dimanche 2 janvier 2011

Try a little tenderness: Hidemi Sugino's fava pound cake

This afternoon I just felt like baking something simple and comforting. Looking for ideas through a series of cookbooks on my shelves, I fell upon the recipe of this fava bean pound cake in one of Hidemi Sugino's books The "Dessert" Book (2003). Some of you may be familiar with his name since this great pastry chef is often referred to in different blogs and especially in Keiko's gorgeous blog. After working in France and Switzerland (Jean Millet, Peltier, Mauduit...), he was the first Japanese to win the World Pastry Cup in 1991 and really contributed to recreating and innovating a sophisticated "new style" of Japanese French pastry. In 1992, he first opened a pastry shop in Kobe and then moved later to Tokyo where he opened his shop called Hidemi Sugino. He is a member of the Relais Dessert. As one can see by looking at his first book,Le Goût authentique retrouvé( 1998), or by reading about him in one of Christophe Michalak 's articles on the blog "Passions Gourmandes". Hidemi Sugino makes very traditional pastries and is really interested in the aesthetic aspect of the cakes : they are complex, very meticulously decorated ( to my taste, at times, a bit over-decorated), but everything is done with a superb maestria and with incredible talent. However, in his second book The "Dessert" Book, which is about plated deserts, he focusses less on the decoration of the cakes and more on the innovation in tastes and taste combinations (he uses balsamic and all sorts of vegetable such as pumkins green peas and avocado).
I have tried many of the recipes from The "Dessert" Book; the fava bean cake recipe is one that I really like ; it is not as "wild" a s some others in the book, it is both simple and subtle in taste (moist and unusual) and makes a great impression. One makes it almost like a regular pound cake except that one uses "mashed" fava bean (as its name suggests), almond powder for tenderness , and that one dips it into the vanilla syrup with which one has cooked the fava beans.

PS: You can find Sugino's books at La librairie Gourmande in the foreign chefs section.

La Librairie Gourmande (bookstore) 90 rue Montmartre Paris 75002 tel: 0143543727

jeudi 16 décembre 2010

Hermé for Hermès

Christmas time at Pierre Hermé is just crazy. I have very little time and it is hard to post new articles for the blog. However, "chose promise chose due", I went last week rue du Faubourg St Honoré to do a little window shopping for you and here is the picture of Hermès ' Christmas show window that I previously wrote about. In November, at my work, we were asked to make a series of small edible ornaments: macaron pyramids, differently shaped marshmallows, royal icing and pastillage decorations. We had very little time and everything had to come in 13 very precise colours. We had been given painted samples of what Hermès wanted and had to create exactly the colours desired; there were three shades of red, five shades of green etc. Let's admit it, it was hell not only getting the different shades but also getting the same shades with different products ; some of them having to be baked, others whipped and other left to dry. In fact, because of the colour problem, we had to make some of the ornaments over many times. At the end, I felt both happy and proud; the result in the window was very much in the Christmas spirit. I simply was a bit disappointed that so few of the many, many ornaments we had made had been used by the decorator for the display.

dimanche 21 novembre 2010

bye bye cupcakes

Here is a link to a November article from the New York Times about the renewed interest in pies in the United States. It is called "Pie to cupcake: time's up".

The article suggests that there is a new fashion for pies, that it has aroused great enthousiasm and may soon replace the cupcake hysteria.

Will the fashion for cupcakes soon fade ?

These last few years in Paris there has been a real craze for British and American pastries like novelty cakes, decorated cookies, and especially for cup cakes. Not only have a series of new pastry shops opened, like Synie's (on the same street as the Ecole Ferrandi, by the way), Cupcakes and Co, Berko, Chez Bogato or Coupefoudre and Sugarplum, but well-known pastry shops have also followed step : Ladurée (in a more elaborate style), the bakery at La Grande Epicerie du Bon Marché.
Some of these new shops are quite gifted from the marketing point of view. The stores are usually cute : they are nicely decorated, the display is lovely, often in a sweet, girlie way ). Mostly they seem to know how to catch media attention and manage to get a lot of coverage in the press.

