Back into baking class, In this weeks class we were going to be creating pastry and dessert components. These pastry components are the bases of desserts that can be altered and prepared in many different ways to create numerous traditional and contemporary desserts. For example with éclair paste (pate a choux) you can do more than just bake it to make traditional eclairs, it could also be fried or poached. During this class we were already informed about our practical final exam, and this class definitely had me brainstorming an idea that I will share further down.
On this days class, we made Chocolate eclairs, Succès, Profiteroles and Baklava. Now if you have tasted any of these before, you would surely be excited to make them. At the time, out of all of these I’ve only tasted eclairs, and they were probably from a grocery store, not a legit bakery. Huge difference. So lets get into the details of each of these desserts.
Eclairs paste or pate a choux originated from France in the 19th century. The only ingredients needed to make the paste is flour, water, butter, eggs and milk. Eclairs can be manipulated to create various delicious outcomes. They can be baked into eclairs and then filled with creams, fruit, custard, jams or savory mixtures. They can be piped into balls and then baked to create profiteroles which can also be treated the same in regards to fillings. When profiteroles are filled which pastry cream, glued together with caramelized sugar and decorated with spun sugar, then stacked into a pyramid, it is called Croquembouche. Eclair paste can be used to make beignets, those lovely, sugary French doughnuts topped with powdered sugar that used to be sold at Olive Garden. Éclair paste can also be used to make Churros.
Next up is Succès, this is the dessert that my group and I made. Meringue is a mixture of whipped egg whites and sugar. This mixture can be used as is or baked to make a meringue cake. Meringues with smaller amounts of sugar are called soft meringues, while those made with equal parts sugar, equal parts egg (or more sugar than egg) are called hard meringues. Succès is a nut meringue cake, made with the hard meringue formula and almond flour or hazelnut flour (We used hazelnut). While another student whipped all the ingredients and another shaped it into discs then put it in the oven, I was rereading the recipe to make sure we did it right and understood it. After the discs baked for 30 minutes, we had to let them cool down before I could garnish it. I like plating things up, I felt a had a slightly artistic eye that could only be improved by continuing to work on it. I plated it by first piping pastry cream around the disc, placing raspberries in the center of the cream, then topping it with another disc, powdered sugar, another raspberry and drizzling it with ganache (rich chocolate sauce) .
Next up are the profiteroles, I think that these were by far my favorite thing to try this day. The profiteroles are made by the éclair paste, they are piped into circles and then baked. After baking, they are cooled and filled with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream (which was saved from when I made it in last weeks class) and ladled with a heaping scoop of chocolate sauce. This was something that had to be eaten fast because the ice cream melted quickly from the warm chocolate sauce, but that was no problem because they were gone in an instant. After thinking about the concept of these profiteroles it gave me an idea to do a savory version of it for my final exam that would shock even the professor. I had planned to make a savory éclair paste by adding fresh herbs like thyme and oregano, then instead of filling it with ice cream, fill it with stewed lamb or chicken or chicken pieces simmered in a rich alfredo sauce. It would have been amazing, but I ended up making something else for my final.
Last but definitely not last, was the Baklava. Baklava is made from a special type of dough called phyllo dough. The exact origin of this dish is unknown, but the Indians, Syrians, Turks, Australians and more claim its origin. Phyllo dough is made from flour, water, sugar, oil and eggs. The dough is stretched extremely thin, then cut into sheets. The technique to making them can take years to master, so we used the frozen sheets for the sake of not discouraging or stressing any students out I’m assuming. The Baklava procedure is very similar to making lasagna. Place a layer of phyllo dough, brush it with melted butter, add a mixture of nuts (we used pistachios, almonds, and hazelnuts), cinnamon, ground clove, and sugar, then add more phyllo, butter and nuts. Continue doing this until you created your desired amount of layers then bake it until it is light golden brown. As soon as it was taken, out of the oven the instructor ladled on a simple syrup made with sugar, water, honey, cinnamon and lemon juice. The syrup bubbled as it hit the sides of the pan. Once you let it sit for a little bit, the dough absorbed the syrup. This dessert almost took first place, it was a very close battle between this and the profiteroles for me. This was my first time trying Baklava and I have been wanting to make it myself since, but I never got down to it (nuts are expensive).But I did go to a Greek spot somewhat recently called Moby Dick, and their Baklava had nothing on ours.
This was one of the most fun baking classes we had, besides our final exam day. If you had to pick one of these dishes as your favorite, just based on looks or its description, which would you choose ? Leave a comment down below on which looks the most appetizing to you, and please share and leave a like if you enjoyed this reading.
Have a blessed day.