August 10, 2014

End of Project Recap: My Favorite Things

Well, that's it folks! The last recipe has been completed. The ovens have been turned off, the mixers put away, and the dishes are clean. Our trusty cookbooks are stowed on the shelf for the first time. However, although we've finished our project, that doesn't mean it's over. If you make anything from the book, please email us with your results and we'll publish it on the blog. We'll be keeping up with new submissions and updating the posts, so keep baking!!! 

We started this project with our first recipe and blog post on December 7, 2012! That's 88 weeks total. There is a total of 124 recipes in this book. That's not including the Basics in the back of the book, of which there are 22. For some recipes, you have to make 2 or 3 other recipes first. We also split up some of the recipes that were just flavor variations of the same basic technique, such as the scones and muffins. 

Jenn and Tania at Bouchon Bakery

To commemorate this momentous occasion, we arranged another trip to the bakery in Yountville. This time, we walked in with confidence, heads held high, like, I got this. Pretty much everything in the display cases, we have made. That's quite a feat! 

It's always overwhelming to decide what to get, and the bakery was pretty busy, adding to the rushed feeling. While everything looked amazing, we wanted to focus on pastries that were in the book, so we could compare our versions with the real thing. 

While we were enjoying our delicious treats, we discussed our favorite recipes from the book. Here's what we settled on.



1. Cream Puffs - The "cookie" that goes on top reminds me of Dutch Crunch. I love the texture and taste. I also like that it keeps the cream puff perfectly rounded. The one thing I learned when making this recipe is that the puffs can be frozen before baking. I've always frozen them after which resulted in squashed puffs. If you have frozen unbaked puffs, you can just pop them into the oven whenever you need them and they're fresh and delicious!

2. Lemon Meringue Tarts - this is the signature tart you can always count on being in the pastry case at Bouchon Bakery. I absolutely love the presentation with the wispy toasty meringue top. I will always remember the secret trick of putting a thin layer of cake between the lemon curd and meringue as a moisture barrier. 

3. Pistachio Madeleines - The book has a recipe for traditional madeleines but these were my favorite. They are the most moist (say that three times fast) madeleines I've ever had. The extra flavor from the pistachio paste really sets this recipe apart. The madeleines also had the signature bump so it was definitely a success.


My favorite recipe.... hard to pick just one! The recipe I've made the most, is the croissant recipe. I think my croissants are better than the ones at Bouchon! They're more buttery, and eating one fresh out of the oven is simply the best thing ever. I've had a lot of croissants before and after making these, and haven't found one to compete yet. I guess a trip to Paris will solve that! 


I think the most challenging recipes were in the Confections chapter. I learned a lot of new techniques and had to find some obscure ingredients and equipment. I still haven't mastered tempering chocolate. It was a lot of work, but I learned a lot too. 

My favorite photo from this whole experience has to be the sticky buns picture that my friend Nick took. The buns were delicious, but sometimes it's difficult to capture that in a photograph. This one does it. I can look at it all day! 

I'll admit, there's only one recipe in the entire book I didn't make: dog treats. I don't have a dog and I didn't like the idea of using chicken livers, so I skipped that one. Other than that, I made everything, even scheduling recipes ahead of time when I was out of town. 

I'm quite proud of this accomplishment, and when we went to Bouchon bakery this weekend, I wanted to throw open the doors and exclaim "I made everything here!!!!" But I didn't. Instead I bought a few of my favorite things: a croissant, TKO, macarons, and epi baguette. I ate that whole epi by myself later that day. So good! Bread is the one thing I think is impossible to perfectly replicate at home, without a stem-injected oven. So I will always buy bread when I go to Bouchon. 

Overall, this experience has been amazing. I knew when the book came out that I'd love it, and it was fun challenging myself to create all these amazing treats. I learned a lot, tried things I've never done before, and have a much better grasp of pastry making than before. I feel confident I could bake anything from anywhere. 

My only regret is that our entire group didn't stick with the project the whole way through, no matter how much I reminded and encouraged them. I'm sure they would have found it just as rewarding as I did.  

I now have an arsenal of amazing recipes at my disposal anytime, and the knowledge and confidence to make them. Every time I see the cookbook in a store, I'll smile. It will remain one of my most treasured possessions, especially if I could get Thomas Keller to sign it!