Chez Bogato is the place I like best and probably the one which has attracted the most publicity. It was in charge of some of the deserts at la Fondation Cartier for the opening of an exhibition on "Graffiti" in 2008. Also, Chez Bogato has managed to provide its decorated cookies at Glou, a restaurant in the Marais I particulary like and where I had lunch recently in November.
Rose Bakery, however, has become since November the caterer for the café of the wonderful art foundation, La Maison Rouge, (Rose Bakery is not "into" cupcakes but still it provides a very English or American type of desert). Rose Bakery, as one knows, is probably one of the oldest bobo brunch places on rue des Martyrs in Paris 75009.

This cup cake fashion is refered to in the press as the "cakista movement". And indeed the shops that make this kind of deserts are almost all owned or managed by women. The customers they seem to want to draw are young or less young females, Hello Kitty fans, and upper middle class families with children, if one is to judge by the cakes and the other products sold in the shops. Indeed, next to the cupcakes, which come in all sorts of delightful colours, they sell a wide variety of knick-knacks also in all sorts of delightful colours: pastry gadgets, cupcake ear-rings, macaroon keychains, éclair charms, bibs, ... in pink, lavender, buttercup yellow...
One has the feeling, when one enters these shops, of stepping into a a girlie girl world since they are all "sugar and spice and everything nice".
But these shops probably don't think of themselves as real "pâtisseries" since the cakes they make are not made by real "pâtissiers" (the know how for baking a cupcake is really minimal) and most of these "cakistas" have never really worked in pastry making and come for the world of advertisement, fashion etc. The tastes the "cakistas" cater for are those of the kindergarden and not of the serious pastry eater who knows his baba au rhum and his Paris Brest, who has tried and compared the different kougelhopfs or tartes au citron in Paris;
So time will be up one day, I think, for this playful type of nursery food; and the nice ladies who manage these shops will have to think of what will take the customers' fancy next. Pies, as the New York Times' article says? Maybe.
So: "A vos tartes, ladies!"

PS : watch the video "How to make a perfect pie crust" on the site of the New York Times' article. At first, the way the perfect housewife in the video lines her pie left me non-plussed , then thinking about how Yukiko (my friend, the "tourière") would react if she saw it, started to laugh.

Addresses :

Berko, 23 rue Rambuteau Paris 75004. Tél : 01 40 29 02 44

Chez Bogato
, 7 rue de Liancourt, Paris 75014. Tél: 01 40 47 03 51

Coupefoudre, 39 bis rue de Montreuil, Paris 75011.

Cupcakes and Co, 25 rue de la Forge Royale, Paris 75011. Tél : 01 43 67 16 19

101 rue Vieille du Temple, Paris 75003 . Tél : 01 42 74 44 32

La Maison rouge, 10 Boulevard de la Bastille, Paris 75012. Tél :01 40 01 08 81

Rose Bakery
, 30 rue Debelleyme, Paris 75009. Tél : 01 49 96 54 01
Rose Bakery, 46 rue des Martyrs, Paris 75009. Tél : 01 42 82 12 80

Sugarplum Cake Shop,
68 rue du Cardinal Lemoine, Paris 75005. Tél : 01 46 34 07 43

Synie's, 23 rue de l'Abbé Grégoire, Paris 75006. Tél : 01 45 44 54 23

vendredi 19 novembre 2010

How's school by the way? When Pastry makers change into caterers.

For the exam of the BTM (Brevet Technique de Métier), students are asked to bake and present all kinds of different products such as individual pastries, "entremets", Danish breads, a "pièce montée", a "pièce en sucre", a chocolate display, bonbons, sweets and also SAVORY classics. Thus as an exercice our class was told to prepare for a catering session. We were totally throne into confusuion.One must keep in mind that as apprentices in pastry making, most of us have absolutly no clue about "fond brun", "pâté en croûte", "fromage de tête", "saucisson brioché" and other famous French delicacies. Moreover there is a kind of half serious silly and biased tradition of mistrust within the French pastry makers for other artisans such as bakers,cooks and caterers.

Some of us were quite frightenened and already imagining themselves in a butchers's or a "charcutier"'s kitchen, in other words, in a real blood bath.

