French Pastry Pop-up – Feb. 6

This week’s pop-up was led by a student whose Middle Eastern background is reflected in certain ingredients and flavour profiles (quince, figs, pistachios, cardamom, cumin and eggplant). These pop-up shops are such a great way of showcasing the skill and quality of the post-graduate Advanced French patisserie students. I always buy more than I intend to (because firstly, the items look so good which makes it hard to decide which items to buy and secondly, because I keep getting up sold by a couple of charming and enthusiastic pastry students (their recommendations always end up being spot on).

Chef mentioned that he thinks the students would benefit from my feedback on the items that I purchase (really?) so I decided to post them privately on my blog. This way the students can read my feedback at a time that is convenient to them.

Pictured below are the items that I bought at the February 6 pop-up. I shared them with a couple of my friends and we had a lovely time tasting, discussing and enjoying these items over tea while I collected feedback.

pastry samples
Tastings from Feb. 6 pop up: Caramel sandwich cookie, apple turnover, chocolate and pear entremet, quince tart, chocolate and banana mousse dome cake, fig cake and pistachio escargot.

Here is the feedback on each of the individual items:

Caramel sandwich cookie: Great presentation. At first I thought it was going to be soft and chewy inside like a wagon wheel cookie but biting into it revealed a hard and crunchy cookie with a thin line of caramel in the centre. Overall, it seemed a bit too dry. There was a thin caramel layer but I would have preferred there to be more caramel which would have made it more sticky and chewy and not as dry.

Apple turnover: This item was my favourite out of all the items I tried. The flakiness of the pastry on this was amazing! The layers had height, were well defined and delicate. It also had a good ratio of apple filling to pastry which gave it nice balance. Nothing but praise for this item.

Entremet (chocolate/pear): This item was also very good (and one of the items that the pastry students upsold me on). Great suggestion. Nice combination of flavours. Varying textures. I have nothing bad to say about this item.

Quince tart: This item presented very well with the quince slices and the quenelle mousse on top. However, the quince lacked the sweetness that I was expecting (although the quenelle helped with this). I would have liked the quince to be more sweet so you wouldn’t have to rely so much on the quenelle for sweetness but I am not familiar with quince so am unsure as to how sweet it is supposed to be. The texture of the quince was also a bit gritty and the pastry/crust at the bottom was clumsy/heavy and needed to be more delicate. I liked the different components of this item but they all need a bit more tweaking and refinement (except for the quenelle mousse which was delicious).

Chocolate mousse (chocolate banana) dome: This item was also very good. Wonderfully presented with the chocolate ornament and gold leaf garnish on top. Flavours worked well together, layers were well constructed. Also nothing bad to say about this item (it was also an item that was upsold to me – those charming pastry students are two for two).

pastry tasting
Tasting bits and bites of various items

Fig cake: I am not familiar with the type of pastry so it’s a bit hard for me to critique it without having anything to serve as a reference. But from my own personal perspective, I would have liked this to have more filling (almost like a fancy version of a fig newton). I also feel that by having more of the fig filling it would be less dry. But again, I’m not sure what the overall concept/outcome was for this item so it’s hard for me to judge.

Pistachio escargot: This item looked great with the layers and lovely green colour of the pistachios but there were parts that were dry. We felt as though it needed more of a syrupy/sticky coating because there were parts of it that were sticky and chewy (very tasty) while the outer layers were dry and not flaky. However, I’m not sure if that was the intention – to have the centre be more sticky with the outer parts being more dry or for it to be sweet and sticky throughout like a kouign amann.

Not shown in the photo (because I ate them before taking the picture):
Quiche with cumin and eggplant: I liked the Middle Eastern flavours of this quiche. The flavours were original and unique. However, the pastry was a bit tough and heavy. The heaviness of the crust overpowered the item as I felt that the amount of filling wasn’t enough to compensate for the heaviness/thickness of the crust. I could also taste alot of cumin in this item and feel like it might have been a bit too strong. I would suggest going a little lighter on the cumin depending on the audience.

Jalousie with goat cheese: I do love a good jalousie. This one looked very appealing with the lattice top and the pastry was light and flaky. However, it needed more filling. The ratio of filling to pastry wasn’t enough. The goat cheese flavour combination worked very well but it needed more of it.