Going to baking class is a little bit like going to the theater. There's this incredible dynamic between the teachers at the campus and all of them have mastered the art of banter. I don't know how to explain it, but it can be quite hilarious.
Going to baking class can also be a little bit like therapy. Even on my most pessimistic days, it's something I look forward to. It's a place where I can focus on what's in front of me and let go of everything that's clouding my mind. It's a place where I can create something that I'm proud of, where I can connect with others and where I can laugh.
I really needed that this week.
Yes - it's been a rough week. There were long hours, tons of self-doubt and some major disappointments...the works. Thank god for baking class.
And for puff pastry.
Puff pastry has this bad rep for being way too laborious. I get it. It takes some time and it's a lot easier to simply take some store-bought pastry out of the packet. But man, is it a great way to calm down and get your feet back on the ground. The process of rolling, folding and re-rolling the dough works better than yoga. Also, homemade puff pastry can beat store-bought on flavor and texture any day. No contest.
We made a yeasted puff pastry this week, which we folded into triangles, baked and then filled with crème patissière. In Belgium, we call this "een crèmekoek," but there's no way I can adequately translate that into English. You'll have to do with "cream-filled Danish." They usually come with a chocolate glaze - "een crèmekoek met chocolade" - but we just sprinkled them with icing sugar.
Our teacher had made the crème patissière in advance, so all we had to do was make the yeasted puff pastry.
• Make sure that all of your ingredients for the dough, the first 7, are ice cold. You don't want the butter to melt when you start folding it in, and you don't want your dough to start proofing when you're still working on it, either.
• The "additive for soft luxury dough products" is something professional bakers use for sandwiches, brioche breads and other "soft" bread products. It's a mixture of fats, sugars, enzymes, and so on and helps give the product its soft texture.
• It's best to use specialized, high plasticity margarine for the puff pastry - which you should be able to find in specialized shops -, but you could also use regular butter or margarine instead. This will make it a little more difficult to work with, so try to keep everything as cold as possible.
yeasted puff pastry
recipe from baking class (syntra west)
makes enough for ca. 15 Danish pastries
500 gr white bread flour, cold
1 egg yolk, cold
25 gr fresh yeast, cold
250 ml water or milk (or a mixture of both), ice cold
50 gr granulated sugar, cold
7,5 gr salt, cold
5 gr additive for soft luxury dough products, cold
175 gr butter or margarine, at room temperature
1. Let's start by putting the dough together. If you're doing this by hand, put the flour on a clean work surface and make a well in the middle. If you're doing it in an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment, just start with a clean bowl. Pour the cold water/milk into the well (or into the bowl) and add the crumbled yeast and the egg yolk. Stir the mixture until the yeast has dissolved and then add about 1/3 of the flour. Add sugar, salt, additive and the rest of the flour and knead until you have a soft, smooth dough. It shouldn't need a lot of kneading - just until all of the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is smooth. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and form a ball.
2. Roll out the dough until you have a rectangle of about 15 x 25 or 20 x 30 cm. Now take your butter and knead it a little with your hands. You want it to have more or less the same elasticity as your dough. Once you've done that, take little bits of the butter and spread them across the dough. You want to cover 2/3 of the dough's length (i.e. about 17 cm if you rolled it out to 15 x 25 cm, or 20 cm if you rolled it out to 20 x 30 cm) with butter. Next, fold the uncovered side onto the middle part of the dough and, subsequently, the other side over that part. You want to create a little packet with alternating layers of dough and butter.
3. Now, you can start the folding process. With yeasted puff pastry, you only have to roll and fold two or three times, so it really isn't that much work. For this recipe, we folded our dough into three and folded it twice. Take your dough packet and lay it with the seam parallel to you. Roll out the dough a little in that direction, adding some extra width and then turn it 90˚. Now roll it out length-wise into a rectangle again. You don't have to roll it out thin, just big enough to refold it. To fold it, do what you did before: take one side of the dough and fold it onto the middle third, followed by the other side, which you fold over the rest, creating a new packet. Repeat this process of rolling and folding, starting with aligning the seam parallel to you, one more time.
4. Wrap the packet of dough in cling film and allow to rest in the refrigerator for 10 to 20 minutes.
After the resting period, the dough is ready to use. Regular sized pastries should take about 15-20 minutes to bake, at 210°C.