Mini Vanilla French Madeleines

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A new cookbook is rocking the food world right now, written by the women behind The Cook’s Atelier in Beaune, Burgundy (France)! After perusing this gorgeous gastronome tome, I quickly found their Instagram and found myself signing up for their newsletter.

One week later, voilà! A newsletter + recipe for mini madeleines pop into my inbox. The recipe is savory, but I was in a pinch, didn’t have the necessary parmesan, and wanted to try out my new mini pans ASAP. I made my go-to recipe for regular madeleines, found ing—you guessed it—Patisserie Made Simple.

I’m planning on trying out the savory recipe soon (it features chives and parm, yum!), but for now, here’s the recipe for plain madeleines that I love. Bonus to minis? Pop-able like potato chips! May be a minus, depending on how you look at it.

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Mini madeline molds are only 1 to 1.5 inches wide…not much space! I found it easiest to scoop the batter into a plastic bag or piping bag and pipe the batter into the molds. You don’t need much! A teaspoon or less per cavity should do it.

Happy baking, friends! And if you make a different flavor, let me know! Looking for inspiration 🙂

xxx


Mini Madeleines

Recipe can be found in Patisserie Made Simple. Also check out The Boy Who Bakes: blog and Insta! I love Ed 🙂

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Brioche Pain aux Chocolat

If I were the expert on all things pastry (which I definitely and not), bread would be the ultimate MVP. You can do so much with it, sweet and savory. Pain aux chocolat is an excellent example. I made one batch of brioche, but two desserts- the brioche creams and these. You could also noodle cinnamon rolls, monkey bread, brioche nature, and a ton of other stuff out of one recipe.

Winner in my book!

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Traditionally, pain aux chocolat is made with chocolate batons—literally sticks of chocolate. Alas, I had none, but I did have some Guittard dark chocolate chips, which I’d say worked just as well, as my picky brother scarfed a bun down.

Again, this is Huck’s brioche recipe, but use whichever one you please. I’ve simply found that after testing out a few recipes, this one gives me the texture I’m looking for. It’s soft and airy; light and feathery; other brioche recipes I’ve tried have been a bit dry. France also had its share of dry brioche. I went to a market in Arles where they were selling pain aux chocolat, 3 euros for 10. And gosh golly, it was DRY. I did not finish it.

As for the chocolate, batons are tradition, but chocolate chips are fine if that’s what you have. Dark, milk, in-between; it’s up to you.

Notes

  • As you can tell, I didn’t egg wash these, either. I highly recommend that you do. Glossy buns are just more fun—and definitely prettier!

Happy baking!!

xxx

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Palmiers (On Trust)

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For this week’s adventure in pastry, I decided to make palmiers. Pronounced PAL-me-yay.  But honestly, it wasn’t much of an adventure, because I used store-bough puff pastry. It’s been so warm and we have no air conditioning, so even if I had wanted to make my own, it was not happening.

I poured some sugar into a bag of lavender that I had lying around- lavender is one of my favorite flavors. It’s delicate, very floral, and can stand its own.

In making this pastry, I started thinking about trust. (I like to explain life by means of food.)

Puff pastry can be rather difficult to make. And in this instance, we’re the scattered lavender, but what we want to be is the dough.

I don’t have much time left in school, and it’s (really) freaking me out. Any notion of “what I want” is out the window. The most honest answer is “I don’t know.” Scattered lavender. No particular place to be. No particular place. As much as lavender is lovely, it needs a vehicle as it’s not too great straight off the bush.

This pastry is a perfect encapsulation of me—and perhaps people. Multi-faceted, many layers, fragile, finicky. But, I think that if we trust (in my case, God, but fill in your blank), that we will find it easier to stretch when life stretches us, because we are in very capable hands that are not our own.

Why should we trust these hands? Because only someone incredibly skilled can manage something like puff pastry. I know because I’ve tried, and it didn’t turn out very well. We are in very, very capable hands. And while we are fragile, we don’t have to break. We can be mended, stretched, puffed up.

However, we can only move from petals in the wind to something sturdier if we trust and allow our essence to be place there. With trust comes the confident expectation of good things. Not to say that our pastry will never tear nor will it ever have holes. But when we can trust; when we can be confident; when we can hope; we will find courage to take flight.


For the palmiers

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1 sheet puff pastry, thawed according to directions

(up to) 1/4 cup sugar (you can use citrus zest, vanilla pods, etc. to impart some flavor)

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Roll out puff pastry on a floured surface, up to 14×9. Sprinkle with sugar (and anything else you fancy. These can be savory, too.) Roll one of the long sides like a cinnamon roll until it meets the center. Repeat for the other side.

