Wild Baking.........Oy.

Discussion in 'Professional Pastry Chefs' started by sacheverell, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. sacheverell

    sacheverell

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    Dear Colleagues,

    Many of you are lucky enough to have knowledgable co-workers on hand with which to confer when things in the kitchen go a bit pear-shaped. For myself, I'm writing from the lonely hinterlands.

    I have a small baking business in which the centerpiece of the operation is that we make our own puff-pastry. We make both sweet and savory tarts. The tarts are rectangular and open-faced and are made in several sizes. These tart shells have a puff border around the outside edge; the wideness of the border varies depending on the size of the tart. I have a sheeter and the dough is first sheeted in the production of tart shells.

    I've had considerable difficulty finding a pastry assistant (this is a first-world problem) and the one I've got now has finally mastered puff-pastry (months of buttery crackers). The stuff she now makes is a mile high. However, the one difficulty that remains is the borders (strips of dough) for the large tarts (14" x 10") more often than not bake wild. Mostly they turn in; but sometimes they turn out which is even worse.

    Is this a sheeting-when-the-dough-is-too-cold problem? What the hell is this and how can I correct it? I want beautiful straight sides on my tarts for God's sake.

    Please advise. If my words have been insufficiently clear I'm happy to post a picture of a happy tart. I've been too miserable about this latest turn of events to take any pictures of the wild baking.

    Kate.
     
  2. chefpeon

    chefpeon

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    So just to clarify........when YOU make the puff pastry, there's no "wild sides". But when she makes it, there is. You also said that the puff she makes is a mile high, which would of course explain why the narrow sides of the tarts are either tipping in or out. So I guess the answer to your question is, what is she doing differently than you when she's preparing the dough?

    When I've had the occasion to work with wild puff, I will control the rise of it in the oven either at the beginning or at the mid point of the bake by putting a sheet of parchment on top and then another sheet pan on top of that. It has just enough weight to keep the pastry from rising too much and keeps the tops perfectly flat. I remove the sheet pan toward the end of the bake for proper crisping and browning.

    Perhaps the strips of dough for the large tarts need to be a tad wider for more stability. Just guessing. I'm assuming the tarts rest in refrigeration before baking to allow the sheeted out puff strips to relax and reduce shrinkage, right?

    Oh, and finding good assistants is an all-world problem. I've got a friend who could write a book on her trials and tribulations with them. Either they're lazy and/or really don't care, or they're straight out of culinary school and feel entitled.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2017
  3. sacheverell

    sacheverell

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    Dear Chef,

    I thank you very much for your two-cents. I realize I was insufficiently clear. In days gone by I used to make the puff-pastry; but as this was the part of the business I liked least, after about three years I began to hire people to do the dough-making and shell-forming part for me. Historically, my staffing has been pretty stable. It's only this summer that I was forced to hire someone who really wan't a professional and who needed to be brought on (which I was frankly ill-prepared to do).

    I hardly remember when I made the puff; but I think I would have wild baking from time to time. Even then I never really understood what I was doing wrong. I appreciate your suggestions but what I'd really like is someone to tell me the root cause of wild baking so I might correct this from the jump rather than trying to compensate for it during the bake.

    As for your staffing comment, I must disagree with you. My brother lives in Thailand and he finds it incredible that I have difficulty finding pastry people. He ventures that where he comes from they'd be flocking. Nevertheless, I entirely agree with you about the culinary school people. They're impossible and -- at their young ages -- not even very good.

    Regards.
     
  4. chefpeon

    chefpeon

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    Regarding staffing issues, maybe that's a US only problem......I've got many PC friends all over the country and their biggest issue across the board has been finding good people.

    Anyway, as to root causes, there could be just one thing that's causing the problem or a combination of many. Such as:
    1. Sheeting the dough to the appropriate thickness. Maybe the strips are tall and turning in because the strips are too thick to begin with;
    2. Resting and relaxing puff under refrigeration before you bake it reduces shrinkage and misshapenness.
    3. Cutting the strips with as sharp a cutter as possible helps the puff maintain straight sides. I always use a sharp pastry wheel type cutter.

