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johnsmith45678

Pastry for Beginners

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To all you illustrious pastry chefs ;), what recipes would recommend to complete beginners? I've never really made anything in the pastry field, except donuts I guess. I've never made pate a choux, fondant, maripan, eclairs, etc. What are the "basics" from which one can get a base knowledge upon which to build? Nothing too elaborate ;), and perhaps things which offer the greatest bang for the buck.

Thanks!

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I'd start with pate a choux, since you mentioned it. It's a good basic that's good for so many different things.


So long and thanks for all the fish.

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I agree with the choux..... add making pastry cream in there at the same time, started when the choux are baking or cooling. Learning the 2 at the same time will give you so much confidence to learn more....they really are easy once you've done them once.

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I would vote for pate brisee...again very versatile and a good primer on fat incorporation/emulsification in pastry.


"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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I agree with the choux..... add making pastry cream in there at the same time, started when the choux are baking or cooling. Learning the 2 at the same time will give you so much confidence to learn more....they really are easy once you've done them once.

second this suggestion, but i would also try a simple custard like creme brulee or creme anglaise early on as well.

any recipe that only has a few ingredients is something you should work on because it seems so simple but the process is what is important. learning how the ingredients look and feel throughout the measuring, mixing and cooking process will help you when you move on to more complicated recipes.

i think the title of gale gand's book "butter sugar flour eggs" says it all! i don't have the book, but pastry really is about these basic ingredients. know how to use them well and you should be set.

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also try a simple custard like creme brulee or creme anglaise early on as well.

Thanks everybody! Anybody have a good recipe for pastry cream/custard?

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I don't have a specific item to suggest, but more as a general idea--- what do you like to eat? Perhaps something that you really like and are familiar with how the finished product should be. But if I had to suggest something, though, perhaps that all-American classic-- chocolate chip cookies. It's one of those really simple, basic things but are apparently easy to mess up! I say that only because of how often I get told "How do you get them to come out so good?" and "Mine don't come out anything like this!"


"Fat is money." (Per a cracklings maker shown on Dirty Jobs.)

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Oh yeah, I've made plenty of cookies ;) - chocolate chip, oatmeal, mincemeat, etc., just looking for something more. Most of the cookies I made I didn't like to eat more than 1-2 since they were so loaded with butter and sugar (most recipes came from Good Eats/Alton Brown cookbooks). But I guess I can't expect the most healthy ingredients in the pastry field, no? ;)

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I'm no pastry chef, but my laundry list of building block recipes would be something like this:

Baking:

-Basic yellow butter cake

-Chocolate butter cake

-Plain genoise

-Chocolate genoise

-Sheet biscuit recipe

-Choux pastry

-Pate sucree

Fillings:

-Whipped ganache

-Basic pastry cream

-Ganache glaze

-Creme anglais

-Base bavarois recipe (extension of creme anglais)

-French and Italian meringue buttercream

There are a ton of others, but those would be a starting point for me.


Baker of "impaired" cakes...

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also try a simple custard like creme brulee or creme anglaise early on as well.

Thanks everybody! Anybody have a good recipe for pastry cream/custard?

Sure, here's a pastry cream recipe from a Herme book that I use all the time:

2C whole milk

1 vanilla bean (or 2t extract)

6 large yolks

1/2C sugar

1/3C cornstarch

3T unsalted butter (room temp)

1. Scrape the vanilla seeds into a medium pot, add the milk, bring to a boil, take off the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.

2. Whisk the sugar, yolks, and cornstarch together in a seperate bowl. While whisking, slowly add the hot milk to the yolk mixture. When all the milk has been added, pour everything back into the pot.

3. Put your pot on medium, medium-high heat, stirring constantly, bring to a boil, and boil for a minute or so. Take the pot off of the heat.

4. Let the pastry cream cool until it is about 140F, and stir in the butter.

If you want chocolate, stir in about 3-4oz of bittersweet chocolate at the end of step 3. If you want coffee flavor, add about 1T (or to taste) instance espresso powder in step 1.


"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Awesome, thanks!

Another question - is it easy to make all this stuff without a stand mixer? I saw in the pate choux thread that they used a stand mixer with a paddle. I almost got a stand mixer a while ago, but I've found a lot of things can be done in my food processor, and stand mixers are a bit pricey and take up a good amount of space.

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Awesome, thanks!

Another question - is it easy to make all this stuff without a stand mixer? I saw in the pate choux thread that they used a stand mixer with a paddle. I almost got a stand mixer a while ago, but I've found a lot of things can be done in my food processor, and stand mixers are a bit pricey and take up a good amount of space.

There are many things that are easier with a stand mixer, but there are very few things that really require one. You can definitely make pate a choux by hand, or with a hand mixer. Everything that has been listed on this thread can be done with a hand mixer.


Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Have you played around with making pie crusts?

With peaches and other such fruits in abundance right now it is a wonderful time to make pie. You could start with single crust pies...less fruit inspired but also great for summer: coconut custard pie, chess pie, buttermilk, pecan pie...

I have pie on my mind a bit right now b/c I made my first coconut custard pie which was really delicious.

edited to add: Do you think you will have to adjuxt the recipes for altitude being at ~5000 feet or so?