Despite our fears, our teacher treated us very gently. Moreover I believe it actually went pretty well and I had so much fun making my fast food canapés.

Here is what we were asked to make:

- puff pastry for the 12 "bouchées à la reine" and a big "vol au vent" in the shape of a fish ( I used green food colouring and flavored the butter with Provence herbs to give it a little funky switch)

- "brioche" for the "saucisson brioché",for a "brioche Louis XV" (on the picture it is set in a glass vase, "it has the shape of a "brioche mousseline" cut in slices and garnished with lether pâté)and finally for 20 "navettes" (small oval shaped "brioches" used for mini bites "petits fours")

- flaky dough or pâte à pâté (no joke it really exists) for a quiche loraine anda "pâté en croûte"(dough and stuffing and all )

- pizza dough for 1 big pizza and 4 individual ones

-white sandwich bread for 40 canapés of 5 different sorts

-whole wheat bread for a "pain surprise"

After going to the FNAC (the bookstore) and looking into a lot of main stream, non profesionnal crap like How I Became a Host Goddess or How to Make Your Kids Enjoy Brussels Sprouts, I decided to make an international fast food mini bites buffet (instead of the dull traditional "canapés").

On the picture above from left to right :
- Nordsee curry shrimp sandwich (for those who are not familiar with Nordsee don't worry you can continue leading your life as it is). Nordsee is a chain of fish "restaurants" mainly existing throughout Germany.
-a classic club sandwich (all my regards to Lord Sandwich)
-a Californian roll
-a mini cheese burger (a slice of ham" jambon de pays" replaces very nicely the usual meat steack)
-a bruschetta (my apologies to the Italian community; sorry, I know bruschettas don't really fit in the fast food category but you had to be represented somehow and I am not actually sure they don't serve "bruschette" at "Mezzo di Pasta" and other pasta fast foods)
-a New York hotdog

I hope this post may help other members of the anti savory club look at catering differently and maybe enable some try out "un dîner presque parfait".

Yours always,
signé : "le saucisson brioché"

mardi 16 novembre 2010

matcha tea guimauve

Guimauve and a few remedies against winter's grumpy mood

November has arrived bringing grey and chilly weather, short days, many grouchy and rude people on the streets of Paris, runny noses, blisters, grey complexions, slipery side walks etc.

Petite baisse de régime pour l'apprentie pâtissière.

I feel tired, a bit depressed and that is when I usually start whining and get aggressive : I don't feel like doing anything, school is dull, work frustrating, books boring, friends iritating, parties always the same and moreover, from where I stand, Chrismas just looks like the freakin' Himalayas.

After seriously considering hibernation as a solution, checking the prices of private islands on Sotheby's, attempting to avoid people who say how much THEY just desperatly need THEIR Chrismas holidays I decided to
1 make matcha tea guimauve (god knows at that time of the year you never get too much of that antioxidant business)
2 double my portion of daily cream "infiniment vanille"at PH my work.
3 buy myself an absolutly lovely and outrageously over priced coat. Hopefully that can't be disappointing, can it?
4 stay home and watch a very intellectual and high quality show like Cake Boss or Ace of Cake.

So this recipe might come in handy for those who just like me feel a bit low.

Matcha tea guimauve

120g of water
80g of glucose
400g of sugar
120g of egg whites
20gof sugar
1 pinch of salt
15g of matcha tea powder
20g of water
22g of gélatine sheets soaked in 6 times its weight of water

1)Place the sugar in a heavy saucepan with the glucose and water. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan and bring to a boil over high heat.
2)Place the egg whites in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whip attachment .As the temperature of the boiling sugar approches 110°C begin whipping the egg whites with 20g of sugar and a pinch of salt.
3)When the syrup has reached 117°c, remove it from the heat and pour it into the whites (pour it between the sides of the bowl and the beater) just like for an italien meringue.
4)Immediatly add the sheets of gélatine.keep the beater on high speed for a short time
5)Add little by litlle the matcha tea previously diluted with 20g of water.
6)Pour the guimauve in a rectangular cake frame store at room temperature overnight.
7)Cut the guimauve and sprinkle it with a mixture of confectionner's sugar and potatoe starch(50 50) so that it doesn't stick.

