Week 2 of an Introduction to Pastry at Leiths…

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Week 2 and it’s made clear at the start of the first night that this is going to be an evening to work out the arms with the puff pastry and the concentration with the pate sucree. Made one once to prove that I could. Made the other, err, never. Never actually even heard of it so really excited to see what it is, how it’s made and most importantly of all, what it tastes like.

Pate sucree translates as sweet, shortcrust pastry and it’s most often used for our purpose tonight – the base of dainty little dreamboats of fruit tart.

Cream together the butter and sugar in the middle of a wide circle of flour. Add the egg yolks to the butter sugar mixture and rub all together with your fingers. Add the flour and combine until you’re left with a smooth, soft pastry and carefully line the cases.

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Blind bake and while they cool down, whip the cream and vanilla…

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…gently heat some apricot jam for a glaze that will add gloss…

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…and assemble your tarts until they represent something from a dream of French patisserie! Simple, non?

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The puff pastry had been refrigerating since the previous night after many rotations of rolling and buttering and folding and repeating…sounds easy but is actually a little exhausting and goes some way to explaining why so many chefs have no qualms in declaring that they use shop bought puff on a regular basis.

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A filling of green olive and artichokes awaited discs of softly floured pastry…

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…and once the mounds were covered with their lids, they were scalloped around the edges and then sliced lightly across the dome in arcs…

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…and they tasted every bit as brilliant as I actually (without any bias of course) think they looked!

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Golden and flaky with a fantastic rise illustrating all those pesky-to-create-but-worth-it-in-the-end layers, the pastry was rich but offset well with the saltiness of the olives and the freshness of the artichokes.

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If you have ever had the desire to learn how to make pastry and you’re looking for a fun environment where you meet like minded food obsessives and are taught by chefs who are patient, friendly and genuinely enthusiastic about you increasing your skill base, I cannot suggest highly enough that this is the class for you.

I was definitely lucky enough to be in a group of people who, over the fortnight, became comfortable enough with each other to share food stories, loves, peeves and passions and as much as the learning was brilliant, so was the time spent with fellow food zealots. Take the course and relish both.

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