Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

Today I had the opportunity to participate in a ‘Viennoiserie’ course. According to Wikipedia (and a few slightly more legit food sources), ‘Viennoiserie’ means ‘things of Vienna’ and refers to refers to the family of pastries made from either a pâte viennoise (a leavened, sweetened dough so-named because of its origin in Vienna) or a pâte feuilletée (puff pastry dough).  Though I’ve attempted some pastries at home (we made croissants from scratch one ambitious Christmas) I haven’t explored the genre much, largely because (a) most of these pastries take several days to make from start to finish and (b) our little household of two doctors-to-be can only justify eating so much butter.

We started the day making blueberry muffins at the punishing hour of 6AM. While blueberry muffins are not technically Viennoiserie, I suppose they get rolled in there to widen the students’ repertoire, and perhaps to fill some of the waiting time while the yeasted doughs proof. I thought I knew how to make muffins, but discovered that I have definitely been taking some shortcuts.

1) When the instructions call for you to cream butter and sugar, you need to really get after it, turning the mixer up to what is probably best described as ‘medium-high’ and letting it rip until the whole mixture turns nearly white. I am usually too antsy for this.

2) Letting the eggs (and the aforementioned butter) come to room temperature before combining is actually important, as is incorporating them in fractions. Skip either step and you risk improper emulsification and separation of the batter. You also miss out on a key air-incorporating opportunity and will likely end up with flatter muffins. I am also usually too antsy for this.

The result of all that patience – the fluffiest, most tender-crumbed muffins I’ve ever been at least partially-responsible for baking. Delish.

Now for some pictures of fancy stuff…

S

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