    I can't imagine any root cause in the actual lamination process affects the "wildness" apart from too few/too many folds. I assume your process spells out exactly how many folds you want in the dough, correct?
     
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  5. sacheverell

    sacheverell

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    Ha! Your remark about using sharp, sharp cutters could be the key! You may be onto something here. The other possibilities you raise are not factors. I must take this up with my pastry assistant and get her to try some other means of cutting the strips.

    I thank you so much for your suggestion.

    Regards.
     
  6. Pat Pat

    Pat Pat

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    I think it would help a lot if you can show pictures (before and after baking) of your problem. I make tarts like that but never came across any problem similar to what you described.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
  7. dueh

    dueh

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    I can think of a few things.

    First off, what folds and how many turns are you doing for your puff?
    resting time between folds?
    Time between lamination and product usage?


    Its already been mentioned, but using sharp tools to cut the pastry. I use a 9.5" chefs knife for most of my work with laminated dough. Something I can maintain at a razor sharpness ( or at least try to)
     
  8. fatcook

    fatcook

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    Another thought - If the edges are being brushed with eggs whites, drips can cause that part of the puff to not rise as much as the surrounding dough. Uneven rising could be causing your 'wild' edges.
     
  9. sacheverell

    sacheverell

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    Dear Chefs,

    You've been very kind to reply to my query. I'm afraid I have no pix to show you. But you might imagine a 1" strip running around a rectangular base that, when baked, rises not straight up, but inwards. Say, 45 degrees. Forty degrees.

    For the rest of you: no egg-whites, plenty of resting.

    I guess I wondered if the sheeter itself was somehow pushing over the stacked layers of butter and flour. I suppose I could imagine this if the dough were a bit too cold and less malleable going through the initial pass or so.

    But I don't have the impression that the solution to this problem of mine is obscure; when I first wrote in I just assumed there were some pretty standard causes of wild baking.

    I so appreciate all your input.
     
  10. chefross

    chefross

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    I read through the thread and I understand what you are saying.
    I have done this countless times myself.
    From what I understand you don't egg wash the strips, so they are not sliding, but how do you affix those strips to the rectangular base?
    Do you dock the base to keep it from rising? That would take the strips and move them during baking.
     
  11. sacheverell

    sacheverell

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    Dear Chef Ross,

    How good you are to write. The bases of the tarts are generally covered in various ingredients -- either fruity or vegetablian -- and don't misbehave at all. The strips have been affixed to the base with water and then docked along their entirety in a variety of patterns with the back of a fork.

    I've love to hear more from you.

    Regards,

    Kate.
     
  12. harpua

    harpua

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    I must add that I've had a problem with puff shrinkage as well. One book turn, 4 tri-folds. Well rested and baked from freezer.

    My dough uses cream. I added a little lemon juice. Should I be using water instead?
     
  13. sacheverell

    sacheverell

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    Hello Harpua,

    Glad to hear from you but I have the distinct impression you've been reading another thread. I have no problem with shrinkage -- and in fact feel as if I've got a great deal to say on this subject from years of working with puff. My problem is wild baking which is something entirely different.

    As for your shrinking problems, let me suggest that after the piece of dough has been sheeted but is still on the sheeter I spend several minutes gently lifting up ends and sides, making 's' shapes with the floppy dough in order to encourage it to shrink back as much as it wants. I then remove the piece of dough from the sheeter and do this again on my workspace -- just encouraging the dough to shrink back as much as it wants. This really works a treat. Shrinking was an early problem in my business that I needed to solve asap. My stuff is so expensive I don't feel I can deprive my customers of a millimeter of tart that they've paid for. I now have my pastry assistant doing this as well.

    As for water, obviously water's an ingredient in the dough; but I also use it with a brush as glue for attaching my borders to the base. Water's a fine glue.
     
  14. Pat Pat

    Pat Pat

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    Sorry I couldn't be of more help. The only time I've seen a puff pastry rises 45° is in a turnover, where one side is folded so it couldn't rise along with the other sides.

    Turnover.jpg