2013 ICC Pastry Wrap-up

2013 ICC Pastry Wrap-up

Day 1: Loafin' and Lovin' it

Slow Fermentation and The Long Road to Loafhood
Zach Golper of Bien Cuit – Brooklyn, NY

Whether it involves traveling across France and Austria or working across the United States, Artisan Zach Golper has done all the pastry leg-work, and he was there at Day 1 of ICC to share the wealth of his experiences. Poised behind a selection of rich golden breads, which included 36-hour croissants, Broa de Milho, traditional baguettes, and a whole wheat-rye miche, Golper shared his secrets with an eager crowd during his hands on demonstration.

Zachary Golper cuts into his two pre-ferment Miche

Golper’s entire approach at his three branches of Bien Cuit focuses on long, slow fermentation and a delicate balance of ingredients to develop richness, depth and complex flavors. His 36- hour croissant for example, starts with a 36-hour pate fermentée. Then comes a slow, cold fermentation at temperatures between 47 and 52 degrees for about 12 hours, after which the dough is shaped and cold retarded another 12 hours before it is finally proofed and baked. The process is long but without question, worth it, and the attendees had the chance to see that for themselves. Golper walked the attendees through proper mixing processes and gluten development, which for slow fermentation was actually easier than expected. He then presented several fresh baked rolls as we tasted our way through the various types of preferments and their effects on the final product.

Fun Fact: After years of research and fine-tuning, Golper found water with a pH of 7.2 produces the most flavorful bread. After moving to New York he tested the water and guess what the pH level is?!

Rise Up Flat Breads
Sherry Yard of Helms Bakery – Los Angeles, CA

Pastry Chef Sherry Yard came prepared. That is to say, she didn’t just have her timing down to the minute, but she also had a battle plan to encourage guest participation. As she divided attendees into teams, she kicked off a host of flatbread baking challenges—with recipe-packed gift bags as a reward for all. Yard’s demonstration slid into interview territory as iconic food journalist Jeffrey Steingarten began probing the chef about her latest venture: a 10,000 square foot bakery “so [she] can have friends over.” Yet Steingarten’s interlude did not deter Yard from the task at hand: showing the demo participants the old world techniques for fire-roasting flatbreads.

Baking sheets flew into the flames filled with three different recipes: unleavened Matzah, Potato Yogurt Whole Wheat, and Lupin (a type of bean similar in texture to garbanzo, only sweeter). The demo rose-up to the occasion: opening day 1 of ICC 2013 at the SuperPier, and ended with a little gnoshing, a group photo with the incandescent Chef Yard, and the best kind of baker's hugs, sincere and full of flour.

Day 2: Come All Yee Pastry Faithful

One Woman Show: Yee in the Dining Room and Pastry Shop
Jennifer Yee of Lafayette – New York, NY

Jennifer Yee ’s one woman show is quieter than most—no tambourines, no wild accents, no confetti guns—but it’s a quiet that belies intense focus. Former New York Rising Star and current head pastry chef of Lafayette in New York City, Yee brought that intensity (and a surprising underlying playfulness) to her packed pastry workshop on Monday afternoon. As onlookers crowded around tables studded with prepared éclairs and fresh raspberries and blueberries, Yee began demonstrating the cross-over philosophy of Lafayette by describing the ingredients and preparations that straddle the fine-dining and bakery arms of Lafayette’s operation.

Jennifer Yee making coconut meringue with a Waring Commercial stand mixer

The desserts-in-demonstration today were a plated dessert, a composition in white, and her éclair, which became the willing receptacle for some of the leftover ingredients. For her formal dessert, Yee went for lighter ingredients and varying textures, including a yogurt mousse, coconut meringue, and shards of coconut granite that melted on the tongue, all of it “organically, randomly arranged on the plate,” as Yee put it. One attendee noted how “glacial” the finished dessert looked, its wintry beauty studded with whole red currents, cooked gently in a spiced compote. The yogurt mousse then hopscotched over to the bakery side of the Lafayette operation, becoming the filling for those éclairs, which she eventually finished with fresh berries. As attendees arranged moon-rock-like shards of coconut meringue and dolloped yogurt mousse organically, Yee walked the demo room, admiring their work (“Look at that! That’s so cute! ... Look at my students!”). All the while she stood in admiration as her desserts were unceremoniously devoured and thoroughly enjoyed.

Day 3:

Workin’ It: Sugar in Every Incarnation
Patrick Fahy of Sixteen – Chicago

Patrick Fahy isn’t your average pastry chef. He’s the sovereign of sugar and in his hands, all the hard granules are just putty… but what delicious putty! On the final day of the Chef’s Congress, Fahy shared his sugar secrets in his hands-on Pastry Workshop, showing the tuned-in participants how to masterfully manipulate the most basic ingredient in the pastry pantry and take it to the next level.

Patrick Fahy warming sugar in a Montague convection oven
Patrick Fahy warming sugar in a Montague convection oven

Fahy demoed peanut butter “butterfingers” and sugar ribbons. He talked passionately about how sugar can be transformed in to sculpture and how to use it as a serving vessel (back home in Chicago, he serves his strawberry sorbet inside a blown-sugar strawberry). Fahy went on to show just how imaginative he can get on a sugar high. He worked caramel and ground toasted-peanuts together in the same manner as with butter and dough for puff pastry. He poured the caramel onto a silicone mat and let it cool, then added a block of the nut paste and folded the sugar over it. He flattened, rolled, and tri-folded the mixture repeatedly before slicing the slab into squares for a perfect bite sized “butterfinger,” with all its thin layers of nut paste and sugar clearly visible.

For the sugar ribbons, the most important step, Fahy stressed, was the kneading. The more shine you want in your final sugar sculptures, the more you have to knead it. The participants got a chance to get their hands dirty, too, and to practice the tricks of the trade under Fahy’s watchful, expert eye.

Do Me a Flavor: Progressive Ice Creams
Sam Mason of Oddfellows – Brooklyn, NY

On day 3 of ICC, Sam Mason’s workshop looked more like an experimental lab room than an ice cream demo. With attendees decked in goggles and gloves, surrounded by clouds of smoke billowing out of giant industrial mixers, it promised to be an enthralling experience and Mason did not disappoint.

Sam Mason engages the audience during his interactive demo

In his demo, he used liquid nitrogen to create unusual flavors like proscuitto and cantaloupe gelato and PB&J sandwich ice cream. Mason froze peanut butter into liquid nitrogen before smashing the frozen spread with a rolling pin into gem-size pieces. He did the same for jelly before mixing the two together into a vanilla base ice cream. When the components have melded together in the freezer for about an hour, the textures and flavors blend together, to create an all-in-one intense bite. This same method is that Mason uses to create his popular Neopolitan ice cream. He freezes strawberry and chocolate ice cream in nitrogen separately before shattering it and incorporating it into a vanilla base ice cream. With just one bite, you get all the flavors of a neopolitan without having to dip your spoon into a trio of ice cream.

Contributing Writers: Emily Bell, Dan Catinella, Meha Desai, and Sunny Liu

Photos by: Anna Beeke, Clay Williams, Ellen Wolff, Ester Soligue, John Keon, Ken Goodman, Laura Thompson, Mark Kohlman, and Shannon Sturgis