Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007: Gateau Engadine

Since I decided to bake pies this year for Thanksgiving, I wanted to try a pie or two that were unusual--at least for me. I knew two would have to be the classic pumpkin. I wanted to do a fruit pie but I wanted to try something other than apple. For the fourth pie, I was thinking something like a chocolate silk or a banana cream or...Gateau Engadine. Bingo.

November 22, 2007
Occasion: I have the whole day to myself to play in the kitchen!
Name of pie: Gateau Engadine
Constituents: Two layers Sweet Cookie Crust, GF, with a layer of honey-caramel and toasted walnuts in between.

Have you seen the photo of this in The Pie and Pastry Bible? It looks SOOO GOOD. If you don't have The Pie and Pastry Bible, then here's a pretty good photo of the Gateau, plus the webpage is in German! How cool is that! If you don't speak German, don't worry; you can view the webpage in French too!

[total sidenote: according to the website, the Gateau was conceived of in 1926 by Fausto Pult. He hailed from the part of Switzerland called Engadin, where there are NO nut tress! Crazytalk! The website invites you to write to them to expound on the astounding history of the land of the Nut Torte, where no nuts grow.]

It looks like it is about 80% cookie crust and 20% caramel and toasted nuts. For a celiac who by and large can't enjoy pastry like she used to, this GF sucker could make up for all the pastry she can't eat. I couldn't go wrong with this one.

Well, let me tell you how I went wrong. When making the filling, you gotta first make caramel. I am a caramel novice. I haven't done it much so when I do try to make caramel, so far I have either taken it off the stove too early resulting in a pale amber colored caramel that doesn't have much flavor, or I overcook it resulting in a very dark reddish amber that tastes bitter because it is burnt.

Guess which way I went with this pie.

I had the thermometer in the syrup as it boiled away...the temperature slowly, slowly creeping upwards...186, 214, 286, 300...I was to boil until 360 (a deep amber)...all of a sudden the temp was 368 and I pulled it off, got the cream and began to add it slowly....

Then I put the caramel back on the stove and simmered for a few minutes more (to dissolve any bits that hardened when I added the cream), added the lightly toasted walnuts, simmered for one more minute, then removed from heat, transfered to another bowl to completely stop the cooking process, added in the honey and let it cool completely.

So I think I am learning that, when making caramel, 8 degrees makes a huge difference in product.

On the other hand, the GF dough was a pleasure to work with. It rolled out nice and thick, crumbled only marginally when I transferred it to the pan, and repaired easily. Not too sticky, not too dry and crumbly.

My Gateau came out 60% crust and 30% caramel-walnut filling. Which isn't bad. It would have been much more enjoyable if it wasn't so bitter. I would also prefer the walnuts to be nice and toasted--I am not much for raw or partially raw nuts. My ex roomie and I are thinking that maybe with a generous helping of dulche de leche ice cream, my burnt-caramel Gateau will become more pleasantly edible. Who knows. This pastry is certainly deserving of a redux, because the promise of a shortbread-caramel-toasty nut thing is a good one.


  1. ECL,
    Caramel is the scariest thing ever! There is one millisecond when it's perfect, but that's it, and it's really hard to hiti it right on the millisecond. Good for you that you tried!

  2. BBC,

    Isn't it true! Caramel is like the last frontier: scary, unknown, and dangerous.

    The interesting thing about this pie, is that after a couple days the bitterness wasn't very pronounced, and it actually tasted quite good...with a healthy scoop of French Vanilla ice cream.

    Thanks BBC!