The Food Police Made Me Do It.

Who says that a blog that writes about food always need to have a new recipe, a new photograph of a cake, a new cookbook review and so on…? I did not see any recipe police checking all the food blogs and gives out summons to those having a recipe or a photograph more than three days old. And GD forbid if your recipe is a week old – you must be slacking off and must pay for it.

You either will be asked to report to the nearest food police station where you will be fingerprinted and your prints will be analyzed for food residues; if none found you will be retained by the station and will be forced to bake something in an oven that has never seen an oven thermometer, its cleaning system did not work since WWII and the bake ware that are handed to you by the chief chef has not only seen better days but has not seen any pastry chef since the last cake that burned into the dish with a pretty nice design, I may add.

Alternatively, you may choose to start to write something on Friday and not move from the computer until Monday (except when certain body functions necessitate your interruption) at which time you should write one post after another that allow people to laugh, to cry, to curse, to praise, to visualize, to think, (with their brain, I may add and not other parts of their body), to love, to share, to obey and to cherish ….I guess you get my point. I selected the later.

First let me talk about pastry doughs. I hear you; you are not interested. Well sorry, but that is what my brain is loaded with and if I cannot unload it now, I may be rushed to the emergency room for a brain surgery where they will drain the extra fluid accumulated there due to lack of activities in the blog.

So, did you know that all pastry doughs are composed of flour, butter, and some liquid – most typically eggs, milk or water. It appears to have a similar composition to our body, except that I am beyond containing milk. What did you say about eggs? Well , OK in that context you are right, I do not have that too, but eggs can come in different formats, like whatever you ate the last, or some people wash their hair with egg whites, to strengthen it. I wonder how they are not stuck to the pillow they sleep on?

The characteristics that differentiate the three basic classes of pastry doughs, pate a foncer, pate feuilletees and pate levees – Excuse me? You do not speak Spanish. Well then you landed into the wrong blog. We do not refund tuition because this post is free.

So anyway to continue where I left off, …derive from the manner in which the flour, the butter and the liquid are combined and the additional ingredients that appear in a recipe.

The key factor in all of this is GLUTEN in the flour (Oh please! Not that gluten again; didn’t you had enough from the book that you just reviewed?); well I am sorry but it is gluten that gives pastry doughs their elasticity and strength.

So, gluten-free means weak and rigid? Oh no, it does not mean that at all; there are great substituting items today that can replace this gluten that make some people sick and offer similar strength and if needed, elasticity, as well.

In the pate a foncer (sweet and short pastry dough), which are used primarily for lining flan rings for tarts, (flan rings are stainless steel bottomless molds for baking various pastries such as pastry shell or sponge cake, directly on the cookie sheet) it is essential to minimize elasticity of the dough so it will be easy to roll out, won’t shrink in the oven, and will produce a tender crust after baking. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Consequently, these doughs are mixed quickly and worked as little as possible.

In the pate feuilletees (flaky pastry doughs), the butter is not actually mixed with the other ingredients at all. Rather, a pad of butter is wrapped in an envelope of a flour-and-water dough, called the detrempe, and a sequence of rolling and folding operations (called turns) transforms the initial butter-filled envelope into a pastry dough consisting of many alternating layers of butter and detrempe. The turns partially activate the gluten, giving the detrempe the strength it requires to maintain the separation of the butter layers.

The pate levees (leavened pastry doughs) are distinguished by the presence of yeast. These doughs are kneaded vigorously to activate the gluten in the flour to the fullest extent. The fibers of gluten become extremely elastic and are inflated like tiny balloons by carbon dioxide, which is a by-product of fermentation of the yeast. After baking, the result is this light, airy texture characteristics of yeast bread.

Now, wasn’t that interesting education? I assume you will be voting for the system to continue to work this well and those need to be punished should be forced to educate? Let me know if that is not what you would like to see.