Thursday, February 16, 2012

A bizet day

The past week has really flown by. As we adjust to life as a family of four, I’m thankful every day that my mother is here to help. Not only is she the extra pair of hands to hold Mikus while he gets his bath, or to wrangle Lauris into his snow pants and coat, but she is also the suggestion on what to make for dinner, the discussion on a novel we have both read, the photographer with prudence to have camera on hand for all those perfect moments, the adult conversation between readings of Babar, the patience I seem to be short on these days, the one to spoil Lauris rotten and most recently, culinary sidekick. (Of course she has done so much more these past weeks, but the sentence had run on long enough!)

Obligatory photograph of  Mikus
Photo: Inga Lucans

About three or four years ago I asked my aunt Zinta for her baiser torte recipe (we call it a bizet torte), but having gotten it I never did attempt it. Zinta’s tortes are perfect, the family recipe and many years of practice evident in every bite. We were lucky enough to have a couple of her bizets at our wedding, and when discussing this with my mother we agreed that there is never any left when one goes back for seconds! I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making one, but have never overcome the fear of meringue and torte construction, much less dared to hope that any of my attempts would come close to the ideal of how they should taste. Yet with my mother here I decided now would be an ideal time to try, so Sunday we gave it a shot.

The funniest thing is, my mother (although an experienced cook with a specialty in Latvian foods) had never made a meringue either! She assured me that would be the hardest part, neither of us had imagined the torte construction would take the entire day. So we beat the egg whites, added the powdered sugar, spread the mixture out in layers and put these in the oven to dry, and it turns out this was the easiest half of the project.

Note the miscellaneous stuff on my counter - Tabasco, espresso maker, pacifiers...

Differences in French ingredients strike again! The whipping cream would not whip. And I mean, every time it looked like it was developing peaks, it would immediately return to its original state. After more than an hour with the hand mixer we gave up and built the torte in a pie dish to catch the liquid “layers”. Freezing helped, this way it retained some of its cake form while allowing us to cut slices the following day when my friends came to visit.

Looks ok, if you ignore the pie dish full of cream...

However, the taste was right; each guest took a slice at first to be polite, then asked for seconds (and maybe even thirds) having had a bite. This is the first time in my life I have had unlimited access to a bizet torte, and I’m thinking the quantity I’ve consumed in the past three days can not be healthy! Once I find the secret to whipping cream I will be giving it another shot, I think this recipe competes with desserts from Clermont’s finest patisserie!


  1. Liene,
    I have to try this recipe. Can you share it with me or is it a secret? Wonder why the cream wouldn't whip? I guess you could buy the chantilly in the can.
    And. Mikus is so incredibly cute. I wish I could snuggle him. The tiny baby has always been my favorite time.
    enjoy it all.
    aidan xo

  2. And I am thankful to be here sharing these first weeks of life as a family of four... and coddling, reading to, singing to, hugging, snuggling, and yes, spoiling (grandmas are allowed!) my two perfect grandsons! I think I'm gaining more than giving - imagine: an all-inclusive vacation in France, and bonus time with all of you!

  3. I hope to be as helpful to my daughter once her husband goes back to work and she has to take care of the new baby plus her 4 year old daughter. I also hope your mom read this post. It was very sweet.

  4. I've had the same problem with the cream. It isn't enough just to buy Creme Entier (even if it says for Chantilly), trust me. I think I tried every single brand and it would never whip. The secret is to buy the one that specifically says more than 30% matiere graisse on it. I can find it with the milk (non-refrigerated). It still looks delicious though.

    1. Thanks for the tip, I've also been told there is a special powder you can add to help the cream whip... I'll have to experiment!

  5. I lived in Brussels for 2yrs and had the same problem with the cream. There is a special powder additive you can add to the cream to make it act like it should but I never got it so no idea if it really works or not. Good luck! Regardless, it looks really tasty! Yumm!


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