exhibit a above: chausson aux pommes from l’atelier de joel robuchon in roppongi hills (picture taken in bad lighting in a hotel room, moments before i consumed it). notice the glistening exterior, slightly browned towards the edges, intricate spiral vents, and even rise of the puff pastry shell. such perfection can be had for about 450 yen.
correction 10/15: i started digging thru stuff from my trip, and it turns out that exhibit a is actually a pithiviers à la pomme. still made with apples and puff pastry, but it’s got some almond paste inside as well. oo la la!
exhibit b below: my attempt at making chausson aux pommes at home . . . pale, not glistening, uneven rise, lack of intricate spiral vents. . . homey
having gone apple picking a few days earlier, i found myself with a lot of apples on my hand. i decided to slice and dice them up and make a rather large quantity of apple compote (i’ve still got a quart or so left in my fridge). rather than make an apple tart, as i’ve done in the past, i decided to recreate the chausson aux pommes (aka. french version of an apple turnover, more intricate, prettier, less sweet, flakier crust) from joel robuchon in tokyo (see exhibit a).
i went to new york cake to pick-up a 4 inch fluted dough cutter. tried looking for a spiral vent cutter with no luck — the closest thing i found was the spiral kaiser roll indentation device. i picked that up as well, but it didn’t work so well. i could have sworn that i’ve seen something more suited for making intricate spiral vents at dehillerin in paris; i’ll have to burrow through the aisles again the next time i’m there.
i’ve deduced a couple of things to be improved on for my next round of chausson aux pommes experimentation:
(1) even spiral vents are key to creating the uniform rise as seen in exhibit a. without the even events, you’ll get more of a dome shape. until i find a spiral vent cutting device, i think the next best alternative is to attempt making the vents by hand with a round pastry wheel.
(2) one must really slather on the egg wash. i brushed my chausson aux pommes rather lightly with egg wash, and in some cases left it off entirely. to get that caramelized glistening effect, i think that a heavy hand should be used when applying egg wash.
(3) working with puff pastry is all about finding the perfect temperature. the best state is when the dough is defrosted enough to be plyable but non-sticky and wobbly, i.e. when you cut the pastry, you should be able to pick up the cut-out disc easily without it losing its shape. might have to put the puff pastry back into the freezer if the pastry is too warm.
Chausson Aux Pommes v. 1.0
(makes about 8 four inch pastries)
||14 oz.; 1/8″ thick (I use Dufour; yes, it costs an arm and a leg. I’ve made my own in the past, far more economical, but time consuming and hard work!)
||1 recipe, yielding about 2-3 cups
||2 egg yolk, 1 tbsp of milk, a pinch of salt, beaten until uniform
- Prepare apple compote a day in advance; and defrost puff pastry 2-3 hours in refrigerator before using.
- Pre-heat oven to 325ºF.
- Place a piece of parchment paper on your work surface, and unroll the puff pastry pastry.
- Dip your 4″ fluted round pastry cutter in some flour, and cut out 16 circles. [save the leftover puff pastry scraps for another recipe. . . see sesame seed puff pastry sticks]
- If you have a spiral vent cutter, make 8 indentations with it; otherwise, do the best you can with a pastry wheel to mimic the spiral vents. Or, skip the spiral pattern entirely and make vents of your own accord.
- Spread about 2 tbsp of apple compote onto 8 unvented pastry rounds. Brush the edges with egg wash, and then place the vented pastry rounds on top. Press down around the edges to secure them. Place the assembled pastries onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- If the dough is started to get too soft, return the unbaked chausson aux pommes to the freezer for 15 minutes.
- When ready to bake, brush a lot of egg wash onto the tops of the pastry.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown.