Bernard Michael Tostanowski III

My Mentor and Pastry Chef

In People on December 13, 2009 at 6:05 PM

Stefan Riemer - Regional Pastry Chef | Disney's Yacht & Beach and Boardwalk Resorts

The Beginning

In my short time on this planet I have run into so many people. Each with their own character and demeanor but none quite like the one I am going to explain in this one post.

Last year I found myself working at Disney’s Boardwalk Bakery, a small retail bakery supplying pastries not only through its storefront but also to the many venues located at the Boardwalk Resort.  Stefan Riemer, Regional Pastry Chef of both the Yacht & Beach Club Resort and the Boardwalk Resort approached me one afternoon with an opportunity to work at the Yacht & Beach Club Bakery. I would get to work under his guidance every Saturday morning and complete a pre-determined project at the end of the day.

My first assessment had very few guidelines. I was instructed to create one 10” cake. It could not be a dated style and had to be my own. I could use anything that was already produced in the bakery and I had only one hour to assemble the cake. Being the coffee addict that I am, I immediately thought of a cake using sweetened espresso as the simple syrup base to soak each layer. Secondly I made a gianduja with equal parts hazelnut paste and tempered melted chocolate and folded in feuilletine flakes in which I made two thin, round disks that I had sandwiched and let crystallize between silpats. The last element of my cake was a chocolate buttercream which held each layer together and finished the outside. Garnished with white chocolate shavings and chocolate filigree it was complete. I cleaned up my station and it was time for evaluation.

The Boardwalk Bakery at Disney's Boardwalk Resort & Villas

The Evaluation

Two other students, Brittany Hannah and Merry Off were completing their cake project along side of me that day. When we gathered around Chef with our cakes for our critique he told us that he wanted us to give feedback to each other as well. My cake was up first. I took one slice out of the cake and laid it on its side…..mistake #1. Whenever so much time and detail is put into layering a cake, it doesn’t make sense to lay the slice it on its side. Chef told us that in Germany, If a customer was served a cake flopped over on its side that it would be refused. Even if the layering was not even and neat, some people may be inclined to return it as well. I was taken back when he told us this, because in America, I’ve never seen someone return a cake because the layering was uneven. It made me happy to hear this because then I knew that there really were people out there (maybe not as many in America) that cared about the quality of pastry they were eating. More to come on this subject in just a few paragraphs.

As my lousy piece of cake lay on its side, we all grabbed a fork and took a bite. Mistakes 2, 3 & 4….oh crap. First of all it was a real struggle to get a forkful of cake. When I made my crispy gianduja disks, I didn’t make them thin enough. They were so thick, it was like cutting through a candy bar with a plastic spoon. To make it worse, not only was the chocolate to thick, but my sponge cake was over soaked making it even harder to cut. Although these were two very critical mistakes, they do come with practice and I have perfected both techniques. As we tasted the cake, my eyes almost bulged out of their sockets; the sweetness of that one bite was extremely overwhelming. After Chef choked down his portion, he paused and of course made a complement before stabbing me in the heart. He told me that the flavor combination was great then proceeded to tell me about the construction of my cake and the high level of sweetness. The two other students also gave me some great feedback. After all was done I was given a score of 7 out of 10. I was really disappointed to hear this. I knew that my cake didn’t deserve a score even this high. When Stefan asked me what I would give the cake, I told him a 4. I truly thought my cake was awful but that I could learn a lot from my mistakes. After evaluating the other students, Stefan let us take our cakes home. I hated mine so much that it sat unopened, untouched in the front of my fridge for the next two weeks. I looked at it every day and took notes on what I would do differently next time around. I really wanted to learn from my simple mistakes and better prepare myself next time.

Over the course of the next few months, project after project I received amazing feedback. From assembling a Pre-Con to making my favorite bread, I pushed myself harder every time. Chef always kept me upbeat and always pushed me harder. My skill set was not quite up to his standards so I always strived to do better with each challenge and show him that I really had the stuff.

End of My Externship

I finished my externship in late May of 2008 to return to CIA and finish my second year of school. In the short 18 weeks I was at Disney, I learned just as much as I did in school. Maybe not as much about baking and pastry but more from real world industry experiences. Chef Stefan created a mark for me professionally and still to this day, I look back at advice he has given me and see it coming into realization a year later.

When I graduated, I realized that one day I will return to CIA as a Chef Instructor. But first I have to learn as much as possible in order to pass on every experience of mine to each and every student. To create a legacy so I will never be forgotten.

Graduating from the Culinary Institute of America


Gibassier (Pompe à Huile)

In Breads on September 28, 2009 at 12:38 PM

Gibassier Dough Ready to Bake

Although Christmas is still three months away, I couldn’t help but start to think of what I was going to make for the holiday season. Aside from traditionally making cookies I wanted to make something special that very few people outside of France have ever tried before. Gibassier originates from Lourmarin, France and is a soft enriched bread flavored with anise seed, orange blossom water and olive oil (traditional Provençal flavors). And, in France this bread is one of the Thirteen Desserts of Christmas in Provence (Les Treize Desserts de Noël).

I’ve seen quite a few variations of this bread ranging from a cookie or biscuit type, a very soft enriched type to a chewier version similar to challah. My favorite and the recipe below is of the soft, fluffy flavorful one. One thing that you need to keep in mind is the use of Orange Blossom Water. This very fragrant water can easily over-power the bread and make it inedible. Please be very careful when scaling this ingredient. If you have an aversion to the stuff and wanted to make a more grown-up, less traditional version you could easily substitute some high quality Grand Marnier or Cointreau and increase the orange zest by fifty percent.

