Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pâte Brisée: The Dough Of Broken Dreams...and Tarts

Tuesday was an interesting day…we had our first substitute teacher, which was a bit jarring. Having just started, we were just beginning to settle into a routine, so having a new instructor, with her own style and ways of doing things, came as a bit of a surprise to all of us. Such is life, I guess. Anyway, after starting class with delicious, freshly-baked bread and cheese, courtesy of the folks in the Art of International Bread Making course, we got straight to work. It was our first day where we got to bake from start of class to finish, and boy, was it fun, tiring, productive, and a bit frustrating.

We rolled our pâte brisée, my old nemesis, for two tarts—tarte bourdaloue and tarte aux fruits frais. It took a bit of fighting from me, and many of the other students, but I finally got my tart ring lined and ready to go. As they say, you don't get a second chance with brisée. For the bourdaloue, we learned to poach pears, which smelled amazing, and then we made the almond cream base for the tart. After it all cooled, we assembled the tart and put it away to be baked on Thursday. I can’t wait to try it!

Then, we made our first baked custard, a chocolate pot de crème. Pot de crème is fairly easy to make, but the difficult part lies in the baking. Baked custards are very delicate, and must be cooked  on a very low temperature, to ensure that the custard is baked evenly and does not curdle. We’ll get to try them with our dinner on Thursday!

Finally, we assembled our fresh fruit tarts. We had already blind-baked the crust, so all we had to do was make the crème legère, slice the fruits, and arrange them neatly on top. I think mine came out ok, all things considered. The pâte brisée was very brittle and flaky, and while mine survived intact, several of my classmates’ shells shattered. Not fun. Also, given that this was my first try at supreming oranges, I think that came out pretty well. '

All in all, the night was a bit frustrating, but that’s what happens when you’re just beginning to learn something new. This really does all come down to practice, practice, practice, and I can already see that I'll be using these new skills in everything we do.


  1. looks beautiful, brettsky! very impressed. - serene