August 3, 2014

Gluten Free Brioche Rolls

The time has come. We are finally at the last recipe. Every cookie has been baked, every tart assembled, and every croissant devoured. As last recipes go, this one is a cake walk, pardon the pun. Is it ironic that this is a gluten-free recipe, since we've used so much flour during this project?

Instead of flour, we are using Cup4Cup, the gluten-free blend made by Thomas Keller, and developed by Lena Kwak of the French Laundry.  It does just as its name suggests, substitutes for wheat flour cup for cup. They've already created the perfect blend of flours and starches to mimic the effects of wheat flour in most baked goods. If you didn't know it was gluten-free, you'd never guess. 

These rolls are great for any dinner, be it Sunday night with your family, a dinner party with friends, or for the holidays too. They're light and fluffy and buttery, perfect for accompanying any meal. You can easily whip up a batch one day and freeze them for later, then pop them in the oven just before you need them. All in all, a great ending to a great chapter, and a great book.

July 27, 2014


These fun twists are soft on the inside but have a delicious dark crust on the outside. Legend says that the dark soft pretzels we know and love today came about by an accident in the kitchen, when they were brushed with a lye solution before baking. The end result was so delicious, it became the norm. 

This recipe is the same used for the French Laundry's pretzel bâtards, but shaped in the traditional loops and twist. The lye solution and dip is initially intimidating, but absolutely essential for the authentic pretzel taste. They won't last long, which is great, because they're best eaten right away. Leftovers will not be a problem with this recipe!

July 20, 2014

Garlic Comté Breadsticks

These super tasty breadsticks are a gourmet take on another childhood favorite, Cheez-It crackers. Garlic oil and comté cheese make these more refined, but equally delicious. The essence of the cracker shines through, without any of the artificial colors and flavors. These would be lovely served with salami and a cheese platter at a dinner party. They're sure to get gobbled up quickly!

July 13, 2014

English Muffins

These flat rounds of bread are the perfect breakfast food. In fact, in England, where they're from, they're called breakfast muffins. We only call them English muffins in the rest of the English speaking world to differentiate them from sweeter "American" muffins. These are most commonly eaten split and toasted, with a variety of toppings. Butter, jam, cream cheese, peanut butter, the list could go on and on. Not to mention the endless sandwich possibilities! But they're most often used as delivery vessels for eggs, either Eggs Benedict or as a McMuffin. Bouchon's version is baked instead of cooked on a griddle. These homemade muffins would elevate any breakfast to a gourmet feast. 

July 6, 2014

Dead Dough

This dough is meant solely for practicing shaping and scoring. It's just flour, salt and water, with a touch of yeast, and not meant to be baked or eaten. Kind of like playing with Play-Doh! It can be re-rolled multiple times to try new shapes and scoring designs. It's a great tool for novice bakers to practice shaping before working with "live" dough. 


I wish I had skipped ahead to this recipe before starting the bread chapter. It would have helped my confidence so much! That being said, it was still fun to play around with the dough. Practice makes perfect, or so they say. I divided the dough in two, and shaped each half into bâtards. 

I tried each scoring method, 6 in total. Five were on the bâtards and one on the boule. There's something therapeutic and fun about slashing through dough with a sharp blade. I used an Exacto knife, which worked well. 

Single Cut and Sausage Cut

June 29, 2014

Dutch Crunch Demi-Baguettes

This unique looking bread gets its name from the crunchy topping and the pattern it makes. The bread is popular in San Francisco, but it's originally from the Netherlands, where it's called tiger bread. Hence the name, Dutch Crunch. It's used for sandwiches, and every deli and sandwich shop in the city offers it. The topping is made from rice flour and yeast and is piped on to the baguette before baking. It dries in the oven and leaves a striped crunchy exterior, which is a nice complement to the soft bread. 

June 22, 2014

Pain-au-lait Pullman loaf

Another bread recipe baked in a loaf pan, this one uses the Pullman pan, named for the Pullman train car. The story is that these flat lidded pans were designed specifically to fit on the train, allowing room for 3 pans instead of 2 regular pans, where the bread bakes up rounded. The bread we made this week in such pans is a pain au lait, which means bread of milk. However, this recipe uses cream cheese instead of milk, so it should really be called pain au fromage à la crème. It has a delicate crumb, perfect for toasting. The shape of the bread makes it ideal for sandwiches, and the possibilities are only limited by your imagination and pantry. It's an easy bread to make, good for beginners and pros alike. 

