If you made a cake equal in weight to Bouchon Bakery (Artisan Books, October 2012) by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel, it would have to be a piece montee.
Alernatively book could be used as a blunt instrument, not that I recommend that use.
From Witches Hats to Nougat, Hot Cross Buns to Financiers, Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel take you on a full course to bread and pastry making from basic techniques and tricks to finished products.
As a first illustration here's a pate a choux recipe chosen for its cream and its elegance. Recipe is quite extensive as it gives you a choice of small, medium or large batch for some elements and 2 options for the cream.
Swans, Cygnes a la Chantilly
Choux for Eclairs
½ cup + 2 ½
tablespoons (150 grams) Pastry Cream
¾ cup + 2
tablespoons (150 grams) Basic Buttercream at room temperature
batch Sweetened Whipped Cream
sugar for dusting
very old-fashioned, and I love them for this reason—and also because they
remind me of happy days cooking at La Rive, a restaurant in the Hudson Valley,
when I was a young chef. They’re a great thing to make with kids and are fun to
present at the table. Work carefully when piping the batter so that you have
nicely shaped bodies and elegantly curved necks—don’t forget the cute little
If you have
two ovens, use them, as the necks and the bodies bake for different times, and
pâte à choux generally bakes best in the center of the oven. You will have
extra batter, but it’s a good idea to pipe extra bodies and heads/necks so you
can use the best ones—or pipe and freeze the extras to bake another time.
a spray bottle and three pastry bags: one with a ¼-inch plain tip, one with an
Ateco #829 star tip, and one with an Ateco #867 French star tip.
the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to
375°F (standard). Line two sheet pans with parchment paper and pipe a bit of
pâte à choux under each corner to attach the paper to the pans. Fill the spray
bottle with water.
pastry bag with the plain tip with about 80 grams/½
cup of the pâte à choux for the heads and necks. Fill the pastry bag with the
#829 star tip with the remaining pâte à choux for the bodies.
bodies: Use about 50 grams of pâte à choux for each body: Begin by piping the
rounded neck end of one body on one of the sheet pans, then continue piping,
pulling the bag farther away each time, to narrow the body, and finally
twisting the bag to create a tail. Repeat to form a total of 8 bodies.
heads and necks: Use about 5 grams of pâte à choux for each head and neck: Pipe
a head ½ to ¾
inch in diameter on the second baking sheet, then continue piping an S shape,
of completing the final curve of the S.
Form a small beak by piping a dab of pâte à choux on the head and
pulling the bag away from the head to narrow it and form a point. Repeat to
form a total of 8 heads/necks.
Spray the bodies, heads, and necks lightly with water. Place the bodies
in the upper third of
the oven and the heads/necks in the lower third. Immediately reduce the oven
temperature to 350°F. After 15 minutes, turn the heads/necks over and continue
to bake for 5 minutes, or until they are golden brown and dry. Because the
necks are so thin, it is important to keep a close eye on them. When they are
done, remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
baking the bodies, for a total of 40 minutes, at 350°F. Then reduce the heat to
325°F and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300°F and bake for 20 minutes
longer, or until the bodies are golden brown and thoroughly cooked; they should
feel light. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack and cool
completely before filling or freezing.
serrated knife, cut off the top third of each body, being careful not to cut
off the tails. Set the bottoms aside. Cut the tops lengthwise in half to create
the wings; set aside.
mousseline: Place the pastry cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the
whisk attachment and whip on medium speed until smooth. Add the buttercream and
whip until well combined and smooth.
pastry bag with the #867 tip with the whipped cream. Spoon the mousseline into
the bodies. Beginning at the back end, pipe a spiral of the whipped cream over
the mousseline in each body. Arrange the wings on the swans, gently pushing the
cut sides of the wings into the whipped cream, just to anchor them, Do the same
with the heads/necks.
swans with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
à Choux for Eclairs
1 ¼ cups
(175 grams) All-purpose flour
tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (33 grams) Granulated sugar
1 cup (240
(120 grams) Unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ + 1/8
teaspoons (2.5 grams) Kosher salt
1 cup (250
This pâte à
choux dough is a little stiffer than the version we use for the cream puffs.
Because the cream puffs are molded, the dough can be fairly loose. The éclair
dough is piped onto sheet pans, so it needs extra body to hold up.
a pastry bag with an Ateco #867 French star tip.
flour and sugar in a small bowl. Using the proportions above, make the dough as
directed in the cream puff recipe (page 160), adding the flour and sugar
mixture in the same way and adding all the eggs.
the dough to the pastry bag and refrigerate until cold before using.
Freezing: Pâte à Choux for Eclairs (used for éclairs, Paris–New York, and
Swans) is not ideal for freezing before baking because the lines created by
using the French star tip can be compromised when you wrap or cover the dough
in order to freeze it.
