05 December 2009

Puff Pastry 101 Workshop

Attended the Bake It Better: Puff Pastry 101 Workshop conducted by Guest Chef Christopher Tan this afternoon at Shermay's Cooking School.

Counting down to the big day soon, so this gonna be my last workshop for a few months to come I guess. Thankfully I was still able to attend this class as I love puff pastry!!! Admittedly, puff pastry is fattening due to the amount of butter used but I just like the crisp of the pastry with strong notes of heavenly butter and preferably with savoury fillings. Fresh from the oven, the buttery smell never fails to make me salivate :d~~~~

Have always resisted making puff pastry at home due to difficulty in managing the pastry in our humid weather. Attempted traditional rough puff pastry before and ended up with messy dough and having to stick the dough into the fridge to chill every now and then as the butter melted quickly. When I read the description from Shermay's website that it's a quicker and easier method, I was sold.

The master puff pastry recipe was demonstrated, along with 3 recipes for variation (and 2 bonus recipes).
  • Classic quick puff pastry - easier method than traditional puff pastry but bakes and rises equally nicely.
  • Smoked chicken vols-au-vent - dainty puff pastry cases stuffed with smoked chicken filling. Great for parties!
  • Galette des rois - traditional french confection of almond butter encased in puff pastry shell.
  • Lattice apple tart - Puff pastry tart with apple compote with a blanket of eye-catching lattice top.

Chef Christopher started with the classic puff pastry since as this would take almost the whole lesson, given that the pastry has to be rolled, folded and chilled sufficiently for total of 6 turns. Though time consuming, he assured us that it was fairly manageable just slightly tedious. Once pastry is ready, it could be rolled to the intended thickness and even cut into the intended shape and freeze for some 1 month before use.Vols-au-vent casings could be cut into shape well in advance and freeze for later use. Shape depends on personal preference. Square pieces would be more economical since less wastage as compared to rounds.

The smoked chicken fricassee was easy to cook and enhanced with tomato paste. Didn't even need to add salt since smoked chicken was used.

Combining the smoked chicken and vols-au-vent, decorated with a tiny piece of pastry as cap and pasley for colour. Looks totally tempting and appetising!

The puff pastry was so light and crisp with subtle hint of butter! We could go for seconds or thirds without feeling the burden or overdose of butter. Certainly unlike the heavy handed buttery puffs by Polar Puffs and Delifrance.
The smoked chicken fricassee was marvellous as the filling, really enjoyed the smoky flavour complemented by the tinge of sweetness from the tomato paste and enriched with some creme friache.
My favourite recipe of the lot and I certainly would like to bake lots of vols-au-vent and experiment with different fillings.
Not really familiar with french confection so this was the first time I learn about this dessert. Filling is a frangipane, which is good for tarts as well. With the puff pastry done, it's relatively easy to make the filling consisting of butter, sugar, creme fraiche, rum, ground almonds and flour.

Decorations for the galette are flexible. Could do curves.
Zig-zag cuts.
Or leave shapes. All baked and puffed up beautifully.
Best served warm. Once again, the puff pastry was crisp and light and the frangipane filling was moist and not too sweet. The hint of almond was quite distinct, those who love almond taste would love this dessert.

Cooking the apple compote was easy as well, just need to select the right type of apples.
A special lattice cutter was used to roll and cut through a piece of pastry and once the pastry was opened, viola, a pretty lattice!
Stunning result. The risen layers of pastry was visible even through the lattice.
Light and crisp lattice puff pastry with a tart-sweet apple compote.
Was really glad to have attended this class, and looking forward to baking soon. (hopefully baby could give me some time-off during the 16 weeks maternity leave!)


  1. What I would like to know is how is this puff pastry different from the normal puff pastry. Do you use pastry margerine?

  2. Hi Andrea,
    Nope, unsalted butter is used. Basically it's the technique that makes the difference. Sorry can't share here due to copyright of the notes stipulated by the cooking school.