31 August 2014

The start of a new adventure

This new blog marks the start of a new adventure. On this blog I will keep you (and me) updated on my progress and hopefully at the end if the ride I can proudly announce the start of something new.

I have started a patisserie course and last Monday was my first day. It's been forever since I last went to school. On a first day you never know what to expect, but I went in with an open mind and found about 40 others doing the same. There were all kinds of people with different ages and back grounds. But we're all here to learn and to get better at baking. No surprises that from 40 only 4 were male. With such a large group we had to be divided in 2 groups of 20 and each started with a different phase.

I decided to stay with the group who started from the beginning: making different kinds of dough.

Before baking anything we started piping butter. Butter is just perfect for practice since it has the right consistency. We had to practice piping different shapes and such and everything had to be an exact copy of the first. It was incredibly difficult because I haven't done it before. Practice makes perfect so there is a lot of practicing to do for me.

After lunch it was baking time. We got the recipe for "pensee taart". Unfortunately I don't have an English translation for it but "taart" is Dutch for pie. It was fairly simple to make and it looks like this:
All pies start with some kind of dough and this sweet dough recipe is so easy to remember. It can be used it for so many different pies and cookies. All I had to remember was 1-2-3 and 1 egg.

For the dough I used:
- 100 gr sugar
- 200 gr room temperature butter
- 300 gr flour
- 1 egg
- pinch of salt
- teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

I poured the flour on my kitchen counter and made a well in the middle. In this well I mixed the sugar, the butter, the egg, some lemon zest and a pinch of salt. After that I slowly incorporated the flour. When everything is mixed  I put it in some plastic foil and put it in the fridge so it can chill for a bit so it's easier to roll out.

After about 30 minutes I rolled the dough till about 3 mm or so and draped it in a baking pan, cutting off the dough hanging over the edges.

On the bottom of the pie I spread a thin layer of strawberry compote or jam, just to give it a bit of freshness.

The stuffing was the easy part. All I had to do was put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together:
- 50 gram room temperature butter
- 250 gram almond paste (amandelspijs)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
oven temperature 175C

I have to say that the almond paste was way to sweet, so next time I would make it from scratch. This way I can control the sweetness. All I would need is almonds, sugar and eggs but a recipe will follow.

In class I used a piping bag to put the stuffing in the baking pan, but at home I would just pour it in the pan and level it with a spatula.

With the left over dough I made ribbons and put them on the op the pie. After a small layer of egg wash I used some slivered almonds to decorate the edges.

I baked the pie on 175C Celsius and although they didn't give me an exact baking time (since every oven is different) I think you should bake it for about 20 minutes and then have a look at it every 5 minutes till it is golden. To finish it off I could brush the pie with some apricot jam for a nice shine, but for me it was sweet enough as it is.

The left over dough can be frozen for next time or can be made into cookies. This dough recipe should be enough for 2 baking pans, of course depending on your size pan.
I love to make small one person pies so I had to adapt the recipe to make a smaller batch. Since I had 50 gram butter at home I adjusted the ingredients to make enough dough for 2 mini pies. I blind baked the pies on 175C for 10 minutes and after the crust has set a bit I put 2 tablespoons of home made lemon curt in it. I baked the pie for another 10 minutes till golden. After that I finished it off with some slices of ripe nectarine. It was a delicious summery treat.