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Pastry for Beginners


johnsmith45678
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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:

I posted the above recipe because it has specific instructions for making in a food processor, and like it very much. But, to note, that while I like the food processor recipe, I have also used Pichet Ong's recipe and LOVE it. Either way, you won't go wrong.

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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  • 2 weeks later...

"Baking With Julia" is another good book for basics. It contains basic recipes in the first chapter that are used to make most all of the items in the book. She says that once you master those ( I believe, 8) base recipes you can make almost anything. There's a thread on e-gullet somewhere based on cooking through that book.

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"Baking With Julia" is another good book for basics.  It contains basic recipes in the first chapter that are used to make most all of the items in the book.  She says that once you master those ( I believe, 8) base recipes you can make almost anything.  There's a thread on e-gullet somewhere based on cooking through that book.

ditto.

Thread for Baking with Julia, Recipes

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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Cool, just picked up Baking with Julia -- looks like a solid book.

Also, I've really liked the America's Test Kitchen Baking Illustrated book -- I've picked up several of their other books. And started watching the show.

BTW, I was shocked to see just how much butter was in buttercream -- a whole freakin' pound (four sticks)?!? Wow. Are there very many low-sugar/fat pastry recipes that actually taste good?

Edited by johnsmith45678 (log)
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Are there very many low-sugar/fat pastry recipes that actually taste good?

NO!! :laugh:

Stick to the full flavour, full fat stuff. I do decrease the sugar in a lot of my baking though, as I think most recipes written for the North American audience are too sweet.

Sugar often acts as a liquid ingredient in baked goods, like cakes, so you do need most of the sugar for moisture. I try to get around that by serving it with some sort of frosting that has very little sugar, or bittersweet ganache, so the bites you put in your mouth are not as sweet.

I know cake isn't a pastry, but I would suggest doing at least one cake involving creaming + alternating dry and wet ingredients, and one cake like angelfood or chiffon where you have to fold in whipped egg whites.

And might I suggest tuiles to garnish your creme brulee? :smile:

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  • 7 years later...

Dear self-taught professionals,

This is the very first post here and thus my questions below might be trivial, but I would much appreciate your help!
My story:
As a baking enthusiast and a great dessert appreciator, I decide to step into the business of combining both. Not looking to work at the n-star restaurant, just to work with private clients and perhaps in the future to open my own patisserie. The main goal is to create something outstandingly delicious and good looking. (just to mention: classic (and modified) French pastries warms my heart a lot, so that is my field of interest).
My pastry skills currently are more like a bit of this and a piece of that, i.e. I find myself that I can make something considered advanced, but do not know how to make something considered easy and visa versa.
However by the end of a year or two, I would like to be confident with the most pastry techniques.
Perhaps attending patisserie school in France would be an option to consider, but that is not my case due to the family. So I am taking a way of self-education
Currently, what I do, I took Ferrandi baking practice as a base and go systematically from easy to complicated (tartes to chocolate tempering, etc) in order to cover most of the things I might need in my business. Also, I heard about the method of making something you like plus something what looks like a challenge. I am not sure which one is better?
Ok, long story short, here are my questions:
1. Could you please suggest the best way to self teaching from those I mentioned above or your own way which would let to cover the most in the reasonably short time?
2. Correct me if I am wrong: I read theory, working on recipe, tasting it, if something goes wrong I do it again with changes. Ok, then, what do you do with all those "wrong" results: tarts, cakes, desserts.. ? Throwing to the bin?
Yeah, I know I can give it to someone if it is usable, but I am working on tarts now, and my family and relatives are literally fed up with it. Especially if I'd do the same over and over again..
Or is there an obvious way I can't see other than throwing it away?
3. When you are learning how to make something you've never tasted, how do you know that you've made it right or even perfect?
Judging by your own taste? By taste of others? Comparing with what is being sold? What if you can't buy the professional "copy"?
4. How do you learn to mix flavours? What goes with what and in which proportions. I understand that this is more like a colour theory: main colour, secondary colour, some accent. Does it works the same with the flavours? Is it possible to get any recommendations on the books to read about that, please?
Sorry that my questions are very random and basic, but I feel like I stuck now and I can't find the help on this and no one really covers such obvious (to knowledgeable person) information..
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No such thing as a too basic question! We all have to start somewhere, and asking when you're stuck is the mark of someone who wants to learn.

