Chef Payard Gives A Pastry Primer For Mother’s Day
Yours Truly took her own Mother’s Day advice of spending time with mom and squired her to a cooking demonstration starring uber pastry Chef Francois Payard. During the demonstration at his Payard Patisserie & Bistro in Caesars Palace, we were not only schooled on a variety of French baking techniques by the famed chef, but also were treated to a sampling of French pastries, mini sandwiches, and tiny jars full of savory treats.
First was a lesson on making Chocolate Brioche Pain Perdu which is actually a fancy way of saying absolutely decadent French toast. The Chef’s is more of a sandwich version with a filling of chocolate chips and topped with sautéed bananas and whipped cream. His secret is to freeze the sandwiches once they have been soaked thoroughly in the custard batter and assembled with the chocolate chips. This way you can make your brunch entrée ahead of time as well as keep the custard mixture from oozing everywhere and the Pain Perdu from losing its shape and the chocolate chips in place. Once out of the freezer you sear the sandwiches on both sides in a butter and honey mixture, and then finally bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. And voila, you have a brunch dish or even a heavenly dessert. (The full recipe is in Payard’s “Chocolate Epiphany” baking book.)
Next we were taught how to make the perfect dough for a tart shell. This too can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer. The very easy recipe is comprised of:
4 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup and 2 tablespoons of sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 large egg
6-1/2 cups of all purpose flour
To make the dough, combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until they are fully combined. With the motor running, incorporate the egg yolks and the egg one at a time. Do not add an egg until the previous one is completely incorporated. Add the flour, and mix until everything is incorporated and the dough is completely smooth. Remove the dough from the bowl, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until it is completely chilled, at least 1 or 2 hours.
As for preparing the tart shell, the mother of yours Truly was selected as Sous Chef to the James Beard award-winning pastry chef. She did a fantastic job of rolling out the dough into a 12-inch circle that was 1/4-inch thick, draping it over the rolling pin and unrolling it over the fluted 9-inch tart pan that had been brushed with butter. No baking rookie, she easily pressed the dough into the sides of the pan, and rolled the pin over the pan to remove excess dough. To finish off the job, the tart shell is placed in a 375-degree oven with a circle of parchment paper over the dough, filled with pie weights and baked for 13 to 15 minutes. Then you remove the paper and weights, and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Now it’s up to you to decide what goes in your perfect tart shell.
Finally, the crowd of pastry aficionados learned how to make chocolate decorations using a frozen marble slab. It’s much easier than you would think. You just heat up your chocolate and pour it very quickly onto the marble slab (you can pick something like this up at Home Depot or Lowe’s and the thicker the better as it holds the cold longer). Then you take a spatula like instrument and smooth it over the slab in a thin layer, and you must do this quickly as it freezes fast. Using a knife you can score a variety of shapes into the chocolate and then lift the hardened chocolate up and roll it into ribbons, shape it into rosettes or break it into shards. Of course, Chef made it look so easy but Truly Scrumptious is definitely game to give it a go…maybe for Mother’s Day next year.
This entry was posted on Monday, May 11th, 2009 at 4:17 pm
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