As the weather in July is not very conducive to gardening and outdoor activities, a slightly different meeting was held this month where the twenty members present were introduced to the intricacies of making and using puff pastry.
Host Richard Davison started work in the baking industry at the age of 15 in Torquay, England. He moved to South Africa with his wife Ann in 1972, and for many years the couple ran their own bakery in Mayfair in Johannesburg. From there they moved to East London where Richard was a regional manager of Pick ‘ Pay for the Eastern Cape, then he spent 10 years as a bakery consultant for Unilever in KZN, worked as a bakery technician in Durban, and had his own consulting company for three years.
In 2009 they retired to Aberdeen, where Richard has always been willing to share his expertise (and delicious products!)
At the meeting he shared his wealth of knowledge and many useful tips as he demonstrated the art of making perfect puff pastry by the Scotch method. Many members were seen carefully making a note Richard’s recipe, and there was a great deal of interest in some of the pastry gadgets he used. One fact that few people knew is that the composition of baking margarines differs according to the brand –Richard’s recommendation of Wooden Spoon for pastry due to its similarity to the product used by industrial bakers was duly noted. Many were also surprised to learn that butter should not be used for puff pastry.
On arrival, guests were welcomed with coffee and sweet palmiers, and a new batch of these pastries (otherwise known as pig’s ears or elephant ears) was the first delicacy to be demonstrated. Following this, Richard made a sweet apple slice with a lattice top – the lattice cutter gadget he used sparked a great deal of interest. Apple turnovers were next to go in the oven, as well as some plain pastry rectangles as used in custard slices and mille feuille.
After the demonstration, a selection of hot soups was enjoyed, accompanied by French bread, freshly baked by Richard and Ann that morning.