1. Start with one type of pastry and work with it until you're completely comfortable with both its basic and advanced applications. For example, start with pâte a choux and work with it until you can make perfect éclairs or choux every time, then work towards divorcées and other more complex choux things. And once you've got that down, start on the next type of pastry. I had the privilege of training with a master patisierre in Canada, and this is how he approached the apprenticeship - I didn't graduate to puff pastries and other Viennoiserie until I had mastered choux. (Incidentally, I did this apprenticeship while still attending high school - Maitre Pierre was very kind in allowing the hours to be flexible so that I could balance patisserie and schoolwork. If you can find a bakery whose sweets you admire, you can try asking the baker if they're willing to do this kind of apprenticeship with you - that way you'd have somebody who does have a good idea of what's right/wrong while you're learning.)

If you're going it alone, shortcrust and its variants are probably the easiest starting point; it sounds like that's where you are now if you're playing with tarts.

2. That's how it works. I eat most of my mistakes or disasters or whatever you want to call them; it's fairly rare that something goes so completely sideways that it's inedible. You can also give your edible but imperfect learning pastries away to homeless shelters or similar, if your family and friends are starting to go nuts. The other option is to work to smaller batches - cut the recipes you're testing in half or in quarter and make far fewer units, or if you're testing fillings test the smallest possible version of the recipe. This way you'll end up with fewer test items and you're less likely to burn out your friends and family while you perfect your techniques and flavours.

3. Your own taste is a fairly good guide; you can also search out people who have eaten the pastry in question and ask them what the what. If you can't find a professional copy, but you're working from an established recipe, it shouldn't be too difficult to judge if something is right or wrong. Recipes become established or standardized precisely because they turn out consistent results. Perfect, though, is in the tongue of the eater - it's very subjective in the same way that good/bad is. For example, I make lovely chocolate choux, but my mother hates choux pastry. Hence, even if I do make a perfect one as far as I'm concerned (and I love chocolate choux), it's going to be a bad one for her.

4. This is a really objective field again, but I approach it in the same way as a perfumier might - base note, midnote, accent, top note. It's worthwhile to investigate the classic flavour pairings - white chocolate and raspberry (sweet and creamy with sharp), for example, or pear with sharp cheese (mild and fruity with cheesy sour / bitter / funky), to see what's going on flavour-wise; this will help to inform your own choices. I don't have any resources on this, but I do recall a thread on classic flavour pairings kicking around here somewhere, and it did have some references. The Confections and Daily Sweets threads are also a good resource for flavour pairings , as many of the chocolatiers and bakers here play with unusual flavour combos and then report on it.

Hope this helps.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Many local community colleges and trade schools in the US offer pastry and baking classes. These schools are far more affordable than the typical culinary school education, and most will allow you to take a single class at a time, as opposed to a full time enrollment. The beauty of an inperson class is access to professional level equipment, direct supervision by a knowledgable pro, and access to ingredients (usually included in course fees).

Michel Suas' book Advanced Bread and Pastry has many step by step recipes and photographs. It's not cheap: http://www.amazon.com/Advanced-Bread-Pastry-Michel-Suas/dp/141801169X but your local public library can get a copy through Interlibrary loan (free to you, you can keep it 1 month and perhaps see if it's worth buying). Also seek out the Pierre Herme dessert books, if for nothing other than inspiration: he often juxtaposes imaginative flavors, colors, and textures. http://www.amazon.com/Desserts-Pierre-Herme/dp/0316357200/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379019931&sr=1-1&keywords=desserts+pierre+herme Pro-level pastry magazines like http://www.dessertprofessional.com/ are also a good source.

Finally, if you can identify an after-school program near you (Boys & Girls club, church program, etc), you might have a way to feed your less than perfect pastry to an audience that will readily devour it. Kids don't care what it looks like--after school, they'll eat almost anything. An alternative is to figure out what will freeze: tart shells (par baked), cake layers (well wrapped), unbaked scone dough and unbaked puff pastry, etc. Then you can perfect your technique by making multiples, stick some in the freezer, and work on fillings/flavorings at a different time, using your frozen stash.

