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Pithiviers

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I'm making Pithiviers. I need advice/help on sealing the two puff pastry layers.

If you're not familiar with it, it's basically:

Puff Pastry: TOP LAYER

Frangipani : MIDDLE LAYER

Puff Pastry: BOTTOM LAYER

The puff pastry layers are usually sealed at the edges with egg wash, but it's not working for me. The filling is a mound in the center and there's usually a vent hole cut in the top.

One of my unbaked ones

http://www.flickr.com/photos/fooey/2090210578/

Here's one of my less-than-successful baked ones (if you look closely, you can see where the filling leaked out onto the parchment):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/fooey/2084829...in/photostream/

I've made three of these so far, and the filling always leaks out. The first time was a disaster, the second and third less so.

Does anyone have advice on how to properly seal the puff pastry layers so the filling does not leak out?

Note 1: I freeze them before I bake them. Is that a potential cause of the problem, the extreme cold renders the egg wash seal useless?


Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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egg wash

oops...

i just read your post a little more closely...you are using egg wash...

well, here's my tip anyway:

when you use the egg wash, use it kind of like epoxy. in other words, brush the entire bottom with egg wash and let it sort of dry/get tacky while you're spreading the frangipane. in the mean time, brush the top piece of puff with egg wash (on the side that will seal the edges) and allow that to get tacky as well. when you stick the two pieces together, they will form a better seal than if you just use egg wash and right away stick the top piece on the bottom piece.

a nice high temp oven to start also helps. it helps to set up the frangipane and helps to create a nice dramatic rise in the puff. you can always turn the oven down to finish the baking.


Edited by alanamoana (log)

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The egg wash for this recipe is "beaten egg", that's all.

I've tried it, but it leaks terribly.

I tried another that's (2 egg yolks, 1 egg, and 1/4 cup milk) [Torres, Jacques].

That's better, but it still leaks.

I will try this next, unless I get other advice:

(1 large egg yolk) + (1.5 teaspons heavy creme) (Berenbaum, Rose Levy).


Edited by fooey (log)

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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i never make a special egg wash...(please see edited post above), but i think it is better if you have a thicker one that is mostly yolks. don't worry about adding cream or anything. that won't really make too much of a difference.

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I learned early on that egg wash is not a good option for sealing puff pastry.

Use water. Water works wonderfully.

Also make sure you don't "contaminate" the edges that you wish to seal by getting any of the

filling on them.

After you have brushed your edges with water, press the two disks firmly together with the tips

of your fingers. When I say firmly, I really mean firmly. Almond filling is a notorious leaker.

For a more decorative look, draw the tip of a paring knife inward toward the center of the pithivier, between your fingers as you press the dough down. This also helps in sealing. :smile:

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When this happened to me at school it was because when I was cutting the side of the pithivier, to make the rounded parts of the edge, I was cutting too close to the center, where the almond paste was. I just pulled out my notes - to put the almond paste down, we piped it with a 1/2" pastry tip, leaving at LEAST 3-4cm clearance between the edge of the almond paste and the innermost tips of the border. Incidently, they insisted we seal the two layers with water, not eggwash - and freeze it for 4-5 minutes (although that was 4-5 minutes in the blast freezer, probably 1/2 hour in the regular freezer), and then refrigerate it until ready to bake.

Just sharing my experience! =)

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Water did the trick, me thinks.

I also constructed differently, cutting both layers at once, after the seal is complete.

The old way: roll pastry layer 1 square, cut layer into round, add filling, brush perimeter with EGGWASH for seal, roll pastry layer 2 a little larger than 1, square, cut layer into round, place layer 2 on top of filling, make a mess trying to get the seal just right, cut vent hole, do pattern work with pearing knife.

This time: roll pastry layer 1 square, (do not cut) add filling to center, brush perimeter with WATER for seal, roll pastry layer 2 square, cut vent hole in layer 2, place layer 2 on top of filling, seal (with water, seals perfectly), THEN cut both layers at once.

This was much easier and the water worked very well.

Conclusion: Use water to seal puff pastry.

