Pastry Boot Camp Day 3

September 18, 2008

Morning lecture was about puff pastry (which is a laminated dough) and different types of buttercream.  My experience thus far with puff pastry amounted to taking it out of the freezer and following the directions on the box, so it’s good that I did the assigned reading yesterday.  The pastry we made in class will have 289 layers, but it could be made with up to 1500 layers, so you could spend much more time rolling and folding if you want more layers. I think we did four rounds of rolling and folding today.  My opinion of making puff pastry from scratch will depend on how ours turns out!  The pre-lecture class discussion was even more interesting than puff pastry – one of the women had her nose pierced last night, so we got to see it and hear all about it.  What’s next – getting a CIA logo tattoo? In the picture below, you can see the puff pastry dough on the bottom with a slab of butter on top.  Yesterday was cream day and today was butter day.

puff pastry assembly

puff pastry assembly

After starting the puff pastry, we took the cookie dough we made yesterday and made crusts for fruit tarts. Then we made Italian Buttercream, which involves making a dangerously hot sugar syrup and very slowly pouring it into whipped egg whites and then adding butter after it cools down. My partner had already figured out that I’m a worrier, but the following situation confirmed it.  We were watching the chef demonstrate a fruit tart while our buttercream was in the mixer, cooling down.  One of the student assistants came up to me and asked if that was my buttercream in the mixer at the end of the row.  I completely panicked and said “Yes, what’s wrong with it?” as I was ready to run down there and view the disaster. She said “No, I just wanted to say that it looks really good and you’re ready to add your butter after the demo.”  Oh.  Why do I always assume the worst? And I probably upset the poor girl by freaking out.  Even though I’m skeptical about how our puff pastry will turn out, I promised my partner that I won’t lose any sleep over it.  I’m not THAT bad.

After lunch was the final roll and fold and then we assembled our fruit tarts, using the crust we baked today, the pastry cream from Monday, the sponge cake from yesterday, and fresh fruit.  We were supposed to put the buttercream on our cakes today, but I think we got behind schedule. There has been a lot of grumbling about the lack of mixers in the classroom.  Here are the tarts our class made.

fruit tarts

fruit tarts

The afternoon lecture was Chef Cavotti on the subject of chocolate.  What’s not to like about that?  She talked about and demonstrated working with chocolate and had some tasty samples. Dinner was at American Bounty, which is a favorite of the people who have attended other boot camps.  I had crab cakes, heirloom tomato salad, and salmon.  No dessert!  What’s wrong with me? I think it’s just too much food in general. We aren’t really eating much of what we make in class, which surprised me.  I think we’re just too busy and too tired by the time we’re done.  I did wrap up a small fruit tart to sample tomorrow.

Tomorrow we’ll see if our puff pastry puffs!

Click here to continue to Day 4


  1. So….which fruit tart is our team’s?? Granted they all look great!

  2. Ours are in the back row, 2nd from the right, on the cake stand with the grapes at the base. Stay tuned for my full set of pictures!

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