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A quick response here as I'm late for work but.....

1. Read, read, read. From many sources. Practice. Cover all the main techniques, and most importantly, understand the recipes. You should always know what is happening to your food when you add certain ingredients e.g. why a few drops of lemon or vinegar in a meringue?!

2. Bin or homeless guy. That's part of learning! But be positive, every mistake (should) be something learned.

3. Good question. There's no easy answer. Even if you order one at a restaurant to compare how do you know that the pastry chef there isn't rubbish!? Learn to trust your own instinct and judgments.

4. Experience. But this book is fantastic, and it covers classic to obscure pairings, with recipes.

BOOK LINK

Good luck to you.

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I second the community college recommendation. Although, I would like to point out that there are some great pastry schools in the US. Classes will drill into you professional habits that you will need if you want to open a patisserie: sanitation, production standards, speed, using professional equipment, handling wholesale food packages. Being able to have a few months' of hands-on work with a Hobart 60 qt mixer, steam-injected rotating convection ovens, proof boxes, a full-sized sheeter, a three compartment sink, and, commercial dishwashers is experience that most people will never get at home.

The biggest issue I see with self-taught people trying to enter the job market is a lacking the knowledge and experience to work quickly. Production speed standards determine whether a venture will be profitable or not. A couple of months' of classroom drills and student competitions can make all the difference. (Example: you can hand me, or most experienced decorators, some cake layers and a pile of buttercream and we can put out a fully decorated birthday cake in 5 minutes. -I have worked places where the standard was 3 minutes, if you couldn't keep up, you didn't keep your job.)

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No such thing as a too basic question! We all have to start somewhere, and asking when you're stuck is the mark of someone who wants to learn.

1. Start with one type of pastry and work with it until you're completely comfortable with both its basic and advanced applications. For example, start with pâte a choux and work with it until you can make perfect éclairs or choux every time, then work towards divorcées and other more complex choux things. And once you've got that down, start on the next type of pastry. I had the privilege of training with a master patisierre in Canada, and this is how he approached the apprenticeship - I didn't graduate to puff pastries and other Viennoiserie until I had mastered choux. (Incidentally, I did this apprenticeship while still attending high school - Maitre Pierre was very kind in allowing the hours to be flexible so that I could balance patisserie and schoolwork. If you can find a bakery whose sweets you admire, you can try asking the baker if they're willing to do this kind of apprenticeship with you - that way you'd have somebody who does have a good idea of what's right/wrong while you're learning.)

Thank you! This helps and gives an idea how to move through the information. One more little question: could you please advise where I could find more in detail program (if any) to follow, which would include basic and advanced applications?

If you're going it alone, shortcrust and its variants are probably the easiest starting point; it sounds like that's where you are now if you're playing with tarts.

2. That's how it works. I eat most of my mistakes or disasters or whatever you want to call them; it's fairly rare that something goes so completely sideways that it's inedible. You can also give your edible but imperfect learning pastries away to homeless shelters or similar, if your family and friends are starting to go nuts. The other option is to work to smaller batches - cut the recipes you're testing in half or in quarter and make far fewer units, or if you're testing fillings test the smallest possible version of the recipe. This way you'll end up with fewer test items and you're less likely to burn out your friends and family while you perfect your techniques and flavours.

Yep, sounds like a plan to work to smaller batches. Will give a go.

3. Your own taste is a fairly good guide; you can also search out people who have eaten the pastry in question and ask them what the what. If you can't find a professional copy, but you're working from an established recipe, it shouldn't be too difficult to judge if something is right or wrong. Recipes become established or standardized precisely because they turn out consistent results. Perfect, though, is in the tongue of the eater - it's very subjective in the same way that good/bad is. For example, I make lovely chocolate choux, but my mother hates choux pastry. Hence, even if I do make a perfect one as far as I'm concerned (and I love chocolate choux), it's going to be a bad one for her.

4. This is a really objective field again, but I approach it in the same way as a perfumier might - base note, midnote, accent, top note. It's worthwhile to investigate the classic flavour pairings - white chocolate and raspberry (sweet and creamy with sharp), for example, or pear with sharp cheese (mild and fruity with cheesy sour / bitter / funky), to see what's going on flavour-wise; this will help to inform your own choices. I don't have any resources on this, but I do recall a thread on classic flavour pairings kicking around here somewhere, and it did have some references. The Confections and Daily Sweets threads are also a good resource for flavour pairings , as many of the chocolatiers and bakers here play with unusual flavour combos and then report on it.

