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Demo: Puff Pastry


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#1 MobyP

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Posted 03 September 2005 - 02:12 AM

I've had some puff pastry pics uploaded for a while now, so I might as well join in the fun. It was, for me, the most intimidating of the pastries to make, but once I'd done it, discovered it wasn't difficult in the slightest. It just took a little confidence, and a little time. It is based on the Roux brothers recipe, which uses white vinegar. The important thing here is temperature - when it comes time for rolling, the butter must be approximately the same temp as the flour. Too cold, and the butter will fracture. Too warm, and it will melt, and seep through the flour. It needs to be malleable. However once you've done this once, you'll understand how for how long or short you need to keep the thing in the fridge until it's ready to be rolled. (Unfortunately I have to do this quickly, so I may need to return and rework some of my descriptions. My apologies if at first some of this seems unclear.)

Puff Pastry

Ingredients:

500g flour (sifted)
450g + 50g unsalted butter (preferably French)
210 ml water (room temp is fine)
40 ml white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt.

Equipment:
A cool marble surface, preferably.
A rolling pin.
A pastry brush.

Melt the 50g of butter. Place flour in a bowl. Make a well. Into this, place melted butter, water, vinegar salt.
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Incorporate all the ingredients until you have a smoothe dough, and then roll into a ball. Cut an 'X' into the top with a knife,
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wrap in cling film, and place in fridge for 1 or 2 hours.

Make a block of butter. If using two 250g blocks of butter (minus the 50g you used for melting),
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cut them both in half horizontally. Lay two or three sheets of cling film on your surface, and place the four parts of butter together so they make a large rectangular block. Then, with your thumb, join them together:
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or alternatively, place a second sheet of cling film over the butter, and using your rolling pin, gently roll the four parts together. Wrap this in cling film, and place in the fridge for approx. 1 hour.

Remove both the flour paste and the butter block, and let them sit for 5 mins. Start to open up the flour paste - you're going to extend each quarter until it becomes a flap. (See images)
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Flour your top (this is an important habit to get into with puff pastry). Using the pin, roll the flaps outward in each direction, until they can be folded over the butter rectangle in the center. Here I've placed the butter, still wrapped, in the center to see how much more I need to roll.
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When the dough is big enough, unwrap the butter, and place it in the center of the dough, and start folding in the flaps to meet in the middle. As you fold in each flap, brush away the excess flour. You want to keep the pastry as free from loose flour as possible.
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When you have folded all four flaps in, brush away what flour remains. Now, you need to estimate the temperature of the pastry. If it's still cold enough from the fridge, you can start to roll. But if it's a warm day, or it's taken you longer than you expected, you might want to place the pastry in the fridge again for 20 mins, just so it starts to firm up again.

When you're ready, flour the board and your pastry well. Now, you only ever roll puff pastry in one direction, and back again. So working on the long side of the rolling board, I start by 'denting' the pastry block with the length of my rolling pin, just to soften up the thing as a whole, and get a feel for how firm or soft the butter is inside. Then, slowly, roll the dough out the length of your board (or a little longer) until it is a quarter inch thick for it's entire length.
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Now we're going to give it its first 'turn.' Brush away the excess flour, and fold one end two thirds of the way in. Brush away the excess again...
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and then fold the other flap over the first. Press down the edges gently to seal.
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This is the first 'turn.' It means you then take your dough, and turn it 90 degrees, and start rolling out in the opposite direction to the one you did previously. So, if you rolled 'lef to right' for the first one, you'll need to roll 'up and down' for the second turn Or to explain it another way, once you fold it in three, the pastry will be thinner than it is long. Always roll in the direction of the length, rather than the width. Because of the way you fold it, this will be along a different plane each time. (I'm sure someone can explain this better then me).

Ultimately, you need to fold the dough in 3 a total of 6 times, but you have to keep the butter from melting, so it's best not to do more than 2 turns each time. How do you remember? Use your fingers to make indents, so you can keep track.
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Then wrap the dough in cling film, and place in the fridge for 30 mins to an hour between each 2 rolls.

You can keep the pastry well-wrapped in the fridge for several days, but it also freezes well. I read that you should freeze it only after 4 turns. Otherwise, if you go to 6, the freezing can fracture the layers of butter, and the pastry won't rise as well. Either way, I cut it into thirds (after 4 or 6 turns), and freeze it that way. To defrost, I place it in the fridge for 12 hours, and then either use as is, or roll out 2 more times if I had frozen it at 4 turns. Geddit?

