By Nick Wuest,
ICC Pastry Arts student
(read more about Nick)
We have a saying in class, a motto adopted from Chef Tom: “Make it work!” Those have become the three most important words in my life (aside from “more gummy bears”). Things will go wrong in the kitchen, it’s inevitable, and you just don’t have time to fuss over it. There’s nothing to do but find a way to make it work.
I spent all morning today making puff pastry to bake off some mini summer fruit jalousie. The pâton was as good as I could ask for, I was ahead of schedule, and they came together beautifully. Then I put them in the oven…
One of the trickiest things about baking that I bring up often is adapting to your environment and today I learned that my oven and puff pastry do not get along at all. The key to great puff is the rapid evaporation of moisture to steam to push each individual layer up and apart, which is classified as mechanical leavening. At the recommended temperature of 375F my oven just doesn’t seem able to do that. When I went to rotate the trays a bunch of half risen jalousie braising in melted butter greeted me. It was ugly and I was not happy at all.
The ice cream came out perfectly to no one’s surprise.
There are multiple periods of inactive steps when making puff pastry that you can use to prepare other things you will need. I listed the recipes in the order I have them in my notebook, by no means should you follow this order. Read them over and plan your day as you’d like knowing you’ll have lots of free time as the dough rests, compotes cool, and ice cream freezes.
- Stand mixer with paddle
- Ice cream maker
BURNT HONEY ICE CREAM
It’s summer and at this point I can’t stress any more how much I love frozen things, so buckle up because the temperature here in New York isn’t dipping anytime soon and my ice cream machine has many more jobs ahead. This recipe uses the best honey I’ve ever had. TruBee Honey is a great apiary in Tennessee I’ve been following for a very long time. Their Summer Wildflower is the edible incarnation of laying in a field of flowers on a hot day. In other words, perfection.
- 100g wildflower honey
- 220g milk, room temperature
- 260g heavy cream, room temperature
- 135g sugar, divided 100g/35g
- 8g vanilla paste
- 70g egg yolk
- pinch of salt
Bring the honey to a boil in a saucepan large enough for the remaining ingredients and let it cook for about 2 min until darkened. Add the milk, cream, and 100g of sugar – return to the heat and just bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar and honey.
Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar (I added an extra drop of honey here because I don’t play no games) and temper them with the hot cream mixture. Return the custard to the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. Strain into an ice bath and cool to about room temp, then chill until ready to process.
If you’ve read my cronut recipe then you should already be familiar with the process of forming and folding a pâton. This dough is much simpler than that one. Where the cronuts were leavened both mechanically and organically this classic puff is all mechanical, which explains the much larger amount of butter for the beurrage.
- 190g cake flour
- 190g bread flour
- 4g salt
- 55g beurre en pommade (mash butter until it resembles Vaseline)
- ice cold water
- 375g beurrage
Paddle the flours, salt, and pommade until very small pieces remain then gradually add the water to just barely bring the détrempe together, finishing it by hand with small amounts of water. Form the détrempe into a square, wrap and chill it for about 20 min while you form the beurrage.
Form the pâton with the beurrage and détrempe and give it a total of three single (letter) turns – fold it in thirds just like a letter – resting about 20 min between each one. Chill the folded pâton until you are ready to use it. It can be frozen at this point for up to 2 months.
SUMMER FRUIT COMPOTES
Markets are flooded with stone fruit and berries right now and I wish I had the time to just cook all of it but I have to settle for weekends. Both of these recipes are prepared using the same method and all of the fruit is roughly diced to about 1/4”
Stone Fruit Compote:
- 560g nectarines
- 540g peaches
- juice of 2 lemons
- 100g sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
Strawberry Kiwi Compote:
- 400g strawberries
- 300g kiwi
- 80g sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
Place all of the ingredients for each filling into a saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until softened slightly, drain and cool on plastic lined sheet pans to room temperature. Chill until ready to use.
ASSEMBLY AND BAKING
You can’t hear it but I just sighed as I got to this line. Know your oven, that’s all I can say. Take some scraps after building the jalousie (chill them until you’re ready) and bake it off at 375 for 15-20 min. If you get a pool of butter then raise the heat between 400-425 and try moving the tray closer to the top of the oven. The great thing about puff pastry is that it is easy to read and troubleshoot.
Cut out rectangles from the dough, the amount and size are up to you, but make sure that half of them are just slightly smaller than the other half. “Dock” the smaller rectangles by poking a bunch of holes in them – these are the bottoms. Fold the larger ones in half lengthwise and make three cuts in the fold for vents – these are the tops. Egg wash the edge of the bottom layer, spoon some compote in the center, lay a top piece over it and trim just enough edge to even them out. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal.
Once everything is assembled brush the tops with egg wash, being careful not to use so much that it runs over the edges (this will inhibit rising by gluing the layers shut). Bake the pastries for about 15-18 min or until golden brown on the top and bottom while remaining very light in the layers.
LEMON GLAZE FOR STRAWBERRY JALOUSIE
- 50g powdered sugar
- 50g lemon juice
Whisk the glaze and drizzle over the strawberry jalousie while they are warm.
Cool the pastries on the pan completely.
Since I don’t have any beautiful pastries to show you this time around you’re going to get an ugly one and a quick little lesson in how puff pastry works. Lucky you.
If you look at the far left of that pastry you’ll see how it slid off of itself. That’s because the moisture held in the butter didn’t transform into steam quickly enough and instead spent too much time as a liquid causing the layers to slip like a mini buttery landslide. If done properly, it will shoot straight up instead with layers even more defined than what you see in the middle there. That’s what I meant when I said that puff pastry communicates well as it is being prepared. One look and I immediately knew what was going on.
That’s how you make everything but what do you do when it all falls apart? You listen to Chef Tom and make it work! So here’s another motto of mine – “When in doubt, sundae.”
I am really bummed I couldn’t bring you guys some really good puff pastry. It’s one of my absolute favorite things to make (partially because I am very good at it) and I actually considered skipping this week and just scrapping the whole thing. But imagine how boring things would be if everything was perfect all of the time. Missteps breed important lessons if you let them. The most important one of all being those three little words – “make it work.”
PS – It’s midterm week so I may not have a post for you after this weekend in order to study. If that’s the case I’ll be back with something cool (get it?!) next weekend.