Thursday, October 14, 2010

Making Cakes & Moving Continents

 Le Metro

Coming home from Paris was tough.  Once again I had gotten adjusted to a certain lifestyle.  Walking everywhere, pretty efficient public transportation (except when there is a strike) delicious food, fabulous pastries, fun experiences.  However, this time was different because instead of saying goodbye, it was see you soon.

Laduree Pastries

You heard me right, see you soon!  Shortly after my arrival in Boston, I paid a visit to the French Consulate to apply for my visa.  I am moving to Paris in November!  So once again, I am in a fury of packing.  You would think that by now, I wouldn't have much left to pack, or I'd be better at this......except I may have a small addiction to kitchen utensils and things that tie me to my past.  I'm starting to consider renaming this blog, Jenni Does Desserts on the Go.  However, once I settle in Paris, I plan to stay put for a while. 

I seem to be making a lot of cakes since I got back.  Mostly birthday cakes, and my first Wedding cake!  
As an homage to Laduree, I made a lovely Fraisier cake for my Mom and sister who both celebrated birthdays in September.  I was a little late for their actual birthdays, but the cake was most appreciated.  My Mom has always loved Pistachios, so I knew the Laduree Fraisier with the Pistachio Mousseline was sure to be a hit. 
This cake was almost as challenging as the wedding cake, because I was using my sister's limited kitchen utensils.  I did not have an offset icing spatula or a torch to release the cake ring.   I did my best and my family was still amazed.  But isn't that what family is for?   I'll tell you more about the Wedding cake adventure in another post. It really deserves it's own post.

And now with the news of my leaving Boston, my friends are in a panic and asking for tasty treats that can be frozen and eaten long after I have left.  I might consider hosting a little bake sale again before I leave. Otherwise if you want a taste, you will just have to come to Paris. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Full Circle

St. Honore Frais-Pistache

Remember this little guy from a few months ago, when I excitedly announced my internship at Laduree?  I remember standing in line at the boutique on the Champs-Elysees admiring all the beautiful pastries, trying to decide which one to pick.  My head was swirling with happy thoughts of being back in Paris, imaging all the things I was going to learn, all the good food I was going to eat, and getting to spend days with that one special person.  

I have finished my stage at Laduree and am now back in the USA. During my last week while working in tour, I started to reflect on all I had done in the past 2 1/2 months.  This little St. Honore popped into my head, and it occured to me how he is the perfect representative of my time at Laduree.  See in order to make this lovely little dessert, you need to pass through all* of the kitchens in the pastry laboratory at Laduree, in almost the exact opposite order of how I went through them.  So I am going to walk you through the creation of St. Honore a Chez Laduree.

It starts early in the morning, in the Tour Kitchen.  Feuilletage, or the dough for the base of the St. Honore, is made by encasing dough into butter and rolling and folding till there are many thin layers of dough and butter. Then little circles of that dough are cut out and placed in the freezer to wait for their time in the Four.

I spent just a few minutes of a few days helping out in the Four (the oven room)  One guy, and sometimes one assistant, man 4 large ovens and does all the baking for the entire laboratory.  He takes the little frozen circles of Feuilletage, tops them with a ring of frozen pate a choux, places a grill over top of the baking sheet to control the rise of the puff, and bakes them off. 

Once the little bases of the St. Honore have cooled, they travel down the hallway to the Bandes kitchen.  In Bandes the rings are dipped in the corresponding fondant: Pink for the Rose, Red for the Fraise, and the tiny creme filled puffs are quickly pressed on to the ring and set to dry.  Then the second dipping to cover the tops of the puffs occurs. Then the bases are set into the frigos to wait for the Entremet Nuit teams turn with them. Meanwhile over in the Entremet kitchen, Pastry creme and coulis are made, that are used to fill the middle of the St. Honores. 

Entremet Nuit kitchen is the final step for the St. Honore and all the pastries produced by Laduree.  The Fondant covered bases are retrieved from the frigo and flavored pastry creme and/or a fruity coulis are piped into the middle.  One of the chefs gracefully pipes light and fluffy Creme Chantilly ontop with a star tip.  The final touches are the garnishes of berries, rose petals or nougat, depending on the flavor of the St. Honore.  Last but not least, the tiny gold etiquette is carefully placed onto the Creme Chantilly, and Voila!

I've been back in the US for just one month now, and I really miss the pastries of Laduree (however my waist line hasn't missed them).  I've been doing some baking since I got back and will be posting more soon.

Trying on the Chefs Hat

*Decor is the one kitchen that is not involved with the production of this pastry, unless a full size pastry is requested with a chocolate plaque bearing the words: Bon or Joyeux Anniversaire, or the likes.