It was in fact a lot of apples at Brown Paper Bag's Forbidden Fruit Workshop at JW Marriott this afternoon. Now I am generally a self taught kind of cook/baker. But I've been to BPB's workshops in the past and they are generally good fun. Plus tarts and pies have been a source of contention within me - I like the ones I bake but know they are not perfect - so this was just the chance to learn from a pro.
Chef Savio Fernandes is the presiding pastry chef at Marriott and he promised to spill some secrets in the three hours we spent baking. We started with the classic shortcrust. That's been my nemesis so far. So I watched the chef like a hawk, and I fully intend to copy his movements and get the consistency of the pastry where he got it the next time I bake tarts. We put the pastry to rest in the fridge and the chef moved to tarte tatin.
A French feast of caramized apples over puff pastry, the recipe starts with - horror of horrors - a dry caramel. I've burnt my hands, literally, trying to make this caramel without any water so that was the second scoop of the day. Chef Savio showed a technique that certainly falls in the realm of "interesting" and again, it's something that makes to my to-try list. There was, alas, no recipe for an easy puff as the chef suggested we save our sanity and use the store bought version.
The next two hours were quickly lost in baking a classic apple pie and two tarts. The rabdi and caramelized apple tart showed the fusion techniques of our pastry chef. The second tart is the one I would squarely put down as whimsical. You will have to wait for details on that one though as I am working on a variation myself.
Once the tarts were all in the oven, the folks at the restaurant brought out sandwiches and icecream. Coffee was on the table already and then trays after trays of the goodies came out. And we ate, well, a lot! My only regret is that the workshop was not very hands on. But some top secret baking tips, 15-20 amateur foodies and a whole afternoon spent in the middle of sugar and butter has left me very happy indeed!