Monday, March 8, 2010

Week 9: Puff Pastry Exam and Start of Viennoiserie

Last week was the end of our puff pastry unit, and our exam was on Thursday. After the exam, we moved into what I suspect will be one of my favorite units - viennoiserie. Viennoiserie is breakfast pastry made from yeast-levened dough. I haven't worked much with yeast, so I'm excited to start. Plus I love eating croissants and breads.

To finish off the puff pastry unit, we made speedy vol au vents, an apple dartois, and a mille-feuille (more commonly known here as a Napoleon). I don't know why these vol au vents are called speedy. I'm pretty sure they took just as long as the first ones. These were a square/diamond shape and we filled them with pastry cream and fresh fruit.

Mangoes and blueberries

The apple dartois was kind of like a fancier apple tart made with puff pastry. To make the top, we used a lattice cutter and then stretched the cut piece of puff pastry over the compote. I put cut outs of leaves on the sides. I love everything with apples, so this was a highlight of the week.

Apple Dartois

We made our third Napoleon on Tuesday. This one was just the classic version. Some classmates used some fresh fruit and jam in theirs, but I wanted to do the traditional version.

Napoleon Strip

Puff pastry was our third exam so far. It's getting progressively more relaxed for these exams, but it's still a very frenzied 3 hours or so. I was pretty fortunate this time. To determine what everyone would be making, we each drew a set of three items out of a mixing bowl. I got mille feuille ronde (round Napoleon cake), palmiers and paillettes. Both pailletes and palmiers are two pretty simple puff pastry items, and a Napoleon cake isn't the worst thing you could need to make. Paillettes are puff pastry cheese straws with a bit of spice. I had missed the class when we made them because of the flu, but they were pretty simple. A couple of my classmates weren't so lucky and received sets of pastries that were far more complicated. They all did really well though, so it was nothing they couldn't handle!

Puff Pastry Exam Tray

Vienoisserie started on Saturday morning. First, let me state that yeast is really the most foul smelling thing in the world. Particularly if you have a slight hangover. That being said, the bread it makes is delicious. There's also a lot of waiting involved in making bread. You mix the dough, then let it rest and rise in the proofer (something that looks like a cabinet and stays at the perfect temperature for yeast activity), then deflate it a little, then put it back in the proofer, more rising, and eventually it's ready to bake. The first thing on the agenda was orange cinnamon swirl bread. It tasted as awesome as that sounds. The inside of the bread was so soft and delicious. I will definitely be making that again.

Orange Cinnamon Swirl Bread - Outside and inside view

Using a portion of the dough from the orange bread, we made pecan sticky buns. A caramel, whiskey, pecan mixture gets poured into the bottom of the pan. Then the dough gets rolled into a log with a brown sugar spice mixture on the inside. We sliced the log into the rolls and fit them around the pan. After they baked, we flipped them out of the pan so that the caramel nut mixture was on top. These looked really great. It definitely made me wish I wasn't allergic to nuts. We also made something called Sally Lunn rolls, but somehow I forgot to take a picture of those. I'll see if I can steal a pic from a classmate to post up here, so you all don't feel left out.

Before Oven

Post baking

Saturday in Hoboken was the annual St. Patrick's Day celebration. St. Patty's Day in Hoboken is a really big deal. The town has a really large Irish population, 100 bars in 1 square mile, and a lot of young people. It's a recipe for a really great celebration. The drinking starts early and lasts all day (well as long as you can stay awake. I was in bed, asleep, last year by 7:00 pm), and when I left for class at 7:45 am, there was already people lined up outside the bars waiting for them to open. When I got off the PATH train with all these baked goods, I was engulfed in a sea of drunk revelers, who seemed to all want a piece of the sticky buns. I was able to protect them in order to bring them to the party all my friends are at. If you ever want to feel like the most popular person, bring a bag filled with home baked bread to a party with a bunch of people who are drinking. It's a big hit. The 24 chocolate Guinness cupcakes with Bailey's frosting I made as well didn't hurt either.


Cooking Foodie said...

Sticky buns look yum!

Genna Marie said...

oh. my. god. masters is coming up...hint HINT HINT!!

Tara said...

Haha, Genna make it happen! My brother is moving to Atlanta in a couple weeks!

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