Pastry Techniques


White Chocolate Mirror Glaze

Mirror glaze (or "glacage mirroir") is a gorgeous technique for decorating cakes. Unlike frosting or fondant, mirror glaze starts as a very viscous liquid which gels as it cools. While somewhat similar to ganache, the gelatin transforms it into something else entirely. Mirror glaze is delicious relative to the more bland fondant but it also tends to be very sweet, so you should factor this into the final sweetness of your cake. Aside from appearance and taste, it also acts like a cr...

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Basic Sponge Cake

Sponge cake is a versatile fluffy cake leavened primarily by eggs. The egg whites and yolks are whipped up to incorporate air before baking, which makes for a very light cake. It pairs especially well with fruit. If properly made, it should nearly melt in your mouth.

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Craquelin Recipe

The crunchy cracked topping you see on choux cream puffs is actually an elegant French technique that involves baking them with a dough called "craquelin." With just butter, sugar, and flour, this simple dough gives a really great crunchy texture to your choux.

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Salted Caramel Mirror Glaze

The glaze is the first thing you taste when you eat a cake. Fortunately, this salted caramel glacage packs a lot of flavor to make a great first impression on the taste buds. Start by making a caramel and add the liquid and thickening ingredients to form a smooth and beautiful glaze.

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Pâte Brisée Dough for Pie and Tart Crusts

Pâte Brisée (pronounced "pat-brissay") is just a very basic dough for pie and tart crusts. It's made almost entirely of butter and flour, but that doesn't mean you can toss everything in a bowl and bake. French technique transforms these simple ingredients into super light and flaky crust.

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Neutral Nappage Glaze for Fruit Tarts

Ever wonder what professionals use to glaze fruit tarts for that shiny glisten? It's actually a glaze made from fruit that's a liquid when heated but gels as it cools. This is the same mechanism that makes jams and preserves. The glaze is called "nappage" and the active chemical is called "pectin," which is found in virtually all fruits. Pectin is similar to gelatin in that it's a thickener but has a very different feel (plus it's vegan if that matters to you). Commercially, pure pectin ...

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How to Get the Smoothest Whipped Cream

Chantilly cream, known in the mainstream as whipped cream, is versatile and classic. Pipe it over cakes, spoon it on ice cream, or fill sweet pastries. Making a basic chantilly cream is quite simple but when presentation matters, it must be perfect. For an extra smooth texture, use a hand blender over a whisk.

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Chocolate Mirror Glaze (Glacage)

Many of the pastries found in a traditional French bakery have an outer layer of shiny glaze. This is called glaçage miroir, or mirror glaze. The main appeal of this glaze is that it's gorgeous, but it also seals the inside of the cake. So you can store your cake uncovered in the refrigerator or at room temperature. When glazing, you always want to have surplus glacage. Running out or having to scrape out the last bit will give an uneven finish. Since glacage can be reheated repeatedl...

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Weight and Volume Baking Conversions

While I try to provide useful approximations in my recipes, sometimes you have some broken egg yolks on your hands and need to know how many there were. I make a habit of measuring my ingredients multiple ways, so you may find these conversions helpful. Unlike those untrustworthy "ingredient calculators," all of these conversions have been personally measured so you can expect them to be at least approximately accurate.

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Master Choux Pastry for Éclairs and Profiteroles

Pâte à Choux is a staple of the French kitchen. Most people associate choux with pastries like eclairs, profiteroles, and beignets. But choux's versatility makes it useful for savory preparations like gougeres and even French gnocchi. Choux is relatively easy to make; the tricky part is knowing how to get the right consistency.

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How to Make Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière)

Ah the humble pastry cream. If there is a such a thing as a silver bullet in the pastry chef's arsenal, this is it. Simple to make, pastry cream will elevate your tarts, profiteroles, and eclairs to professional levels. Pastry cream is just a thick and creamy custard. Like any custard, we take egg yolks and gently heat them to thicken. But we add a bit of starch and cook the mixture a bit to drive out moisture and thicken the starch.

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Should You Refrigerate Brownies?

Unless you plan to eat that entire batch of brownies out of the oven, you have to know how to properly store them. So should you store brownies in the refrigerator? No. Fully-cooked brownies will last a while, a week or more. Properly stored and vacuum sealed, they will last much longer and there is no reason to store them in the refrigerator. In fact, it will accelerate the speed at which they become stale. The starches will begin to crystallize at low temperatures. Additionally, the refri...

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The Difference Between French, Swiss, and Italian Meringue

Before you start whipping up a meringue, you should know the different types and which is best-suited to your task. The three main types are: - French Meringue - Swiss Meringue - Italian Meringue French Meringue is the least stable and will need to be baked if not used immediately, but is also the easiest to make. You simply whip up egg whites with sugar. Both Swiss and Italian slightly cook the egg whites during the process, making them suitable for piping onto pies, tarts, and treats withou...

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How to Make a Swiss Meringue

Making a meringue can be intimidating, but it doesn't need to be. After a couple of tries, it quickly becomes a repeatable skill. There are three types of meringue: - French Meringue - Swiss Meringue - Italian Meringue These different methods produce more or less stable products with the French Meringue being the least stable over time. Italian Meringue is the most stable, but not much more than Swiss. I've had Swiss Meringues last at room temperature for days, so don't worry too much about t...

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