Another thing that helped was chilling the frangipani. If it's at room temperature, pastry layer 2's weight causes the filling to spread to the edge...and that's really what makes a mess of the seal.

For cutting, I just remove the bottom from a aluminum tart pan and turn it upside down. I like the pattern it makes, even if it isn't the more traditional pattern of the Pithiviers.

Oh, as for cutting the vent hole before you place it on top, that really helps by letting trapped air escape through the top. Otherwise, you end up with big pockets of air (don't laugh: that I usually remove with a hypodermic needle).

I'll post pictures of the unbaked Pithiviers once I get them off my camera. I'm not going to bake it, as I can't possibly eat yet another Pithiviers.

Thank you all.


Edited by fooey (log)

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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Two lessons I learned from previous posts:

1. Start with a high oven temperature

2. Bake a long time and then bake some more, or you'll end with soggy dough or subpar puff in the pastry.

More detail of these two from research (Beranbaum, Torres) as**:

1. Oven rack at lowest level; baking stone on rack.

2. Preheat to 500 F for 20 minutes before baking.

CAUTION

[be very careful to avoid heat blast from the oven]

[use pizza paddle or bread peel AND oven mits for next step]

3. Put Pithiviers and parchment on baking stone and immediately turn oven down to 425 F (you will lose 50 F just by opening the oven).

4. Bake for 20 minutes at 425 F.

5. Cover loosely with foil to prevent Pithiviers from browning too fast.

6. Turn oven down to 375 F and bake for 45 minutes more.

7. Turn oven off.

8. Prop oven door open with wooden spoon.

9. Allow galette to cool in oven for 15 - 20 minutes.

**Note: These directions are for a 11" Pithiviers made with 650 g (1 lb, 7 oz) puff pastry (cut into two layers) and a generous amount of frangipani filling (140 g unsalted butter, 145 g superfine sugar, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons rum, zest of 1 lemon, 140 g ground almonds, 1 tablespoon flour)


Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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And here it is. Sorry, but I was having a bad camera day. :unsure::wacko:

My roommate said, "Oooh, cool UFO! When do we get to eat it?" :biggrin:

gallery_25933_5500_405239.jpg


Edited by fooey (log)

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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And after baking???? (It's so magical how the cuts turn out in the end!)


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I bake it, I'm going to eat it, but I guess I should bake it after I went through all of this.

Preheating oven presently.

UPDATE: No leakage after 20 minutes and it looks beautiful. I just covered with foil so it wouldn't get too brown.

And after baking????  (It's so magical how the cuts turn out in the end!)


Edited by fooey (log)

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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I'm on a diet, and I cannot be tempted by this delicious pastry in my house.

If anyone is in Seattle and wants it, it's yours, free if you pick it up.

I'm in the U Dist on Roosevelt.

Send me an email before 8pm, Dec 13: (epa300@gmail.com).


Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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Congrats... Watching the Pithivier rise evenly and without leakage (the chefs called it "Pithivier TV") for the first time was one of my best moments at culinary school. Luckily it happened on my first exam! =)

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Thanks, Serj.

It's still not perfect by any means; it's not level, for one; but, the rise is at least the 8x height Jacques Torres predicted and it didn't leak (thanks to you all).

It smells so, sooooo good. I just want to stick my entire face in it. :biggrin:

Here's a better photo of the unbaked, frozen Pithiviers:

gallery_25933_5500_293414.jpg

Here's a photo to show the width before baking.

That's a US dime for comparison.

gallery_25933_5500_260591.jpg

And here it is fully baked.

It's not even, but much better than the first three attempts.

I may be "turning" the puff pastry too many times: 2187 layers (7 turns).

gallery_25933_5500_392169.jpg

gallery_25933_5500_17843.jpg

gallery_25933_5500_51502.jpg

gallery_25933_5500_100632.jpg

gallery_25933_5500_210661.jpg

Congrats... Watching the Pithivier rise evenly and without leakage (the chefs called it "Pithivier TV") for the first time was one of my best moments at culinary school. Luckily it happened on my first exam! =)


Edited by fooey (log)

