Saturday, July 12, 2008

I Bow to the Patron Saint of Pastry

This post is dedicated to St. Honorè, the patron saint of pastry and bakers. I thought going into this culinary school adventure that I only wanted to focus on baking and decorating cakes. I was excited to learn about how to bake other items correctly, but I didn’t think I’d have a long term interest in other pastry. Well, that was before learning how to make classical European pastries. They look so simple and unadorned (read: lack of frosting and yumminess), but when they are made correctly (with real cream and butter) they taste so incredible and look beautiful.

The base of most European pastry is puff pastry (Pâte Feuilletée) and/or elclair paste (Pâte a Choux). We’ve been making many different products using both. The crowning glory has been Gâteau St. Honoré. This complex and magical pastry includes a base of puff pastry, sides made of Pâte a Choux, mini cream puffs filled with Diplomat cream (pastry cream and whipped cream combined), topped with caramel, and attached to the rim with caramel, the center is filled with alternating rows of chocolate and vanilla Diplomat cream. It’s garnished with a caramel dome. Isn’t it just beautiful?
It's also so amazingly delicious!

These are Paris-Brest. They are a tire shaped pastry made with Pâte a Choux and filled with chocolate praline cream and pastry cream, topped with almonds and powdered sugar.
Mini Eclairs and Swans

Baba au Rhum (Baba O'Reilly?)--This is a decadent rum soaked cake filled with whipped cream and fresh berries. Please ignore the lousy presentation.

Friday was cooked fruit day which didn't really excite me all that much. Above is caramelized pineapple with homemade coconut ice cream.

Bananas Foster--Since this dessert originated in New Orleans, I'm not sure how this fits into the classical European curriculum other than it's a cooked fruit dessert. Cooked bananas REALLY don't do a thing for me.

I really was about to write off the entire fruit day, but then I made a Port wine syrup that was to die for! We poached pears in the syrup, and plated it with chocolate ganache and vanilla ice cream (called Pear Belle Helene). It was so unexpectedly delicious. I even took the extra Port wine syrup home :)

So, I am officially a devotee of St. Honorè and the fine pastries he watches over. I'm even considering doing my externship at a French Patisserie rather than just a bakery that specializes in high-end cakes. We'll see, the cake classes are still to come. I may change my mind--I've been known to do that a time or two.

Have a super sweet weekend!


Kitschen Pink said...

Ok now then! It's Sunday morning. I haven't had breakfast and this blog should carry a warning! I HAVE to go and find pastries RIGHT NOW and do you have any idea how hard that is going to be in mid Norfolk, at this time, on a Sunday - indeed any day?! What is a girl to do. I'll just have to print off a copy of your post and gaze longingly at all the beautiful images! mmmmmm.x I"m impressed the only thing you bought home was the syrup! Did you eat all the rest then?! t.x

CECC Messengers said...

i love what you did to the st. honore. how did you make the caramel on top and shape it into a dome?