vendredi 22 octobre 2010


I used to dislike the Bourdaloue pie before I started pastry making. I recall having it as a child for desert at the school cafeteria. I thought it was too sweet, too heavy and overall hated the texture of canned poached pears. I kept for years the idea that Bourdaloue was old fashioned,"étouffe chrétien" and that one shouldn't bother trying to make something good out of it. It was only many years after that I discovered that Bourdaloue could be such a tasty and versatile desert. It was only after tasting several wonderful Bourdaloues such as Gerard Mulot 's, my former chef, Carl Marletti's or l'Ecureuil s'(lovely presentation, check their site by the way) or even simply having pears poached in wine with spice that I realized how one could make great deserts with poached pears. The possibilities of great deserts with pears are so numerous: roasted, tartar, poached, as chips, in a mousse, as a compote or as an insert in an entremet , although I am not quite sure pears really stand deep freezing well .

But let's stay focussed, shall we, and let's not forget the theme of this post: the lovely Bourdaloue.

First of all, for your concern (common knowledge) in the same way that Gustave Flaubert never created the choux pastry Salammbô, Louis Bourdaloue, the famous 17th century preacher, never pondered over the subtle flavors of pears and almond. Louis was probably way too busy at his time giving sermons in front of the French court. The name of this tart was simply given after the name of an eponymous street in the 9th district of Paris in which in the 19th century was established the pastry maker Mr Fasquelle to whom we owe this classical desert. At the time Mr Fasquelle, as to honour the famous religious orator, decorated his tart with a cross made out of macaron crumbs. One must note that what was called "macaron" at the time is what we nowadays refer to as "macaron de Nancy" but I will have to check further on that . Anyway, pastry makers have long forgotten about this macaron cross and nowadays the pie consists in a tart shell (sweet pastry dough or flaky dough ), almond cream or frangipane (Ahh! l' ancestrale polémique. Quelle provocatrice je fais ! Mais nous soulèverons cette question une autre fois ) , poached pears and, for decoration, almond effilées, glazing or confectioner's sugar.

As I said before, this pie can very easily be screwed up and fall in the range of horribly heavy disgusting and boring deserts. Bourdaloue is like a slightly tacky fashion accessory (take Hermès* bright pink Kelly bag, for example) ; if worn well it can look wonderful, if worn with the wrong things and the wrong way it is outrageously overdone. Beware of the "fashion" faux pas!

First of all, I prefer to use "pâte à foncer" (more than sweet pastry dough it is less sweet (the tart being it self very sweet) and I love its cripsy flaky texture in contrast with the tenderness of almond cream. For my Bourdaloue, I have used Gérard Mulot's "pâte à foncer "and , as Yukiko , the tourière (dough maker in a pastry lab) there, once told me, the dough almost tastes like "biscuit apéritif". You can find great recipes in all sorts of books and I will be giving you one below.

For the almond cream you can use any recipe you like as long you use good ingredients and flavor it with rum.

Then, last but not least, the poached pears. One must be very careful and picky about the quality and the variety of pears used : "commices" are great so are the red "William" and the fabulous "passe-crassanes". The pears must be ripe but not too soft since they will have to stand being cooked twice, right ? (once when they are poached, and then whent hey are baked in the oven). Personally, I have used "commices" and poached them in vanilla syrup flavored with Williamine (a pear alcohol).

*About "Hermé for Hermès ", new post coming soon !

recipe for the "pâte à foncer"

250g of flour
10g of sugar
200g butter
4g of salt
1 egg yolk
25g of milk
In a stand mixer with a paddle cream the butter.Add the eggs and milk saltand sugar. Finally add the flower (make sure not to over mix the dough).

recipe for the poached pears

4 pears peeled cut in halves seeds removed
1/2 lemon(cover immediatly the pears with lemon jus so that they won't darken.)
1 vanila bean split
1 tablespoon Williamine
1/2 liter of water
250g of sugar
poach until the tender

- Gérard Mulot 76 rue de Seine 75006Paris

-Carl Marletti 51 rue Censier 75005 Paris

-Lecureuil 96 rue de lévis 75017 Paris