Anyway, many things to do with this stuff. It's absolutely delicious. I haven't been able to use the supermarket stuff since I started making my own. You'll see - there's just no comparison.

A couple of examples of uses...
A classic Tarte Tatin
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Some nectarine tarts
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and most recently, a large duck and foie gras tourte.
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Again, sorry that I had to do this in such a rush. I'll edit it as I can to make it more clear. Hope this was of some help.

Edited by MobyP, 03 September 2005 - 09:30 AM.

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#2 CanadianBakin'

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Posted 03 September 2005 - 09:18 AM

Thanks for the demo. You've made it look very simple! I've got a couple packages of store bought puff in the freezer but when it's gone I'll give your recipe a try.

You can keep the pastry well-wrapped in the fridge for several days, but it also freezes well. I read that you should freeze it only after 4 turns. Otherwise, if you go to 6, the freezing can fracture the layers of butter, and the pastry won't rise as well. Either way, I cut it into thirds (after 4 or 6 turns), and freeze it that way. To defrost, I place it in the fridge for 12 hours, and then either use as is, or roll out 2 more times if I had frozen it at 2 turns. Geddit?

From personal experience do YOU find it makes a difference if you go to 6 before freezing? Or should you always stick to 4?

Edited by CanadianBakin', 03 September 2005 - 09:23 AM.

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#3 MobyP

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Posted 03 September 2005 - 09:28 AM

If you're doing delicate pastries where you need a lot of rise, then it might do. For the sort of stuff I do, I don't think it makes much of a difference.

Edited by MobyP, 04 September 2005 - 01:44 AM.

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#4 Abra

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Posted 03 September 2005 - 09:58 AM

Nice demo, Moby. I haven't had good luck with puff so far, but I'll follow along with you and see it I do better. How about the recipe for that luscious-sounding tourte?

#5 MobyP

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 07:15 AM

The duck tourte is about as tricky a recipe as I've tried. It was inspired by one from the great Alain Chapel book; though I simplified it as I had to make up some of the components, and discard others (the recipe was in French which I don't read or speak as well as I should). So instead of combining three different farces (stuffings) to bind the duck - one 'au gratin' farce (chicken or duck livers, pork, back fat, red wine), one standard pork or veal (2:1:1 duck breast:pork throat:back fat), plus a gibiers farce (of foie gras, chicken livers, butter, champagne cognac), I just extended the 'au gratin farce' to suit my needs. Next time, if I can I'll do all three.

For the duck, first you debone and remove the skin, tendons, veins from a good sized bird. The thighs I roasted for about 30 mins at 400 F, then let cool, and cut them to even them up as best I could.

Now to the difficult part. The trick is having the leg meat be cooked through, or well done, the breast meat to be pink, and the foie to be wobbly in the center. I cut the foie so it was in tranches about 1/2 to 2/3rds of an inch. A friend told me to freeze the foie, and chill the breast meat - so that's what I did.

I rolled the puff into two sheets, about 1/8th of an inch thick, and placed in the fridge to keep cool. I then took a bowl about 5 or 6 inches across. First I lightly oiled it, then placed a layer off cling film along the insides (to make it easier later to remove the duck). I lay a thin layer of 'au gratin' farce along the bottom and sides. Then I layed the duck breasts as evenly as I could. Then more farce. Then the foie from the freezer. Then a little more farce. Then the thighs, and finished with yet more farce. I then brought out a baking sheet (lined with a silpat), and lay the bottom piece of puff down. Onto this I turned out the duck from the bowl (removing the clingfilm), flattened the domed top slightly, then lay over the other piece of puff. Using a larger bowl, I cut away the excess dough at the base, then painted the tourte with an egg wash, and etched some traditional lines in the surface with the back of a paring knife.

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This then went into the fridge for 15 minutes (to cool the puff down), and then into a 420F oven for approx 35-40 minutes, or until a thermometer read 115F in the center.

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I removed the tourte, let it sit for 10-15 mins, and then cut it open. The insides looked like this:
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To be honest I didn't think I would pull it off. I was really shocked not only to have the pink breast meat, the wobbly foie, and the beautiful puff pastry, but that it was so delicious!

Even better, the next day, when cold, it became a great duck terrine en croute. The foie became the texture of pate. The farce was fantastic. So, I couldn't recommend it enough.
"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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#6 Abra

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 09:23 AM

Wow, bravissimo! Now that is a recipe. It's haute turducken. Tres haute. Very impressive!

