This summer, as with the last few, I have had the chance to take a few cooking classes! In previous summers I took bread baking classes at Le Pain Quotidien in Newport Beach, such as a pretzel making class, French bread, and enriched doughs such as brioche and challah. They were amazing classes! So this summer I signed up to take a puff pastry class.
Now these skills are ones I think I may be able to use. To be honest, the other classes intimidated me a bit, and I have not attempted to make the above listed breads on my own. Puff pastry seems to be far more multi-faceted, and more in my comfort zone. We were taught a “Blitz” recipe– that is, a shortcut recipe that requires far less folds. Some aspects of the process were comparable to pie dough, with which I am very familiar. We were able to make ricotta tarts with tomato and basil atop the pastry, apple turnovers, and my favorite, Palmiers. Now just in case you don’t know what Palmiers are, they are a wondrous creation. After the puff pastry– a multilayered dough comprised of half butter that “puffs” up in the oven leaving wonderful air between the layers– is made, there is a specific folding process. After it has been rolled into a rectangle, you coat it with sugar (of the raw sugar sort) and press all of the sugar into it that you can. You get it completely coated with sugar on both sides. Then both ends of the dough are incrementally folded in towards each other, until you are left with a gap in the middle. You then pile the two little mounds on top of each other, and slice the cylinder thinly. You lay those pieces out and it makes a sort of heart or elephant ear shape. In the oven, the layers puff out into each other, and the sugar caramelizes, creating a marvelously crisp and sweet cookie-esque pastry. When you take a bite, there is the indelible crunch from the caramelization and pastry, and little flakes of happiness crumble around you. I will not lie, they definitely do make a mess. But they are certainly worth it.
This class was probably one of my favorite pastry classes. It makes me feel so knowledgable to have the ability to make puff pastries now! The possibilities are near endless, I can make Napoleons, Galettes, and all sorts of puffs! I would definitely recommend a class in puff pastry if you’re willing to put the time in.
P.S. I know they don’t look perfect yet, I’m working on it, only the first and second attempts!