Pate a Choux and Puff Pastry

It’s about time I wrote something about my Advanced Pastry Class. During the second week of class we focused on Pate a Choux and the different shapes and types of fillings that are traditionally used. Did you know that “choux” in French means “cabbage”? Haha, cabbage paste! Sounds pretty gross, right? Apparently it got the name since the profiteroles kinda look like cabbages. Anyhow, you can make eclairs (“lightning”), profiteroles (what we call cream puffs), Paris-Brest (to commemorate the Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race and shaped like wheel), croquembouche (“crunch in the mouth”, a tower of profiteroles covered in crunchy caramel), choquettes (bite-sized, unfilled profiteroles, covered in crunch pearl sugar), gougeres (savory puffs with cheese in the pate, traditionally Gruyere), Gateau St. Honore, Religieuses, and Churros.

Here’s my first (and sad) attempt of making a swan. Next time I’d position the head in a different place. We also didn’t have enough buttercream to fill my Paris-Brest, but you get the idea of what it’s supposed to look like.

We made our own puff pastry in the third class. Well – we started it, and had to finish it up in our own time as the dough needed to rest in between folds. I was so excited I completely forgot to take photos of the process đŸ˜¦ But basically you prepare your dough (“detrempe”) and butter (“beurre”) separately, and let them sit for 30 minutes before the lock in stage where the butter gets enclosed in the dough.  Once this happens, you call the whole thing a paton (“lump”). Just like with danish or croissant dough, you get the flakiness in the layers by rolling out the dough and folding it several times. The method we did was 4 four folds, in theory resulting in 256 layers. Temperature is pretty important here. If the butter is too firm it’ll just break up and create lumps of butter instead of smooth layers of butter. If it’s too soft it will ooze out everywhere and make a big mess. It’s also important to rotate the dough 90 degrees every time it gets rolled out so the gluten gets developed in all directions.

In the fourth class this past Tuesday, we used our beautiful hand made puff pastry into various forms. These included pithiver or galette de rois , mille feuille (“thousand sheets”) or napoleons, allumettes (“matches”), chaussons (“slippers”), vol-au-vent (“windblown”) and its little version the bouchee (“mouthful”), palmiers (“palm leaf”), and fleurons (“florets”). You can also make tarts, twists, tartlets, or strip tarts from puff pastry as well. Yum!

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