Chef Christian Faure - For the Love of a Pastry


Chef Christian Faure from Le Cordon Bleu came to train some Indian chefs in the art of pastry making, and we couldn't resist the offer to see him at work and sample some of his work. Not to worry, we have some recipes for you too!

By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: December 10, 2010

Chef Christian Faure from Le Cordon Bleu came to train some Indian chefs in the art of pastry making, and we couldn’t resist the offer to see him at work and sample some of his work. Not to worry, we have some recipes for you too!

I am not sure how many of you have read The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella, but that was my first brush with the name Le Cordon Bleu. In the book, a girl manages to rapture her prospective employers when she flourishingly announces that she has been trained at Le Cordon Bleu and is an expert in cooking four course meals, cakes and pastries and every cuisine one could imagine!

This small section of the book, which I had read about two years back, certainly imprinted the name of this prestigious culinary school firmly in my mind. So when I was invited to see Chef Christian Faure MOF of Le Cordon Bleu at work and taste some of his delicious, mouth-melting pastries, I said yes without a second thought!

Chef Faure is the Chef Pastry Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu, and Executive Pastry Chef of the award-winning Le Cordon Bleu Signatures Restaurant, the only CAA/AAA Five Diamond restaurant. He greeted us cheerfully at Oberoi Hotel, where he was teaching the Oberoi chefs some of his culinary skills. The tables were spread with colourful cakes and pastries, made by Chef Faure, and there was an electric anticipation in the room. Everyone was thinking when they would be able to taste those exquisite looking pastries!

Chef Faure has had an exciting life traveling around the world and cooking for various countries. When he was the Executive Pastry Chef at the Hôtel de Paris in Monaco, he served the Royal Palace of Monaco and his Royal Highness, Prince Albert of Monaco. Chef Faure recounted that he was asked to create a dessert by the Head of State of Canada at Toronto during G20 for the Queen of England. He created a dessert looking like the flag of Canada and he used strawberry to create the maple leaf in the flag!

“Pastry is not a need, it’s a pleasure,” Chef Faure said. That perked up my ears. After all, isn’t that the definition of luxury as well?

The Chef showed us some of his sugaring work – how to create different shapes, flowers with sugar to decorate desserts. But before that, he took us on a journey on how to innovate and create your special dessert from the ground up, instead of burrowing your nose in cook books.

Taking a hypothetical situation of creating something for Valentine’s Day, he involved everyone in the process of recipe making. First he thought of a colour and chose red since it’s the colour of love. Then he brainstormed on the base fruit. He surprisingly chose apple, because the shape and lines of apple reminds one of women, and also because of its appearance of purity and cleanliness. He also chose the fruit to create an element of surprise – “Exactly like you don’t know whether you will be kicked out or whether your proposal will be accepted!” he joked. And then was born La Pomme Rouge Soufflee.

Chef’s hands were moving deftly across the worktable as he cooked the sugar, pounded on it, pulled and twisted it, and finally, cut it in small pieces to make rose and leaves from it. It was almost as if you are watching a mesmerizing theater performance! He mentioned that to make such sugaring work, you have to study the work of sculptors as well.

He vehemently supports the fact that pastries should be made according to the local ingredients available in that country. “Just because I am coming from Paris, I won’t make here what I make there. So all these pastries you see here on the table are especially for India. You won’t find them in France or any other country!”

And true to his words, he had made one of the pastries using coconut, black pepper and coriander leaves! The spread looked so beautiful that nobody felt like piercing it with their knives. Everybody was busier in clicking pictures! Finally Chef had to come, cut the cakes and distribute it…

I guess nobody can duplicate or replicate Chef Faure’s handiwork – it’s too tough and exquisite to emulate it. But since this is a New Year, Festive special issue of LuxuryFacts, following are two pastry recipes by Chef Faure, which you can try at home and serve to your guests on New Year!

Pears poached in red wine, vanilla ice cream

Ingredients: 12 prunes; 1.5 litres red wine; 200g sugar; 1 cinnamon stick, crushed; 1 vanilla bean (pod); Peel of one orange; 10 peppercorns; 6 pears; 1 lemon

For Vanilla Ice Cream: 4 egg yolks; 120g sugar; 300ml milk; 1 vanilla bean (pod)

Decoration: Mint leaves (optional)

Method:
1. Soak prunes in cold water to cover for 20 minutes
2. Combine wine, sugar, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean (pod) slit lengthways, orange peel and peppercorns in a large saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer for five minutes
3. Peel the pears. Insert a vegetable peeler into the base of the pears and work it into a depth of about 1 inch. Twist and pull out the cores, discard. Cut each pear in half and rub with lemon to avoid discolouring.
4. Add the pear halves and prunes into the saucepan of wine syrup, cover with parchment paper and cook for 25 minutes, or until the pears are tender.
5. Remove the pan from heat and let fruit cool to room temperature in the poaching liquid. Place a rack over a tray. Place the cooked pear halves on the top of the rack to drain. Put the prunes aside and strain the remaining poaching liquid through a chionis (china cap sieve) into a clean saucepan.
6. Reduce the liquid to a syrup, cool.
7. Vanilla Ice Cream: Make a crème anglaise. Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl. Whisk until think and pale yellow in colour. Bring milk and vanilla to boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk half of the hot milk into the egg-sugar mixture and return to the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Do not boil. Test the consistency of the mixture by drawing a finger across the back of the spoon – it should leave a clear trail. Strain into a bowl and let cool, stirring occasionally. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a chilled bowl and freeze until firm, about 1 hour.
8. Slice each pear half into five. Arrange prunes in the centre of the plate, place ten pear slices around the prunes. Pour the reduced syrup over the pears and prunes and place one scoop of Vanilla ice cream on top of the prunes. If desired, top pears with shredded mint.

Macaroons

Ingredients: 85g ground almonds; 150g powdered (icing) sugar; 75g egg whites; 15g sugar

Flavouring: Vanilla extract or raspberry essences + red food colouring

Cream filling: 150g butter, softened; 200g raw almond paste; Vanilla extract or raspberry essences + red food colouring

Method:
1. Process the ground almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor for five minutes. Sift into a bowl. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Add the sugar and whip to stiff, glossy peaks. Gently fold the dry ingredients and the selected flavouring into the whisked egg whites, adding the dry ingredients a third time.
2. Carefully fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip, with the mixture. Pipe 2cm mounds on parchment paper. Bake in an oven preheated to 160oC until golden and well-risen.
3. Remove from oven and drizzle a little water between the hot baking sheets and the parchment paper so that the steam helps release the macaroons. Cool completely before removing the macaroons from the paper.
4. Prepare filling: Gradually beat the softened butter into the raw almond paste. Flavour with vanilla or raspberry. Sandwich two macaroons together with the filling.

Voila!

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