kentucky Derby while kneading was also a helpful distraction. In fits and starts, the kneading continued, together with series of slap and roll. The finished brioche dough was smooth and nice to the touch when I was done with it. Finally, something was working well. All that had happened and the shattered nerves were kneaded tightly into this ball of dough, the size of a grapefruit.
The dough was left out at room temperature for the first rise until it doubled in volume. Then I put it in the refrigerator for a cold ferment overnight. Next morning, it was shaped and placed in a 9-inch round pan ready to be baked. That was uneventful.
|No pearl sugar, used decorative sparkling sugar instead|
The cake was finally done. I decorated it with some fresh raspberries around the edge of the pastry cream fillings between the cake layers. I served the tarte Tropézienne to a few guests for dinner on Mother’s day. Not much was said about the cake. But there was nothing left of it. I think it’s a good cake with a tall tale, mythical or not, waiting to be told.
A replacement Kitchen Aid mixer will arrive in a few days. I found some good deals online. I treated myself with an upgraded mixer, but no glass bowl, for Mother’s day!