Common Problems with Eclairs and Cream Puffs

Husband went to the college library last week and took out Practical Baking, a comprehensive compendium for the budding commercial baker. The book outlines in over 800 pages in very scientific and practical terms, all the baked goods one could possibly create, and all the problems that could occur, such as why icings and toppings might run without stabilizers, why puff pastries blister and flake, and why your Napoleon sheets are tough or break easily when handled. Husband was interested in the section devoted to common problems with hard rolls.  The book addresses common problems for every imaginable baked good.

The book also contains a suggested 6 month course of home study to become an accomplished baker.  Weeks 9 and 10, for example, are devoted to perfecting biscuits and muffins.  Husband brought the book home because he  really is interested in common problems with hard rolls (It is a concern specific to people from Sheboygan, WI), and also because it is so funny in its seriousness.

What how-to manual would you like to write?  What how-to manual would have made your life easier? Ever had an authentic bratwurst on a Sheboygan hard roll?  (You know what they say, its not the brat, its the bun!)

25 thoughts on “Common Problems with Eclairs and Cream Puffs”

  1. Oh, I dunno, I think the brat’s kind of important too. 😉 Never had a Sheboygan hard roll (of which I’m aware).

    I totally get the doorstop-sized book on baking. There is some serious chemistry going on between flour, yeast, baking soda & powder, salt, sugar, butter, etc.

    Anybody can make a simple loaf of “everyday” bread, but I’ve only tasted a handful of truly outstanding breads in my limited visits to restaurants and bakeries (for bread, NOT for sweets–I’d live in a doughnut shop if there were no negative consequences.).

    The definitive tome on how to write “How-to ____” manuals would be the ultimate book I’d want to write, since EVERYONE would buy that book and you could cover the entire topic with one book. Lots of residual royalties for the one effort. 🙂

    My one regret was not having available the definitive how-to book on becoming a great teacher. College education schools give you the basics of knowing your subject matter and having some sort of basic teaching method, but great teachers have something extra that elevates them above the ordinary. Teaching was rewarding on the good days, but I knew I lacked that special quality that doomed me to mediocrity–which is why I bailed after six years.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 4 people

  2. there is a book out i need to get back to. i got started but didn’t finish it. it’s called the subtle art of not giving a f**k.
    the stuff we care about is pretty funny when anaylized. i could do a variation on that.
    people from sheboygan need a distraction. north dakota is good but most settle for a hard roll

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My brother in law drove Husband’s sister crazy in his repeated attempts to replicate Sheboygan hard rolls. They have to be crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, oval but wide enough to hold two brats side by side. They are not kaiser rolls. He decided he could only make them in a commercial oven with steam.

    Common problems for hard rolls are not enough volume, too moist and fine grained, or too firm. You need just the right amount of protein in the flour, not too much sugar and fat or not enough sugar and fat. You don’t want crust too thick or the dough too dense.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. That sounds like an interesting cookbook. And as Chris says, there is a lot of chemistry going on in baking. Pretty darn interesting!

    Yesterday Kelly and I put a new ceiling fan up. I’ve done a lot of fans and they’re all basically kinda the same. So I skim the directions and proceed. Twice Kelly had to say to me “Isn’t that supposed to be on there?” Oh. Yeah. Missed that part. I’ve always had a problem with details. And that’s the problem. Less words, more big, obvious pictures.
    I mean this fan came with a cable and eye hook and you’re suppose to install the eye hook into the rafter above your ceiling so when all else fails, the cable will catch the fan. Really?? How is ANYONE supposed to get up above the electrical box to install the eye hook??
    Of course that’s just a “CYA” instruction for them, but still. (CYA= Cover your ass). I cut the cable off and threw the hook away.

    So often instruction books leave out the quirks that you’ll run into in real life. And it’s impossible to regulate everything. Rule one should be “Have some common sense.”

