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Category Archives: Pastries

Croissants for Breakfast!


I make croissants maybe a couple of times year. Not that often, as it’s an 18 hour process with so much proving to happen.

A while back I made croissants to take away to Bundanoon, in the beautiful Southern Highlands in NSW. We were staying at the lovely “Fulford Folly”, an idyllic  country retreat with the added bonus of the company of two mini donkeys! We had a great break, and home made croissants on the verandah for breakfast seemed appropriate.

In previous posts I talk about my experimenting with enriched dough recipes, coming up with a recipe that works for both croissants and Danish pastries. So here is the recipe again, with photos of our breakfast. I served the croissants with lashings of cultured butter and my Plum, Raisin and Walnut Jam, the recipe is here if you’re interested.

Ingredients

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
1 free-range egg

Method

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.

Line 2 or 3 baking trays with baking paper.

Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a rectangle, about 40cm long and 30cm wide. Trim the edges to neaten them.

Cut the rectangle lengthways into 2 strips, then cut triangles along the length of each strip, about 12cm wide at the base and about 15cm high. You could use the first triangle as template for the rest, but I find it easier just to measure and cut each one. Hopefully you will get 6 triangles from each strip, but I don’t think it matters if you get one more or one less!

Hold down the wide base of the triangle and gently tug the opposite thin end to cause a slight tension in the dough. This helps with getting a tight roll. Starting at the wide end of the triangle, roll up into a croissant shape. Repeat with each triangle. Keep the ends of the croissants straight, apparently this is more authentic.

Put the croissants onto the baking trays, leaving space in between each of them to expand. Put each tray inside a clean plastic bag (I have some really large clear plastic bags I saved from a delivery or purchase)

Leave the croissants to rise at room temperature until  doubled in size. This should take about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Whisk the egg with a pinch of salt to make an egg wash and brush the top and sides of the croissants with the eggwash. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack. Of  course you can eat them  warm, but they do freeze well, so if you’re going to freeze them, do it as soon as they have cooled slightly.

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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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Quince Shortcake

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I’m always looking for simple bakes for afternoon tea or for when friends drop over unexpectedly. This is an easy recipe to make. You just need to bake the quinces beforehand. In autumn and winter in Sydney,  in what passes for the cooler months here, I buy quinces pretty regularly, and slow cook them in the oven ready for this recipe, or to fill a tart or have for breakfast with yoghurt and granola.

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Ingredients

For the baked quince:

1 quince

60g caster sugar

Juice of 1/2lemon

For the shortcake:

125 g unsalted butter

125 g castor sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

225g  plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

Method

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.

For the quince, peel the quince, halve lengthways and remove core. 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.

For the shortcake, beat the butter and castor sugar until creamy. Add the egg and mix well. Add the flour and baking powder, then stir until only just combined.

Add half the quince slices, and combine until the mixture comes together into a dough, but don’t overwork the dough.

Turn the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a baking tray. With floured hands, put the dough onto the baking tray, then shape the dough into a round. Mark the round into 6 wedges.

Bake for 25- 30 minutes or until until golden (cover loosely with foil if browning too quickly). Once cool, dust the shortcake with sifted icing sugar, and serve with cream and the remaining quince slices.

 

Kouign Amann and Cruffins: Variations on Croissant Dough


I’m re-blogging my 2016 post on two pastries that are kind of variations on the ubiquitous croissant. I felt compelled to do so after reading an article in the August 2017 edition of Australian Gourmet Traveller, in which pastry “fads” were discussed, albeit tongue-in-cheek!

What is the next baked sensation, quips Larissa Dubecki, as she reminisces on pastry trends from Sex in the City’s cupcakes, through macarons, cronuts and kouign amann, with éclairs being dubbed the newest big thing in 2017.

So here are my (simplified) recipes for kouign amann and cruffins, the former still having baking currency because they’re a classic, the latter sadly fulfilling their destiny as a food fad.

I am firmly of the view that BOTH pastries should be up there in the baking hall of fame as they are not that difficult to make and are really quite delicious!

Kouign amann (pronounced queen amarn) are Breton pastries that are similar to croissants. They have a layer of sugar in the dough, and are baked in a unique shape with four distinct corners.

Cruffins are that curious hybrid, the love child of a croissant and a muffin and the sibling of the cronut.  They have flaky croissant layers yet are compact enough to hold and eat as they have that neat muffin shape.

While the dough for both these pastries is not identical, they are close enough to use one batch of croissant dough to create cruffins and kouign amman. And both pastries can be baked in a muffin tin.

