As I mentioned previously, last week the flu struck. It has been extremely challenging working the balance of a full time job and almost 20 hours of class a week, and the illness threw a major wrench in everything, bringing it all toppling down. My dad is probably going to call me up tomorrow and tell me how dramatic that statement sounded, but I'm going to keep it in anyway. Tuesday was the introduction to puff pastry dough, which is an extremely challenging dough. The dough needs to be rolled, folded, turned, chilled...and repeated over and over again. This process produces a dough that is almost a 1000 layers of dough and butter (!! 500 layers of butter?!). It is delicious. I can't even describe how delicious it is. I want to eat puff pastry wrapped around my every meal. Cheerios in puff pastry? I'm on it!
Unfortunately, I had to leave class on Thursday almost immediately after getting there. It's really, really hard to stand in a kitchen, next to a 400 degree oven for over five hours straight, and it wasn't happening that night. I went home, rested up, and came back slightly recovered on Saturday. Saturday we made some vol au vents first. Vol au vents are a puff pastry case that is filled with with something. For these Chef Cynthia made two savory fillings - spinach & goat cheese and a mushroom. They looked great, but even puff pastry won't make me like spinach.
We also made a Bar Tart that we used a touch of almond cream and some pineapple. This was the first time I ever cut a whole pineapple. I've seen whole pineapples in stores, but never had any idea how to cut them. My knife skills are slowly improving, and the whole pineapple was a big accomplishment for me.
My mom always tells me how when she was pregnant with me, she and her godmother ate a steady diet of Napoleons. Maybe this is why I'm so in love with puff pastry. We made a Napoleon cake, called a Mille-Feuille, which I believe translates from French to "thousand leaf," referring to the layers of pastry. It was three rounds of puff pastry with a lightened pastry cream in between each. We put crumbs of the puff pastry around the edges of the cake. We sprinkled powdered sugar on top and then used knives heated over a flame to caramelize a cross hatch pattern.