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!