Thanks a lot!

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Many local community colleges and trade schools in the US offer pastry and baking classes. These schools are far more affordable than the typical culinary school education, and most will allow you to take a single class at a time, as opposed to a full time enrollment. The beauty of an inperson class is access to professional level equipment, direct supervision by a knowledgable pro, and access to ingredients (usually included in course fees).

Perhaps some time later I will consider the option to get myself into local class.

Michel Suas' book Advanced Bread and Pastry has many step by step recipes and photographs. It's not cheap: http://www.amazon.com/Advanced-Bread-Pastry-Michel-Suas/dp/141801169X but your local public library can get a copy through Interlibrary loan (free to you, you can keep it 1 month and perhaps see if it's worth buying). Also seek out the Pierre Herme dessert books, if for nothing other than inspiration: he often juxtaposes imaginative flavors, colors, and textures. http://www.amazon.com/Desserts-Pierre-Herme/dp/0316357200/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379019931&sr=1-1&keywords=desserts+pierre+herme Pro-level pastry magazines like http://www.dessertprofessional.com/ are also a good source.

Finally, if you can identify an after-school program near you (Boys & Girls club, church program, etc), you might have a way to feed your less than perfect pastry to an audience that will readily devour it. Kids don't care what it looks like--after school, they'll eat almost anything. An alternative is to figure out what will freeze: tart shells (par baked), cake layers (well wrapped), unbaked scone dough and unbaked puff pastry, etc. Then you can perfect your technique by making multiples, stick some in the freezer, and work on fillings/flavorings at a different time, using your frozen stash..

Thank you!

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A quick response here as I'm late for work but.....

1. Read, read, read. From many sources. Practice. Cover all the main techniques, and most importantly, understand the recipes. You should always know what is happening to your food when you add certain ingredients e.g. why a few drops of lemon or vinegar in a meringue?!

2. Bin or homeless guy. That's part of learning! But be positive, every mistake (should) be something learned.

3. Good question. There's no easy answer. Even if you order one at a restaurant to compare how do you know that the pastry chef there isn't rubbish!? Learn to trust your own instinct and judgments.

4. Experience. But this book is fantastic, and it covers classic to obscure pairings, with recipes.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Flavor-Thesaurus-Compendium-Pairings/dp/160819874X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1379058207&sr=8-1&keywords=flavour+thesaurus

Good luck to you.

Many thanks! Totally agree about reading, could you suggest the order to get the knowledge? Which one to follow?

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A quick response here as I'm late for work but.....

1. Read, read, read. From many sources. Practice. Cover all the main techniques, and most importantly, understand the recipes. You should always know what is happening to your food when you add certain ingredients e.g. why a few drops of lemon or vinegar in a meringue?!

2. Bin or homeless guy. That's part of learning! But be positive, every mistake (should) be something learned.

3. Good question. There's no easy answer. Even if you order one at a restaurant to compare how do you know that the pastry chef there isn't rubbish!? Learn to trust your own instinct and judgments.

4. Experience. But this book is fantastic, and it covers classic to obscure pairings, with recipes.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Flavor-Thesaurus-Compendium-Pairings/dp/160819874X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1379058207&sr=8-1&keywords=flavour+thesaurus

Good luck to you.

I second the community college recommendation. Although, I would like to point out that there are some great pastry schools in the US. Classes will drill into you professional habits that you will need if you want to open a patisserie: sanitation, production standards, speed, using professional equipment, handling wholesale food packages. Being able to have a few months' of hands-on work with a Hobart 60 qt mixer, steam-injected rotating convection ovens, proof boxes, a full-sized sheeter, a three compartment sink, and, commercial dishwashers is experience that most people will never get at home.

The biggest issue I see with self-taught people trying to enter the job market is a lacking the knowledge and experience to work quickly. Production speed standards determine whether a venture will be profitable or not. A couple of months' of classroom drills and student competitions can make all the difference. (Example: you can hand me, or most experienced decorators, some cake layers and a pile of buttercream and we can put out a fully decorated birthday cake in 5 minutes. -I have worked places where the standard was 3 minutes, if you couldn't keep up, you didn't keep your job.)