June 15, 2014


Nanterre is a town in France but also a delicious loaf of brioche bread. We've made brioche before in the book (craquelins, hot cross buns, and sticky buns), but this is the first of the brioche recipes to be classified as a bread. The dough is divided and rolled into balls, which are placed in loaf pans to rise. The end result is a beautiful loaf of eggy, buttery brioche. The French Laundry used to pair this with foie gras, but since it's been banned in California, instead Thomas Keller recommends using it for the ultimate BLT sandwich. Either way, it's an indulgent treat. 

June 9, 2014

Vegetable Demi-Baguettes

This rather unique bread uses vegetable stock instead of water to hydrate the dough. It gives the bread a fantastic flavor, rich and fragrant. It's meant to be the perfect complement for a summer tomato, but it would pair well with any fresh veggies, and maybe some soft cheeses as well. The combinations are deliciously endless!

June 1, 2014

Whole Wheat Pecan Demi-Baguettes

The book says that this bread was created specifically to complement roast turkey. The dough has brown butter and brown sugar, but no starter. It relies only on commercial yeast for leavening, the first to do so in this chapter. The result is a dense, sweet dough, studded with pecans. It has a rich and wholesome flavor perfect for a turkey sandwich.

May 25, 2014

Pain Rustique

This bread is very similar to last week's bread, pain palladin. The only difference is the ratio of flour to starter, and the omission of olive oil. They are free-formed, with no shaping. According to the book, this is the bread served at the French Laundry. So even if we can't get a reservation, we can still enjoy this tasty bread at home.

May 18, 2014

Pain Palladin

This bread was named after the famed chef, Jean-Louis Palladin, the youngest chef to have won two Michelin stars at the time. It's a simple, rustic bread, loosely shaped. Its cousin, which we bake next week, is Pain Rustique, and they are very similar. The only difference being the addition of olive oil and a longer fermentation time for the pain palladin. This bread is best enjoyed as an accompaniment to heartier foods, as it's rather subtle in flavor. Toasted and smeared with avocado and a drizzle of olive oil would be perfect!

May 11, 2014

Sourdough Boule

Sourdough- the official bread of San Francisco. In fact, the lactic acid bacteria, which gives the bread its sour taste, is called Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis. Although it's named after this city, you can produce perfectly delicious sourdough anywhere in the world. 

This is a straightforward recipe. Just flour, a tiny pinch of yeast, water, salt and starter. What makes it different is the amount of starter used. While most breads so far have used a smaller ratio of starter to flour, this one uses almost as much starter as flour. The result is a wetter, more sour dough, which we shape into a boule. 

Sourdough is best eaten plain, to fully taste the sourness. It also makes an amazing grilled cheese sandwich. Even if you don't live in San Francisco, you can still enjoy a delicious sourdough loaf at home.

May 4, 2014

Rye Bread

Rye is wheat's more nutritious cousin. It's high in fiber and low in fat, and is low on the glycemic index. Although similar to the wheat plant, the taste and color are completely different. When making rye bread, you can completely change the outcome by the proportion of rye to wheat flour. This is a traditional rye bread, using at least 50% rye flour. 

It's a very simple bread to make, with only a few simple ingredients. It also is the quickest bread to make in this book, with only a 30 minute fermentation and an hour of proofing. This dough does not require multiple folds or shaping, so it might be a good introduction to bread-making for a novice baker. 

Although we traditionally think of rye bread with caraway seeds, Bouchon omits them. It varies from country to country, so we are keeping with the French style. The end result is flavorful and perfect for a slathering of butter or a sandwich with spicy whole grain mustard. 

April 27, 2014

Multigrain Bread

This bread is for anyone who feels a bit guilty about eating white French bread. It's loaded with whole grains, adding lots of nutritional value without sacrificing any of the delicious taste and texture we love in our baguettes. Adding whole wheat flour, rye flour, oats, quinoa, flax seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds loads this bread up with tasty rustic goodness. 