Edited by ludja (log)

"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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Nope, never made pies, nor pie crusts for that matter. I should probably make some - seem like they take a fair amount of labor and skill. (I have made angel food cake, to answer another previous post.)

How about souffles? Are those a common pastry item? I've heard several horror stories about how temperamental they are (so, naturally, I want to try one!).

Also, are meringues used for a lot of pastry items? Basically egg whites and powered sugar, correct? I've seen those meringue cookies...

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I second the suggestion for pie crust. Pie crust in particular is one of those things everyone seems to be really impressed with when it's good, and it's one of those recipes that really can't be exact. To get a truly good pie crust, you have to know what the crust is supposed to look and feel like, and it will teach you that not all recipes can or should be perfectly precise. You should make that along with basic cakes and pastry cream and other things that DO need to be precise, so you learn both aspects of pastry.

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Awesome, thanks!

Another question - is it easy to make all this stuff without a stand mixer? I saw in the pate choux thread that they used a stand mixer with a paddle. I almost got a stand mixer a while ago, but I've found a lot of things can be done in my food processor, and stand mixers are a bit pricey and take up a good amount of space.

As for pate a choux -- I have a recipe that specifically uses a food processor. Makes 8 eclairs, and was the first I ever used. From Baking Illustrated. Don't have it with me but can post later if you want to give it a shot.


Cheryl, The Sweet Side

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Awesome, thanks!

Another question - is it easy to make all this stuff without a stand mixer? I saw in the pate choux thread that they used a stand mixer with a paddle. I almost got a stand mixer a while ago, but I've found a lot of things can be done in my food processor, and stand mixers are a bit pricey and take up a good amount of space.

As for pate a choux -- I have a recipe that specifically uses a food processor. Makes 8 eclairs, and was the first I ever used. From Baking Illustrated. Don't have it with me but can post later if you want to give it a shot.

Sure, if it's not much trouble :). (Thanks!) I'll have to keep an eye out for that book.

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Awesome, thanks!

Another question - is it easy to make all this stuff without a stand mixer? I saw in the pate choux thread that they used a stand mixer with a paddle. I almost got a stand mixer a while ago, but I've found a lot of things can be done in my food processor, and stand mixers are a bit pricey and take up a good amount of space.

As for pate a choux -- I have a recipe that specifically uses a food processor. Makes 8 eclairs, and was the first I ever used. From Baking Illustrated. Don't have it with me but can post later if you want to give it a shot.

Sure, if it's not much trouble :). (Thanks!) I'll have to keep an eye out for that book.

Do keep an eye out for it -- it is a basic book with "standard" recipes in it, but with each one it goes into the details of why things were done the way they were. And for many techniques, there are pictures of a "bad" result along with pictures of a "good" result, so you know what to look for. There are many good instructional books out there, but for someone just starting out, this is about as beginning as you can get. And, I find the recipes in there are good -- haven't hit upon a bad one.


Cheryl, The Sweet Side

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Pate a Choux in a Food Processor -- makes 8 eclairs

2 Large eggs

1 Large egg white

5T unsalted butter, cut up

2T whole milk

6T water

1 1/2 t sugar

1/4 t salt

1/2 c (2 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour, sifted (measure, then sift if using volume)

Gently beat the eggs and egg white in a measuring cup. Discard any amount over 1/2 c. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring the butter, milk, water, sugar, and salt to a boil over medium heat. When the mixture reaches a full boil (butter should be melted), remove from heat and immediately add all of the flour and stir with a wooden spoon or heat proof spatula. Return the suacepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is shiny and tiny beads of fat appear on the bottom of the pan. It should be 175 to 180F and should take about 3 minutes.

Immediately transfer the dough to the food processor, and, with the feed tube open to let out steam, process for 10 seconds. With the processor still running, add the eggs gradually in a steady stream. When all the eggs are in, scrape down the sides and process for about 30 seconds until a thick smooth paste forms.

Put the paste in a piping bag and have at it. Eclairs should be piped 5" by 1" to get the 8. Personal preference will dictate your size and shape.

Bake at 425F for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375F and bake for 8 - 10 minutes more. Don't open the oven door before this point -- they'll start to collapse. They should be firm and golden brown. Remove the sheet from the oven and pierce the end of each eclair with a paring knife to release steam. Put the eclairs back on the baking tray and return them to the oven, turn the oven off, and prop open the door for about 45 minutes. The inside should be moist, but not wet.

There are many recipes out there, and many do not use the piercing and drying in the oven. But, with this one, I have always had very good results. Always a good rise and a crisp shell. And, it's a small enough batch that it works for my family of 3.

Best of luck!


Cheryl, The Sweet Side

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Pate a foncer (brisee)

Feuilletage (puff pastry)

Pate a choux

Recommend you start with Doughs, Batters, and Meringues (French Professional Pastry Series) for really excellent instruction covering from basics to more advanced work.


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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I picked up Baking Illustrated - wow, looks like a great book to cook one's way through! Don't know how I missed it before. Has a bunch of great info and recipes.

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Doesn't look difficult :). Thanks again!

a lot of eGulleteers also swear by pichet ong's pate a choux recipe. there's a thread on it here in the pastry forum...here it is.

have fun and remember that all of us will have different ideas about what you should start learning, but just remember to take your time and have fun doing it so you don't get frustrated, regardless of what you make!

:smile:

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