27 September 2012

GUEST BLOG: Pastry chefs

By guest blogger KIM IRWIN

Tuesday night saw us welcome a guest chef to Chorlton High as part of our ever-expanding public programme. Kevin White, aka The Ginger Kid from Macclesfield, is a pastry specialist and, during the course of the workshop, we got a glimpse into his world.
We started with the formidable task of making our own puff pastry, which was fine as Kevin showed us a slightly easier version to try at home - the 'ruff puff'. With less folds and rolls, and a bit less time spent resting in the fridge, this made it perfect for us to tackle in the workshop. With Kevin's guidance and handy tips, we soon had our puff pastry resting in the fridge. It was a good job everyone had an apron as more flour was on us than on the table! 
We then moved on to making a sweet shortcrust, the basis for some raspberry tarts. Using traditional French techniques, we combined the egg, flour and sugar together, and using cold water we began to work fast… the warmth of the room was against us and it was a race to see who could have their batch chilling first! 
While the pastry was resting, we made a pastry cream for the filling, so easy and yet sooooo delicious, kind of like a custard, but way better. Once our sweet pastry was ready, we rolled it out and, using baking beans (or, rather, dried lentils and split peas), blind baked the cases until brown. Our sweet cases turned out perfectly and we filled them with our pastry cream and raspberries, and topped them off with some decadent buttered almonds. A dusting of icing sugar later and they wouldn't have been out of place in a patisserie window (see the photograph above for proof!).
Meanwhile, we baked our ruff puff tarts and made a red onion jam. Kevin demonstrated some useful knife skills and then our slices of red onion began sweating in the pan before topping off the pastry bases with the jam, a slice of French goats cheese and some dressed rocket. 
There was so much to get through that it turned into a bit of a mad dash towards the end and the smells had everyone's tummies rumbling, but finally we were ready to eat… Kevin had rustled us up a giant couscous salad with slow-roasted tomatoes which we ate alongside our savory tart. Wow, lips were smacked and plates were licked clean - it was indeed a fine feast.  
Our raspberry tarts were carefully wrapped and taken home to show family and friends our new pastry-making skills, and if they were lucky to sample our delicious wares.

All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable session. New skills and friends were made and we at CGF were delighted with Kevin's guest appearance. We just hope we can entice him back in the future :)

See our Facebook page for lots of inspiring photos from Kevin's session on Tuesday.

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