The fermentation time for this recipe is quite short, only an hour total, unlike any of the recipes so far. So it's entirely possible to have a freshly baked loaf of multigrain bread in less than 4 hours. 

The recipe gives instructions and measurements for both bâtards and demi baguettes, so you can choose which shape to make, or make both! The bâtard lends itself better to sandwich-sized slices, but the baguette is great for just snacking. At the end of the recipe, there's a note for fried eggs on toasted multigrain, which sounds just amazing, and would be a perfect breakfast, lunch or dinner. 

April 20, 2014

Cranberry-Currant Bâtards and Walnut Bâtards

Now that we've mastered basic doughs, it's time to get creative. These two variations on the country bread we did last week incorporate nuts and dried fruits. It's amazing how you can take one master dough and add different mix-ins and get two completely different breads! While the dough base is a pain de campagne, the shape is a bâtard. So we're really using two techniques that we've learned so far in this one recipe.

April 14, 2014

Pain de Campagne

Moving along in the bread chapter, this recipe is our first use of liquid levain. Levain is different from poolish, which we've used previously, in that it's only flour and water, and the yeast is derived from the natural bacteria in the air. It takes a lot longer to develop, since it's relying on wild yeast instead of instant yeast, but the flavor that results is more complex, and can vary based on how often you feed it. Yes, you have to feed your starter, with more flour and water, twice a day, forever. The flour is food for the yeast, and at some point the yeast eats all the food in the flour so you have to add more. Based on how often you feed your starter, you can make it more or less sour in flavor. When added to bread dough, it provides flavor and leavening. 

This dough uses three kind of flour: all purpose, rye, and whole wheat. These all lend different flavors and textures to the finished product that makes it more rustic than the bâtard dough. It's meant to be a simple country bread, something that farmers' wives baked while their husbands were out in the fields in the French countryside. The easy round shape is no-nonsense, and I can imagine it being baked in a large cast iron pan over a glowing hearth. It's great just slathered with butter, or as a vehicle for meats and cheeses. 

April 6, 2014

Demi Baguettes and Demi Epis

After last week's introduction to breadmaking, it's time to make everyone's favorite: the baguette. However, it is impossible to make a full-length baguette in a home oven, so we're making demi-baguettes instead. These little half-sized baguettes are still just as satisfying as their full-sized counterparts. Another variation of the baguette is the epi baguette, which is exactly the same except for the shape. Epi in french means wheat, and the baguettes are cut in such a design to resemble a wheat stalk. It's especially nice for sharing, since it's so easy to tear off a leaf. Either version is a delicious treat, just begging to be slathered with salted butter. 

March 31, 2014

Baguette Dough for Bâtards

It's finally here, the last chapter we tackle in the book: Breads. Everyone has been anxiously awaiting this moment, ever since last year when we visited the bakery in Yountville and got hands-on instruction from head bread baker Matthew McDonald. The book goes into extreme detail about the bread making process. It's essential to read and re-read the introduction a few times to get a good grip on what's needed.

And it turns out what's needed is a bit of specialty equipment, lots and lots of flour, and practice. While most avid bakers are likely to have some of the necessary components, such as a baking stone and pizza peel, it's unlikely that anyone would think to have river rocks, metal chain and a super soaker on hand. Yet that's what is required to create bakery-quality crust at home without a commercial bread oven. And since we'll be using this setup every week for the next few months, it's worth investing in.

This first bread recipe is a good introduction, bâtards. The dough is simple enough, just flour and water and salt, leavened by a poolish. The dough is meant to be very wet, and the shape is simple enough for a beginner bread baker. Having everything ready and in place is very important. Fortunately, the book helps you prepare, down to a timeline for mixing, proofing and baking the bread.

March 23, 2014

Almond Croissants

Our very last croissant recipe, and it's a great one! Almond croissants take regular, usually day-old croissants, and re-purpose them with almonds, almond cream, and almond syrup. Not a bad fate for the humble croissant! The rich buttery dough marries quite well with the nutty and warm almonds. It's the perfect way to use up leftover croissants at a bakery, although at home that might not be a problem.

March 16, 2014

Pains aux Raisins

Continuing in the myriad uses of croissant dough, we have pains aux raisins. These delicious pinwheels are filled with pastry cream and rum soaked raisins, rolled up, sliced and baked. They are the perfect breakfast treat, and you can feel good about eating them because after all, raisins are fruit!