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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That's a beautiful Pithiviers fooey...but I will offer this:

you can over-fold your puff pastry. this will destroy layers, rather than add more layers, you sort of have to read your dough. you said you did seven turns. it does depend on what kind of turn you're doing (letter=thirds=single turn or book=fourths=double turn). usually, four double turns is sufficient.

also, just noting the sides, while you did get good rise, i remember you saying you used a tart pan to cut the edges. the tart pan probably isn't too sharp (at least not as sharp as a good knife), so you're probably sealing some of the layers together during this process. this will prevent you from getting a nice full and even rise all around.

i would chill very well (partially freeze?) and then use a very sharp knife to cut the fluted edges to make sure to get that nice rise on the edges.

edited to add: another thing i think you did very well was to bake it long enough. i think very few people (americans) would have taken it to the color that you did. it is really important so that all of the dough is baked through and it looks like you did a fine job. covering with foil is a great idea and you can also double pan the pithivier so that you insulate the bottom a bit while it is finishing as well.


Edited by alanamoana (log)

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Thanks, alanamoana.

I'm glad I read the other Pithivier thread, because my first one came out soggy and stretchy, just like they said an underbaked one would. The research I did paid off:

If they're baked a really long time at the proper temperature, they cook through very well, even the bottom. I think your double pan idea is a good one. I haven't checked the bottom yet, so now I'm worried. It might be burnt, considering it was directly on the stone.

Had I not covered with aluminum foil, it would have carbonized after about 35-40 minutes.

As for turns, I use letter turns, 7 of them: so 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 2187 layers. Is that too much? If I do 4 doubles, that's only 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 = 256.

Is that right? I think my math is wrong, but 256 sounds like too few.

Your advice about the tart pan is spot on, I think. The tart pan itself has a very thin edge, but it still might not be sharp enough. I will freeze the next one first, and then try the tart pan. I've been cutting it before and, like you say, probably squishing the layers. If it still doesn't level, then the tart pan will become suspect.

Thanks again for the advice. I plan to make these for guests (30 guests) for the holidays, so I'm encouraged to get it right. All of the advice I'm getting is helping a great deal. I'm also learning to make puff pastry like a champ, even if I'm exhausting myself a bit. Making the puff pastry is the hardest part, but it's very rewarding once you can make it like a professional.

That's a beautiful Pithiviers fooey...but I will offer this:

you can over-fold your puff pastry. usually, four double turns is sufficient.

the tart pan probably isn't too sharp (at least not as sharp as a good knife), so you're probably sealing some of the layers together during this process.

i would chill very well (partially freeze?) and then use a very sharp knife to cut the fluted edges to make sure to get that nice rise on the edges.

edited to add: another thing i think you did very well was to bake it long enough.  i think very few people (americans) would have taken it to the color that you did.  it is really important so that all of the dough is baked through and it looks like you did a fine job.  covering with foil is a great idea and you can also double pan the pithivier so that you insulate the bottom a bit while it is finishing as well.


Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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I wish I lived in Seattle. A great attempt! I'm also closely following this very helpful thread. Wish my next pithivier would be as nice as this one.


TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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Thanks, Tepee. I'm sure yours will be better, I just hope you don't have to make as many to get there. I will make my fourth tomorrow. When it comes to getting things right, I stop only when my checkbook nears empty. :biggrin:

Please post your questions too so we know what troubles you're having.

I wonder how difficult this is in the Pantheon of pastry. Of all the things I've made over the years, this is proving to be my greatest challenge. The shape is always the biggest challenge, for this, for croissant, and for many breads.

I'm finding YouTube helpful. I didn't even know it was pronounced with 4 syllables...

Pith

-iv(as in give)

-e(as in tree)

-a(as in hay)

...until I saw this video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkADYAtoay0.

It's not the most helpful video if you're trying to make one from scratch, but at least you can hear how it's pronounced.

I was pronoucing it Pith-eve-yair, which is wrong. :blink::unsure:

I wish I lived in Seattle. A great attempt! I'm also closely following this very helpful thread. Wish my next pithivier would be as nice as this one.


Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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Thanks for the link! I really feel like attacking a piece like they did at the end. For me, the problem is the richness of the pithivier. I can eat half of one. I'll stop when I see the scale going over 2 kgs.


TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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As for turns, I use letter turns, 7 of them: so 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 2187 layers. Is that too much? If I do 4 doubles, that's only 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 = 256.

Is that right? I think my math is wrong, but 256 sounds like too few.

With regard to the layers...I always have problems with the math but it does depend on how you incorporate the butter block in the first place:

if you just make a square and enclose the butter, you've already got three layers to start. when you fold the dough into your first book fold (you omit counting the layers of dough touching dough because they won't separate when baked) that's already nine layers for your first turn. then do three more double turns:

puts you at over 500 layers

i'll take a look at some of my reference books to see what the average number of turns is/should be.

you can also get a very fair/decent rise using blitz or quick puff pastry. you'd be surprised at how easy it is to use and what a good result you can get with a lot less stress.

but again, i think you're off on a rip roaring adventure! i don't think that the pithivier is so much the challenge as working with puff pastry correctly is the actual challenge. i mean, consider that the pithivier is just good puff pastry with a frangipane filling :blink: ...two components giving one person a run for their money!

edited to add:

"Baking with Julia", Dorie Greenspan - 6 x single turns

"Professional Pastry Chef", Bo Friberg - 4 x double turns

"Perfect Pastry", Nick Malgieri - 6 x single turns OR 4 x double turns

"Professional Baking", Wayne Gisslen - 4 x double turns OR 5 x single turns(if you incorporate your butter in thirds) and 6 x single turns (if you incorporate your butter in a single package)

While doing 7 x single turns might only be one more turn than these books recommend, you might be persuaded that the extra turn can cause unnecessary tearing of the layers during the final turn. Of course, this can depend on the condition of the dough as well. You are also tempting fate by encouraging further gluten development by performing an extra turn. Along with the number of turns, the percentage of fat relative to the dough can affect how well the layers separate. More fat will give you more reliable separation of layers when baked. Less fat can result in "sticky" layers that won't separate because the butter doesn't get rolled out as evenly. So, just more to think about.


Edited by alanamoana (log)

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Thanks, alanamoana, that's very helpful.

I missed the fact that layer + butter packet + layer = 3, so in fact, I was doing:

3 (dough,butter,dough) x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 6561 layers.

Ouch! :laugh::unsure:

I looked at the Pithiviers this morning, and considering the rise I got (it rose even more after cooling, oddly), I should be satisfied.

I've seen Torres' and Hermé's quick puff, but being the purist I am, refuse to make it until I master the traditional form. Now that you say it's a good solution, I will certainly try it.

Oh, and thanks for all the research on the number of turns. There's obviously a lot of opinion of "right".


Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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Anyone have advice on how to get them from my home in Seattle to Alaska?

I fly up next Saturday and will have 3 or 4 of these with me. How do I pack them so they don't fall apart?

I wonder if airport security will even let me through. If they ask for a taste, there's no way I'm getting through, because they'll want to keep all of them for dessert.

:shock::smile::biggrin:


Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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Anyone have advice on how to get them from my home in Seattle to Alaska?

I fly up next Saturday and will have 3 or 4 of these with me. How do I pack them so they don't fall apart?

I wonder if airport security will even let me through. If they ask for a taste, there's no way I'm getting through, because they'll want to keep all of them for dessert.

:shock:  :smile:  :biggrin:

Torres says that he makes the Pithivier, freezes it solid, throws it into his backpack (still wrapped for the freezer, of course) and cycles off to a party. Once there, he pops it in the oven to cook.

Don't know if this would work for you, though.


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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There are 30 guests, and baking 4 Pithiviers would take 6 hours. :|

Good suggestion, though, thanks.

At this point, I'm thinking to bake them Friday afternoon-evening, and take them with me as a carry on. There's so much that can go wrong with this, so I'm bracing for the worse.

There's always my Bananas Foster backup if they don't make it. :biggrin:

Anyone have advice on how to get them from my home in Seattle to Alaska?

Torres says that he makes the Pithivier, freezes it solid, throws it into his backpack (still wrapped for the freezer, of course) and cycles off to a party. Once there, he pops it in the oven to cook.

Don't know if this would work for you, though.


Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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