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Monthly Archives: July 2018

Pain aux Raisins – Little Danish Pastries

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2E29FFDB-655D-4CF0-B296-966430AF893FThere are two types of baking that I seek to perfect each year.

At Easter, I make hot cross buns, trying different recipes and tweaking these to find the best one. I’m generally in favour of Jamie Oliver’s recipes and one or other of these is my current go-to at Easter.

I am very fond of croissants, taste testing these in Sydney and Melbourne in search of “croissant nirvana”.

Making croissants is also a yearly baking exercise. And for these delightful pastries I turn to the baking guru Paul Hollywood and to the Scottish baking doctor James Morton. After much experimenting, I now use the same enriched dough to also produce Danish pastries.

So last week was croissant and Danish pastry making time! Specifically, my Danishes were pain aux raisin.

Here is the recipe for the pain aux raisins. The croissants were nice, in fact delicious, but the look was not so good as I had overproved them, which is why they don’t appear here.

The exact ingredients are the result of much tweaking, and I think my version works well. The method is mostly Paul with a bit of James thrown in.

Ingredients 

Enriched dough
450g strong flour
40g caster sugar
10g salt
10g instant yeast
10g unsalted butter, chilled
300mls full fat milk
250g unsalted high quality butter, chilled

Crème pâtissière
500mls milk
1 vanilla pod, split down the middle and seeds scraped out
100g caster sugar
4 free-range eggs, yolks only
40g cornflour

Filling
200g raisins
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 free-range egg

2 tbls apricot jam for glazing

Lemon icing
150g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Method
Dough

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, sugar, salt and test until combined, rubbing the salt and yeast in at opposite sides of the bowl. Roughly rub in the 10g butter until crumb-like, then add the milk and form into a dough.

Mix the dough on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for 6 minutes, until it has become smooth and doesn’t break when stretched. Place in a large plastic zip lock bag and refrigerate for at least an hour  but preferably overnight.

Once the dough has rested, take the additional butter and place it between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper or cling film. Using a rolling pin, bash the butter until it flattens into a square, roughly 30cm x 20 cm. Return the butter to the fridge and remove the dough.

Roll out the dough on floured surface until it is a rectangle, about 50cm x 20cm. Lay the butter on the dough so that it covers the bottom two-thirds of it. Make sure that it is positioned neatly and comes almost to the edges.

Fold the exposed dough at the top down one-third of the butter. Now gently cut off the exposed bit of butter, without going through the dough, and put it on the top of the dough you have just folded down. Fold the bottom half of the dough up. You will now have a sandwich of two layers of butter and three of dough. Pinch the edges lightly to seal in the butter. Put the dough back in the plastic bag and chill for an hour to harden butter.

Gently roll the dough out into a new rectangle about three to four times as long as it is wide. Gently take both ends and fold them over towards each other, so that they meet in the middle (your rectangle should now be half as long as it was). Then, fold the new shape in half again, closing it like a book. Place in the ziplock bag,  and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Carefully, repeat the instructions in the last paragraph twice more, so that the dough has been folded and rested three times altogether.

The dough now needs to be left in the fridge for 8 hours, or overnight, to rest and rise slightly. It is then ready to use.

Crème pâtissière
Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the split vanilla pod and its seeds. Bring the milk mixture to the boil, then remove from the heat.

Whisk the sugar, egg yolks and cornflour together in a large bowl.

Pour out a little of the hot milk onto the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Whisk in the rest of the hot milk until well-combined, then return to the saucepan.

Cook the mixture over a gentle heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture becomes thick. It will just come to the boil.

Remove from the heat and pass the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl. Leave to cool, cover with clingfilm and then chill before using.

To make the pain aux raisins

Line several baking trays with baking paper – you will need at least 3 to bake all the pastries.

Cut the rested dough in half. Roll one half out on a lightly floured surface to a large rectangle, about 7mm thick. Turn it 90°, if necessary, so a long edge is facing you. Smear half the crème pâtissière over the dough, leaving a clear 5cm margin along the near edge. Sprinkle half the raisins and cinnamon over the crème. Roll the dough towards you into a sausage, keeping it as tight as possible – give a gentle tug each time you roll to tighten the dough and give it a little tension. When you reach the end, roll the sausage back and forth a few times to seal the join. Repeat with the second piece of dough and remaining ingredients.

Cut the rolls into 3cm slices. Lay cut side up and apart on the baking trays and put each inside a clean plastic bag. Leave to rise at cool room temperature (18 – 24°C) until at least doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Heat oven to 200°C. Brush the risen pastries with beaten egg and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown. Meanwhile, warm the apricot jam with a little water in a saucepan or gently microwave, then sieve.

Once baked, take the pastries out of the oven and brush with the apricot jam. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For the icing, mix the icing sugar with as much of the lemon juice as you need to make a paste which is just runny enough to drizzle.

When the pastries are cool, drizzle the lemon icing over them.

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Hunter Chicken or Chicken Chasseur

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32DE12DD-1A2B-4BFB-AEDE-149E7A6EC50DAn old favourite from the 70s, this is a really simple dish based on the French classic. I prefer to call it Hunter Chicken – it sounds earthier and more rustic than the French original!

My version is loosely based on a James Martin recipe for Chicken Chasseur.

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts and 2 chicken thighs, skin on (or any combination of chicken pieces to make up the equivalent of 1/2 chicken)
Salt and ground black pepper
25g plain flour
1 tbsp olive oil
50g butter
50g bacon rashers, chopped into pieces
100g button mushrooms
3-4 shallots, thickly sliced
1 tsp caster sugar
100 mls white wine
200 mls chicken stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp thyme leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Method

Place the chicken in a large ziplock bag and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper then add the flour and toss to coat.