March 10, 2014

Pains au Chocolat

How can you make a buttery, flaky croissant better? Add chocolate, of course! Pain au Chocolat translates to chocolate bread, but there is no way that name can adequately express the deliciousness that is this pastry. The dough is the same croissant dough we used last week, but instead of cutting it into triangles, it's cut into rectangles, and rolled up over two chocolate baking sticks. The result is still an amazing croissant, but with rich and decadent chocolate in the center. If eaten while still warm, the chocolate is soft and melty, the ultimate indulgence. 

March 3, 2014

Traditional Croissants

Now that we have made our croissant dough, we can make croissants! First up, are traditional croissants. The crescent-shaped flaky buttery pastry is enjoyed all across Europe for breakfast along with a latte or cappuccino. It's too bad that tradition hasn't caught on here in America! Instead, we rely on ready-to-bake crescent rolls or croissan'wiches, a pale comparison to the real deal. 

Although this recipe takes some time, it's not complicated or difficult. Once the dough is made, rolling the triangles into crescents and baking them is a snap. With a little advance planning, it's quite easy to enjoy home made, freshly baked croissants as often as you wish. They even freeze well, so you can make a big batch and save some for later.

February 24, 2014

Croissant Dough

Moving on from puff pastry, we're making croissants for the next month. Croissants are a cousin to puff pastry, with the main difference being that croissant dough has yeast, where puff pastry relies solely on the steam from the butter to help it puff. Croissant dough introduces us to poolish, a fermentation starter that we'll be using a lot of when we reach the bread chapter. It is a mixture of equal parts water and flour, with a pinch of yeast to get the fermentation started. After 12 hours, you can see and smell the results. 

This dough is also folded and turned, but only 3 times. It's very important to keep the dough cold, to prevent the yeast from doing its job before you're ready. Over the next few weeks, we'll be making a few variations on the traditional croissant, but each one starts the same way, with this dough.

February 17, 2014

Allumettes Glacées

Our last recipe of puff pastry! This one is simple and elegant, nothing more than puff pastry and royal icing. Allumette translates to matchstick in English. And now we see how these pastries got their name, since they are indeed shaped like little sticks.
Puff pastry is first topped with royal icing, then cut into rectangles, and baked. This recipe has you bake them under a rack, to ensure uniform puffing. Quite clever! The finished pastry is usually served with champagne, and would have been a nice finish to a romantic Valentine's Day dinner. 
Next week.....Croissants! Waistlines, beware.


Finally, a recipe that is easy! Just roll out the puff pastry, spread on the icing, cut, and bake. A little bit of freezing in between steps, so it takes some time, but the baking time itself is quick and gratifying. 

I followed all the directions, making sure to make clean and precise cuts. When I baked the pastry, I found it look a bit longer to get them golden brown. I added about 5-7 minutes on to the baking time. When I took them out of the oven, the royal icing on top had cracked and run off mostly. I wonder if it was too thin? I baked the first batch under the rack as directed, but the second batch I just used the cookie sheet alone. They seemed to also puff up equally, so I'm not sure the rack is necessary. 

Although these didn't turn out looking like the photo in the book, they are still delicious. The rich buttery pastry and the tangy lemony icing are good complements to each other. I like that you could make these with scraps from other puff pastry recipes. I've even seen savory versions, with parmesan cheese and herbs. Yum! Maybe I'll try that next, with my remaining half batch of puff pastry. 

February 10, 2014

Mille Feuille

When you think of French pastry, the mille-feuille is what comes to mind. It means a thousand leaves, and is also known as a Napoleon. The dish is traditionally made of layers of puff pastry and pastry cream, topped with a glaze or powdered sugar. However, the Bouchon version has quite literally turned it over, presenting the pastry on its side. It's quite clever, as anyone who's eaten it can tell you. Trying to cut into the pastry and cream layers, the cream ends up squishing out all over. Turning it on the side, though, you can cut through evenly and get the perfect bite. Crisp, flaky layers of buttery puff pastry and, in this case, light and fluffy mousseline. Although a bit of time planning is required, it's not a difficult recipe to master, and would be fun to try with different flavor profiles.

