09 July 2014

Petits Fours

Sweet Petits Fours

So, last week Wednesday and Thursday, and Monday this week, I'm making sweet petits fours. "Petit Four" in French means "small oven" - in early kitchens, there was sometimes a smaller oven used to bake these small confections, while the main oven was used for breads and other large baked goods. In my former un-kitchen-schooled life, I'd always thought petits fours were just those tiny frosted somewhat stale cakes, but in fact, any tiny bite, sweet or savoury, can be a petit four.

The tray above holds the efforts of four students. I made the green triangle cakes in the center and the round ones with the red decor. The green cakes are pistachio swiss roll, layered twice with pistachio German butter cream (for that you make pistachio pastry cream,and plain butter cream, and beat them together) with ground pistachios sprinkled on top and a garnish of a couple of pistachios (in case you missed the whole pistachio theme). The round ones are black tea-infused sponge soaked in blood orange syrup and nested in black tea mousse, sitting atop a pâte sucree wafer. The garnish is orange peel, candied with blood orange syrup and dried out in the oven overnight. Very tasty, both of them.

My partner and I also attempted macarons, the batter of which was approved by Chef, but which failed mysteriously during baking. You can see some well-baked macarons in the photo, but they were another student's effort.

Now that we're making enough product, we are back to selling. In summer the Pastry Case is open, but I haven't worked there yet. We in the Petits Fours rotations are responsible for manning a table in the Atrium (an area in the building that's between the two restaurants. The restaurants are not open in summer, but Culinary and Pastry all have tables set up Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and people can buy tickets and then graze the tables and get small plates of whatever's on offer for the day.

On our table below, there are some savory petits fours, some rustic desserts, and in the distance, some plates of our sweet petits fours. Also in the near foreground you can see a silver-colored thing, which is a portable freezer holding ice cream and sorbet, that the people on the rustic dessert rotation made. Today's flavours were "drunken apricot" (apricot with rum), apple chardonnay, pineapple passionfruit, and raspberry. The buffet is popular but not frantically busy, I am happy to say. The prices are very low - tickets are 50 cents, and for example, a (large) scoop of ice cream is two tickets, and a plate of 3 petits fours is 3 tickets.

We're on to savory petits fours as of yesterday. I've made mushroom-onion tartlets based on one of the tart preparations I made last quarter, and my partner is making puff pastry pizza rolls. We also made gougeres (pâte a choux puffs with cheese) that we filled with smoked salmon cream cheese, but I didn't get a photo of those yet. Maybe tomorrow.

Pastry Table


  1. I'll ask you about the failed macarons the next time I see you.

  2. Your work is always so neat and careful! I'm not at all surprised. :)

    1. Thanks! It's true I am a natural neatnik, but also Chef R enforces tidy, symmetrical arrangement on anything that goes out for sale (that means pretty much everything). He was impressed that I used a yardstick to get those PFs lined up accurately on the tray :o)