3.05.2012

All for an eclair

Yesterday, Jess and I turned our little kitchen into a proper brasserie. Donning aprons, we scurried about making eclairs for a dinner invitation. Crafting eclairs is an easy task, but it takes a number of steps, so both of us had our responsibilities and we were working quick since dinner was in an hour and a half. We should have started baking earlier, but I was thinking more about the "easy" part rather than the "number of steps" it takes to make an eclair.

Before I continue, I must explain how our apartment smoke detector functions, that is, it functions very well. Our toast begins to toast and the smoke detector goes off. The teapot begins to steam and the smoke detector goes off. The oven is set to 400 or above and it goes off. And we have two smoke detectors that are seven feet apart. It's as if these apartments have been designed to have a kitchen but they are not expected to be used.

I finished the eclair dough and placed it in the oven while Jess began to whip up the heavy cream for the filling (while we do have an electric beater and could have used it to whip the cream, Oliver was napping in the adjacent room and we didn't want to wake him). As the dough began to rise and bake, the smoke detectors began to go off. First one and then the other in quick succession. I felt obligated to check the dough, it was not burning. Nothing was.

One thing about these detectors is that they are as easy to stop as they are quick to start. A rapid waft of a kitchen towel usually does the trick, at least for 30 seconds. But this time, the detectors weren't even giving us 30 seconds per waft. It was more like point two seconds. They began ringing continually with 15 minutes still left for the dough to bake.

So there we were, Jess whisking up a storm and I wafting wildly. Then, because my arms were getting tired and there was still 8 minutes left to bake, I asked Jess if we could switch. The whisk and towel hand-off was like that of a relay race baton hand-off. Despite our speed, the smoke detector noticed the lull and began ringing loudly, all the while Oliver slept soundly! Jess again began wafting, abandoning his towel and replacing it with a child bed sheet for maximum efficiency. However, each time he put his hands down to take a break, the smoke detectors would respond with fury, as if to say in their mocking tone, "Haha! Nice try sucker! You can't put us out unless you take out the dough and turn off that oven." But we most certainly could not do that. If we did, our puffed dough would collapse. It needed more time!

Jess shook the sheet back and forth with a vengeance while I violently whipped the cream and opened a window (it didn't help). It was 5 minutes of utter mayhem, Jess muttering "these stupid things!" under his breath as he moved back and forth from one detector to the next and I whipping the cream into submission. Tears blurred my vision I was laughing so hard.

With three minutes left, I looked at the dough and found that I could pull it out a bit early. Thank goodness. I had to stop the frenzy. The detectors were silenced and we finished the dessert in relative bliss, topping the eclairs with a chocolate ganache. Oliver woke up shortly thereafter and we were off to dinner.

I have since figured that it would have been easier to remove the batteries from the smoke detector to bypass this whole event. So we have since done so for good.

Just kidding.

5 comments:

M said...

Our townhome had the same issue. Everytime that we cooked pizza, I would be fanning with a dishtowel while someone else was using the door to fan air into the room. It was painful....and we're glad our new house isn't so sensitive.

Janice said...

I love eclairs. I make them every March for St. Patrick's Day. We have several smoke detectors in our house that go off is the shower is too steamy.

The Jeff Bylund Family said...

MMM.... I love your eclairs. I would love the recipe. We have the opposite problem with our smoke detector. Sometimes I think, does this thing even work? It has batteries, but is NOT sensitive even when there is smoke.

Chap said...

What a funny post!! I could just see the two of you! Quite the pre-eclair eating exercise session!

Natalie said...

Oh my. What an eventful baking session. I hope I get to try one of those delicious-looking eclairs some day!