Remember over here when I said I finally figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up? I’m pretty sure the epiphany happened when I went away for a culinary weekend with some friends, but I’ve definitely felt for a while that it was time to explore my love of cooking and baking further. I’ve done lots of specialized classes over the years but I’ve never received a certificate from culinary school and I’ve decided I’ve just gotta have it (and I’ve never been referred to as Chef and I’ve just gotta experience that too…). Well I finally took the plunge and enrolled myself into Culinary School and I’m going to be sharing some of my weekly experiences with you. One of the courses I’m currently enrolled in, is a Baking Arts course that I need to complete in order to get into an Artisanal Bread Making Course (and y’all must know by now how much I truly love bread).
This week’s class was all about pie and making pastry. Guys, I was pretty sure I had this one in the bag. I mean, I literally owned a bake shop for crying out loud. We would make dozens of pies at a time for weddings and special occasions. I had the best pastry teacher growing up and I was pretty confident going in that I knew my stuff. But for whatever reason, when Chef heads over to my table for his inspection, I feel nervous as heck. I even talk myself down, you’ve made a million pies for god sakes, this is nothing to be nervous about.
I may have said a little prayer a time or two, during this weeks exercise.
I know that there have been times when my pastry has been a little too tough. I'm sorry for cursing all of those times when I was rolling it out and it cracked or stuck to the rolling pin as if it had been glued there. I did not mean to throw that pastry dough at the wall that time. I'm sorry that I was demanding to know why, WHY the pastry shrank to nothing but an oddly shaped piece of dough in the bottom of the pan?! Please just let this work today.
I know some of you can relate to this, because if you’ve ever made pastry it’s quite possible it’s been a challenge.
Someone must have heard my pleas because everything turned out pretty alright. I’ve included the recipe below for the pastry from the course. I have always used shortening in my crust and this pretty much affirmed for me that it’s the right choice. This pastry was incredibly flaky and very easy to work with. And I left that day with a beautiful fresh apple pie and feeling more confident about the skills I’m bringing with me to this program. And a $150.00 parking ticket, but lets just focus on the positive here okay?
Guys, culinary school is going to be quite a ride I’m sure. I’m glad you’re here to share it with me.
Best Pastry Recipe
recipe via George Brown College, Baking Arts
*yield 1 double pie crust
- 375g pastry flour
- 250g shortening
- 125ml cold water
- 7g salt
- 15g brown sugar
- In a small bowl dissolve the salt and brown sugar into the water; set aside.
- In a large bowl, use your finger tips and a light sweeping motion to rub the shortening into the flour. It should be reduced to pea-sized crumbs.
- Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the water mixture, all at once. As if you’re tossing a salad with your hands, toss the flour into the water, sweeping from the bottom of the bowl to the top. Keep tossing just until a dough ball forms (just using your fingertips not the palm of your hand), but enough that all of the flour is incorporated. The more you work pastry dough, the more gluten strands are formed in the flour and the tougher the dough will be. That’s also one of the reasons that pastry shrinks.
- Transfer the dough on to a lightly floured counter and roll into a thick tube. Allow the dough to rest for a few minutes before halving and rolling.