#7 kitwilliams

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 11:28 AM

That duck tourte is a thing of beauty, Moby! Once the weather cools down, I'm going to take a stab at it.

And terrific demo. What kind of butter do you find easiest to work with/best flavor for your puff pastry?
kit

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#8 MobyP

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 11:40 AM

In England it's fairly easy to find a whole range of normandy butters - usually within the 82-83% fat range. These work fine. I understand that the pros use a lower water content in their puff, though I'm not sure why, as the steam is what causes the layers to expand, no?

For an insane puff, I once used eschire butter, which was simply beautiful. But even the inexpensive Normandy stufff is just better than what you'll find in most industrial puff pastries (that is, if you're lucky enough to be able to buy puff pastry made with real butter; most use industrial vegetable shortening). Interestingly, I heard a famous bakers in London, 'Baker & Spice,' sold frozen puff if you asked nicely. I did, but found it very bland. It's just not as beautifully flavoured or textured as the stuff you can make at home.

By the way, a traditional sauce to serve with the above would be a sauce rouennaise - which uses the bones from the duck, and is then thickened with duck or pig blood. Now where do I find myself some of that?.

Edited by MobyP, 04 September 2005 - 11:44 AM.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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#9 forever_young_ca

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 08:06 AM

Thank you for doing this demo. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Puff pastry has alwasy been on my "want to do, but afraid to do list." With the help of your demo and excellent explanations regarding temperature, I think I will give it a try.
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#10 kitwilliams

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 11:47 AM

By the way, a traditional sauce to serve with the above would be a sauce rouennaise  - which uses the bones from the duck, and is then thickened with duck or pig blood. Now where do I find myself some of that?.

View Post


A veterinarian?

All kidding aside, the French manage to package duck and goose fat...is there any chance they've figured out a way to package the blood?

Here in the States, Normandy butters are, of course, too pricey. I use Plugra (American made but with the higher fat content found in European butters) and I love it, but would love to have the cultured flavor found in Normandy butters. Do you think this might have been part of the difference you found in the Baker & Spice puff pastry...perhaps they are simply using a sweet cream butter and not a cultured butter?
kit

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#11 MobyP

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 01:35 PM

Plugra is pretty good stuff.

I don't know what Baker and Spice uses. I was just expecting their pastry to be much tastier than mine - from expertise, or access to ingredients etc. - and it just wasn't. By some distance. But I've come to think of that as the general rule of home cooking. Almost no where you go, and very little you can pay for will have been made with the same attention and care than if you made it yourself.

By the way, Kit, you should do a puff pastry for grown-ups demo on this thread!

Edited by MobyP, 05 September 2005 - 01:36 PM.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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#12 Priscilla

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 02:13 PM

Lovely illustrative pix, Moby. I look forward to trying your method, it seems so straightforward compared to others I've followed over the years.

On the pig blood front, here in Southern California Asian supermarkets have it ... maybe the same is true in the UK.

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#13 danlepard

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 02:14 PM

Hello Moby,

Though it's been a long time since I worked at Baker & Spice, in "Baking with Passion" (1999) I mentioned in the introduction that the bakery used Lescure butter for all the viennoiserie, which they might still do. Lescure is a cultured butter, so I don't think the type of process used to make the butter is the difference. My guess would be that (a) you're using much more butter, and (b) the vinegar which would afffect the flavour of the dough and not simply the texture and colour, much like a sour natural leaven would.

But you're right, it's all about care and attention. Do go and try the puff pastry made by Patrick Lozac, the original B&S viennoiserie chef and the originator of the recipes, at a place called Feit Maison, at 3 Stratford Road, Earls Court.

regards

Dan

#14 MobyP

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 03:09 PM

And then God shows up to kick me in the arse. Typical.

Hi Dan.

(For those who don't know, Dan is just about the best baker in the country, has worked everywhere, and in his spare time designed most of the Baker and Spice recipes to boot. I believe there are certain societies that burn incence to his statue.)

If I might ask, how much butter would they have used? I thought it was always equal parts, or at worst, maybe 10% less butter. Also, I came across another recipe where you roll the dough inside the butter, rather than the other way around. Has anyone tried this?
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#15 danlepard

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 11:25 PM

And one more kick :smile: ....

...and in his spare time designed most of the Baker and Spice recipes to boot....

