The trigger was in our notes. I was going through our notebooks, culling through ideas and I stopped on our bread gnocchi. Actually, what kept my attention on the gnocchi was Aki’s insistence that I‘ve been using too much pumpernickel and that perhaps we could step back from it for a while. Aki is a ruthless editor. I want to try and incorporate everything, Aki makes sure we only include what is necessary, so that our food is pointed and accurate, leaving the muddled excess on the cutting room floor. Currently she is cutting the gnocchi, or perhaps simply the pumpernickel. In either scenario the idea of using bread-based dumplings was at the forefront of my thoughts. We originally made our pumpernickel, and later brioche, gnocchi utilizing the hot gelling effects of Methocel Food Gums. The use of Methocel in our recipes allowed the gnocchi to be formed hot and then as they cooled, they would melt upon the palate releasing flavor and yielding a tender bite. The flaw with these gnocchi is their functionality. If we used them in a dish and a diner ate too slowly, then the gnocchi would degrade on the plate before they could be consumed and became mushy and unappetizing. In fact, our evolutions with potato and ricotta gnocchi had similar issues. At first, we utilized Methocel to form hot dumplings. Though, once we began using Activa Y-G instead, we were able to create a product which while delicate, were also temperature stable and could withstand the rigors of a day in the kitchen. In other words, we thought if we could do it with A, could we do it better with B?
I did not stop there. Once we realized we could use the Activa to make savory bread gnocchi, I switched gears and thought of bread pudding gnocchi. If we decided to sauté these sweet dumplings the result would be quite similar to sautéed French Toast. A tasty dinner at Tailor pushed me further to extrapolate on the initial idea. Sam makes a delicious piece of French Toast, crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. The French Toast is cut into a beautiful rectangle and caramelized evenly on all sides. I thought about our Activa bound bread gnocchi and simply increased the size.
For our first run at French Toast Bread pudding the results were incredible. The Activa allowed the raw bread pudding to be cut, shaped and cooked individually. We are able to flavor the dessert from the inside out. The next sweet evolution will be individual cubes of croissant French Toast with warmed apricots and cultured butter ice cream.
With the positive and delicious results of this experiment, the next couple of steps are integrating a liquid center and bringing the technique back around to the savory side, where we will be able to make a spice bread pudding with a molten foie gras center.