Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Puff, the pastry student lived in labo...

... and frolicked in the flour bin in a lab called Ferrandi! ["Puff the Magic Dragon" anyone?]

This week is PUFF PASTRY WEEK! I never thought that I'd be able to make the buttery, hundred-layered, puffy, light, and flaky pastry from scratch. I hardly even use it at home, and when I do, I rely on the store-bought kind (thanks Pepperidge Farm!). This week however, I've already made about 5 batches including traditionelle (butter folded inside the dough), inversée (dough folded inside the butter), with tour simple (simple turn) and tour portefeuille (double turn). It's been an interesting week to say the least... and not just because we're making pâte feuilletée (puff pastry).

These past two weeks have been February vacation for France, and the two Anglo patisserie chefs have each taken a week off. Somehow the two classes switched teachers... so this week, while our dear chef Thierry is on vacation, we have the other crazy chef, Didier :p. It's great to have a taste of the other teacher, however, I am eagerly awaiting Thierry's return. While Didier is very good and being in his class will get one mentally/physically prepared for the stage (internship) afterward, he has a lot of character which makes class very interesting... and sometimes frustrating. Rushing us to finish our pieces and familiarizing us with probable French kitchen craziness is all fine with me, however, criticizing us for something we didn't even do and the lack of direction/response to our questions can be a little discouraging. He does have a sense of humor though, which helps to liven up a class of baggy-eyed patisserie students at 8am...

Because of the exact/delicate nature of puff pastry, we've had to stay on our toes and make sure we use the correct dough, roll out the correct number of turns, roll out the correct type of turn, work quickly before the butter melts (especially with inversée), make sure we put enough flour so it won't stick (but not too much), and attempt to roll out a perfect rectangle... all that on top of chef's antics. Honestly though, it hasn't been too bad... just different.

The whole week has kind of blurred together, considering we began with various types of pâte feuilletée in the beginning of the week. We'll begin a couple recipes one day, we'll finish them the next, and we'll juggle the different types of puff pastry (+ their scraps) in between.

The first thing we made was chausson aux pommes -- literally "apple slippers" but really like a Frenchified apple turnover. We folded puff pastry over some homemade compote de pommes. Here are mine, "flat and gray," according to chef... I understand it being flat, but where's the gray?!? Someone, please enlighten me, does "gray" according to a French person really translate to golden brown crispy deliciousness?

Enough about that. I'm over it... he just needs to get his eyes checked, right :) ? Next on the menu was bande de tarte aux pommes. It was basically like the traditional tarte aux pommes but in a long "band." We also made a bande de tarte aux fruits (same thing with fruit...). Unfortunately we ran out of apricots and cherries before I could get my hands on some, so mine's mainly a bande de tarte aux mirabelles... let's hope whoever got this one at the school likes mirabelle plums!

the bandes are cut up and served like this

And last but not least, we made our pithiviers, another puff pastry creation filled with a dome of almond cream, spiked with some rum (I only note the rum, as it was pretty potent...). Note its trademark "spiral" in the middle:

And then we had lunch. Well, you might be thinking, "WOAH! She did all this today?!?" Technically we didn't make the dough and fill and bake all of this this morning - we started yesterday, and we just finished them today. After rushing to clean up and running to lunch around 13h20 (lunch closes at 13h15 during vacation. Normally it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but we didn't want to face the grouchy card-swiper lady again, since we were late yesterday as well), we had FLE and then went back to labo to do more! After another batch of almond cream and doing the mise en place for two more recipes, we finally cleaned up and got out of there semi on-time...


  1. I don't know what Chef was talking about with your chaussons aux pommes --- they look the opposite of "flat and gray" to me (= they look fabulously delectable) :-)

  2. Oh...wonderful that I have already finished dinner before finding your newest yummies!
    love, MOM

  3. Ling - I love the blog and will check in regularly to enjoy the experience of baking pastries - vicariously! Brava!
    May see you in Paris in April- May,
    Aunty Jill xx