Today we took what I felt was quite a large step away from amateur baking with the challenge of pâte feuilletée. Don't get me wrong, the recipes we have cooked so far have been delicous but its not often you come across a home chef with puff pastry in their repertoire. Puff pastry is made in 2 parts, the paste and the butter. The butter is folded and rolled into the paste to create a fine layered pastry ,and thus creating the puffed up effect as the butter cooks. Doesnt sound too bad so far. However, in order to achieve optimum 'puff' there must be around about 1000 layers of butter and paste. Thats right - the millenium pastry. In demo today we were taught how to incorporate the butter and 'turn' the pastry to create these layers. Its quite a tricky thing because as the layers get thinner the chances of the butter seaping its way through increase, so it requires a fair amount of tlc, and plently of time to rest and cool between folds. After making the dough it is left to cool, in our case overnight, before using it. So for the rest of class chef made a puff pastry tart called a jalousie which is a puff pastry lattice filled with almond creme and poached fruit. Taste sensation.
On to practical. As you may of guessed, we were making our own puff pastry, or at least attempting to do so. We were also making our version of the tasty almond treat above but with a bit of a cheat. As our puff pastry wouldnt be ready till the next day, we were given a batch of ready made puff pastry to use. Cheeky. I wasnt on my top form today and had a few small mishaps. My attempt at rolling out the pre-made puff pastry to the desired rectangle resulted in more of an x-marks-the-spot treasure map. Luckily chef saved the day. Im also not 100% confident about my puff pastry but I will get to see the result of that tomorrow when I actually cook with it. Chef assured me it was fine but some of the layers looked a bit dubious to me so fingers crossed! The take-home treat for today turned out to be just that. We poached our pears, whipped up out almond creme and constructed our fine pastry. Done.
The final event of the day was our first one on one tutorial with our mentor chefs. We had to have a chat about where were were doing well/badly, what we wanted to improve etc and most importantly we got our marks for our first batch of practicals! So far I am averaging a 4.1 our of 5 which is a merit. Very happy baker. However, its still very early days and I still have that pesky puff pastry to face tomorrow..