Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Agrarian Kitchen: Pastry 101

I have a major crush on the kitchen at the Agrarian Kitchen, so when a spot became available for Pastry 101, I quickly snaffled it up within an hour of the news.  I think Severine was shocked by how quickly I emailed!  All of the classes are booked right up until October and this will be my last chance to do a class for the rest of the year.  I just had to do it.  Right?  Wouldn't you?

The class was taken by Alistair Wise of Sweet Envy.  It is a heavenly pastry shop in North Hobart, decorated in white, and filled with all manners of sweet delights.  If you have enough will power to make it past the first cabinet, (my heart skips a beat whenever I see those cupcakes), you will be rewarded by the sight of intriguing macaroon, gorgeous cakes like nothing I've ever seen before and flavour combinations that makes my head spin.  Paralysis at the counter is not unheard of.

I woke up early and was greeted by a misty morning. But that didn't matter -- a whole day in the kitchen making pastries. I was pumped!  With a freshly charged battery in the camera and Pomplamoose songs in my head, I made my way to the class.

Look at what was waiting patiently on the bench on arrival?

Hello there!  It's pastry time!  

After a quick coffee and chat with fellow students, the class was ready to start.  It was a small class, just 8 of us -- mostly Taswegians, with a few brave souls who battled the ash cloud traveling from Sydney and Brisbane.  Rodney brought in the blackboard with today's menu.  Two things jumped out at me: Macaroon.  Croissants.  Yes!  I haven't had much luck with these, so what a great opportunity to learn how it's done properly. 

We all donned on our white aprons and the class started off with folding (laminating) batches of puff and croissant pastry. We didn't have enough time to make it in the class, so the dough was made the night before (Alistair notes that making pastry is allll about logistics. Plan well in advance)  There is an added bonus to making the dough the day before -- it will be relaxed before working in the layers, making it easier to work with.  It was by no means effortless!  I think I butchered my poor dough...

One interesting ingredient on the list was beurre noisette -- browned butter.  I'm not sure how this will affect the dough, but I'm keen to experiment to find out!  We each got a piece to work with and we bashed, turned and rolled our way to these beautiful creations:

I couldn't quite believe my eyes when these pastries puffed into flaky goodness.

During the class, Alistair gave tips on how to find a great pastry shop in Paris -- look for shops that is full of people and pigeons.  Pastries should be so delicate that they crumble on touch.  If you have ever wondered what to call that layering?  It's feuilleté!  A distinctive feuilleté is a sign of great pastry.  Great!  Something to look out for on my trip :)

I fear this post is getting way too long. So I'll end this post with some of my favourite photos from the day.

Now, it's practice, practice and more practice...

Thank you Alistair, Rodney and Severine for a wonderful day at the kitchen.