Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pâte à Choux, Pâte à Whaaaaa?

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending my very first cooking class at Helen's Kitchen in Natick. I had originally stumbled upon a class for pâte à choux offered at Flour Bakery, but when I learned that it was demonstration only, I started looking for other options (I wanted to get my hands dirty, not just watch someone cook!). Lucky for me, my friend Hope referred me to Helen and she happened to be teaching the exact same course in a week, so I signed up for it and showed up bright and early Saturday morning to learn!

First up - learning how to *properly* measure ingredients - weighing not dry cups. Here, Helen is demonstrating how you can get vastly different measurements using dry cups even if it is the same person, same ingredient, same altitude/humidity, etc.

Showing us how to cook the choux - you want to get as much moisture out of the dough as possible (but you don't want to 'cook' it or turn it brown)

Demonstrating how to properly fill a pastry bag

Piping out the puffs - it's actually way harder than you would think!

I'm in pastry heaven :)

Finished puffs! Fresh out of the oven - you have to poke holes in them so the steam can escape

Small puffs should be about 14 grams, so we practiced piping out that amount on the scale to get a feel for how much it was.

Finished product - nice and hollow so we can put in yummy fillings!

Piping out eclairs - again, it's way harder than you would think...

After we all tried out making the choux, Helen showed us how to make pastry cream and gave helpful tips and tricks for getting this tricky filling to come out right

YUM - you can see the flecks of vanilla in it (cause she used real vanilla beans)

Components for eclairs all lined up

Making Diplomat Cream (folding whipped cream into pastry cream)

We're all filling our puffs...

...and I'm piping an eclair! I can now check this off of my bucket list!

The full kitchen

Finished eclairs - they might not look restaurant-quality, but they sure did taste like it

Puffs with different fillings

This was a vanilla poached pear and diplomat cream

Fig Jam and Blue Cheese Mascarpone in these

The line up - pear, fig, and then salmon pate. One of my favorites (not pictured) was a red bean paste and diplomat cream-filled puff - soooooo good...

To finish the class, Helen sent us off with printouts of all the recipes (for dough and fillings!) and troubleshooting tips in case we ran into problems while baking at home. 

Sort-of related - I got to Natick (where Helen's Kitchen is located) early and stumbled upon an estate this gem for my room - it was a steal!

I wrote out a more comprehensive review of my experience on Yelp that you can read, but in summary, this was definitely a 5-star experience! I had so much fun, learned a lot, and I'm not nearly as intimidated by baking as I was before I took this course. Now to the real test - baking these at home without the watchful eye of the expert....

To be continued...(eventually - probably my Christmas baking haha)...
[ Share on Pinterest ]

1 comment:

  1. OOoooh, I'm so happy you had this class before my visit next month!