The Writing Gym: Creme Brulee

A few weeks ago I made a pact to try and “work out” the writing muscle once a week. This would result in weekly postings of writing exercises, and the inevitable toning of my literary glutes! So as with most promises of exercise, I am not quite as diligent as I had first aspired. But every little bit counts. So perhaps a more realistic goal is once a month. So here is my latest writing exercise:

Writing Prompt: Free Write for 20 Minutes (or more) About Creme Brulee.

I pull out the blow torch and light the match. The flame bursts into a narrow triangle of blue as fire meets gas. The sugar bubbles with the heat as I lower the flame over the custard. The granules fuse into a perfect brulee, golden like a sheet of marmalade ice.

This is my favorite desert to make. It’s my totem. My signature. My best friend, Cherry, nicknamed me Brulee when we first started taking these pastry classes. She said I was hard on the outside, but once you crack my shell I’m a big soft inside. One crack and all the goodness pours right out. I reminded her that crème brulee should not be runny. It should be firm but light, and chilled to hold its shape. She ignored me.

Cherry doesn’t need a nickname. Her parents got it spot on from birth. Cherry’s the maraschino kind, not sour. She’s doused in syrup and so damn sweet you almost can’t stand it. But who doesn’t want a cherry on top? We all need a little sweet. Even a hard-candy Brulee like myself would spoil without her.

Our pastry teacher scowls at my hardware-store grade torch. She’s wishing I’d bought the hundred dollar diva-size mini-torches she’d recommended. But I prefer Home Depot to any Kitchen Couture boutique she’s got stock in. One look at my perfectly glazed custard and she’s got nothin’ to say anyway. It’s not the hardware that matters, it’s the technique. And my brulee is flawless.

She waddles past my oven, tucking her blouse into her skirt and showing off what the style magazines would call a muffin top. It’s when someone stuffs themselves into too tight pants and their belly runneth-over. The pencil skirt she wears is almost too perfect. It circles her thighs like a paper pastry wrapper that can’t quite hold the hearty helping of batter above. Maybe it’s appropriate, she being a pastry chef and all. You are what you eat.

Cherry’s dessert is burning. I smell the sweet evaporating to cinders before the black streak sears her orange cream.

“Poppycock!” she exclaims, tossing the ramekin on the table and taming her torch.

“You’ve got to rotate the ramekin,” I offer. “Distribute the heat.”

Cherry’s face flushes at my suggestion. “Not everyone’s a pastry princess!” she snaps. She turns away from me and takes breath, shaking her hands out like a wet dog. When she faces me again her cherry-red smile is back and apologizing.

“I’m sorry Bru.” She pouts. “You’re just so good. It’s like you were a master baker in a past life. Royal icing or praline croquets, it’s as simple as breathing for you.”

I don’t know what to say.

It’s true. Ever since I picked up a whisk I knew the exact amount of rotations to puff up a perfect meringue. I don’t even have to think about it. It’s like I have syrup in my veins and frosting on the brain. I can pour a perfect cup of flour by weight, and smell when the milk’s gone sour before opening the refrigerator. I’m sugar and spice and everything nice, with the ruby red hair and nutmeg crème skin to match. I’m baker’s fire. I’m Brulee.

And… Just For Fun…

Here’s a few images of me (Ingrid) making Creme Brulee for the first time myself:

In case you’re interested in more baking fun, I do have a baking blog! Check it out at: www.ingridcakes.blogspot.com

Now get back to writing!

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