Yeah, sounds very reasonable to me. Thank you, makes me think about getting formal education now in any case. Edited by rodyan (log)
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I am just an amateur, but do have a few thoughts on your basic question of how to proceed toward your goal:

I second what others have said about taking a hands-on class. I have learned what I know mostly from reading and then trying to make (on my own) what I read about. But I did take a hands-on class years ago, and I still remember the details of that valuable experience. Every time I make puff pastry, for example, I recall what the dough looked and felt like in the class, and it helps much more than even the most detailed description in words. (On another note, every time I make sugar syrup, I recall how the instructor tried to get the students to stick their fingers into the syrup to test it--moistening them first--and how I never attempted that pastry chef's trick.)

In addition, there are some useful resources on this forum. If you do a search for "basic pastry techniques," you will get (currently) about 3 pages of ideas. One of the most useful search results--and one that resembles the questions you are asking--is one on essential recipes a pastry chef should know.

Good luck in your adventure.

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I am just an amateur, but do have a few thoughts on your basic question of how to proceed toward your goal:

I second what others have said about taking a hands-on class. I have learned what I know mostly from reading and then trying to make (on my own) what I read about. But I did take a hands-on class years ago, and I still remember the details of that valuable experience. Every time I make puff pastry, for example, I recall what the dough looked and felt like in the class, and it helps much more than even the most detailed description in words. (On another note, every time I make sugar syrup, I recall how the instructor tried to get the students to stick their fingers into the syrup to test it--moistening them first--and how I never attempted that pastry chef's trick.)

In addition, there are some useful resources on this forum. If you do a search for "basic pastry techniques," you will get (currently) about 3 pages of ideas. One of the most useful search results--and one that resembles the questions you are asking--is one on essential recipes a pastry chef should know.

Good luck in your adventure.

Yeah, attending the class would be great, unfortunately I am not a huge fan of our local culinary schools, looks like it miiiiiiiles away from proper food schools. :/ But I might be very wrong. So it is useful to give a try!

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I am just an amateur, but do have a few thoughts on your basic question of how to proceed toward your goal:

I second what others have said about taking a hands-on class. I have learned what I know mostly from reading and then trying to make (on my own) what I read about. But I did take a hands-on class years ago, and I still remember the details of that valuable experience. Every time I make puff pastry, for example, I recall what the dough looked and felt like in the class, and it helps much more than even the most detailed description in words. (On another note, every time I make sugar syrup, I recall how the instructor tried to get the students to stick their fingers into the syrup to test it--moistening them first--and how I never attempted that pastry chef's trick.)

In addition, there are some useful resources on this forum. If you do a search for "basic pastry techniques," you will get (currently) about 3 pages of ideas. One of the most useful search results--and one that resembles the questions you are asking--is one on essential recipes a pastry chef should know.

Good luck in your adventure.

Yeah, attending the class would be great, unfortunately I am not a huge fan of our local culinary schools, looks like it miiiiiiiles away from proper food schools. :/ But I might be very wrong. So it is useful to give a try!

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I am just an amateur, but do have a few thoughts on your basic question of how to proceed toward your goal:

I second what others have said about taking a hands-on class. I have learned what I know mostly from reading and then trying to make (on my own) what I read about. But I did take a hands-on class years ago, and I still remember the details of that valuable experience. Every time I make puff pastry, for example, I recall what the dough looked and felt like in the class, and it helps much more than even the most detailed description in words. (On another note, every time I make sugar syrup, I recall how the instructor tried to get the students to stick their fingers into the syrup to test it--moistening them first--and how I never attempted that pastry chef's trick.)

In addition, there are some useful resources on this forum. If you do a search for "basic pastry techniques," you will get (currently) about 3 pages of ideas. One of the most useful search results--and one that resembles the questions you are asking--is one on essential recipes a pastry chef should know.

Good luck in your adventure.

Yeah, attending the class would be great, unfortunately I am not a huge fan of our local culinary schools, looks like it miiiiiiiles away from proper food schools. :/ But I might be very wrong. So it is useful to give a try!

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