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Archive for October, 2011

St. Honore Tart

Hello November!  Well, almost.  I’m not quite sure what happened to October, but I definitely need to get you up to speed on some recently pastry projects I’ve completed.  To keep you current with what I’m working on now, I’ll give you the cliff’s notes version of the last 30 days in pastry school, spread over a couple of posts.

First up, Pate a Choux (pronounced “pat shoe”), or unit 2.  This was a very short unit for us (only 5 classes and an exam!) and was one of my favorites so far.

This entire unit was dedicated to exploring the diversity of one dough, which was a completely new cooking method for me. The biggest lesson I learned was that Pate a Choux requires a lot of eggs and muscle. I’m pretty proud of the intense forearm strength I acquired during this unit.

Pate a Choux is made with bread flour, which has more protein and gluten in it that all-purpose flour. You melt water and butter in a pot on low heat until the butter is melted, then add the flour all at once and mix the hard dough furiously over the heat for 4-5 minutes  This process is called dessecher, and dries out the dough. You then beat the dough in a stand mixer for a few minutes until the steam resides and gradually add eggs, one at a time (usually 10-12), until the dough reaches a desired consistency.

Chocolate eclairs

The first thing we did with this dough is make eclairs! Now, I was never a fan of doughnuts growing up. My experiences were mostly at Dunkin Doughnuts, where everything seemed to give me a stomach ache.

One afternoon  was craving something sweet and left my office to go across the street to Madeline’s, now Mason du Macaron.  It’s an adorable patisserie with the best croissant I’ve had on this side of the pond. Well, it’s all Madeline’s fault. I chose a small, coffee eclair and every bite of it was divine. So, I was really excited about the prospect of making my own eclairs and they didn’t disappoint.

Cream puff swans

Throughout the unit, we experimented with all types of uses for this dough, and the choux balls.  The swans (above) were really fun, but don’t last more than a few hours.

Croquembouche

We even created a Croquembouche, or the traditional French wedding cake, which is a series of choux balls glued together (with caramel in this case) and stacked to create a tree structure. The choux balls are often filled with pastry cream and decorated in a variety of ways.

Profiteroles and vanilla bean ice cream with whiskey fudge

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