Makes 680 grams/3 cups
½ cup + 1
tablespoon (132 grams) Egg yolks
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
½ cup + 1
tablespoon (110 grams) Granulated sugar
½ cup + 1 ½
tablespoons (83 grams) Custard powder or all-purpose flour (see Note on Custard
2 cups + 3
tablespoons (550 grams) Whole milk
1 ounce (27
grams) Unsalted butter, cut into K-inch pieces, at room temperature
batch: Makes 810 grams/3 2⁄3 cups
½ cup + 2 ½
tablespoons (160 grams) Egg yolks
bean, split lengthwise
½ cup + 2 ½
tablespoons (133 grams) Granulated sugar
½ cup + 3 ½
tablespoons (100 grams) Custard powder or all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups +
2 ½ tablespoons (666 grams) Whole milk
(33 grams) Unsalted butter, cut into K-inch pieces, at room temperature
recipe, we use Bird’s custard powder.
Set up an
ice bath. Place a medium bowl in the ice water and set a fine-mesh strainer
over the bowl.
yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Scrape the
seeds from the vanilla bean, add them to the yolks, and mix on medium-low speed
for about 30 seconds. Reduce the speed to low and slowly pour in the sugar,
then whisk on medium speed until lighter in color, about 1H minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the
bowl, then whisk on medium-high speed for about
3 minutes, until the mixture is pale yellow and thick. When the whisk
is lifted, the mixture should form a slowly dissolving ribbon.
speed to low, add the custard powder or flour, and mix for 30 seconds. Scrape
down the sides and bottom of the bowl. With the mixer running on the lowest
speed, slowly pour in the milk. Scrape the bowl again and mix on low speed for
another minute, or until combined.
mixture into a large saucepan, set over medium heat, and stir gently until it
begins to thicken. Switch to a whisk and whisk as the cream comes to a simmer,
rotating the whisk around the bottom to keep the cream from scorching. Once you
see bubbles breaking the surface, cook for about 5 minutes longer, whisking
constantly, until the pastry cream has thickened.
pastry cream through the strainer, pressing gently on it to push the thickened
cream through. Whisk for about 1 minute to cool slightly, then whisk in the
butter in 2 additions.
Pour into a
covered container and press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to
prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The cream can be
refrigerated for up to 4 days.
to use the cream, transfer to a bowl and stir gently until it has a creamy
Custard Powder: We like to use Bird’s custard powder instead of the flour for a
richer pastry cream with a brighter color.
¼ cup + 1
tablespoon (75 grams) Egg whites
¾ cup (150
grams) Granulated sugar
tablespoons + 2 ¼ teaspoons (33 grams) Granulated Sugar
tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (42 grams) Water
(227 grams) Unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, at room temperature
is one of the most important basics in the pastry kitchen. It’s not essential
that you use a high-fat butter, just the best quality butter you have access
egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Place the 150 grams/3/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan, add the water,
and stir to moisten the sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat,
stirring occasionally, and simmer until the syrup reaches 230°/100°C.
syrup continue to cook, turn the mixer to medium speed, gradually pour in the
remaining 33 grams/2 tablespoons plus 2G
teaspoons sugar into the whites, and whip until the whites are beginning to
form very loose peaks. If the whites are ready before the syrup reaches
248°F/120°C, turn the mixer to the lowest setting just to keep them moving.
syrup reaches 248°F/120°C, remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to
medium-low speed and slowly add the syrup to the whites, pouring it between the
side of the bowl and the whisk. Increase the speed to medium-high and whisk for
15 minutes, or until the bottom of the bowl is at room temperature and the
whites hold stiff peaks. (If the mixture is warm, it will melt the butter.)
speed to medium and add the butter, a few pieces at a time. If at any point the
mixture looks broken, increase the speed and beat to re-emulsify it, then
reduce the speed and continue adding the butter. Check the consistency: if the
buttercream is too loose to hold its shape, it should be refrigerated for up to
a few hours to harden, then beaten again to return it to the proper
The buttercream can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator
for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month; defrost frozen buttercream in the
refrigerator overnight before using. Thirty minutes before using the
buttercream, place it in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment
and allow to soften. Then mix on low speed to return the buttercream to the
proper consistency for piping or spreading.
Batch: Makes 150 grams/1 1⁄2 cups
½ cup + 2
tablespoons (150 grams) Heavy cream
teaspoons (5 grams) Powdered sugar
vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Batch: Makes 300
1 ¼ cups +
2 tablespoons (450 grams) Heavy cream
tablespoons (10 grams) Powdered sugar
bean, split lengthwise
Batch: Makes 450 grams/4 1⁄2 cups
1 ¾ cups +
2 tablespoons Heavy cream
tablespoons + ½ teaspoon Powdered sugar
1 ½ vanilla beans, split lengthwise
We like to
use a high-fat cream (40%) for our whipped cream; do use it if it’s available
to you. Sebastien uses powdered sugar because it dissolves more easily than
granulated sugar. It’s best to whip the cream just before you need it; although
you can whip it in advance, it tends to break down in the refrigerator. But
taking cream from liquid to soft, silken peaks is a matter of less than a
cream and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk
attachment. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them to the cream.
Whisk at medium speed until the cream holds a shape when you lift it on the
whisk and, if you will be piping it, is just stiff enough to be piped through a
pastry bag; do not overwhip. It is best to spread or pipe the cream immediately
(*Excerpted Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2012. Photographs by Deborah Jones)