Puff pastry was the main focus of today’s lessons. Chef Eric was alone in giving us the demo. No chef Gilles.
Puff Pastry is made from a dough which is folded over a slab of butter, rolled thinner and folded into 3, repeated so that it has been folded 6 times. This creates hundreds of thin layers of dough separated by butter. When baked, the moisture in the dough turns to steam which puffs the pastry apart and the butter allows the layers to separate to produce light flaky pastry.
The dough was made from flour, a little salt, water and some melted butter. Mixed into a form dough, it was formed into a ball and a cross cut in the top to about half the depth of the ball. Then it was wrapped and put in the fridge for 20 minutes to rest. This stops the gluten in the flour being stretched too much, which would make the pastry tough.
While it was resting some butter was formed into a square about 10cm wide and pounded within greaseproof paper to soften it a little.
Once the dough was rested, each of the 4 corners of the cross-cut dough was flattened then rolled out to make a cross shaped dough, with the centre of the cross a little wider than the slab of butter. The butter was placed in the centre of the cross and the 4 flaps folded in to cover the butter.
Then the pastry was rolled in one direction only, back and forth, to roughly the length of the roling pin, but no wider than it started. The rolling pin can be used side on to keep the edges straight.
Once long enough, the pastry was folded: the top into the middle and then the bottom to cover it, thus foldng it in 3. The pastry was turned through 90 degrees and the rolling and folding repeated. Then it was wrapped again and rested for another 20-30 minutes.
After resting, the rolling and folding, rolling and folding was repeated and rested again. Then it was rolled and folded for the final 2 times, wrapped and will be used in tomorrow’s lesson.
While the pastry was doing all that resting, the chef made crepes. The batter was a mixture of flour, egg, a little salt and sugar, and milk to make a thin batter. A little nut brown butter was mixed in for more flavour (butter that has been cooked until it goes a little brown, then spooned off of the solids) and some lemon rind. Then it was left to rest for 20 minutes for the flour to fully absorb the moisture.
A lemon syrup was made of sugar, water and lemon juice, brought to the boil and put aside.
To make the crepes, a thin-rimmed crepe pan was heated, brushed with clarified butter and a ladleful of batter poured in and swirled around the pan to thinly cover the bottom. Once nicely coloured on one side, it was flipped over to cook on the other side.
Once all the batter was made into crepes, then were folded into 4 to make a triangle, put on a plate and some lemon syrup drizzled over them
In the practical chef Franck announced that this was his last ever practical class as he was leaving to pursue other avenues. He has been strict about time in the few practicals with us but quite fair. He has been reinforcing the need to work quickly.
Nothing about the practical was particularly difficult. Just a matter of being methodical with the pastry and it looked ok at the end of class. Tomorrow will show how well I have made it as I will be cooking with it.
I’ve made crepes lots of times before so that was quite easy for me, though many others in the class were having lots of problem with them sticking to the pan. It usually means the pan isn’t hot enough or possibly that they haven’t greased it enough.
Off to eat my lemon crepes now.