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.