February 2, 2014

Pear Feuilletes

No surprise as to what is inside the pear feuillete - it's in the shape of a pear! This week's pastry is a somewhat of a combination between the apple turnover and pithivier that we made the past two weeks. Poached pears and almond cream are encased in puff pastry, the top in a lattice pattern to reveal the slices of pear inside. 


I made a pear feuillete and turnover this week. I'll admit when we came to the week for apple turnovers, I wasn't too excited about the apple puree filling. I wanted something more so I held off till this week. The combination of almond cream and poached pears is so lovely.

To create the pear shape, I free-form cut the shape on two pieces of puff stacked so they would be the same size, top and bottom. For the lattice top, I didn't have a lattice cutter so I used the paring knife for to make cut outs. I didn't take into account the filling inside the pastry so my lattice top was a bit too small and I had to stretch it quite a bit to cover the poached pear and seal at the edges.

Poaching the pears was really simple as it was a partial poaching. I made the poaching liquid and soaked the pears in it overnight. The pears finished cooking in the oven. After baking for 30 minutes, the pear feuillete was perfectly golden. I ate it warm because it was sizzling from the caramelization and it smelled so buttery and sweet. The white wine in the poached pear was a wonderful touch to contrast the mellow flavor of the pear. The almond cream added richness and nuttiness that I loved. To round it all out, a flaky, buttery puff shell that was so good, each week of this chapter, I'm continually reminded that homemade puff pastry is truly worth the effort. My favorite puff creation so far!   

January 26, 2014


Pithiviers is a deceptively simple pastry. It's so elegant in appearance, yet consists of only two components: puff pastry and frangipane. The top of the pastry is usually scored in a fanciful pattern, and brushed with egg wash to create a shiny exterior. 

Traditionally, this pastry is made on January 6th, the feast of the Epiphany, when the three kings visited the baby Jesus in the manger, bringing gifts. When a small bean or trinket is enclosed in the filling, it's better known as a galette des rois. Whoever gets the slice with the trinket is required to buy the next galette. Although a similar tradition exists in Louisiana around the time of Mardi Gras, the king cake is totally different from the French version. 

In any case, this pastry is a crowd-pleaser, elegant enough for a dinner party, but easy enough to make that it won't take you all day, especially with a little advance planning. It can be enjoyed any time of year.

January 20, 2014

Apple Turnovers

These apple turnovers are a classic way to use puff pastry. It's like a French version of America's traditional apple pie. Or perhaps the Americans borrowed their national dessert from the French, who knows? Either way, this is a delicious snack, dessert, or even breakfast treat. The flaky layers of puff pastry are folded over a cooked apple filling, much like a compote. It's not too sweet and not too big, making it the perfect indulgence. 

January 12, 2014

Palmiers à la Framboise

Now that we have learned how to make puff pastry dough, let's put it to good use! Palmiers à la Framboise is the first recipe to utilize the dough we so painstakingly labored over. However, this version is a bit different, in that the last two turns incorporate granulated sugar, and that the finished pastry is rectangular shaped. Traditionally, palmiers resemble elephant ears or butterflies or palms. The pastry dough is rolled up and then sliced, resulting in a spiral-like shape. Thomas Keller, of course, found a better way. In his version, the dough is sliced and baked flat, letting the dough puff up, and exposing all the beautiful buttery layers. Then, two pieces are sandwiched together with jam and dusted with powdered sugar, for a truly decadent delight.

January 6, 2014

Puff Pastry

A new year and a new chapter. We are delving into the world of laminated doughs, with Puff Pastry and Croissants. A laminated dough has layers of dough and butter, folded over and over again. When heat hits the butter, the water turns into steam and creates light flaky layers. The end result should shatter slightly when cut. 
Making puff pastry from scratch is a long, drawn out process. A large block of butter is encased in dough, then rolled out, folded over, and repeated 4 more times. After every turn, the dough must be chilled 2 hours, making this a day long project. But since the dough must rest overnight before rolling, and again overnight after the last turn, it's really a 3 day project. Once made, though, the dough can be frozen for a month, so its a good idea to make it when you have the time, to use later. In this chapter we will be making many recipes with this dough, so I imagine we'll get to be quite proficient at it rather quickly.