Quick! If you could choose one thing you were truly exceptional at, could you name it? And…. Before you start listing the usual suspects like
Best mom/dad; best husband/wife; best child of (insert deity of choosing); best humanitarian
These don’t count.
I mean something tangible; something that with years of practice you could become phenomenally exceptional at. The best astrophysicist; the greatest transplant surgeon; a multi- Oscar winner; the best kazoo player. What would it be?
For me, I would be hard pressed to choose just one. Once upon a time I wanted to be one of the best film directors ever. I would still love to play piano good enough to make Mozart take notice and it would be so frelling awesome to be a kick butt martial artist.
But if I could be truly exceptional at something, I would say photography or pastries.
I know the two have nothing to do with each other but there they are. I am in love with beautiful pictures and delicate sweet creations that defy imagination.
Believe it or not, there is an annual worldwide pastry competition to determine the greatest pastry chef in the world. It’s called “Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie” and since its inception in 1989, has become an international spectacle of wonder. It’s not so much as a person to person competition but more of a country vs country one. Consider it the Olympics of pastry creation.
I’ll give you one guess which country started it, and one more guess which country won the first competition? This years winner was The United Kingdom, at least for the last round. The final competition takes place January 2013.
I am not even a gnome in the fantastically wondrous world of pastry chefs, although I would love to go to school to learn the craft. To me, there is something magical about creating beautifully, glorious, art knowing you can experience it with all your senses; sight, smell, touch, taste and even in some cases, sound. I think it would be a wondrous delight to attend the competition someday. To watch the magic unfold before my eyes.
For now, I’ll take what baby steps I can in both of my passions and start with small things.
A fruit pastry is a sure fire way to Mr. Sweets Butters heart and I derive immense joy from creating the simple things that make him smile.
With berries being in season, I stocked up on them last week and made four different kinds of fruit fillings to keep on hand. Blueberry was the most abundant, and delicate flaky turnovers sounded about as right as rain. Trust me, if you are buying canned pie and fruit fillings you are wasting money. Once you start making them from scratch they are addictive. I’ve already made blueberry, pineapple, strawberry and raspberry. I need to make apple and peach as well as blackberry.
What I wouldn’t do to get my hands on several baskets of elderberries and boysenberries.
These are super easy to make, quick and, ever the time saver, fantenomenally easy to freeze. ( I just made that word up and deem it necessary) Just make the recipe and wrap tightly in plastic just before baking. Fresh pastry anytime.
In case you are interested in learning more about “Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie” you can read all about it, see photos and set you calendar for the January finals on the official website here.
Dream big and enjoy!
- 3 cups All purpose flour
- 1 cup Butter, unsalted
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ½ cup Almond paste (optional)
- ⅛ cup Powdered sugar
- ¼ cup cold water (more if needed)
- 2 cups Blueberries, fresh or frozen
- ⅓ cup Sugar
- 3 tablespoons Cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water or juice
- ¼ teaspoon Vanilla or almond extract
- In a large bowl combine flour, salt and powdered sugar with a whisk.
- Cut butter and almond paste into small pieces and work into flour mixture with a pastry cutter or fingers until it resembles small peas.
- Sprinkle a water over mixture, one tablespoon at a time and work through.
- Use just enough water until dough sticks together and pulls away from the edge of the bowl.
- Do not let the dough get sticky.
- Set aside for 20 minutes on counter or fridge.
- In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and juice well and set aside.
- Pour remaining ingredients into a medium saucepan and set heat to medium.
- Once blueberries and sugar begin to warm up, add cornstarch mixture.
- Stir constantly until filling thickens significantly but blueberries retain much of their shape.
- Set aside and cool completely.
- Heat oven to 425 degrees.
- Cut dough into two round sections and roll to ⅛th inch on a lightly floured surface.
- Using a pastry cutter or knife, cut dough into 4 inch squares.
- Create an egg wash with one egg and 2 tablespoons water.
- Add two tablespoons to center of cut pastry.
- Wipe two conjoining edges with egg wash and fold over opposite side of pastry.
- Seal with the tips of your fingers.
- Lay pastries on a lightly buttered baking sheet, brush with egg wash.
- Cook for 13 minutes.
- Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.