No I didn't. I was very lucky to work there with some great patissier, bakers and shop staff, and credit to them for their expertise. My influence on the recipes was small, and my authorship on the book simply tried to capture what we were doing at that time (right or, as we now know in some cases, wrong).

I couldn't say how much butter B&S used. Rolling the dough inside the butter - thought it was a skill-flexing trick rather than a useful technique?

You could beat a small amount of additional flour (10%) in with the rolling butter to sop up moisture, then reform and chill the butter for rolling. Patrick was very keen on this. E. J. Kollist, in the The Complete Patissier (circa 1950s), recommends equal quantities of flour (60% plain to 40% manitoba or strong bakers) and butter to begin, then takes 15% of the flour and beats that with 75% of the butter, then rubs the remaining butter (25%) in with the remaining flour (85%). So what starts as equal quantities then gets shifted around. Doesn't Julia Child do something similar in "Mastering the Art..." (I don't have a copy and can only vaguely remember)? You could add egg yolk to the dough.

regards

Dan

#16 kitwilliams

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 07:57 AM

And then God shows up to kick me in the arse. Typical.


The minute I saw Dan's name as the last poster, I knew this thread might be getting even more interesting!!! :wink:

With regard to adding flour to the beurrage, could someone (Dan?) please explain why this is done? It seems to me that it would be defeating the whole purpose: I would think adding flour would absorb the water in the butter, creating less steam and, therefore, less rise in your final product. I never add flour to my beurrage, for croissant or puff pastry as 1) I'm lazy; and 2) I feel it is indeed an unnecessary step for I get beautiful results in my croissants and puff pastry items. I'd be very interested in hearing other opinions and why you do what you do!

This is the perfect example of one of my pet peeves: being told to do something a certain way yet not receiving an explanation as to why I should do it that particular way. aaaaarrrrrrggggghhhh.

Edited by kitwilliams, 06 September 2005 - 05:31 PM.

kit

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#17 jgarner53

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 09:51 AM

I do add a little bit of flour to my beurrage, about 10% of the total flour weight. The way I was taught, you want to make the two products closer to each other, so you add a little butter to the flour, and a little flour to the butter. I haven't found that the flour in the beurrage diminishes the puffing capability of the pastry, but then again, I haven't done side by side comparisons between the two either.

I, too, was intimidated by making puff before I learned how to do it. It really is relatively easy, and the results are so worth it!
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#18 choux

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 11:30 AM

Pierre Herme's puff recipe uses the butter mix on the outside. It's in his chocolate book and it works really well. You mix the butter with a bit of flour and the flour mix has a bit of butter. It's not hard to make at all.

#19 danlepard

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 08:52 AM

Most of the steam created between the layers of dough is not caused by steam released from the butter, but steam released from the dough. The butter stops this steam from travelling between the layers, and the heating of the fat in the butter above boiling point dries the layers of pastry.

Butter varies in its water content not simply because of the characteristics processing or local tastes require, but also sometimes as a way of producing more butter. Some commercial bakers in one city (I wont say where) all complained to me about the varying hydration of the local butter according to the quantity of milk produced throughout the year. Adding a small proportion of flour to butter, if there is a problem, will correct this. And this can be helpful to bakers living in towns where they don't have a choice of butter, or where the local market is dominated by butter producers that want butter spreadable, rather than firm and rollable.

#20 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 08:23 PM

Most of the steam created between the layers of dough is not caused by steam released from the butter, but steam released from the dough. The butter stops this steam from travelling between the layers, and the heating of the fat in the butter above boiling point dries the layers of pastry.

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Wow, this is the first time I'm learning this. Unless I'm misunderstanding something, this is not what's been widely known/taught in pastry. So are you saying that it's the moisture in the dough that creates the steam.........and does that then apply to all similar fat layered baked goods (like pie crust or danish)? ......seem to me it would have to..........

#21 kitwilliams

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 08:50 PM

Thank you, Dan, for that terrific explanation (except I would have liked it if you had divulged the name of the town to which you were referring! I suppose I can narrow it down to somewhere in the UK?!!)

And this supports my pet peeve as, like Wendy, no one ever explained the puff pastry process as Dan did above! Once again, aaaaaarrrrrrrggggggghhhhh!
kit

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#22 danlepard

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 01:10 AM

Wendy,

I think the misunderstanding comes from observation - because puff pastry lifts upwards, we assume that all the action is in an upward direction. But a downward force can lift something too (the air from a hovercraft is an example). The steam is lifting the dough because it's trapped between layers of butter, so rather than gently wafting upward like it does through the top of an open saucepan, the steam is pushing outward in every direction because it's trapped - yet the effect of this is an upward lift.