I essentially made a croissant dough and used 1/4 dough for each type of pastry. I layered one dough portion with sugar, and used that for the kouign amann, while the other dough portion I merely had to shape into cruffins before baking. So you end up with 6 cruffins and 6 kouign amann. Just double the quantities for 12 of each.

So here is my simplified recipe for both delights. You can find lots of variations, some quite complicated for both, online, but I wanted recipes that were reasonably simple and not to technically challenging. The kouign amann recipe is adapted from Emma Christensen’s helpful post from her Kitchn blog.

Kouign Amann

Ingredients

1/4 batch croissant dough *(recipe follows below)

1 cup caster sugar + additional for rolling

1/4 cup icing sugar for dusting

Icing/glaze

1/2 cup icing sugar

Juice of 1/4 lemon

Method

Roll out your pre-prepared croissant dough to a long rectangle, about 1/2 cm thick. Sprinkle the rectangle with 1/2 cup sugar and press lightly with the rolling pin to help it stick. now fold the top (narrower end) third down and the bottom third up, like folding a letter.

Rotate the dough 90 degrees so that the open end is facing you, like a book. Roll the dough out to a rectangle about 1/2 cm thick. Sprinkle the rectangle with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and press lightly with the rolling pin to help it stick. Fold the top third down and the bottom third up. If any sugar falls out, press it back into the folds.

Put the dough into large plastic bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

 If you haven’t already done so, generously butter a 6 or 12 hole muffin tin. (If making cruffins at the same time, you will already have buttered your muffin tin.)

Sprinkle the rolling surface with caster sugar.  Transfer rested dough to the rolling surface. Sprinkle a little additional sugar over the top of the dough. Roll the dough out to a rectangle about 1/2 cm thick.

Cut the dough using a pizza cutter or sharp knife into 10cm squares. Fold the corners of each square toward the center. Pick up each pastry and tuck it firmly into the muffin holes. You may have to push it in gently. You should get about 6 pastries.

Place a large plastic bag over the muffin tin and leave to prove for about an hour, or until the kouign amann  are slightly puffed up.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.

Bake for about 30 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through baking. The kouign amann are cooked when they are puffed up and a rich golden brown croissanty colour. Be careful that the tips don’t burn. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes; don’t  let the kouign amann cool completely in the muffin holes or the sugar will harden and make the pastries pretty tough to remove.

Remove the kouign amann to a wire rack or large plate. Drench with 1/4 cup icing sugar while still warm. To  ice the kouign amann, mix the icing sugar and lemon juice to make a dribbly sort of icing/glaze. Using a pastry brush, paint the kouign amann with the icing/glaze.

Cruffins

Ingredients

1/4 batch croissant dough *(recipe follows below)

1/4 cup icing sugar for dusting

Icing/glaze

1/2 cup icing sugar

Juice of 1/4 lemon

1 tbls raspberry fondant creme (optional)

1 tsp freeze dried raspberry powder (optional)

Method

Generously butter a 6 or 12 hole muffin tin.

Roll out your pre-prepared croissant dough to a long rectangle, about 1/2 cm thick. Cut it in half lengthways if it is too big to deal with. Cut strips of dough again lenghthways, about 10cm wide, using a pizza cutter or sharp knife. The strips can be wider, the wider the strip the higher the cruffin. The trick is to have dough, once rolled, big enough to rise high, but not so big that they flow over the muffin tin without support.

Carefully roll up each strip starting from a short end (10cm end), fairly tightly. Place each roll cut side up in a muffin hole. You should get around 6 cruffins.  At this stage you can leave to prove as is, or wait, as  I did, to fill the other muffin holes with kouign amann pastries.

Place a large plastic bag over the tin and leave to prove for about an hour, or until the cruffins have grown in size.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.

Once proved, bake for about 30 minutes until the cruffins are puffed up and a rich golden brown croissanty colour. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cruffins to a wire rack or large plate. Drench with 1/4 cup icing sugar while still warm.

For the icing, mix the icing sugar, lemon juice raspberry fondant creme if using, to make a dribbly sort of icing/glaze. Using a pastry brush, paint the cruffins with the icing/glaze. For added artiness and a lovely intense raspberry taste, scatter a little freeze dried raspberry powder over the cruffins.

Croissant Dough recipe

This recipe is that of the inimitable James Morton, finalist on the Great British Bakeoff 2012. His book Brilliant Bread is full of great recipes that make bread making, and in this case, croissant making, a common sense affair.

So here is James’ recipe (for the dough only).

