La Toque / The Chef’s Hat

La Toque is an apple pie with a layer of almond cream inspired by chef Bruno Albouze’s « Grandma’ s Apple Pie. » The pie has a puff pastry crust. The bottom crust is perfectly constrained by the tart ring while the top crust is allowed to puff up, thus « giving rise » to the name.

Maybe I should stop saying I’m using leftovers and start saying, « with xyz » that I made ahead of time – like in this recipe. For this pie, I already had at hand the puff pastry from a previous double batch, and the almond cream. I had made the almond cream before I knew how I’d use it, but I had a hunch that it might find its way into this pie.

Keep it cool and dusted with flour and you’ll be pleased.

If you have been wanting to make a desert with puff pastry (pâte feuilletée) but have been hesitating – cast aside you doubts and make this recipe by Albouze. Even after a week in the fridge, it made a beautiful crust that firmly held the almond cream and sautéed apples without becoming soggy

For the almond cream and sautéed apples, go to Chef Bruno’s page. For the assembly of this pie, just follow the illustrations below.

Fit the chilled but supple bottom crust into a greased tart ring sitting on parchment paper in baking tray. Trim the excess but leave a 1/2 inch overhang to join to the upper crust later. Fill the bottom with a generous layer of almond cream.
Arrange your room temperature sautéed apples as you see here. Do not be afraid to squeeze them in a bit as you would for a Tarte Tatin.
When you’ve filled the ring with apples, pour in some of the room temperature, thickened juice from the sauté pan – this will be a syrupy cinnamon, vanilla delight. It must be a reduced syrupy consistency so as not to add too much liquid to the pie. It must be at room temperature so as not to melt the pastry or the cream. Patience pays off.
Cover, crimp, score and egg wash. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
10 minutes in the oven at 200C / 400F, then lower the temperature to 180C/ 350F for 30 minutes. Do not unmold until at room temperature or colder. I placed mine in the fridge overnight.
Unmold for this beautiful « Toque ».
When cooled, this pie cuts beautifully. You can warm a slice if you wish or eat at room temperature for the fullest flavor.

Give it a try and have a sweet day.

Chausson aux poires (Pear turnovers)

Time to confront my fears – puff pastry. I recently watched Bruno Albouze produce several beautiful deserts using quick puff pastry – a King’s Cake, an apple pie and apple turnovers. Besides showcasing upgraded versions of classic French deserts, Albouze was demonstrating the quality results possible with a very fast method of making puff pastry. The method reduced the production of puff pastry from three days to just a couple of hours. I thought, “Now that’s an idea to take with me into retirement.” And, by the looks of things, I surely will.

I had lots of fruit in the house to choose from, especially apples and pears. I chose to substitute pears for this classic French, Chausson aux pommes (Apple Turnovers), pastry. The result has been delicious. Here’s the low down:

  1. 1/2 recipe of Albouze’s quick puff pastry. Follow his directions and you will succeed.

2. Pear Compote. The compote contains the reason for my choice to use pears instead of apples today. The pears were super ripe and needed to be used. I was hungry for lots of flavor, so I searched and found a recipe for Spiced Pear Compote. I knew that this recipe with anise, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg would help create an exotic filling – and I wasn’t disappointed. It was a struggle to save the compote for the turnovers and not just eat it on the spot. But I managed. As usual, added my own small touch to this recipe. First, I was able to use freshly grated nutmeg. Second, I added about an ounce of Poire Williams Eau de Vie for some added depth.

3. The pear filling. I simply peeled, cored and diced enough pears to give me 350 gm fruit for the filling. As per the apple mixture recipe of Chef Albouze, I added sugar and a bit of cinnamon and then sautéed them on high for a few minutes to soften but not disintegrate the small pieces and drive away a great deal of moisture.

  1. 350 gm pear
  2. 80 gm sugar
  3. 15 gm butter
Compote and diced pear mixture to create the filling for the “Chaussons”.

Filling and dough done, time to assemble:

I used a large ice-cream scoop to measuring .
Brushed some of the flavorful juice from the sautéed pears to help seal the turnovers.
Egg wash, score, let rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Then bake.
After 10 minutes at 220 C, then 30 minutes at 180 C.
Brushed with maple syrup for a sweet and glossy finish. Done!

Tomorrow – apple turnovers. The puff pastry is already made.

Have a sweet day.