Friday, 31 May 2013

Baking - Croissants & Pains Au Chocolat

My first experience with french pastries, as far as I can remembered, is having a nice warm, flaky croissants and chilled chocolate eclairs from Delifrance.

Mum & Dad would drop by there to purchase one or two rolls of french loaf to accompany the pot of chicken curry they have at home for dinner that night.

I'm not going to lie, but really, when I was growing up, birthday cakes are usually from the neighbourhood bakery, with lots of butter cream, often with piped drawings of Power Ranger character or Ninja turtles. If it was my mum's birthday, it would be either a chocolate cake or a black forest cake with macerated cherries in rum.

I don't think pastries was really popular. Either that, or my parents wasn't into afternoon tea. We had chinese 'cakes' like steamed coloured cakes with orange sugar from the night market, or kueh lapis (coloured layered nonya cake).

In any case, I never once dared to dream that I would be sitting in a class one day, studying pastisserie and taking notes with regards to baking puff pastries.

But hey, I have this day, and really, in life, it is damn full of surprises!

Here I am, slightly worried at my puff pastry's outcome. Last Wednesday, we did the Misc En Place for the puff pastry dough, doing rounds of single/double turns for the croissant dough and the puff pastry dough.

I've never really used a rolling pin to the fullest before, but during this practical, I did. I tried rolling out the dough to as long as the height of the rolling pin, trying to keep the extremely long rectangle shape, but always end up rolling a rectangle with out of shapes edges - slightly longer, slightly wider.

It was slightly a disaster, and when it comes to baking, I sure hope my puff pastry layers are nicely formed or at least, visible!

Chef Marc carried out the demonstrations for croissants, pains au chocolat, pains aux raisins, couques abricot, moulins aux cerises and croissants aux amandes.

I'm sure the plain old buttery croissants needs no grand introduction. The pains au chocolat too, and I think Swiss Bakery back home sells really good tasting ones (I know how to make mine good tasting too! HAHA!).

Then, there's the couques Abricot and another, Moulins Aux Cerises; Cherry windmills, which is both like danish pastry puff, filled with pastry creams and topped with fruits toppings. I miss the ones from Four Seasons Bakery.

Another variation using the croissant dough, is to make Pain Aux Raisins; a.k.a raisin bread.

It's a little like making cinnamon roll, but without cinnamon and sugar. Instead, spreading a thin layer of pastry cream over, before being extremely generous with the raisins and sprinkling it all over, then proceeding ahead to roll the dough like it's a sponge log. You can also replace the raisins with mixed fruits.

Last but not least, we have the croissants aux amandes; sprinkled with almond flakes and icing sugar, and filled with a little roll of cooked marzipan.

Just wanted to share a shot of Rae, Sonya and myself during the practical class.

This was one of the rare classes where we finished our tasks relatively early and had time to take photos like these. Usually we are all busy and flustered and rushing like chickens in a farm, cleaning, piping, wiping, washing, drying, weighing, whisking and what not. Not entirely in that manner, but you get the idea!

Ready to check out my baked goods??

Presenting to you, my pains au chocolat

Chocolate bars blanketed by a a single sheet of croissant dough, baked to perfection in 170degrees for 8 minutes before rotating and baking for an additional of 3-4 minutes more. Each piece is 6cm long, and lightly brushed with egg wash to give it that beautiful golden colour.

I didn't wrapped the ends tightly and pressed more onto the baking tray, hence the ends will tend to spread out after proofing, and it doesn't look good! But nonetheless, it tastes good!

Next up, is my croissants!!

The croissants were a little tricky to do.  I had to roll out the dough to the size of 30 X 50cm, 2.5-3mm thick and then cut out 17-18cm in length, slicing the triangles with width of 6cm. 

Rolling the dough itself into such a shape wasn't an easy feat for me. I had trouble making sure the shape is nice, with the ends looking pretty and not like Shrek's ears. Chef Willy also reminded me to be more equal when I'm making each pieces, otherwise, it's just croissants of different, uneven sizes.

Oh well, there's always room for improvement, like I said before. This is also my first time baking croissants, I'm sure I'll get better in time! 

Today, marks nearly one more month to go before my final exam; I'm both anxious and worried. I hope I can memorize all 10 studying contents for 10 different types of pastries! 

Till then!

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