Ingredients

900g strong white flour

50g caster sugar

2 x 7 g sachets fast-action yeast

14g salt

20g unsalted butter, chilled

500g full-fat milk

200g sourdough starter (My Note – you could leave this out if you haven’t got a starter, but it does improve the flavour)

500g unsalted high quality butter, chilled

Method

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, yeast and salt until combined, rubbing the yeast and salt in at opposite sides of the bowl. Roughly rub in the 20g butter until crumb-like, then add the milk and starter if using and form into a dough.

Knead the dough vigorously for 10-15 minutes until it has become smooth and doesn’t break when stretched. Wrap in cling film (I use 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 (I find cling film works well). Using a rolling pin, bash the butter until it flattens into a square, roughly 20cm x 20 cm and 10 cm thick. Return the butter to the fridge and remove the croissant dough.

Roll out the dough on floured surface until it is a rectangle about double the size of the flattened butter (20cm x 40cm). On one half of this, place the flattened butter.Fold the dough over the butter and pinch all around the edges to seal. Turn the dough round a quarter turn.

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. Wrap in cling film or place in the plastic bag,  and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Carefully, repeat the instructions in the last paragraph twice more, so that the dough has been folded and rested three times altogether. Rest for 20 minutes one final time.

The dough can be used immediately or frozen for future use.

I  can thoroughly recommend  freezing the dough. The basic recipe makes a HUGE quantity of dough. It make so much sense to divide it into two, or even four, bake with some now, and freeze the rest for use at a later date.

 

 

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Lime Friands

“A Friand is a small almond cake, popular in Australia and New Zealand, closely related to the French financier. The principal ingredients are almond flour, egg whites, butter, and powdered sugar.” (Wikipedia)

Everyone makes friands these days, so it seems, and why not? They are actually easier to make than cupcakes, as you can make them without the aid of a mixer or food processor.

I hadn’t made any in ages, but was inspired to try my hand at them again when I  was in receipt of some beautiful limes from the bountiful tree of a work colleague.

I mixed lime juice and grated lime zest in the batter, and topped the friands with a little lime glaze made with lime juice and icing sugar.

Delicious and super quick to make!

Ingredients

6 egg whites, beaten lightly

75g plain flour

240g icing sugar, sifted

125g almond meal

150g melted butter, cooled

Juice and grated zest of 2 limes

10 tablespoons icing sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan-forced. Lightly grease 12 friand molds.

Beat the egg whites until frothy with fork in a large mixing bowl.

Sift the flour and icing sugar into the bowl, stir in almond meal and then add the melted butter. Stir in the juice and zest of one of the limes.

Spoon the mixture (approximately ¼ cup) into each of the molds.

Bake in preheated oven for 20  minutes until cooked through and golden brown or until a skewer is inserted into centre comes out clean.

To make the glaze, mix the juice of the other lime with the icing sugar. You may need to add more or less juice or more or less icing sugar to get the glaze to the right consistency to ice the friands.

Ice the friands with just enough glaze to coat the tops and perhaps to run down the sides a little.

 

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Peach, Nectarine and Plum Frangipane Tart

 

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It’s summer in Sydney and stone fruit are plentiful and really delicious. At this time each year I try to find lots of ways to showcase yellow and white peaches and nectarines, and blood plums with their wonderful dark red flesh.

This is a simple tart that is a great vehicle for summer stone fruits. A fillo pastry base, with a layer of frangipane and scattered with slices of fresh peaches, nectarines and plums.

A lovely way to to enjoy the summer bounty of fresh fruit.

Ingredients

For the base:

Half a 375gm packet of fillo pastry  (approximately)

2 tbls melted butter

For the Frangipane:

100gm butter

100gm caster sugar

100gm ground almonds

1 free-range egg

For the fruit:

1 yellow or white peach

1 yellow or white nectarine

2 blooms plums

Demerara sugar, for scattering

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced (180 degrees C non fan forced).

Butter a flan tin with a removable bottom. I used a rectangular one – a traditional round one is fine, although the fillo pastry can be a little tricky to put into a round flan tin.

Place a sheet of fillo into the tin. Brush with melted butter. Keep on layering with fillo, brushing with melted butter between each layer, until you have used about half of the packet of fillo.

To make the frangipane, cream the butter and sugar in a food processor or you can use an electric mixer. Add the ground almonds and egg and mix well. Spoon the frangipane over the tart base.

Now is the fun part! Slice the stone fruit, and arrange as artfully  – or as rusticslly  – as you please. Scatter some demerara sugar over the fruit slices.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the fillo is lightly browned and crisp around the edges, and the fruit is soft.

Remove from the oven, and after 10 minutes, when the tart has cooled slightly, carefully remove the outer ring of the flan tin.

Serve warm or cold, with cream or on its own. Delicious.

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