Bouchon Bakery: Mille-feuille and book review

I was a bit apprehensive to make mille-feuille. I had no idea if re-rolling the scraps of puff pastry left over from the pithiviers would work and how the assembly of the dessert itself would work given the summer weather. But I pressed ahead and it turned out successful.

I rolled the puff pastry dough out to the size of a cookie sheet and baked it weighted down with another cookie sheet and a baking pan for over an hour. Since the bottom element is out on our oven, I’ve found that the cooking time and temperature are a lot closer to what recipes suggest (normally I would’ve burnt something to a crisp if I cooked it per the book). I used the leftover creme patisserie from the pithiviers as well, and mixed it with a simple French buttercream to create a mousseline. This was frozen in my 9×13″ pyrex casserole dish to ready for assembly. It was then as *simple* as cutting the pastry into 4 slices and the mousseline into 3 and sandwiching them together. I had a lot of help from Aaron at this stage because he has much better knife skills then I do. Getting the mousseline layered on the pastry proved challenging as it was warming up too quickly, but we worked it out by doing some fancy flipping over and back again. Then we just piped some whipped cream on top (cream whisked with vanilla and icing sugar mixture).

I loved how the dessert is flipped on its side to make it easier to cut. No mousseline seeping out the sides this way because you aren’t squashing it all together as you cut it. And it is incredibly delicious. We couldn’t fault it. If anything, I may have been tempted to add some passionfruit to the top, but that’s the Australian vanilla slice lover in me looking for that. It was absolutely perfect!

Bouchon Bakery cookbook has been a lot of fun to explore but there are a few real drawbacks for me. I understand how this is from a professional bakery, but a lot of the recipes do not translate to a home cook very well because of how much is leftover after you make a recipe that you either need to use in something else or chuck out. And the weighing of the eggs – like it is seriously aggravating. I was 5 grams off on an egg yolk measurement and had to crack into another egg just to get the tiniest bit out. I ended up using that egg as the egg wash for the pithivier, but still, I found it most unsatisfying to have to do this for each recipe.

That being said, everything I’ve made so far has been delicious, and the other recipes I’ve seen in the Facebook group have me wanting to make even more. Highest on my list are the cinnamon honey scones. Everyone has been making them and they sound and look amazing! I also still have a pate sucree in my freezer to use up, and I’ve been eyeing off the lemon meringue tart for a while now. So you’ll probably see a bit more of this book in future Throwback Thursday posts. For now, I’m planning how on earth I’m going to narrow down Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours to three must try recipes for next month!

To see the other two recipes I’ve tried from this book click on the links below:

Bouchon Bakery: Pithiviers

I had grand plans to make madeleines and macarons this month. Grand plans. But then I made this apricot tart because our tree was so full of fruit and it left me with extra pastry and extra almond cream and I simply couldn’t let it go to waste. So I poured over the Bouchon Bakery cookbook looking at every recipe that incorporated almond cream (the leftover pastry has been frozen) and saw this recipe for Pithiviers, something I’d never heard of before but was instantly intrigued by. Puff pastry from scratch. Frangipane that is creme patisserie and almond cream whisked together. I can use up the mixed dried fruit that was leftover from our Christmas pudding. I am in!

The puff pastry was obviously the most time consuming, mainly because of the refrigeration time in between folds. You take a simply pastry dough and fold it around a butter block, roll it and fold it again several times (refrigerating for a couple hours between each fold) in order to create this gloriously layered pastry.

For the pithiviers you cut out two 9 inch circles, pipe the filling one of them, then use an egg wash to seal the second one over the other. Egg wash the top and use a pairing knife to draw a design on top (I went with the flower that was described in the book).

This left me with about 600 grams of pastry so I put it in the fridge to use in another recipe.

For the filling I had to make a creme patisserie which is not really new to me, but the method was. Everything was whipped together in the mixer before it went on the heat, where normally you need to be super careful about scrambling the eggs when you incorporate it into the flour and milk and sugar.  I was also surprised that they used custard powder, but love how rich and yellow the creme patisserie became with it in there. I reserved the amount called for in the recipe and saved the rest for another day (more on that soon).

Then I simply put it back in the mixer with the almond cream and after they were mixed thoroughly together, I added about a cup of brandied dried fruits and folded it in. I then tried to pipe a nice spiral on the bottom pastry but ended up smoothing it into a mound because the dried fruits made it quite splotchy.

It bakes for almost 2 hours and in the last few minutes you brush a sugar syrup on top to give it a lovely glossy sheen. It looked beautiful and tasted amazing – Aaron said if I used an apple filling instead of the frangipane/fruit mixture it would taste just like his favorite apple turnovers (there is a recipe for such a treat in this book that I may have to surprise him with at some stage).

I’m really glad I found this recipe and look forward to working out how to use up that creme patisserie and puff pastry in the next few days. Bon appetit!

Bouchon Bakery: Apricot Tart with Almond Cream

One of the cooking clubs I take part in is the Food52 Baking Club and for the month of January we are baking through Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel. My aim is to bake at least 3 recipes from the book this month and to review it at the end. For my first bake I’ve chosen the Plum Tart with Almond Cream, using apricots instead of plums because our tree is mass producing them at the moment.

There were three basic components to this tart, none of which were difficult or time consuming (except for refrigeration time before use, which seems to be quite common throughout the book) – a pate sucree, an almond cream and sliced fruit.

The pate sucree was different from other pastry recipes I’ve used in the past as it contains almond meal as well as flour, uses icing sugar mixture instead of granulated or caster sugar and also incorporates vanilla in the dough. Basically, cream the butter and add one portion of the icing sugar, then add the vanilla and incorporate the flour and almond meal and the other portion of the icing sugar that has been sifted together and lastly add the egg. Work the dough and shape it into two discs (it makes enough for 2 tarts) and put it in the fridge to firm up before rolling out and baking.

The almond cream was similarly easy and with almost the same ingredients but proportioned differently. Again cream the butter and add the icing sugar, then a sifted almond meal/flour mixture and finish by adding the eggs. This gets placed in a covered container in the fridge until cold and then piped (I just spooned it) into the prepared unbaked tart base.

Then lastly get your kitchen hands (aka the darling husband and 6 year old daughter) to slice and arrange the apricots on top before placing it in the oven to bake. The recipe says 350F/180C for 45 minutes but our oven being fan forced and running hot tends to cook much quicker so I put it in at 150C and as you can see, it’s still rather dark around the edges.

This will be dessert tomorrow night as it says to refrigerate until cold to get nice, precise slices – but it is rather tempting to slice into now for a late night snack. Overall, I loved the simplicity of ingredients and method for this recipe and having something that looks impressive that can be easily adapted to different seasonal fruits makes this dish one that I can imagine I will gravitate to again.