Monday, July 20, 2009

Homemade Pate Feuilletee Palmiers (All the taste, None of the Look - Yet)*

Let's focus on the beautiful story here: Young girl goes to pastry shop, eats palmiers, has life-changing food experience. As the girl grows, she searches out palmiers in other cities (Paris, New York, Montreal etc). Her love of the delicate, flaky, home made puff pastry (aka pate feuilletee) persists. Sometimes though, to be honest, she finds the bakery product inferior. Too tough. Not enough caramelization.

Girl reads lots of foodie books (she hates that word, btw) and feels that making homemade puff pastry seems insanely challenging. She avoids it for precisely 39 years. Whereupon she reads an amazing post at Canelle et Vanille (she can't link to it specifically because when you compare those photos to hers it will be too painful for her ego). It inspires her the way only gorgeous photos can. Plus, she has really bad PMS and any chance of a pound of butter in something one can eat in one sitting is wholly irresistible. She starts by using store bought stuff and, happily - counter intuitively, the finished product is lovely and professional. She takes no photos because the speed with which she consumes it is legendary. She feels like an impostor, using store bought crap to make beautiful pastry. She gets bold, culls 6 different recipes from 6 different chef-like books and blogs, and gets to work. 8 hours later, she produces these from scratch:

Yes, my friends, that girl is me.

OK, I can tell you exactly where I went wrong. It wasn't in the making of the dough - which BTW was much easier than I expected if just as time consuming. It was in the final roll out. If you'd like to talk about the ins and outs of pastry making, feel free to email because - seriously - I can get with that. You could also check out my 8000 tweets on this topic. Satisfying reading!

The thing is, when you make your own pate, it's much more expansive (with an "a") than the frozen, pre-made kind. It's also much less happy to roll out right after it's gone through an extensive, day long, roll and turn process. I think it would have been better to let it sit in the fridge overnight and done the baking a day later. Another possibility is that I just didn't roll it as carefully, given it's elastic / spring back texture, as I should have.

Oh, and then I overcooked it - just by moments, but that was enough to cause near disaster. Again, the store bought stuff cooks at a much higher temp before browning. Must be the vegetable oil vs. butter composition.

It is ABSOLUTELY delish though. Though entirely hideous, I think it's up there with the tastiest puff pastry I've ever had. Of course, this might be because I inhaled it, as fresh as could be, right out of the oven. Or because I'm very invested. Then again, I might just have a future as a pastry chef :-) OK, let me work on it.

PS: I started with a small volume of dough because I had no idea how it was going to go. In future, I will definitely make 3 times this amount. Because, if I'm going to spend all day rolling butter between a galette, I want enough to freeze it for later.

PPS: For a good tutorial on making the dough, check out Joe Pastry. This guy really knows what he's doing!

*My apologies to all French people. Seriously, I gotta figure out how to add the accents into my French words...


  1. Oh, I've been too lazy to deal with the accent issue too!

  2. Who cares how they food looks, I say! I often make food that looks like vom but tastes quite a bit better, and I've known food that looked attractive and yet tasted heinous. And these palmiers look good, anyway!

    As for the accents, I can never remember the keyboard codes so I just Google a word that contains required accent, then cut and paste.

    And PS: I've given you a blog award!

  3. Holy moley, this looks amazing. I'm well impressed with your efforts here - it looks enormously detailed and time consuming. Doesn't look AT ALL hideous too me, though I'm also partial to a whole pound of butter right now (stuck in bed with a problematic ovary). xx

  4. Yummm, puff pastry. Yummm Pâte Feuilletée.

    Accents are easy, although I can't get them to work in all comments. And truthfully I was rather lazy until I named my kitten Moisés, at which point I might as well learn to type his name correctly.

    a letter with an acute accent is created by typing the ampersand (&) followed by letter (a, e, etc)acute; (word acute followed by semicolon --

    a letter with the accent grave is the same: ampersand+ letter+grave+semicolon all run together no spaces.

    for an umlaut, us the same procedure with uml
    for a circumflex use the same procedure with circ

    and so forth and so on.

    That probably wasn't what you were looking for. I have to figure out how to do that puff pastry thing.

  5. Wow, congratulations on making those all by yourself! Pate feuillete has always terrified me.

  6. Bravo for taking on something you were intimidated by. Foodie blogs always make me want to try new things, but then it seems nearly impossible to find the ingredients at my local grocery store...

  7. With your food, baking, garden, and entertaining skills I suggest you open the very first Blogging B&B. I volunteer to be the first guest.

  8. your cooking experience sounds like many of my tastes good but doesn't ever look so good...

  9. I have traveled that road one too many times, but I like how it came out K, too me it looks like FOOD PORN.

    You amaze me!

  10. Wendy: Mardel makes it easy for us all (see comment below).

    Iris: Smart suggestion. I thought of that but I thought it would wreck the formatting and I'm so lazy! BTW - thanks so much for that lovely award!!!

    Birdy: Feel better soon. Butter can only help! And thanks so much for your complimentary comment.

    Mardel: Look at you, accent queen! Thanks so much for the info. Now I gotta do it.

    Musie: Try it today. It's fun! I swear.

    Rebecca: I so know what you mean. I'm lucky that I have access to a lot of stuff close by, but I still need to prep or it all goes sideways.

    Bel: I HAVE thought of that. Though, in my mind, it's more of a boutique hotel. Thank you so much for making it seem like my talents are even vaguely up to it! :-) Kxoxo

    Frou Frou: Ha! I'm just going to keep at it till I crack the code :-)

    April: I know you, of all people, could give this recipe a RUN for its money! Thanks so much for your lovely comment.

    Pink: So gone. So fast.