Meet Molly Wilkinson – a Texas transplant, beloved former MFCH team member and pastry chef who followed her dream of studying at Paris’s prestigious Le Cordon Bleu. Today, she teaches delightful virtual classes out of her apartment in Versailles. She recently released her first cookbook – French Pastry Made Simple – and, here, we were lucky to have her share with us three fool-proof French pastry tips!
From delightful macarons to decadent fruit tarts, seasonal cakes and figurine-adorned millefeuille, Molly’s French treats never fail to deliver. We were also beyond excited to have her contribute four deliciously sweet recipes for our May/June 2021 issue.
#1: Invest in a baking scale
Just like with bread, when you start to get a little more serious with baking, a scale is where it’s at! They’re inexpensive, and with the added precision, you’ll see better results every single time – each of your measurements will be exactly what the recipe creator wants them to be. With cups, especially with dry ingredients like flour, everyone measures, scoops and swirls in different ways, which can result in drastically different amounts. Also… it saves on bowls!
#2: Secure parchment paper with this one easy move
Parchment paper is often used in baking and pastry-making, which calls for piping on top of it – for example, making rounds for cream puffs or circles for macarons. The paper can move around a lot, so to help keep it stable. To do so, dab batter in the corners of your baking sheet, then press the piece of parchment paper on top. This will “glue” it to the baking sheet and make it so much easier!
#3: Easier cleanup for flour & sugar syrup
There are two super messy things to clean up when making pastry: a floury surface after rolling out dough and a pot with a film of encrusted caramel or sugar syrup. For the former, use a brush or a scraper to gather the excess flour into a pile before wiping the surface clean (doing this before using a damp sponge or spraying on a product will prevent a wet paste from forming on your surface, which is a bigger pain to clean!). For a saucepan covered in cooled caramel or sugar, fill the pot with hot water until the sugar has dissolved – either boil on the stove (keep an eye on it) or let it sit in the sink – then proceed to clean as normal. This is much easier than scrubbing a pot where the sugar won’t budge!