I absolutely adore palmiers, and they make pretty little hearts!
This little weakling has been suffering random muscle pains from whipping cream and rolling out puff pastry. Go ahead, call me a wimp, I totally will admit to it.
The latest creation to come home with me was a small batch of 4 apple turnovers and about a dozen palmiers. For two days in a row, I had 8:30AM classes to observe how to make puff pastry, and then attempt it myself.
Unfortunately, for the demonstration, we had the chef who manages to make things feel a little more hectic than they actually are, so my notes were again a bit of a puzzle to decipher. I was getting quite frustrated as I wrote out the recipe later that night. Usually in demonstrations, chefs make double, or triple the recipe in order to show us everything, and to make enough samples for everyone at the end of class. During a demonstration we might see three to five different desserts made in front of us, most likely because they vary slightly from the same “base” recipe like puff pastry or tart crust. Then in practical classes we attempt a maximum of two. Anyway, this chef was working on six different pieces of puff pastry by the end, and I quickly lost track of which one was the “original” – i.e. the one that we would be working with. He was pulling out puff pastry that he had prepared before class, and it got really confusing as he was chilling some in the freezer (to speed process along) and some in the fridge. I wanted to throw my pen down and close my eyes. Please also keep in mind this was very early in the morning, after I had gotten up at 6AM to get ready.
The next morning, I was excited to make my puff pastry, but quite unsure of the exact steps as I walked into the kitchen. I was hoping for the young chef who may have yelled at me, but at least would also clarify a lot of my questions. Of course, we had the older chef that morning, whom I had never worked with, and have since decided I don’t quite like. He doesn’t say much during class, and just observes unless you ask him questions. He may give instructions once in a while, but they’re more or less about cleaning up your space or getting a move on, than actual instructive feedback. It’s nice that he’s not breathing down your neck and you can work without feeling like you’re being scrutinized, but liberty was the last thing I needed for puff pastry, something so new to me. For some people’s final products that didn’t quite turn out, he didn’t offer explanations on what may have gone wrong, either. I can’t say that I’m impressed, because I paid good money to be here to learn!!
Blurry photo of the morning light from our apartment window – yawn! Oh look, pretty palmier!
In practical class, I’m starting to get a little bothered by the lack of camaraderie between the 11 students in my group. Sometimes it feels like every class is a “every man for himself, do-or-die” situation. There are a few of us who will help each other out by grabbing an extra rack, cake board, etc., but not everyone is like that. To me, being helpful like passing along the vanilla or offering your leftover baking powder is just normal and…I don’t know – having good manners? Yet I don’t think everyone in the class feels the same way. It stresses me out a bit in the classroom when I feel like some of my classmates are not exactly helpful or supportive, but I’ve found the silver lining in the cloud…
See, I speak all the languages used in our kitchen (English, un petit peu de français, and Mandarin), and I’ve found a group that is much more relaxed and friendly -the “Chinese contingent”. I’ve had to translate for the Chinese contingent a few times now, because they don’t really speak English and their cram-school French fails them sometimes, but I don’t mind that much because at least they’re nice and friendly people. We had to cook the apples for the apple turnovers, and I shared a stove range with two Taiwanese students and a girl from the UK/India. One of the Taiwanese dudes turned off my stove by accident when his apples finished cooking, so when I stopped by to check and stir my apples, I was dismayed to find that they weren’t doing much…while the element beside my pot was super hot. I snapped at the guy out of frustration, but then I guess he felt really bad because the next thing I knew, I had overcooked my apples, but he had taken them off the element and stirred a bit for me. I ended up with slightly caramelised apples – a blessing, really, because it made the apple turnovers much tastier – but I was also glad that kindness still existed in this world of patisserie.
My apple turnovers…you can barely see the leaf design on them, but they made me happy :)
In total, I used 375 grams of butter to make 4 apple turnovers, about a dozen palmiers, and a tomato tart for dinner with the leftover dough. Aside from one apple turnover that we gave to our gardienne, we’ve eaten everything else. I feel slightly sick when I think about how much butter we have eaten (dry butter, too!)…looks like it’s going to be plain oatmeal and fruit/veg here for a few days before I bring home éclairs and chouquettes!
One last photo, I promise. I just love ’em. Aren’t they so pretty?