How To Make Petit Fours: A Quick History & Recipes

Possibly among the most well-known desserts in the French pastry arts is the petit 4. These little confectionery morsels can be consumed in a couple of bites. They’re normally wonderfully embellished, making them exceptionally popular for mixer, afternoon teas, and breakfasts.

However where did these small pastries originate from, and how can you create them in your own cooking area? In this post, we talk through how to make petit fours and their abundant history.

The History of the Petit 4

The French name “petit 4” has absolutely nothing at all to do with the number 4. The name really originates from the baking approach initially utilized to make these sweet deals with. Throughout the 1800s in France, an oven was little bit more than a big stone cabinet with a fire lit below it. Under these situations, temperature level control was basically non-existent. As an outcome, French bakers had just 2 oven “settings”: blazing hot, and cooling off.

The blazing hot setting was reached when the coals under the oven were burning at optimal capability. This mode of cooking was described in French as “grand 4”– equated in English, “huge oven”– and was utilized mainly to prepare meats. When the fire under the stone oven was snuffed out, much of the heat was maintained. As a result, it took a long time for these ovens to cool off. This cooling procedure, when the oven still maintained some hidden heat, was described as “petit 4,” or “little oven.” The caught heat was simply enough to prepare small, specific pastries.

Close up photo of different pastries displayed on a black table

Ultimately, the pastries themselves presumed the name of the kind of oven they were prepared in. As baking devices and innovation developed, the petit 4 dessert stayed a preferred reward throughout France and started to spread out around the world. From Parisian patisseries to bakeshops in New york city, petit fours are liked worldwide today.

Kinds Of Petit Fours

Within the petit fours classification come a host of variations. There are the conventional small cakes in addition to numerous other small French desserts that fall under the umbrella of “petit fours.” Here are a few of the various types:

Petits fours sec: These are dry cookies baked at a low temperature level for a long period of time. Popular examples consist of sable beurre, palmiers, duchesses, and macarons. They may likewise have a jam, ganache, or dried fruit filling.

Petits fours glaces: Tiny cakes that are topped with marzipan and after that enrobed in either fondant or chocolate. This kind of petit 4 is normally elaborately embellished with elaborate piping. These are frequently the images that enter your mind when individuals think about the conventional petit 4.

Petits fours frais: These petits fours are any little pastries that need to be consumed the exact same day they are made since they lose substantial quality the longer they sit. Examples consist of sponge cakes, such as madeleines and investors, in addition to cream-filled pastries like eclairs and tartlets. They are generally damp, for this reason the requirement for same-day intake.

Petits fours deguises: Desserts in this classification include fresh or dried fruit that is dipped in a sweet covering such as chocolate or prepared sugar. Examples consist of chocolate covered strawberries or candied citrus fruits.

chocolate covered strawberries

How to Make Petit Fours

What you select to do when baking your own petit fours … well, the alternatives there are endless. You can get expensive with your petit fours, embellishing them elaborately, or follow the example of Georges Auguste Escoffier and “above all, make it basic.”

For a fundamental, reasonably simple petit 4 dish, attempt the following beginner-friendly baking actions.

Heat your oven to 350 ° F. Grease and flour a 13 × 9-inch baking pan and set it aside. Integrate 3 cups versatile flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Set it aside also.

Utilizing an electrical mixer with a paddle accessory, beat 1 and 1/2 cups sugar and 1/2 cup softened butter in a bowl at medium speed. Scrape the bowl sometimes, till the mix ends up being velvety. Include 6 egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Include 1/2 teaspoon almond extract and blend well. Then include the flour mix at the same time with 1 cup milk, beating it at a low speed after each addition simply till blended.

Once the batter is blended, put it into your formerly ready pan. Bake it for 30-35 minutes (inspect the center with a toothpick to see if it comes out tidy.) Cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes prior to loosening up the cake by running a knife around the within edge. Thoroughly get rid of the cake from the pan and let it cool entirely. In order to get the ideal petit fours, cut the edges from the cake and suffice into 48 different 1 and 1/2-inch square pieces.

To make the icing, integrate 3 cups of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1 and 1/2 cups water in a 3-quart pan. Prepare it on the range over medium heat, stirring sometimes for 12-14 minutes or till the mix concerns a complete boil. Cover and let it boil for 3 minutes. Then discover the pan and continue preparing it for 15-20 minutes. Eliminate it from heat and let it cool to 110 ° F, for approximately 1 hour. When cooled, stir in 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon almond extract and 3 drops of food coloring as wanted. Typically, petit fours are iced with dynamic pastels like greens, lavenders, and pinks.

Location your cooling rack over waxed paper. Then take each small piece of cake and location it on a fork, sprinkling icing over the leading and sides. Let the cake pieces base on the cooling rack till the icing is set. Include any extra garnishes if you want!

Additionally, you can utilize various kinds of jams and fruit spreads, or melted white chocolate in location of icing. You can include garnishes like fruit pieces or shredded coconut, drizzle caramel over them– experiment to your heart’s material!

Check Out French Food and Pastry Arts

So there you have it: whatever you require to learn about the petit 4. Intrigued in discovering more about the history of particular French meals or how to make them yourself? Attempt taking among our hassle-free online classes, customized particularly to the enthusiastic house cook or baker.

And if you’re prepared to take your education even further? Search the degree and diploma offerings, consisting of one concentrating on baking and pastry arts, from Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.

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This post was initially released on April 14, 2014, and has actually because been upgraded.

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