Sunday, July 16, 2017

Puff Pastry Ticked

I think I told you in my previous post that I was attending a Puff Pastry baking class. The only reason I took the Puff Pastry class is that it is a prerequisite for another class I want to take. It was very lonely attending the class because I didn't know anyone. When I attended BITC's cake, cookies and muffins class, I went with a friend and believe me, going with a friend is so much better than going not knowing anyone. What made it worse was the school was totally new to me and the school had this attitude that I will figure it out one way or another. Until today, I have no idea where the toilet is or where to put the rulers. Where do you keep the damn rulers?

It's possible that age is an issue here. I think I'm the oldest student in my class. I found it hard to absorb the lecture and the instructions often sound terribly incoherent to me. I had to keep asking and asking to make sure I was doing things right. I took a photo of the pink dough but what each dough represents escapes me. I'm guessing it's to show how the different number of folds will result in different results. In my mind I was thinking, who the hell cares! Ha ha. I really hate the theory part of baking.

Night 1 of class was spent sorting out my registration *&(#}! up, theory from power point(just picture the teacher reading line by line) and making the pastry dough. We used the fold in method. (For home bakers, Richard Bertinet explains it quite well in his video.) The first part was done by hand and the rest of the turns were done using a dough sheeter. We spent a lot of time waiting for our turn to use the machine. I felt so miserable the whole night. The class size was big - 15 of us. The kitchen was small. I didn't know where the hell anything was. And one of the chefs would yell at us from time to time. What is it with chefs who yell? At the end of the night, we went home without any baked goods because all we did was make the pastry dough. So disappointing. I wanted to cry.

Night 2 was the night we baked two items. It was a lot more enjoyable. But I made many mistakes. Sometimes it's my fault. Mostly it's the fault of the teachers. They give instructions to groups of people. Sometimes you are somewhere else.

This was my fruit band. I did not hear any instruction to dock the sides which was why the dough did not hold together. I was not the only one because there were a few that looked like mine. But it was edible.

The apple strudel turned out not too bad. My family and I ate everything. However, I am not a fan of apple strudel. Maybe it's the cinnamon... I paid attention to making the apple strudel because we had to make it again for the assessment.

The newbies were informed that we had to do kitchen duty. I really hate kitchen duty. It's disorganised and never ending. I started to feel less alone as I could talk to one or two persons.

For home bakers, this video by Gerald Burg explains how apple strudel and apple turnovers are shaped. The only thing we did differently is we docked the bottom piece of the apple strudel pastry.

Night 3 was another busy night. I think I blacked out for a few seconds towards the end. We baked Victoria's, palmiers and apple turnovers. These were not hard at all. As we won't be tested on them I took it easy!

Victoria's and palmiers
apple turnovers

Palmiers are really good to eat. I wonder how much weight I'm going to put on?

Night 4 we made pastry dough using the chop in Scotch method. It really means using the mixer to do the mixing of fats and dough! This is of course followed by sheeting using the dough sheeter. Another night of queuing.

This time though, our filling was tuna or cheese with spinach. The tuna was nice but cheese with spinach? Gross. Fortunately I only made 2 with cheese/spinach. The tuna puff was in the practical assessment but it's easy peasy.

Night 5 We learnt to use scrap dough to make eccles cakes and cream horn.
I didn't hear the instructions to put sugar on one side of the dough only so the bottom got a bit charred.

In the end, not too bad. Some of the students had theirs in bits and pieces.

These eccles cakes were delicious even though the filling was tinned apple which I swear I can no longer eat. I think if I were to make these again, I would put some other filling like ham, bacon, luncheon meat...

We were supposed to have revision on theory but it didn't happen. Thank god! I don't think I can go through theory again.  For home bakers, this video by Gerard Burg explains how Victoria's, eccles cakes and palmiers are shaped. Very close to how we did it in class.

Night 6 As our class was big, we were put in 2 groups for our assessment. Mine was on Friday night. I assumed the practical assessment would be conducted in a similar way to BITC but of course I was wrong to make any assumption! Despite the initial hiccups, I managed to make the required apple strudel and 8 tuna puffs. I did make one major mistake in my apple strudel. Can you tell? But I managed to creatively work around the mistake. As I was making the tuna puffs, I realised our teacher had taught us to make the tuna puff differently. Her method was to use round cutters whereas the assessment required us to cut squares. After the practical assessment, we sat for our theory test. After the tester had marked our papers, we were told our results. Yes, I passed. I was happy to be done with puff pastry.

My family finished the tuna puffs. It is rather tasty when warmed up using the oven. To be honest, I'm not sure if I will make puff pastry at home. Firstly I don't have a dough sheeter. Yes, who does? Secondly, Singapore is hot and humid. The butter will turn oily and it will be a disaster. The alternative is to buy pastry dough from the supermarket and put my own filling. Anyway, I don't have to think about it anytime soon because I don't think I can eat another puff pastry.

Having said that, next week I start another pastry class this one uses yeast. It is also a night class and will span a few weeks. I'm sick of it already. Stay tuned.


Jane McLellan said...

Ah, a dough sheeter, who knew? I've always meant to learn to make puff pastry, but it sounds a real palaver. Now I can say, no, no, I don't have a dough sheeter!

Ely said...

I'm actually surprised your school chose to use a sheeter because not every professional kitchen has one- a heavy rolling pin works well if it HAS to be made, or it can be ordered frozen in sheets. I don't know anyone who makes puff at home- too labor intensive with having to refrigerate constantly. Using supermarket puff is definitely the way to go, and you can freeze what you don't use!

What flavor was the pink dough? Looks like each photo shows the progression of turns.

It sounds like that school is treating you guys as semi-profesional versus recreational cooks. Is that on purpose?

Projects By Jane said...

Hi Jane and Ely,

Today I went for my first class in Danish pastry and GUESS WHAT? We did everything by hand. The teacher is different from the one in puff pastry. He sounds very experienced. He said the reason he wants us to do by hand with the rolling pin is because NO ONE owns a dough sheeter at home.

I learnt that when I roll by hand, my dough looks like crap!

Ely, the pink dough was dyed pink. No flavour. Yes, the baking modules I took are meant for professional bakers. If I take enough modules, I may get employment as a trainee baker. But I don't want to take all the required modules because it's so hard. Plus I just want to bake at home.

tamdoll said...

This does look amazingly hard, and all your results really look fabulous. Since this was a prerequisite for what you really wanted to take, I can't wait to see what's next.

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