February 12, 2010

Puff, puff, and away!

Oh man! We are just whipping up all kinds of tasty in my class!

Ok, last time I mentioned we would be working on laminated doughs and boy did we ever. Butter, lots of butter. European style so it has 86% butterfat compared to the US butter (80%). Heehee.

We worked on Danish and croissant dough, puff dough, and blitz puff dough. The blitz is a bit different so I will talk about that in a minute. With the Danish and croissant, once the dough is made, you 'lock in' the butter. You take a pound of butter shape it into a square (similar to your dough but about 1/4 of an inch from the edge of your down and fill it only 2/3 of the way). We pounded so much butter! The croissant was only a 1/2 pound of butter because we each only did a 1/2 batch of croissant dough.

Think about that... 11 pounds (11 students) of butter for one class for just that one recipe. That also means 5 and 1/2 pounds of butter for the croissant dough. WOW!

Anyway, you lock in the butter by placing your butter brick (beurrage) on your dough and folding over the 1/3 of the dough that has not butter and then the first third of dough with butter on top of that. Basically, folding it in a tri-fold. Then comes the rolling out. You have to chill it for about 30 minutes, then roll it to a 1/4 of an inch thick and do a book fold (fold one side to almost the middle, fold the other side to almost the middle, and then fold one side on top of the other). Chill again for 30 minutes. Repeat all of folding again and you have layers! Lots of buttery layers.

We made bear claws, butter horns, and danishes with the Danish dough, and plain and chocolate filled croissants with the croissant dough. It was a lot of work and you have to wait around patiently, you cannot overwork your dough. In the end though, they were really lovely. It was a great learning experience. I will never eat another croissant without truly understanding how much effort went into it.

Next up, puff dough. It is a little bit easier than the croissant/Danish dough but still difficult to get right. It is all about the butter and layers. This time we actually mixed flour into the butter before we made our brick (beurrage). It helps with the moisture. Then we locked the butter in and did 4 folds (the croissant/Danish was only 2 folds). Each time we had to let it chill too. It took a long time to get the dough done.

With the puff, we made bouchée, carré, cream horns, turnovers, and Napoleans. The bouchée and carré are vessels of puff dough. They hold things, savory or sweet, and they look and taste great too. Here is a picture of the bouchée holding some stuff. I like the carré because of the shape, diamond like with twisted ends. Here is a pretty picture of it in use here.

Cream horns are just spirals of puff dough (shaped/baked on molds) filled with flavored/sweetened whip cream. It is so funny because it took me a couple times to make them right and I didn't take a single good picture! I brought them to Seattle and Alan, Aroon, and Aarthi ate them. I didn't even think about it until I started typing this post.

The Napolean I did get a picture of though. This is made with the baked puff pastry, only you bake it with a pan on top of it so it doesn't get tall. The layers stay somewhat smooshed together. Then you cut it into your shape (mine was 3 inches by 3 inches and 3 layers). You have to be careful because it is so many fragile layers and sawing through it with a bread knife is dangerous. You could crack it all up. Then you assemble it by placing a layer of baked puff as the bottom, pipe a layer of pastry cream on top of it, place another layer of baked puff on top of that, pipe another layer of pastry cream on top of that puff and top it with a final layer of baked puff. On the top layer, you glaze it with white fondant icing and decorate it with chocolate fondant icing. It was really fun to make but complicated. You have so many pieces and the fondant has to be mixed with hot water so it will get glossy but not too hot or else it will cloud. I put it together, got it checked by Chef, and then drove 3 hours to Seattle to share it with friends. Even after 3 hours it was still awesome. ;)

Blitz puff dough was next. This is different from the croissant, danish, and puff dough in that you coat your large chunks of really cold butter in your dry ingredients and then just smoosh it into shape and roll it out. It is supposed to be flaky too, just not as many layers as the other doughs. It is called blitz because it is supposed to be faster. It was but it wasn't as flaky. We made a pithivier with a frangipane filling. It is really lovely with the scalloped edges and layers. Here are pictures of it.

We also made a tarte tatin and palmiers. The apples we had in class were a bit water logged/old so most everyone's tarte tatin turned to apple sauce in a shell. It smelled good baking but looked awful when out of the oven. We got in new apples so I might try it again so I can get a good picture. The palmiers are a cookie, a bit crisp, and rolled out in sugar. Yep, rolled out in sugar. It involves lots of folds too. They are really pretty and I actually really like them.

That was last week. It was crazy. On top of all that in class, I had a few things to figure out and do right (cinnamon rolls, brioche, and sponge donuts). Coming in early and staying late, I got to them all. I hope that Aroon and Aarthi enjoy the stuff we put in the freezer!

Next post with be filled with pâte à choux and cookies!


  1. Napoleon the napoleon made it safely to Seattle. We had to keep checking on it in the backseat saying, "is Napoleon ok?". The anticipation of eating it later on grew as we got closer and closer to Seattle. Ah, so tasty, at last.

  2. The pastries you describe are so artistic and beautiful. Almost too beautiful to eat! Love the layers!