Thursday, November 6, 2008

Week 6- Eclairs, Pate a Choux Swans, Napoleons, and Palmiers

On lecture day we discussed classic pastries. Puff pastry has hundreds of layers that make the end baked off result to be light and crisp. It can be used for sweet or savory dishes. It gets so puffed b/c when it is rolled out, fat is rolled into the dough horizontally in layers. The fat melts while being baked and it separates the layers. The fat's moisture turns into steam, which makes the dough rise.
We also learned about pate a choux, or eclair paste. This is the only pastry that is cooked before baking. You have to cook the ingredients together before you can make the paste. Once you do that, you can pipe it out and bake it off. When you bake pate a choux, it leaves large air pockets in the finished product, which allows you to fill it with pastry cream or whipped cream.
Another pastry dough is phyllo, or filo, dough. I think this is worse to make than puff pastry. Personally, I always buy this from the Greek produce store down the street. It is streched out to paper thin layers that you can use to make sweet or savory dishes. When you make something w/ filo dough, you don't just pile a layer or dough on something or under it, you have to peel each layer and coat each layer with melted butter so that you can get the thin crips layers. Then you can wrap it around something, or push it into a cupcake pan for cups.

So during week 6 lab, we made pate a choux galore and worked with puff pastry. Thank goodness we didn't have to make our own puff pastry. I am a HUGE advocate of buying that from the store.... Puff pastry is a pain in the butt to make.

First before anything, we made the pastry cream. That had to be cooled for later use. Pastry cream is super easy to make:

4 ounces Cake flour (or cornstarch)
12 ounces Granulated sugar
1 quart Milk
12 Egg yolks
1 Vanilla bean, split
2 ounces Unsalted butter

1. Sift the flour and sugar together.
2. Whisk 8 fluid ounces (240 milliliters) of the milk into the egg yolks. Then add the flour and sugar and whisk until completely smooth.
3. Heat the remaining milk with the vanilla bean in a heavy non-reactive saucepan. As soon as the milk comes to a boil, whisk approximately one-third of it into the egg-and-flour mixture and blend completely. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the milk.
4. Whisk constantly until the custard thickens. As it thickens, the custard will go through a lumpy stage. Although you should not be alarmed, you should increase the speed of your stirring. Continue to stir vigorously, and it will smooth out and thicken just before coming to a boil.
5. Allow the pastry cream to boil for approximately 1 minute, stirring constantly.
6. Remove the pastry cream from the heat and immediately pour it into a clean mixing bowl.
7. Fold in the butter until melted. Do not over mix, as this will thin the custard.
8. Cover by placing plastic wrap on the surface of the custard. Chill over an ice bath. Remove the vanilla bean just before using the pastry cream.
9. Yield: 3 1/2 pints (56 fl oz)
Yield: 3 pounds 10 ounces (58 oz)

*** If the pastry cream needs to be strained, use a fine sieve china cap to do this after you folded in the butter. If you wait until after it has cooled, it is a huge pain. Kris and I learn this the hard way... Especially since mine was a bit too thick anyways....

Next I made my pate a choux batter:

8 fluid ounces Milk**
8 fluid ounces Water
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
2 teaspoons Granulated sugar
7 1/2 ounces Unsalted butter
8 ounces All-purpose flour
5 Eggs (5 - 7)

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a sheet pan with parchment. Have a pastry bag with a large plain tip ready.
2. Place the milk, water, salt, sugar and butter in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Make sure the butter is fully melted.
3. Remove from the heat and immediately add all the flour. Vigorously beat the dough by hand. Put the pan back on the heat and continue beating the dough until it comes away from the sides of the pan. The dough should look relatively dry and should just begin to leave a film on the saucepan.
4. Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and allow it to cool briefly to a temperature of approximately 130°F (54°C) or lower. Using the mixer's paddle attachment, begin beating in the eggs one at a time.
5. Continue to add the eggs one by one until the mixture is shiny but firm. It may not be necessary to use all of the eggs. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl in thick threads; it will not clear the bowl.
6. Put a workable amount of dough into the pastry bag and pipe onto the sheet pan in the desired shapes at once. (Spraying the inside of the pastry bag with vegetable cooking spray will help keep the sticky éclair paste from clinging to the inside of the bag and make cleanup easier.
7. Bake immediately, beginning at 425°F (220°C) for 10 minutes, then lowering the heat to 375°F (190°C) for another 10 minutes. Continue gradually lowering the oven temperature every few minutes until it reaches about 200°F (90°C) or until the shapes are brown and dry inside. Open the oven door as little as possible to prevent rapid changes in the oven's temperature.
8. Cool completely, then fill as desired. Leftovers can be frozen or stored at room temperature.***
9. Yield: 2 1/2 lb. Dough

**For a crisper product, replace the milk for more water. Also,
***The paste does not hold very well for long. Freezing it is okay, but you don't really want to be making this ahead of time. I took some home to practice w/ the next night and it wasn't the same.

