It used to be that if you wanted to learn how to make artisan cakes and pastries, your options were to either enroll in Le Cordon Bleu or a TAFE course. But what about those of us who don’t intend to really look at doing it as a career, but rather want to take on an additional skill to while away the lazy weekends; absorb ourselves in the buttery aroma of caramelising pastry, and to feel the rewarding sensation of flour and butter coming together under your fingertips?
We are lucky enough to have a huge variety of baking and cooking classes that have been springing up around Sydney ever since the whole “Masterchef” craze began – people now want to make croquembouche towers and croissants at home and provide wedding cakes for their friends’ weddings – and now we have the resources to help us learn the skills to do so.
I had been invited by Lime and Tonic Sydney to sit in on their most recent Masterclass – a collaboration between Delicious Magazine Australia and Black Star Pastry, being a Pastry Masterclass. Christopher Thé, the executive chef and founder of Black Star Pastry, would demonstrate and talk students through a premium pastry recipe before teaching us the secrets behind the iconic “Delicious Cake” – an amazing multi-tiered construction of fresh cream, sliced mango and Italian meringue. It’s a 90 min class (although we ran over time as we were having too much fun!) with canapes and champagne included – let’s go!
Seated in the cool studios of Delicious Magazine in Alexandria, Chris started by showing us how to make pastry for his Flaky Galettes (recipe below!). When he first started Black Star Pastry, he just had a dream of a little bakery that sold quality galettes and small pastries – little did he know how Sydney would take off on “that” Strawberry and Watermelon Cake! His pastry recipe follows the 4-3-2-1 method: 400g plain flour, 300g unsalted butter, 2g fine table salt, and 100g cold water. He starts by “chopping” the butter into the flour as opposed to putting the whole lot into a food processor; it’s the slightly uneven texture with the butter not fully worked into the flour that differentiates flaky pastry from a basic shortcrust.
We are each given a round of pastry and sent off to egg wash and prepare our galettes, tossing the cut summer stone fruit in fine sugar, before piling it onto the centre of the pastry round and bringing up the edges, pushing it into a star-shape and cupping the edges into the sides.
Mine’s on the front right over there 😉 Chris also walked around the room, helping us out when some of us got a little over-enthusiastic in piling the fruit into our pastries. Once we were done, we were invited to help ourselves to the generous spread of baguettes and pastries provided – by Black Star Pastry, of course!
And into the oven for 30 minutes, at 220 degrees Celcius. While we waited, Chris proceeded to demonstrate assembling the “Delicious Cake”. It’s four tiers of dacquoise, which he had pre-prepared, and he talked us through the preparation of the Italian meringue. With some whipped cream and cut fresh fruit on hand, he started to assemble the cake with astonishing speed. It’s a four-tiered cake which requires some support structuring, and if you’re new to layering cakes it’s an essential element to learn.
…..and voilá! Too easy 😉
Our galettes were also ready and out of the oven by this point.
So delicious 😀
Flaky Galette: recipe by Christopher Thé of Black Star Pastry
You will need:
- 400g plain flour;
- 300g unsalted butter;
- 2g fine table salt;
- 100g cold water;
- Fruit (i.e. apples/nectarines/peaches);
- caster sugar;
- One egg.
For the pastry, chop the butter, flour and salt together using pastry cards until the pieces of butter are about as big as a fingernail. Push the crumbs into the bench with the palms of your hand. Add the water and chop again to re-distribute the ingredients. Push one more time with the palm of your hand, then bring together to form the pastry. You should still see streaks of butter through the dough.
Shape into discs, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Slice the fruit (peel if using apples). Macerate with about a third volume in caster sugar. Use spices if you like, such as cinnamon or vanilla.
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celcius.
To assemble, roll out the pastry with a rolling pin to two millimetres using caster sugar, not flour. Cut a circle about 15cm in diameter.
Make an egg wash of whole egg and salt and brush this over the pastry disc.
Add the breadcrumbs to the centre of the disc, then add the fruit mix. The breadcrumbs will soak up any of the excess fruit juices.
Carefully pinch the sides and make a five or six-sided star shape, then press the arms of the star to the side, all in one direction. Transfer to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Bake the galette until well-coloured, about 30 minutes.