Week seven of pastry school began our intermediate part of the course. We’re beginning to move at a lot faster of a pace and starting to work on more technical products.
Tuesday: Mille Feuille, Palmiers & Cheese Straws
Tuesday we used our puff pastry to make mille feuille, palmiers and cheese straws. We used half of our dough to make our mille feuille, which is a French pastry that has three layers of puff pastry with crème pâtissière between each layer. The mille feuille is topped with fondant and chocolate. My crème pât was a bit runny despite having made the same recipe the week before, but after my week six change in attitude about making mistakes, I now know that if you don’t cook the flour out long enough, the custard won’t set as thickly. It still tasted nice!
With the second half of our puff pastry, we split it into two to make palmiers and cheese straws. Palmiers are heart shaped cookies made from the puff pastry dough and rolled and sugar before baked.
Wednesday: Ciabatta & Parmesan, Parma Ham & Pine Nut Slices
Wednesday we worked with our first fermented dough and made ciabatta bread. Ciabatta, Italian for slipper, was originally created as the Italian response to the French baguette popularity. Using the ferment (ours fermented for 24-hours) makes the dough lighter and gives it more flavor.
For the parmesan, parma ham and pine nut slices, we used the same olive dough from our focaccia in week three. I enjoyed these very much and they were a tasty addition to my packed lunches all week long. 🙂
Thursday: Food Science & Pastillage Centerpiece
In science this week, we talked about mousses. A mousse is a structure (solid or liquid) that contains a gas of some sort. We went over protein-based mousses and fat-based foams. The science lessons are all starting to tie more together as we continue to go over denaturing proteins and how hydrophobic and hydrophilic parts bind together with water and air. We went over mousse stability and moussing agents, which increase the viscosity of the liquid to increase stability.
We spent the second half the class experimenting with different kinds of moussing agents. I was part of the team making an eggless chocolate mousse. My second experiment was comparing the differences of whisking egg white powder v. egg whites and milk powder v. milk. The conclusion was the egg white powder (when reconstituted with water) will whisk the same as regular egg whites, but the milk powder (reconstituted with water) does not whisk as well as the milk.
In the chocolate lab, we put together all of our pastillage pieces from weeks five and six to create a centerpiece. Our centerpiece could hold chocolates or petit fours in the circular compartment, but for this project, our main focus was on the pastillage creation and first take on centerpiece design. Mine felt like an underwater theme of some sort. Mainly because the rock sugar reminded me of coral. 🙂
Friday: Theory & Macarons
On Friday afternoon we made macarons. I’d been excited about this day for weeks, as I love making macarons. I took an intensive macaron course in Paris last November with La Cuisine Paris and LOVED it (seriously, they are amazing if you want to take a cooking/baking class in Paris!). I also made them again in the States a bunch of times over the holidays last year. I’ve worked more with French meringue but since beginning work experience, I’ve gotten more practice at Italian meringue, which was what we did on Friday.
We partnered up to make a batch and they turned out pretty well. Our ovens were acting slightly temperamental, and our second tray needed to have cooked a minute or two longer, but class time was running short. One of the macarons we made was just kept white, but they added in vanilla bean and it was delicious! We used a raspberry chocolate, lemon citrus and pistachio ganache as our three fillings. All and all, a nice way to close out the week of pastry school.