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Thursday, July 22, 2010

If you can't stand the heat...

It's been hot here lately.  But we do live in Cairo and it is July, after all.  Brandon said that July in Cairo is like December in Siberia, except you don't get any Christmas at the end.

Thankfully we have fairly good air conditioners and so have been relatively comfortable, the only major area of discomfort being the badly-air conditioned kitchen.  Following are some testaments to the heat of the kitchen.  The thermometer is recording the cold tap water temperature.

the butter is sitting in its own pool of melt

Generally the heat of our kitchen is just annoying, but last night I made some puff pastry desserts for a dinner party on Saturday.  One of the keys to good puff pastry-ing is cold.  The butter is distributed between tiny, tissue thin layers of flour (somewhere around 700) and so is itself very thin and very sensitive to heat.  If the butter gets too warm, the whole thing turns to mush, and mush doesn't stand up very well to being rolled out and cut.

Even at 8 at night, our granite counter attached to the masonry wall that leads outside transfers all of that lovely cairo heat to whatever it touches.  Pastry cold from the refrigerator softens and sticks to the counter with 30 seconds of it being placed there, and within two minutes is almost useless.

And so, that is why last night I was rolling out pastry amid partly-frozen bags of mango pulp, strawberry popsicle mix, frozen enchilada insides, a random carton of milk, and leftovers from a tart I made last summer.  Thank heaven for our full-size freezer that held all of the stuff.

The pastry worked out well enough, and if it didn't it will be too late Saturday anyway.  I'm not sure how those French did it without air conditioning and bags of frozen fruit.  Maybe it was only a winter thing?


PaulaJean said...

Even in Raleigh, in my nicely airconditioned kitchen, I've resorted to bags of frozen peas and corn to cool my counter off to make puff pastry. And I put my rolling pin in the freezer. Although our cold water isn't 93. . . yet.

Nancy said...

You could always turn the heater for your water off but still use the tank so the water sits inside before being used. Then just remember that cold is hot and hot is room temperature...

Latter-day Guy said...

You make your own puff pastry?!?! As much as I like food from scratch, that particular project would be WAY to ambitious for me. (Although, can you buy the ready-made stuff in Cairo? That might explain it.)

In any case, I'm so looking forward to seeing you guys in August! Take care and don't melt in the heat... we'll all melt together in the Missouri humidity. :-)