Using a sharp knife (chef’s knife is fine), cut into 1/2 inch cookies and lay on a baking sheet. They do puff up, so leave some room, at least an inch. Place on parchment paper.

Bake for around 18 minutes or until nice and deep golden brown. Cookies should also be sufficiently puffed. Let cool for 20 minutes.

Rose Meringues (On Perseverance)

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Pot after pot after pot yielded little more than one more frustrated sigh than the last. Pan after pan held lackluster, pale shells that were dry at best and at worst, extremely doughy. Slowly defeat overcame me, and I accepted that the glorious speculoos éclairs I had envisioned hours earlier were not going to be realized today.

Looking at the egg whites I had amassed from several recipes, including the many batches of failed éclairs, I settled on making meringues the following weekend. But I couldn’t help but appreciate the fiasco, as frustrating as it was.

Baking teaches you a lot of things.

To be organized, to mise en place.

To manage your time, for beautiful bread.

To set goals, to learn.

To see the big picture and small details.

To appreciate the work, so you can have beauty.

Baking teaches perseverance, and it’s a very cheap lesson. For a few cups of flour and sticks of butter, I learned to try again. I learned to look at what went wrong; to observe the details; to adapt. I learned to focus on the result I wanted, and not give up because the first try was a failure.

Life is kind of like baking. You’ll want to be organized and have a goal in mind. But when the bread falls flat or the éclairs are too doughy, you don’t want to give up. You want to learn from your errors, adjust the strategy. You want to see what the final product could be. And you have to commit to trying again. And again, and again.

Whatever you’re working on right now—if it’s going great, that is fantastic. But if you’re struggling, don’t give up! This bread is flat, but your next one can rise. You only need to choose to get up. Be encouraged!


For the meringues

I based mine on a recipe in Pâtisserie Made Simple (Edd Kimber) and added rose water for flavoring. Floral notes always win me over with their delicate, heady punch. One to two teaspoons of rose water should do it, otherwise it’s like eating soap.

Bouchon Bakery & The Model Bakery

I believe I was 10 when I first visited Napa Valley…and I haven’t returned since. However, within the last three years, I was introduced to Bouchon Bakery and The Model Bakery through the books authored by the owners, Thomas Keller and Karen and Sara Mitchell. Both books are beautiful, so I’ve been wanting to visit the shops for a while. I can now say that I recommend the following:

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Pain aux raisins, Bouchon Bakery

I decided to do a little comparison between Thomas Keller’s PAR and the PAR from Flour Bakery, my favorite bakery in Boston. It’s a tie. I like TK’s croissant dough as the pain but enjoy the golden raisin from Flour Bakery more than the intense, dark raisins in TK’s. Overall, TK’s is sweet with a nice, flaky croissant dough, but his lacks pastry cream, which I consider one of the highlights.

 

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TKO, Bouchon Bakery

It took me forever to figure out what TKO stood for: Thomas Keller Oreo. I didn’t know what to expect when I bit into the cookie, but I’ll tell you that I could have eaten more than one. The frosting isn’t really the highlight, like it is for the Oreo. Rather, the cream complements the super-intense dark chocolate cookie. Not crunchy, not soft, somewhere in between. Definitely would eat again.

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Pain aux chocolat, Bouchon Bakery

I’m not a fan of PAC on principle because I prefer fruit in my pastry. Padre liked it, though, and that says something.

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Strawberry Tart, Bouchon Bakery

I only ate the strawberries and cream, but those two alone sold me. The strawberries were bright, both in taste and color. Nothing like the usual fruity mush I hate in pastry. The pastry cream was SUPER good. TK should have thrown it into his PAR, if you ask me.

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Lemon brûlé, The Model Bakery

Honestly, not my favorite. The lemon curd is too lemon-y, but that’s personal preference because I favor my pastry on the sugar-y side. The tart shell is good, though.

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Blueberry scone, lemon bar, The Model Bakery

Hands down my new favorite bakery for scones. I think the scones are better than the ones at Flour! (Keep that on the DL.) Lemon bar was more my pace—plenty of sugar to balance out the tartness.

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Raspberry croissant, The Model Bakery

My favorite way to eat this? tearing off the corners and dunking them into the personal pot of raspberry jam in the center 🙂

 

Happy eating, friends!