Le Gibassier de Lourmarin

The Preferment:

  • 145 grams Bread Flour
  • 75 grams Whole Milk
  • 25 grams Whole Egg
  • 0.25 grams Instant Yeast
  1. Combine the above ingredients into a smooth, homogeneous mixture without developing too much gluten.
  2. Place into an oiled container and turn over to slightly coat the top with oil to minimize a crust from forming.
  3. Cover tightly but allow room in the container for growth of 100%. Leave at room temperature overnight.

Final Dough

  • 536 grams Bread Flour
  • 175 grams Whole Egg
  • 134 grams Granulated Sugar
  • 10 grams Table Salt
  • 26 grams Instant Yeast
  • 100 grams Butter
  • 88 grams Olive Oil
  • 25 grams Orange Blossom Water
  • 50 grams Water
  • 8 grams Anise Seed
  • 100 grams Candied Orange Peel
  • 50 grams Orange Zest
  • 245 grams Preferment (See Above)
  1. Pour liquids, then preferment into a mixer. Add dry ingredients except candied fruit and anise seed. Incorporate all slowly for about 4 minutes, mix for 2 minutes more briskly, then slowly add softened butter.
  2. When a nice dough window can be formed, add the candied fruit, orange zest and anise seed. Place rounded dough into oiled bowl, cover so no crust forms, and ferment for 1.5-2 hours.
  3. Scale into 100g increments, bench rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Shape into desired shape and press flat. Cut appropriate design into them, place on parchment-lined pan and proof for approximately 1.5 hours. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Brush with melted butter and toss in granulated sugar, let cool, and enjoy!

Pâte Feuilletée Inversée (Inverse Puff Pastry)

In Breads, Puff Pastry, Techniques on August 24, 2009 at 4:46 PM

Inverted Paton

It’s time to tackle one of the most versatile pastry doughs in a bakeshop: Puff Pastry, better known to some of you Francophiles as Pâte Feuilletée. But this one’s a little special because it’s going to be ‘inside-out’ [PâteFeuilletée Inversée (Inverse Puff Pastry)].

If you aren’t familiar with puff pastry, it’s very simple to explain. The pastry consists of two separate parts, the dough portion called the ‘détrempe’ and the butter portion called the ‘beurre manié.’ Traditionally the dough portion is completely wrapped around the butter portion, folded numerous times, rolled out and baked as desired. In this inverse method the beurre manié will be on the outside, switching places with the dough. Sounds silly to put the butter on the outside because it will start to melt and cause a huge mess, right? Well, not entirely.  Inverse Puff Pastry actually yields better results than classic Puff Pastry, but first: a lesson in lamination.


Lamination is the processes of creating multiple layers in a dough to achieve a flaky, layered pastry. Laminating butter and dough to create a paton of puff pastry creates hundreds of layers, which are responsible for puff pastry’s classic “puff.”  Butter is only about 85% fat – the remaining 15% is water, which vaporizes to cause steam and raise the layers above it.  The same goes for the water in the détrempe (30%+); the dough begins to bake and releases steam acting just like the butter portion. This type of physical leavening is very efficient and very strong. Chances are if you’ve ever eaten a true croissant, danish or those… ahem… Pillsbury Pull-Apart Rolls, you have also eaten another type of laminated dough.

Puff, the Magic Pastry:

The Détrempe
  • 400 grams Water
  • 500 grams Bread Flour
  • 250 grams Pastry Flour
  • 100 grams Melted Butter
  • 25 grams Salt

The Beurre Manié:

  • 800 grams Butter, Unsalted
  • 100 grams Pastry Flour
  1. Détrempe: Combine all ingredients for the détrempe in a mixer with a dough hook attachment for 4-5 minutes on low speed. Gluten formation is not necessary. This dough just needs to be smooth and homogenous.
  2. Beurre Manié: The butter needs to be very cold and pliable before mixing. Hammering the butter with a rolling pin usually does the trick. When pliable, move to a mixer with a paddle attachment, add the flour, and mix on low speed until homogenous.  Low speed is critical: higher speeds will incorporate air, and mixer friction will begin to warm the dough.  Remember to keep the beurre manié very cold. If you need to, chill the bowl and paddle in the freezer before mixing.
  3. Flatten each portion into a square and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for 15 minutes.

Détrempe & Beurre Manié

Folding & Turning:

When the two doughs have rested, remove both from the fridge and flatten the butter block in a 1 cm thick disk. Place the détrempe in the center and fold the arcs of the butter disk over the détrempe, sealing it fully. Start flattening this square by banging all over its surface with your fist or rolling pin. Then, using the rolling pin and starting from the center, roll gently towards the borders to form a rectangle three times as long as it is wide. Give it a double turn (fold in four, each side folded to the middle then the whole thing folded like a book… if you need more explanations let me know, but there are lots of illustrations on the web). Turn the rectangle so the fold is on your left, press down gently and wrap in film. Place for one hour in fridge.

After the hour has passed, flatten the dough again with your fist or rolling pin, then roll gently (again) into a rectangle that is three times as long as it is wide. Give it a double turn, flatten slightly, wrap and store in fridge for at least one hour (dough can stay overnight or for up to two days in fridge at this point).  The last turn is a “simple” turn, and is given shortly before you use the dough.  Again roll the dough into a long rectangle, and this time fold it in three, like a letter. Wrap and let it rest for half an hour in the fridge.

Repeat with another four-fold and refrigerate or freeze until use. After all of the folds have been completed you will have attained a beautiful dough with over 700 layers.

Pâte Feuilletée Inversée (Inverse Puff Pastry)


Puff pastry is extremely versatile and can be used in both savory and sweet applications. I made palmiers from this batch, but a simple Google search will get your mind jogging with alternative possibilities.