Wednesday 2 April 2008
You see those cute little guys above. Don’t underestimate them.
Oh no, don’t.
Sure, they do look nice. So plump and golden, you could almost tell right away how crisp and brittle their beautifully thin crust is.
And they certainly do taste good as well. Imagine fragile layers of fine pastry made sticky with oodles of sucre semoule [caster sugar] and beurre doux [unsalted butter]. These are probably what your next dream will be built around, which I would understand. More than you think I would.
But gosh, they gave me a hard time back when I was an intern at Pierre Hermé’s patisserie.
It’s not their détrempe – the mix of flour, butter, fresh yeast, water and salt. Although, I must admit that carrying 25kg bags of flour or emptying the mixing bowl, which I could fit into, wasn’t as funny as it may sound.
It’s not even the tourage, during which you enclose some delicious unsalted butter into the prepared détrempe and fold. Trois tours simples. Folding in caster sugar as you do so, but only for the last tour. It is, without a doubt, a lengthy process – with three resting times in the fridge since the last thing you want is the butter to start melting, the yeast to wake up, the gluten to develop, but an relaxing one.
Here it comes: the façonnage [shaping], the all-time feared step. Guilhem, who was then chef de poste at the tour, should be blessed. He patiently kept showing me how to fold little squares of the elegantly layered dough flecked with jewel-look-alike grains of sugars into neat folded buns.
That just wouldn’t work for me.
Or only very rarely, the only excuse Guilhem could come up with being that my body temperature is just too hot for me to handle buttery doughs. By the time, my squares had been folded into eight, they had that shine. Yes, that shine; which warned me of the upcoming liquefaction the butter was about to undergo.
And quite evidently, they wouldn’t hold their shape and almost always opened like flowers. Pretty pretty, but so not wanted here.
I hear you coming. It must not be that difficult! She’s only exaggerating / incapable (cross out the least appropriate answer). Well, I told you how frustrating those little guys tend to be.
Just try and say their name right.
As most French word, you so not pronounce it the way it is written. That would just be too simple. Remember who – or more extacly – what we’re talking about. Not your usual plain croissant or brioche or even pain au chocolat. No, we’re talking kouign amann here.
koonnee* queen aman-neu, an being French [ɑ̃] as in amande [almond] or grand gâteau [tall cake].
*basically, I’ve always said koonnee and not queenn, but I might possibly be wrong. Thanks Nol for pointing me right!
Obviously, you could also just visit Pierre Hermé’s pâtisserie and buy one – or two – and savour them to the last crumb before you hit the tube or vélib station.
Dans ma bibliothèque
[In my library]I just launched something I’m so very excited about: my own special library, where I share my thoughts on the books I’ve read.
Head over here to find the books I’ve read, those I’m currently reading and those I’m planning to read.
So far, I’ve only written one review, but I promise that many more will come.Oh and yes, I know there are still some tweaking to get done. I can’t seem to include the top navigation abr without problems, which makes the layout look funny on IE. Consider this as an opportunity to get a decent web browser!