The Pastry School Diaries: Blurring the Lines Between Sweet and Savory

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Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Pastry & Baking Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences! 

This week was all about making and rolling out doughs to use for various techniques and fillings. Sound familiar?While the second half of our doughs unit has focused on this subject matter, this week was a bit different in that when I say "rolling out doughs," I really mean rolling out the dough. We spent the majority of our class time rolling and stretching linzer, puff pastry and strudel doughs to various sizes in order to be formed and filled.

The most manageable--and easy to make at home--was the linzer dough. You simply press half of the dough into the bottom of a cake pan, cover it with jam and then roll the remaining dough out into a flat sheet. Use a pizza wheel to cut straight lines that will become the lattice (or criss-cross) top and roll small balls to outline the tart. Sprinkle the top with almonds and bake until golden, brown and delicious! We used a hazelnut flour-based dough, which created a rich and warm flavor that tasted like fall.


Puff pastry dough is a bit more labor intensive, as you have to repeat a layering, folding and rolling process four times in order to create paper-thin layers of dough and butter. It is then rolled out into a uniform sheet, cut into strips, circles, halves--you name it--filled, formed and baked.


Rosemary parmesan straws


Turnovers filled with prosciutto, mozzarella and parsley

Strudel dough is an easy mixture of high gluten flour, salt, eggs, oil and water. The hard part comes in when you have to roll it. It took four people to roll the dough out to cover two entire tables (about 4 feet by 6 feet). We then poured one large row of filling at the end of the dough and began to roll it up. The strudel bakes in a large U shape and is cut into squares once it has cooled. This was a very fun and interesting process, but it is something I'll probably never be able to do at home in my tiny kitchen (New York City problems).

I am particularly intrigued by (and value the importance of) these techniques because of how versatile these doughs are. We made a variety of sweet and savory fillings for each recipe because the doughs themselves contain very little sugar or salt. Rather, they are a blank canvas and serve more as a delicious vehicle for the filling. Here are some of my favorite sweet and savory filling combinations


Apples, cinnamon, raisins and walnuts

Farmer cheese, raisins, lemon and vanilla

Spinach and cheese

Butternut squash and leek

Puff pastry:

Parmesan and paprika

Smoked salmon and chive cream cheese

Cinnamon sugar

Spinach and roquefort

What are your favorite fillings for these doughs?

Check back next week for another delicious tale!