I can’t say I really started to look at or understand pastry and for that matter great bread until I spent more time in Europe. My appreciation for good food started when I was in New Orleans and my two neighbors were chefs at Mr. B's Bistro. The deal was I grew the herbs, they cooked with them. With pastry, it was helping a friend with her little b&b for young adult women that didn’t have much money to stay in paris in an affordable place in a very nice androssiment that I had a life-altering experience with pastry.
yes, this was before couchsurfing and air-b-and -b existed.
While each day I walked the street of too many great bakeries, which each seemed to do one or two things really well – so I would make a few stops at times in knew each of those treats would come forth. To the locals, I guess this was life as usual. To me…what was the one, a rustic baguette with whole butter was a bit of heaven on earth. When we finished, she took me to a special place for her; it was one of Pierre Hermes pastry shops where a line of what appeared to be very wealthy people were politely waiting in line to get into the shop and leave with their treats.
I confess I had never seen so much beauty, design, and style where classic collided with new twists. I almost felt guilty in eating the pastry as it was so beautiful. I wondered, “how long would it take to become or make such pastry?” a friend in the Midwest saw me trying (sans any teacher) to make some pastry and got me a book from Pierre Herme with chocolate. It wasn’t because I liked chocolate; instead they did, so I have mastered his Dutch powder cocoa cake and marvel that by following a recipe I could create something so amazing.
Now I digress. Over the years, one of my favorite desserts is a gateau saint-honore. I have a sister in law that is a pastry chef and how I would love to sit in her kitchen and learn from her. I don’t want to be a pastry chef; I want to learn a few new recipes and techniques – as baking is more like chemistry, whereas cooking – you usually have a wide berth to screw up and still make something delicious. It is not so with baking.
For my birthday, I finally got up the nerve to try creating this gateau saint-honore. People wonder why I have been apprehensive about a simple pastry. While I am confident, I can get all the cremes, choux’s and flavors fine – it is getting the aesthetics to match that bother me. What I know about great pastry is from restaurants and Pierre Herme. These are more works of art than anything. Perhaps I have trepidation as a kid, you would see beautiful cakes and decoration in windows or at weddings, but when you ate it – it tasted like merde. If you are wondering, “merde” is the French word for shit.
Another thing I have learned over the years is the American recipes bastardize the use of sugar and sweetness. I always seem to work with weight anymore versus the imperial way of a cup, tsp, tbsp. – You can do two of the same recipes using the USA version, and European one and the difference is drastic with the nuances. I feel the same way with metric versus imperial with building anything. Metric is so much more helpful, straightforward, and more uncomplicated.
So, I googled all sorts of recipes for gateau saint-honore and concluded that few if none of the videos and methods I was looking at were anything like the dessert I had enjoyed in Europe. I am wondering how well the treat is known outside of France. So, I was chatting overseas and expressing my trepidations from a guy that will say “let’s try this or that” at any moment for new and different. My trepidation is that I know better with baking that you do follow the rules. Inventing has rules, but you use them as guidelines instead of anchors. You also don’t follow the herd as. Usually, the crowd has no idea why they are supporting.
If you want the best advice for inventing or innovation. Just ask or put yourself inside the question of what your end use goal or solution would look like – don’t merely play linear progression game. It is something issue lacking in education and business – the space to play and fail. Everyone is too busy justifying keeping their job and the nice paychecks and perks they became accustomed as their lifestyle. it is more a game of politics and risk averison
I once had a senior executive say, "mark the key to success in corporations is simply staying alive and not rocking the boat. it is simply longevity with time."
When you are living out your passion and ideas - you will truly grow in ways the former idea will inhibit you. I guess that is why the immersive 3d audio might oddly be making a comeback in my life because I think I might have figured out how to do it – and have it sound good in interior spaces (only took what…30 years? lessee. Christmas day Paris…1992…the first sketch.27 years!)
With the gateau I must have looked at 50 recipes, none of them was anything like an actual one in France, and I was frustrated. I even went to a hobby craft store and bought some pastry tips. No one had the gateau tip. So, I guess I will do like this chef in the video and just cut one, or better yet, I can merely 3d print one (duh! I am a bit slow at times)
So here is a video from www.brunoskitchen.net where I give him a shout out and thanks for doing the thing no one really either could take the time, though I was serious about, or I don’t hang out with pastry chef? It is Chef Bruno's simple video gave me a recipe that sounds and looks more like what I am used to seeing. I will even see about making the small variants as well.
So, I will go now, and try to make this birthday cake for myself and share it with a few family and friends. If I get it to work and look decent, then I will make it for Easter feast as well.
There is the recipe with a video to help you along. I bookmarked the page as there are recipes for a few other pastries treats I so love and will see about taking the time to make. The last entry back into the USA has me scoffing at what we consider pastry and bread. In a way, it is like our food supply – processed and packaged. For this reason, agrowspace is pivoting a direction in the rural USA markets to give the old folks great food that is fresh to eat.
As for the rest, my sister in law mentioned an idea for a pastry shop of which I have held the .com names for what appears to years, and I have the décor and design worked out in my head…really cool and simple…perhaps I should mock that up in the computer. I think the main impetus was doing shows in Japan and while most of the crew would go out and drink with the salarymen, I would relish my free time and if you want a cup of coffee in Japan at night – head to the pastry shop. It will be you and 90 women sitting there. All of them looking at the odd gaijin wondering, “what is he doing? He is supposed to be drinking!”
I digress again, I love what the idea is, it isn’t Pierre Herme, it isn’t junk…it is high quality and appeals to a segment of the female market …hmm…I have to go back to brainstorm more.
Thank you, chef Bruno, for your help. It is appreciated. Time to bake my birthday gateau!
I was going to write about the foreshadowing and concerns I have with AI getting commoditized from the hype that is here today and three real-life incidents that are a sampling of life to come for most in the developed world. I guess it is odd when your brain is 30 years ahead, and you have to live in “today.”