Monday, March 4, 2013

Pastry Class: Pear - Almond Galette, and Pithivier

Last Monday in my pastry class, we made puff pastry. Since we had the mid-term last Wednesday, we didn't get to make anything with it until today. We got to make two things, a pear - almond galette, and a pithivier.

A galette is a flat tart, while a pithivier is a filled, domed pie. For both of these, we made a frangipane, a filling made from almond paste, butter, and eggs.

Before we started, we divided the dough in half, and rolled each half out to a 12 inch by 16 inch rectangle. Those were placed in the freezer to stiffen up.

For the galette, we first docked the rectangle of pastry. Docking just means poking a lot of little holes in a pastry. We used a roller docker, which looks kind of like a torture device. It is a cylinder with prongs, attached to a handle. Rather than buying one, you can just stab the dough repeatedly with a fork.

Once the dough is docked, cut into rounds. Pipe a little of the frangipane in the center, and spread it to about 3/4 inch from the edge. The sliced pear is arranged on top of the frangipane. The pear is then brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with vanilla sugar. When baked, the puff pastry puffs up around the pear, providing a little crust.  Once cool, the pears recieve a light coating of apricot glaze, and then the whole thing is dusted with confectioner's sugar, and some finely chopped almonds. The glaze helps prevent oxidation of the fruit.

Chef James wanted us to start thinking beyond the baking, and consider the whole dessert. So, he had us try our hand at plating. We made a caramel sauce, which we put on the plate in a decorative pattern, and then taught us how to make quenelles of whipped cream. I made a braided pattern in the caramel.

The caramel was fairly simple, just sugar, water, and corn syrup cooked until  it achieves a medium amber color. At that point the caramel is removed from the heat, and cream is added. When it calms down, butter and salt are added, and brought back to a boil, briefly.

The pithivier is really simple. It's a round of puff pastry, with a mound of frangipane, and covered with more puff pastry. We used an egg wash to seal the rounds together.

We cut the edges in a petal like shape. For decoration, we incised curved lines into the top pastry.

The pithivier is baked until golden, then pulled out of the oven. The top is then brushed with a light coat of corn syrup, and put back to produce a crisp, shiny coat.

I like this puff pastry. It was both crisper and flakier than any commercial puff pastry I have used.

Both the galette and the pithivier were great. They were rich, and just sweet enough. I don't like overly sweet pastries.

As always for the pastry class, all recipes are courtesy Chef James Foran.



4 oz by wt. almond paste
4 oz by wt. butter
1 oz by wt. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. all purpose flour
pinch of salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer using a paddle, cream almond paste, butter, and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla, and again process until smooth. Finally, add flour and salt, and cream until smooth.

Caramel Sauce

5 1/4 oz by wt. sugar
1 Tbsp. corn syrup
2 oz by vol. water
4 oz by vol. cream
3/4 oz by wt. butter
1/4 tsp. salt

In a bowl, combine sugar, syrup, and water. Transfer to a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Brush down sides of pan with water two or three times to remove any stray sugar crystals. Cook until sugar solution is a medium dark amber color.

Remove from heat, at cream in three stages while whisking vigorously. Add butter and salt, return to heat until sauce just comes to a boil. Remove from heat and cool.

Pear - Almond Galettes

1/2 recipe of Classic Puff Pastry
1/2 recipe of frangipane
5 pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
4 Tbsp. melted butter
5 tsp. vanilla sugar

Dock pastry, then cut out ten five inch diameter circles. Arrange circles on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Pipe frangipane into centers of circles. Spread evenly to within 3/4 inch of the edge. Arrange pear slices on circle, being careful to keep pears at least 3/4 inch from the edge. Brush pears with melted butter, and sprinkle liberally with vanilla sugar.

Bake in a 375 F oven until golden brown. Cool completely, and brush pears with an apricot glaze.


1/2 recipe of Classic Puff Pastry
1/2 recipe of frangipane
1 egg, beaten
1 oz by vol. light corn syrup

Cut two 7 1/2 inch circles from pastry. Place one on a parchment lined baking sheet. Pipe on frangipane, and smooth into a dome, careful to keep the frangipane 1 inch from edge. Brush edge with beaten egg. Press to seal. Use a 5 1/2 bowl to press over pithivier to make a dome shaped middle. Scallop edges. Using a sharp knife, incise curving lines radiating out from the middle, careful to avoid cutting all the way through.

Bake in a 375 F oven until golden brown, approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from oven, brush top with corn syrup. Turn oven to 425 F. Return pithivier to oven, bake until corn syrup creates a shiny, golden crust, about 3 - 5 minutes.

Happy Eating!

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