Three-Michelin-star-chef Michel Roux, whose latest book, Pastry, Savoury & Sweet, was published last year, recently demonstrated two of the recipes exclusively for Caterer in a pastry masterclass at the Waterside Inn, Bray. Kerstin Kühn reports.
Michel and Albert Roux are considered by many as the godfathers of modern British dining. Before they set out to transform the palates of our nation in the late 1960s, there really wasn't much of a food culture. The pair, who won the honorary Silver Catey last year, have raised the standards throughout the hospitality industry, not only via their own inspirational restaurants, Le Gavroche and the Waterside Inn, but also through their support in encouraging countless young chefs.
Since 1986, Michel Roux has, together with his son, Alain, exclusively headed up the Waterside Inn in the Berkshire village of Bray. Under his leadership, the restaurant has been awarded numerous plaudits, including the ultimate accolade of three Michelin stars, which it has held longer than any other restaurant in the UK.
During his many years of success, Roux has enjoyed a passionate love affair with pastry. He first learnt the art of pastry-making at the tender age of 14 when he enrolled in an apprenticeship at Camille Loyal's pâtisserie in Belleville, France. "I gradually discovered this extraordinary world and the fascination has stayed with me ever since," he recalls.
In the decades that followed, Roux perfected the art of pastry-making - he gained the coveted accolade of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France for pâtisserie in 1972 and today is one of the most celebrated pastry chefs in the world.
Last year, Roux published his book, Pastry, Savoury & Sweet, which comprises a collection of some of his favourite pastry-making recipes. Designed to dispel the myth that pastry-making is complicated and hard work, the book sees Roux open the doors to achieving success and passes on the secrets that have become so integral to his skills.
In this exclusive masterclass, which Roux held for Caterer at the Waterside Inn, he demonstrates two of the book's dishes - feuilleté of poached egg and mushrooms; and apple and passion fruit tartlets - which are both based on a recipe of rough puff pastry. He advocates the use of this quick version of the classic puff pastry, which rises almost 75% as much as the original, as it saves an "incredible amount of time".
"It is one of the most useful and easiest pastries to make. Indeed, everyone should make their own rough puff pastry," Roux says.
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Put the flour in a mound on the work surface and make a well. Put in the butter and salt and work them together with the fingertips of one hand (1), gradually drawing the flour into the centre with the other hand (2).
When the cubes of butter have become small pieces and the dough is grainy, gradually add the iced water and mix until it is all incorporated, but don't overwork the dough (3). Roll it into a ball (4), wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 2O minutes.
Flour the work surface and roll out the pastry into a 40cm x 20cm rectangle. Fold it into three (5) and give it a quarter-turn.
Roll the block of pastry into a 40cm x 20cm rectangle as before (6), and fold it into three again (7). These are the first two turns. Wrap the block in clingfilm and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
Give the chilled pastry another two turns, rolling and folding as before. This makes a total of four turns, and the pastry is now ready. Wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.
APPLE AND PASSION FRUIT TARTLETS
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a 2mm thickness. Using a 12cm pastry cutter, cut out six discs. Brush a baking sheet with a little cold water and lift the pastry discs on to it with a palette knife. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Prick the pastry discs in five places with a fork. Divide the crème pâtissière between them and spread it evenly, leaving a narrow margin around the edge.
Peel the apples with a swivel peeler. Cut in half and remove the cores, then thinly slice each half. Arrange a sliced apple half over the crème pâtissière on each disc, radiating from the centre.
Bake for 15 minutes, then sprinkle generously with the caster sugar and cook for another five minutes. Take the tartlets out of the oven and immediately lift them on to a wire rack with a palette knife.
To serve, halve the passion fruit and scrape out the pulp and seeds, using a teaspoon, directly on to the tartlets. Serve on individual plates.
To enjoy these tartlets at their best, serve them warm, about 10 minutes after they come out of the oven.
FEUILLETE OF POACHED EGG AND MUSHROOMS
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 4mm thickness and cut out six discs with a 7cm cutter. Lightly moisten a baking sheet with cold water. With a palette knife, lift the discs on to the baking sheet, spacing them apart. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Brush the pastry discs with eggwash. Place a 6cm plain pastry cutter on the discs and press it lightly into the pastry to mark out lids. With a knife, lightly score a lattice on the lids and prick them in four places with a fork. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
As soon as the feuilletés are cooked, cut round the lids with the tip of a knife and carefully lift them off. Place the feuilletés and lids on a wire rack.
Heat the butter in a medium frying pan and sauté the mushrooms for 5-6 minutes until tender. Add the lemon juice, chopped parsley and seasoning - keep warm.
For the poached eggs, two-thirds fill a wide saucepan, about 10cm deep, with water and add the vinegar, but no salt. Bring to the boil. Break an egg into a ramekin, then carefully tip it into the spot where the water is bubbling. Repeat with another two eggs and poach for about 1½ minutes. Lift out the eggs, one at a time, with a slotted spoon. Press with your fingertip to check that they are done to your liking and place in a bowl of lukewarm water. Poach the other three eggs in the same way, then neaten the edges with a sharp knife.
Divide the mushrooms between the pastry cases and lay a poached egg on top. Place each feuilleté on a warm plate and prop the pastry lid against it. Garnish with the tarragon. Stir the mustard into the hollandaise, coat each egg with a spoonful and serve immediately.
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