Sunday, September 27, 2009
What's so Great About Pastries?
Pastries are sweet baked cakes made with dough that typically contains a simple combination of flour, butter, shortening, eggs, baking powder and sugar- you can see these things sprinkled all over our Little Pastry Chef's coat. You can feel him thinking about the dough awaiting him.
Pastry has a higher fat content than bread and a flaky consistency. Nearly every culture has its own version of regional pastries. From the dawn of man, pastes of cereal have been cooked in the sun to create a tasty pancake. These gave way to modern breads and baked goods. According to the encyclopedia of gastronomy, “Larousse Gastronomique,” as early as the Neolithic Age, prehistoric man made foods based on honey, fruits, seeds, and maple or birch syrup. It’s thought that Mediterranean baklava and filo are the original pastries, made in Assyria on special occasions and for the rich. Medieval crusaders to the Middle East brought the recipes for these sweet treats back with them upon their return to Europe. Over the next century, according to FoodTimeline.org, French and Italian Renaissance chefs perfected puff pastry to an art form, adapting these original recipes to create Napoleons, brioche, éclairs and cream puffs.
Later, early European settlers brought pies to America along with the first apple seeds. Modern pastries are still prepared nearly the same way as they were centuries ago, despite advancements in kitchen technology. All that has really changed is the availability of exotic fillings, spices and ingredients.