Friday, 31 January 2014

An interesting perspective

Since I started this blog, I have learnt so much about pȃtisserie. The weekly challenges have lead me to research how many classical recipes have been made and to learn the basic techniques, and it's been a whole load of fun sharing them with you here. However, this week, I read an interview in a French magazine that has seriously altered my outlook about how I go about this.

The interview in question was one with Philippe Conticini, whose Pȃtisserie des Rêves in the Rue du Bac, I have visited a couple of times. Conticini is perhaps the most revered and admired pȃtissier in France today and his influence is widely felt. He was the first person, back in the 1990s to serve a dessert in a drinking glass, a practice so common in France today that they sell special glasses just for this; his reinvention of the Paris-Brest, a choux bun in the shape of a bicycle wheel filled with cream, has now become the standard version of the cake and has been copied by all the top pȃtissiers in the country. I could go on, but basically, Conticini is the closest thing that France has to a pastry god, and he's only fifty. 

Pȃtisserie des Rêves, 93 Rue du Bac, Paris

In the interview he talks about how he approaches recipe development: 'I have a golden rule when I revisit a traditional French pastry: I have to include absolutely all the principal ingredients of the original recipe ... I immerse myself completely in the original recipe until I understand all the steps involved in making it. Once I have grasped and analyzed the method, I finally begin to work on my own way of doing things.'

It has become clear to me that this is what I need to do. I need to perfect the traditional recipes first and then I can start to add my own ideas and flair, taking the work of my favorite pȃtissiers  like Christophe Michalak for inspiration. 

For Christmas, I received a copy of the amazing Patisserie! by Christophe Felder, which is like a textbook of the classic french pȃtisserie techniques. I am going to work my way through the recipes in that, and blog about them, and then start to create my own versions and post the recipes. A slightly new twist, a little way into the New Year, but then today is the first day of the Chinese Year of the Horse. 

This weekend, I am going to make a traditional tarte au citron from page 38 of Felder's book, which features pȃte sucrée, one of the basic pastries. Then later in the week, I will create my own version and post the recipe.  So watch this space for both of them and enjoy the photos to come. 

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