One of the busiest departments in a hotel's restaurant is the bakery and pastry department. This department is responsible for making all bread products, pastry products, cakes and biscuits and any deserts used in the hotel. The bakery and pastry department, or more commonly known as the Patisserie, commissions could range from making a small dish of Petit Fours for a room service order, to a large multi-tiered wedding cake for a buffet style dessert serving.
During the opening times of the hotel's restaurant the Patisserie's roles and responsibilities will tend to focus on the preparation of the customer's deserts (also know as sweets and puddings depending on location and culture). There is a very large assortment of deserts that a restaurant can serve to their customers, but to make categorizing deserts easier you can think of them as hot or cold.
Hot deserts are the cereal based pudding, such as rice pudding, and pastry based sweets such as fruit pies. All of these puddings can also be served cold as in the case of Arroz con leche; a rice dish from Spain. Hot deserts tend to appear on restaurant menus in the winter months, partly because the customers want a hot desert to keep them warm, but also because a lot of these deserts are based around fruit which is in season in the later part of the year. Apple pie is a particular favourite in Great Britain in the autumn months when apples are in abundance.
There is a very large range of pastry based dishes that can be found on menus. The type of dish will depend on what type of pastry it is made from, e.g. the structure and appearance of a dish made from short pastry will be complexly different from a dish made from choux pastry. Short pastries are used to make flans, pies and tarts and then will have various filling added. The fillings will vary greatly, but will mainly depend on locality of the restaurant. A Bakewell tart is a traditional English dish made from short pastry and a frangipan filling, while a Crostata di Frutta originates from Italy, also uses a short pastry, and is made of custard and fruit.
Puff pastry is used to make deserts such as vol-au-vents, cream horns and cream puffs, Eccles cakes (traditionally from England) and certain types of pies. Puff pastry deserts can be made in miniature and served as a collection of Petit-Fours. Choux pastry is probably one of the most popular pastries around the world. Eclairs, cream buns, profiteroles, and fritters are just some of the deserts made from choux pastry. One of the most dramatic deserts made from choux pastry is Gateau Vesuvius. This gateau is made from many layers of profiteroles, fixed together with a cream mixture and shaped to resemble a volcano. An alcohol is placed at the top of the desert and set alight so when the gateau is carried to the customer's table it resembled an erupting volcano; especially effective if the restaurants lights are turn off or dimmed.
Cold deserts tend to fall in to the ices, including ice cream, sorbets and mousses, and sponge based dishes, such as gateaux and sponge pudding. Rather like the pastry pies these types of dishes will greatly vary depending on what part of the world the restaurant is situated in. Eves pudding is a traditionally British desert made from Victoria sponge and apples and Gateau Basque is a traditional caked based desert from France. Ice based dishes can also be numerous having such a large range from country to country. Over the last few years a desert made from a mixture of meringue, ice cream, cream and fruit called a Mess has become very popular, particularly in England with the most famous example being Eton Mess.
All deserts are nearly always served with a cream, custard or a sauce. Therefore a pastry chef must be very highly skilled in not only sauce making but also using a piping bag as this is the main method used to add creams, custards and sauces to a desert quickly and precisely.