Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Puff Pastry, My Nemesis

Last Wednesday was a double whammy. It marked the first day back at school after a 2 and a half week vacation, and it also marked the passing of my Uncle Darcy. And my winter boots broke. Not the most conducive way to get back into a routine, but alas, thus is life. Saturday was the funeral which took most of the day and Sunday we had errands to run (namely, finding new winter boots), so I didn't have a very relaxing weekend, and today is only Tuesday but I am already (still?) pooped.

So upon our return Wednesday, we started a new module called Modern Desserts. Over the course of the rest of the week, we made Arlequin and tiramisu.

To make the Arlequin, we made a pistachio cake and a chocolate cake (very thin sheet cakes, like big cookies). We cut a square from each cake and cut the rest into wide bands which we then "glued" one on top of the other with apricot glaze, and put in the freezer long enough to be solid enough to slice. We then cut thin slices from this cake sandwhich and laid the slices flat to make stripes, and then cut a square from the striped cakes on the diagonal. We left this square in the mold to build the dessert. We then made a chocolate and a pistachio mousse and layered them in with the other squares we had previously cut (ex: pistachio mousse, pistachio cake, chocolate mousse, chocolate cake) and froze. Once frozen, we flipped upside down, removed the mold, glazed the top with apricot, and garnished with pistachios and chocolate "eyelashes". :)


Different angle...

We could choose whether to do a regular tiramisu or chocolate. It wasn't a conscious decision, but I ended up making the chocolate one, and it was amazing. The best thing we've made so far, in my opinion. One I'll definitely be adding to my own recipes. We started by making a lady finger recipe, but baking it in a disc shape instead of fingers. Then we prepared a coffee syrup and made the cheese filling. It's way too expensive for the school to buy mascarpone, so we just used cream cheese, but I kind of think I prefer the cream cheese anyway. So we soaked the lady finger discs in coffee syrup and layered them in a mold with our chocolate cheese filling, and froze. Once set, we removed the mold, covered the top with a generous dusting of cocoa powder, and placed chocolate squares we had prepared ahead (white chocolate spread over cocoa powder sprinkled on a sheet) around the outside. Love it!

Chocolate tiramisu


Yesterday we started another module with our other teacher, which is all about puff pastry - the bane of my existence. Ok, it's not quite that bad, but I have a really hard time with it. We made two different recipes yesterday, using different methods - the simple method and the quick method. The quick method is what we learned before with our other teacher, which is to break up chunks of butter into your flour, then add the water and combine without over-mixing, chill, and proceed to roll and fold. I have a really difficult time with the water part, I don't know why. With the simple method, you made a simple dough with your flour, water and a small amount of butter and let that chill for a few minutes while you make work a large amount of butter into a pliable square. Then you roll out your dough, leaving a hump in the middle, plop the sheet of butter in the middle and fold the dough around the butter like an envelope, then proceed with roll and fold and chill. I have to say, I think I prefer the simple method. But I will never like rolling out the dough. :(

Between yesterday and today, we've made 3 different styles of chaussons (turnovers): American, French, and Italian. American turnovers are squares folded diagonally to make triangles (we put bought strawberry filling inside and covered the top with course sugar before baking). French turnovers are ovals folded in half to make sort of half circles (we made an apple compote for the filling, and scored the tops like veins on a leaf before baking). Italian turnovers are completely different. We rolled out our puff pastry dough into a long rectangle, covered with a layer of butter, rolled it up and froze it enough to be able to slice. We cut into 2cm thick slices, which we then rolled out into ovals. The filling was a mixture of choux pastry and pastry cream/custard, with dried fruit mixed in. After adding the filling, we just folded over the oval and pressed the edges without sealing them. The butter melts in the oven making a really interesting lacy/ribbon effect.

Chaussons aux fraises - American style

Chaussons aux pommes - French style

Chaussons italiens

In France, the end of Lent is (was?) celebrated with La fête des rois (The Kings' Ball), and a major part of the celebrating was the galette des rois (King's Cake) into which was baked a bean. Whoever found the bean was named king of the festivities and he got to choose his queen. Long story short... we made galette des rois without the beans. :) Very simple, we rolled out the puff pastry quite thick, cut out 2 8-inch circles, filled one of the circles with almond cream, placed the other circle on top and sealed with egg wash. Before baking we coated with egg wash and scored lines into the top, like with the French turnovers. And, as with the French turnovers, once removed from the oven we brushed simple syrup onto the tops.

Galette des rois

We also made little baskets for jardinières, which are super cute, but mine didn't rise as much as they should have. It's impressive looking, but quite simple. You roll out your dough, cut into squares, then cut along the edges and into 2 (opposite) corners. Then we put egg wash around the square in the middle, and flipped one loose outside corner over the other, laid onto the middle square, which makes little knots on two ends. I'm not explaining it very well, it's something you have to see anyway. We blind baked them, then filled the little basket with pastry cream, covered with fresh fruit, and glazed with apricot. Cute. :) We also worked on palmiers and vol au vent, but I didn't finish them, so no pictures! Until next time!

Jardinières with puff pastry

1 comment:

  1. I am loving all the things you are making,,… wish I was in the class!!!