The yummiest part of this lab was the Creme Chantilly. I heart whipped cream of any sort. Mmmm....

1 quart Heavy cream, chilled
3 ounces Powdered sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract

1. Place the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Using a balloon whisk, whisk the cream until slightly thickened.
2. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue whisking to the desired consistency. The cream should be smooth and light, not grainy. Do not overwhip.
3. Crème Chantilly may be stored in the refrigerator for several hours. If the cream begins to soften, gently rewhip as necessary.
4. Yield: 2 - 2 1/2 qt.

***You have to be careful not to overwhip. That'll turn it into butter. It will also soften/break down while it just sits (especially at room temp!). So make this last if you don't want to have to re whip it when you are ready to use it.

To make the eclairs, you need to get a piping bag w/ a big fat round tip. And then you pipe them out to look like the picture below. I discovered that holding the tip at an angle from the sheet pan produced better results than holding the tip perpendicularly to the sheet pan. They fluffed up more that way.

After they are done baking, you need to pipe the pastry creme from the bottom. Do not pipe in the creme from the side!!! Just take the tip of a small round and push it thru the bottom, just breaking it. Then squirt it in. I again angled it to get to each side, but it depends on how stuffed you want them. I love lots of pastry creme in mine. Then dip the tops in some melted chocolate or ganache.
I liked the ones we made in class, but the ganache was too bitter for me. I prefered the ones w/out the chocolate for that reason.
I didn't think the Pate a Choux Swans were as hard as I thought they would be. First, you need to pipe out the bodies. You can see in the pic below that you want to have nice round bodies, you don't want anything sticking out the top, but you have to be careful. Some of the ones that I kind of "pressed" down to get rid of a little sprout on top didn't puff up as much as the others. The easiest way I found to be was to squeeze out the paste about an inch from the sheet, when you have the right amount stop squeezing and circle the tip until the paste isn't sticking to the tip and you can pull away.

Then with a smaller tip, you pipe out the number 2 w/ the paste. Bake both according to the instructions. When they are cool enough to work with, cut the bodies in half horizontally. Then cut the top half vertically. Those are the wings. Take some pastry cream and pipe a dollop in the middle of the bottom. Then place the bottom of the piped out 2 right on top. Take the Chantilly Creme and, using the large star tip, pipe out a "swirl" on top of the bottom part of the 2 to hold it the neck in place. Then take the "wings" and place them on top of the creme, but w/ the curved sides on top, so that the straight sides that were the result of cutting it in half are facing down.
Using ready made puff pastry, we made napoleons and palmiers.

The palmiers were super easy. All you do is:

1. Roll out the puff pastry into a very thin rectangle. The length is not important, but the width should be at least 7 inches (17.5 centimeters).
2. Using a rolling pin, gently press the granulated sugar into the dough on both sides.
3. Make a 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) fold along the long edges of the dough toward the center. Sprinkle on additional sugar.
4. Make another 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) fold along the long edges of the dough toward the center. The two folds should almost meet in the center. Sprinkle on additional sugar.
5. Fold one side on top of the other. Press down gently with a rolling pin or your fingers so that the dough adheres. Chill for 1 our.
6. Cut the log of dough in thin slices. Place the cookies on a paper-lined sheet pan and bake at 400°F (200°C) until the edges are brown, approximately 8 to 12 minutes.

*** We used a mix of granulated sugar and cinnamon. Yum!

Lastly, the Napoleons! I was sad we didn't have any strawberries to add to the dessert. Although, I think if we had, I may have eaten the whole thing. Then I would have gotten really really really sick......

1 Puff pastry sheet, docked and baked***
(3 strips 4-in.x15-in.)
1 pint Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière)
1 quart Fresh strawberries, sliced
1 pint Crème Chantilly (Chantilly Cream)

1. Allow the puff pastry to cool completely before assembling.
2. Place a strip of puff pastry on a cake cardboard for support. Pipe on a layer of Pastry Cream, leaving a clean margin of almost 1/2 inch (1.2 centimeters) on all four sides.
3. Top the cream with a layer of berries.
4. Spread on a thin layer of Crème Chantilly and top with a second layer of puff pastry. Repeat the procedure for the second layer of puff pastry and chill.

As you can see, no strawberries, but seriously, you have to use some sort of berry with this b/c otherwise it is just cream on top of cream on top of pastry. All very yummy, but it def needs something bright to punch it up.
***The puff pastry was baked at 400 degrees until it was done. And by done I mean, like the picture, but lighter. And by docking, I mean placing another sheet pan on top of the puff pastry and weighing it down so it doesn't puff up like in my picture. It is supposed to be thinner.

1 comment:

Jaime said...

everything looks great! these are simple to make but always very impressive!