I'm studying the Grand Diplome at Cordon Bleu in London

Today was about completing and cooking the puff pastry.

All the hard work was done yesterday in making the puff pastry, so it now needed to be rolled out, cut to shape, filled if required and baked.

Chef Eric took a back seat today and let chef Gilles do all the work.

He first made Allumettes du fromage – cheese sticks – which we would be doing in our practical.

These are puff pastry with a mornay sauce filling. A mornay sauce is a bechamel sauce flavoured with cheese, gruyere here, and enriched with egg yolks. A thicker than normal sauce was made here as it needs to be thick enough not to squirt everywhere when you cut or bite into the cheese stick.

The chef rolled the puff pastry to about 3 mm thick and cut 2 identical rectnagles about 12 cm wide and 25 cm long. On one of them he piped 5 lines of the mornay sauce about 1 cm wide and 4 cm apart. He brushed around the edges and between the lines with water and then carefully laid the other sheet on top, pressing down between the lines of sauce to make sure it was sealed. Then he cut the pastry into individual straws, each with a line of sauce inside. The edges were crimped and the tops brushed with eggwash and they were baked in a 200 °C oven.

While they were baking, the chef made some vol au vents with the remainder of the puff pastry. He cut some circles and cut a smaller hole in the centre of some of them to make rings, which he then placed on top of the complete circles to create a rim.The rims were eggwashed and were ready for baking.

To ensure that they all ended up the same height, and no vol au vent rose too far, the chef placed a dariole mould at each corner of the baking tray and then placed another baking tray n top. This would mean that they could only rise until they touched the baking tray on top.

To fill the vol au vents the chef made a chicken velouté sauce into which he put diced, cooked chicken breast, sautéed mushrooms and chopped parsley. A velouté sauce is a sauce not dissimilar to a bechamel, but the roux is cooked a little longer to a sandy colour and texture, and chicken stock is used instead of milk.

Here are the baked puff pastries, showing one allumette and one unfilled vol au vent:

And here are some cut open allumettes and one filled vol au vent, with sauce:


In the practical we had chef Eric. I must say that all the chefs know their stuff but all have their own personalities. Chef Eric is quite no-nonsense and businesslike, but is very helpful and willing to answer questions.

We made the allumettes the same as in the demo. Everyone used the puff pastry they had made the day before, so the results were quite variable, dependant on the quality of pastry people had made.

Mine turned out ok, though one of them rose up and then flipped the top off, which was a bit disappointing. The others were ok though and 2 were particularly good, rising straight and evenly. 2 others rose a bit diagonally.

The reason for rising unevenly is partly due to the pastry not being layered correctly and also how well the 2 pieces were sealed together. The one that flipped its top wasn’t well sealed on one side at all.

Unfortunately the amount of cheese delivered to the kitchen was only half what it should have been, so the cheese flavour was a bit weak.

Here are a couple of my allumettes, one good and one wonky:


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