Heat a large frying pan until hot, add the oil and half the butter then fry the chicken pieces, skin side down, for 1-2 minutes until golden-brown. Turn the chicken and fry on the other side for another 1-2 minutes.

Heat another frying pan until hot, add the remaining butter and fry the bacon and button mushrooms until they are brown. Add the shallots and then the caster sugar and fry for 2-3 minutes until brown and caramelised.

Pour the wine into the frying pan, stirring to deglaze, making sure you scrape all the goodness from the bottom of the pan.

Spoon or carefully pour the bacon and mushroom mixture over the chicken in the other frying pan. Add the stock and tomato paste to the chicken and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid slightly reduced.

When the chicken is cooked, scatter the dish with the thyme, rosemary and flat leaf parsley and serve.

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Quince Tart: Free-form Style

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74EC71E1-AE14-4F34-95CC-8B26D4CC3439It’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and in Sydney we’re experiencing a really crisp winter, which I love, as I’m a fan of the cold weather.

Quinces are in season and I make a few quince recipes at this time of year. One of my favourites is baked quince with crumble, slices of slowly baked quince with a crumble topping and thick cream.

Quinces go well with pastry, so I recently made a rustic quince tart, a simple sweet short crust pastry base, baked free-form, topped with cookedquince.

The pastry recipe is from a recipe for Red Apple Rustic Tart,  and the baked quince is adapted from a recipe for Quince Shortcake.

Ingredients

For the quinces:

2 quinces
100g caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

For the pastry:

1 3/4 cups plain flour
170 grams butter
1 tablespoon sugar plus extra for sprinkling
A good pinch of salt
2 tablespoons ice cold water

Method

Baked quinces:

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.  Peel the quinces, halve lengthways and remove cores. Cut in slices and put the slices in a small baking dish. Scatter over sugar and squeeze over the lemon juice.

Cover tightly with a doubled sheet of foil. Bake the quinces for 2-3 hours, basting a few times through the process, until the quinces are soft and a ruby red colour. Remove from the dish to cool.

Pastry:

Pulse flour, butter, sugar and salt in food processor, until the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. Add enough iced water to bring the pastry together – be careful not to over mix.

Wrap the pastry in cling film and refrigerate for 20 -30 minutes.

To make the tart:

Turn the oven up to 170 degrees C.  Butter a baking dish. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out between 2 sheets of cling film. Remove from the cling film and drape over the baking dish, shaping rough sides inside the dish. This is a free-form tart so there is no need to make it look “pretty” or too even.

Place the baked quince slices on top of the pastry higgledy piggledy, the more rustic the better. Sprinkle the additional sugar liberally over the edges of the pastry.

Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden brown.

Serve warm with whipped cream or thick Greek yoghurt.9AD45771-6D98-40E5-8FB1-B3C89C8BEA88

 

 

Ottolenghi Strawberry and Vanilla Mini-Cakes

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65A6C6F5-BF69-48B7-819F-A414FCDB6DC0I love little cakes, and I’m always keen to find recipes for something other than cupcakes.

Yotam Ottolenghi in his lovely book Sweet, written with another great cook Helen Goh, has a number of recipes for all kinds of little cakes. Many of the cakes are made with ground almonds, making them moist and delicious.

These Strawberry and Vanilla Mini-Cakes are very fragrant with fresh strawberries and vanilla. The cakes are quite dense and would be great on their own. The strawberry icing however, adds piquancy, but be careful as it’s quite runny!

Here’s the recipe from Sweet. Ottolenghi suggests making the cakes in a pop-over or giant muffin tin, giving you 12, or if you make them in regular muffin tins you will end up with 18.

I decorated the cakes with freeze dried strawberry powder instead of freeze dried whole berries.

Ingredients 

1 cup plus 1 1/2 tbsp/ 250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups/250 g granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

scraped seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod

4 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup/120 g self-rising flour, plus extra for dusting

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/3 cups/140 g almond meal

7 oz/200 g fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/3 inch/1-cm dice

Strawberry Icing

2 oz/55 g fresh strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped

2 1/2 cups/300 g confectioners’ sugar

1 tbsp light corn syrup

scraped seeds of  1/4 vanilla pod

6 whole strawberries (or 9 if using a regular muffin pan) cut in half lengthwise, or 2 tbsp freeze-dried chopped strawberries, to garnish

Method

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Grease and flour the molds of your chosen pans.

Place the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla seeds in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on medium speed until light, then add the eggs, a little at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times as you go. (Adding the eggs gradually should prevent the mix from splitting, but don’t worry too much if it does, it might look a bit curdled, but this will not affect the final result.)

Continue to beat until fully combined. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then stir in the almond meat. Turn the speed of the mixer to medium-low, then add the dry ingredients in three batches and finally fold in the diced strawberries.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared molds – it should come about three-quarters of the way up the sides (about two-thirds in a regular muffin pan). Bake for about 22 minutes (about 20 minutes in a regular muffin pan), rotating the pan halfway  through, until a skewer inserted into the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes before easing the cakes out of the molds. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the strawberry icing, place all the icing ingredients in a food processor and process together until smooth.

Drizzle the tops of the upside-down cakes with the icing, allowing it to drip down the sides. If desired, garnish with half a strawberry on each cake, cut side facing up, or a sprinkle of dried strawberries.

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