    I was working in a theater the other day.
    One of the stage light fixtures was hung upside down. The issue with that is the open slot where the gel frame slides in is then on the bottom and, you know, gravity. In this case, the gel frame, combined with another accessory, made enough friction that both things stayed in. Mostly. The gel frame was about 1/2 way out. And I thought if I taught a class on lighting, I wouldn’t even think to tell people, ‘DON’T HANG THE LIGHT UPSIDE DOWN!”. I’d think if they got to this point they would know that…
    I teased the last guy it must have been pretty late at night he hung that light. Or maybe he was drunk (but I didn’t joke with him about that). he didn’t respond. So it could have been the second…

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I’ve recently started seeking a new waking up ritual, after hearing a talk that included a morning “prayer” used by the speaker. After I look into this a bit more and come up with a good one for myself, I could write maybe an article (not a book) about that. One of my resources would be this book: The Way to Start a Day, by Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall, “depicting the ways various peoples from around the world welcome the sun and the start of a new day.”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. When YA was three, we got a new swing set (long story about why). I laid out all the bits, counted everything, read all the way through the directions (it was A LOT of directions). At about the five-hour mark, our renter came out to help. He did not look at the directions, despite my insistence. After about an hour, he needed to go to work and about 20 minutes later I realized that I needed to undo what he had done or else I would never be able to finish according to the directions. I finished before it was dark, but just barely.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’d like to put together a cookbook of simple, healthy elegant recipes that a young, new cook accomplish with a minimum of ingredients. (A co-worker from Birchbark Books used to come in with wonderful soup recipes that would fall into this category, and he wanted to do the same.) Kind of like the Alice’s Restaurant Cookbook from the 70s, but updated. (I’ve seen 4-ingredient or 5-ingredient cookbooks, but often one of the ingredients is “a jar of white sauce”, etc.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Or how about an old, tired cook? I would be interested in something like that.

      On second thought, maybe I would be interested in that if someone else does most of the cooking from those recipes.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. ljb, I can give you the recipe I prepare two or three nights a week. It’s good for a physically limited person trying to eat healthily but with minimum work. They sell “classic chicken noodle soup” in the deli section of most supermarkets. It stints on the expensive ingredient: chicken. Carve a few bites of chicken from a grocery store rotisserie chicken. Then dump a plastic tub of chicken soup on top and microwave 6 minutes. The result is something like a chicken noodle stew, a one-bowl meal that makes a satisfying meal just by itself.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. BiR I have one recipe with two ingredients and another with just one.

      One ingredient recipe: put a turkey thigh on a baking sheet and roast at 400 for an hour. Most people would want to add flavoring. I was always surprised by how good the thigh with no flavoring.

      Two ingredient recipe: grill a skinless, boneless chicken breast. Lightly coat the fillet with salad dressing. Halfway through the grilling, flip the fillet and coat the new top surface with more dressing. My favorite dressing is Newman’s oil and vinegar. A delicious alternative is a creamy garlic dressing. I used to butterfly the chicken breast, opening it like a book, to get more surface area and a thinner cut of meat so it cooked faster. This, in spite of its radical simplicity, is my favorite way of preparing chicken breasts. I haven’t done it, but this way of preparing chicken would work with the chicken going under an oven broiler.


  8. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    This week I could have used a manual on “Nursing Your Sick Pet Back to Health.” Both dogs picked up something, who knows what, that caused vomiting and diarrhea. (My theory is canine norovirus, picked up at the dog park). OMG. I was up a lot one night, and parts of several others, cleaning up. Thankfully, both girls sleep in a kennel so the mess was contained, until the panicky and messy dog ejected herself, then jumped on the bed, when I opened the kennel to investigate The Smell and The Noises. Lou slept like a log through the entire event, including my removing the comforter, then laundering that, the dog bedding, and my pajamas. Just how does someone stay asleep through such a thing?

    You have to get the dogs to take Pepcid, or the generic version, then ingest lots of broth so they do not get dehydrated. This is a trick given the fact they were vomiting. Lord, what a process. Then you can add rice, then slowly introduce them to regular food.

    The manual would be about getting the dog to swallow the medication. Oh, yeah, that and how to clean up the diarrhea on the condo stairs deposited while taking the dogs outside for the morning walk, while holding on to the dogs.

    Then Lou and I got sick after my son and his GF left. We are still struggling through that one. Fortunately fatigue and headache, not nausea and vomiting, are the predominant symptoms. Lou’s son seems to have passed that one to us.

    Are we having fun yet?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Husband decided we will try once more to make hard rolls, but we need to find flour with a 14% protein level. . He is busily searching out flours.


    1. There are products out there that just feature the proteins that you can add to the regular flour. The protein featured, however, is the evil gluten that so many people are avoiding these days. Some cannot tolerate it, others actually have celiac disease which is a problem, other people just have gluten fixations.


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