Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pipe Dreams

Ok, so I was totally going to name this post “laying pipe,” but I know how my mom feels about vulgarity, so I’ll throw her a bone, this one time.  What it comes down to is that the pâte à choux unit is designed to give us real practice in the art of using a pastry bag to pipe things…which is really important if you want to be a successful pastry chef or baker.
On to yesterday’s class, though. Yesterday’s class was such a relief after the messiness of Thursday, and I think most people left the kitchen yesterday feeling positive about where we stand. We started class by preparing our pâte à choux, which we used to make three different desserts today, including a Paris-Brest ring and our first crack at plated desserts—swans and profiteroles.
After making our dough, we had to pipe out the different shapes for the three different pastries. First, we piped the dough into a teardrop shape which would ultimately become our swans. Going into this class, I was concerned that this would be very difficult, since the idea of piping anything to that would look like a swan seemed daunting to me. However, even though they’re not perfect, these were not as hard as I had envisioned, and my swans came out looking pretty good. They were filled with a crème Martinique, a whipped cream with rum-soaked pineapple folded into it. After assembling our swans, we plated them on a “lake” of chocolate sauce with sauce anglaise hearts.

I know! They’re like, totes fancy and stuff!
Next we plated our profiteroles, a perennial favorite. Leave it to the French to make ice cream sundaes seem snooty and dainty. These were filled with homemade vanilla ice cream and set on a plate of warm chocolate sauce with sauce anglaise. I have to say that I was not too happy with my plating here. My spiral was a bit off, but it tasted good, nonetheless.

Next, we piped rings to form our Paris-Brest, a very traditional French pastry. It is shaped to resemble a bicycle tire, as it commemorates the famous bicycle race between the cities of Paris and Brest. To be honest, I had never heard of this one, but man, is it delicious. To fill it (after all, choux dough is primarily used as a vessel for sweet cream fillings), we got to make our first buttercream, a mousseline called crème Paris-Brest. A mousseline is just a combination of butter and pastry cream and is also referred to as German buttercream. Classically, for a Paris-Brest, you make a hazelnut praline mousseline. We then piped it in a spiral shape. Doesn’t it kind of resemble tire treads?

Well, that’s about it. This class went much more smoothly than Thursday, which was nice. Also, Chef Ron Ben-Israel, a world-famous cake designer who also teaches our wedding cake section, stopped in to say hello. We were all a bit star struck, to say the least.


  1. Hey, saw your post through FB yesterday....everything looks so yummy! Glad to hear you're enjoying it!

  2. Did you think that I wouldn't get the double entendre of "throwing me a bone"? I know you tried to "slip it in," thinking you could put one over on me. And you're right. I don't like public vulgarity. But I'll forgive you if you send some of those fabulous pastries my way. I am totally impressed.