There will be moisture from the butter that turns to steam, and this will push outward too, but we know that most of the moisture in the puff pastry is in the dough. Though we aim to get both the butter and the dough to a similar flexibility and firmness (f&f), the f&f of the butter is due to a combination of fat (in plugra it's 82%), water (10% - 12%), and solids (whatever's left), whereas we know that in Moby's recipe above the composition is (excluding salt) 31.25% water (inc vinegar, though excluding water in the small amount of butter), 62.5% flour and 6.25% butter. There's somewhere around 3x as much moisture in the dough, and when the puff pastry is heated above 100C that moisture will be turned to steam and that must expand.

The layers of butter are acting as hot bands though the dough, (the fat will conduct heat better than the dough) and that will ensure that any moisture above or below it will be heated and turned to vapour. The fat also makes it difficult for the steam to travel though the layers, so this will have the effect of compressing the layers of dough.

Kit, actually it's not in the UK. But I didn't want to say because it's possible that every baker in this city was shoddy and simply blaming the ingredients. But I didn't think that was likely.

regards

Dan

#23 MobyP

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 04:06 AM

Dan - what a fantastic explanation. Thank you.

Though how is the butter content in my recipe only 6.25% if you're excluding the water content from the recipe as a whole, and it's still, in weight at least, the same as the flour (500g)?
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#24 danlepard

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 04:46 AM

No, the 50g butter incorporated into the dough is 6.25% of the dough weight 800g
(500g flour + 50g butter + 210g water + 40g vinegar), not the butter (450g) rolled into it. I'm comparing the water content of the dough vs the water content of the butter, when rolled together form the puff pastry.

#25 danlepard

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 06:00 AM

A copy of a book I wrote a chapter for arrived today, called The Cook's Book (an outrageously big, fully colour illustrated, book) and, lo and behold, in Pierre Herme's chapter there are detailed recipes and step-by-step pictures of pâte feuilletée, inverted pâte feuilletée, and pâte â brioche feuilletée. Do have a look, it's rather good
Dan

#26 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 07:46 PM

Wow, thank-you .....what a great description.

Can I ask you what aproximate percentage of the book pertains to baking verses cooking? ......even though I already know I must buy this.

#27 kitwilliams

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 07:54 PM

Quote on The Cook's Book from Amazon.com:

"Technically, this is more than just a cookbook, but the recipes (with luscious photos) for dishes like Paul Gayler's Venison with Cherries, Cinnamon & Walnuts; Peter Gordon's Vanilla & Duck Broth with Rice Noodles; and Dan Lepard's Flatbread with Pumpkin, Green Olives & Shallots are worth the price of the book alone.

Can't wait to see it, Dan. Sounds fabulous.

And thanks ever so much for the fabulous lesson. What do we owe you? :wink:
kit

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#28 danlepard

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 12:13 AM

Wendy,

12 pages Ferran Adria on foams at the beginning, then 150 pages on desserts/cake/bread/patisserie bits (say 150 pages out of 633 pages), and that includes 72 pages on pastry, sweet dough, and desserts by Pierre Herme, and 30 pages on cakes by Stefan Franz - Shaun Hill and I make up the rest of the section. There are also the odd recipe from other chefs (Rick Bayless has a dessert in the Mexican section) who contributed the bulk of the book.

It's very much a how-to volume rather than an inspired collection of recipes, and aimed at enthusiastic beginners, or cooks that want to learn about things other than what they already do well. As every page is filled with colour photography, and every recipe broken down into little steps, it looks like would make a good present for someone starting out. Weighs a ton.

But you learn more about specific pastry, baking and dessert techniques from this forum, and in more detail. Very happy to help.

regards

Dan

#29 KarenS

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 12:32 AM

Another book to buy! I remember the "dry" butter in France- it has only 6% water, and makes great puff pastry.

#30 MobyP

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 05:51 AM

Do go and try the puff pastry made by Patrick Lozac, the original B&S viennoiserie chef and the originator of the recipes, at a place called Feit Maison, at 3 Stratford Road, Earls Court.

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I went today, and the pastries were superb. The croissant were certainly better than anything I've had in France for a very long time.
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