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Category Archives: Pastries

The Banana Chelsea

As the title implies, this is a recipe for a Chelsea style bun. But the thing that makes it different is that mashed banana is incorporated through the dough, giving the bun a real banana hit!

They look and taste great, but I got a bit worried that you can’t see any banana, so I did do some decoration with a few banana slices and some toffee. I think this was “gilding the lily”. They’re fine on their own!

Ingredients

350g strong flour
1 teaspoon salt
100g tepid water
10g dry yeast
20g sugar
50g buttermilk
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Filling
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup hazelnut praline paste (This paste is sometimes hard to source, so you could substitute Nutella)

Icing
200g icing sugar
Enough water to make a smooth paste

Method

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Put the tepid water, yeast and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook. Leave it to sit for a few minutes, to allow the yeast to start to activate.

When the mixture is frothy, add the buttermilk and the mashed bananas. Mix well using the dough hook.

Add the flour and salt mixture to the bowl and continue to mix with the dough hook on low speed the dough is smooth and starts to become elastic. Add the vegetable oil and mix until the dough becomes soft and silky.

Form the dough into a ball and place it into a clean bowl. Cover the bowl with cling film, or my favourite, a disposable plastic shower cap. I always use shower caps to rise dough, as they neatly fit over the top of the bowl! Allow to dough to rise for 60-90 minutes, until roughly doubled in size.

Towards the end of rise, get your filling ready. Melt the butter gently in a microwave on low, and have your brown sugar and praline paste/Nutella on hand.

Flour a work surface. Turn out the dough and knead gently for a few minutes until the dough is soft and pliable.

Roll out the dough into a big, long rectangle. The rectangle should be about 20cm wide. It’s hard to say how long the rectangle is, at least 50 cms, but it could be longer. I judge by the thickness of the dough, rolling out to get a decent length, but you do want dough that’s not too thin, just thick enough to encase the filling.

Spread the melted butter over the dough rectangle, then sprinkle over the brown sugar. Dot the dough with the praline paste or Nutella, as you can’t really spread the paste.

Roll up the dough along its long edge into as tight a cylinder you can get, being careful as the dough is quite hard to manage. Slice the cylinder into roughly equal pieces using a sharp knife. I usually get about 12 buns per cylinder, but the number of buns will vary depending on how large you want the finished product.

Line a large baking tray with baking paper and arrange the buns cut end down. Cover the tray with cling film or put inside a large plastic bag. I have several of these that I have rescued after I’ve had something delivered. Leave to rise for another 60-90 minutes at room temperature, until the buns are noticeable bigger, but not necessarily doubled in size.

15 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C fan forced.

Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until the buns are a deep golden brown colour. You can check after 15 minutes to make sure the buns are not browning too quickly – if so, cover the top with foil for the last part of the baking.

Remove from the oven, and cool to room temperature. Once the buns are cooled, drizzle with water icing.

For the icing, mix the icing sugar with enough water until the icing is thick but of dropping consistency. Drizzle the icing over the buns using a fork or spoon.

The Banana Chelsea is now ready to eat! But if you want to prove the bun is actually a banana Chelsea, by all means top with a slice or two of banana and even a few toffee shards. I did do this, but really, the buns taste like banana, so there’s really no need for additional advertising!

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Oven Bannocks, Shetland Style

I’ll bake anything that involves flour. If it’s yeast based, all the better. And baking with your very own sourdough starter is the ultimate in satisfaction.

So I sometimes forget those lovely bakes that just involve self raising flour or plain flour and baking powder. They can be just as satisfying as yeast baking and are a lot quicker.

I recently acquired Shetland: Baking on the Edge of the World, by James Morton and his father Tom Morton. James is my favourite bread baker and I’ve been cooking his recipes since he first rose to prominence on The Great British Bake-off in 2012.

I was fascinated by his discussion of bannocks, both girdle cooked and oven baked. I’ve made both, but opted for the latter as they were easier to manage and produced a lighter product. I have served them up to friends who seemed to think they were scones… I kind of agree, although this might be an heretical thing to say!

Here’s James’ recipe for oven bannocks as I have made them. I’ve included the original quantities, which makes 16. I have actually made a half quantity each time I’ve produced them. This gives me at least 8 decent sized bannocks, more than enough for a morning or afternoon tea.

Ingredients

550g self-raising flour, plus extra for shaping
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon table salt
25g caster sugar
50g butter salted or unsalted (I prefer salted)
280ml buttermilk
150ml natural yoghurt
150ml full fat milk

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan-forced. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Very lightly sprinkle them with flour.

Into a large bowl put the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar. Mix these roughly together with a wooden spoon. Add the butter and rub in with your fingers until the mixture resembles floury breadcrumbs.

Add the buttermilk, yoghurt and milk and mix together, then add to the flour using a wooden spoon, doing this quickly so as not to over mix. The mixture will be lumpy and quite wet and will need flour to handle it.

To make the bannocks, heavily flour a work surface, and scrape all the mixture out on top. Add more flour, and pat down the pile of mixture with your hands, into a rough square, about 2cm or ¾ inch thick.

Use a round cutter to cut out bannocks, or cut into rough squares with a knife, and then place the bannocks onto the prepared trays.

Bake the bannocks for about 12-15 minutes, or until light golden all over. You will need to watch them carefully, as there is a point at which they are golden and cooked, but still soft in the middle, and ready to come out of the oven.

Remove from the oven, and leave to cool a little before serving with lashings of butter or cream, and a good jam or conserve.

Cinnamon Puffins (Buns)

So these delicious pastries are actually cinnamon buns, a recipe straight from the wonderful Claire Ptak from her book The Violet Bakery Cookbook. I have renamed them “puffins” as they are pastry cooked in muffin molds, just like cruffins are croissant dough baked in muffin molds. Not sure that it will take off, but I like the name!

I am really enjoying reading Claire’s book, as the recipes are really tempting but not overly complicated. It’s their simplicity which makes them so elegant and visually pleasing.

Here is the recipe from the Violet Bakery Cookbook with a couple of tweaks from me. These “puffins” work for me as the pastry doesn’t involve yeast, so is quick to make. They’re not difficult to make, with the hardest part cutting the dough into equal sized segments and depositing into the muffin molds. But even this step is not too tricky, as the puffins are pretty forgiving and will take the shape of the muffin cavities on baking.

Ingredients

For the filling
75g unsalted butter
250g brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

For the buns
560g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp ground cardamom
240g unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
300g cold milk
Caster sugar, for dipping
Butter, for greasing the muffin tray

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Grease a 12-cup muffin mold. I used a silicone muffin mold, as muffins come out really easily with nice clean sides, but any muffin tray will be fine.

To prepare the filling, melt the butter in a saucepan or melt very carefully in the microwave. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon until no lumps remain, then set aside.

To make the dough, combine all the dry ingredients with the cubes of butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until you have a coarse meal. Slowly pour in the cold milk while the mixer is running, until the dough forms a ball and comes away from the bowl.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and leave to rest for a few minutes. Gently fold the dough over itself once or twice to pull it all together. Let it rest a second time, for 10 minutes.

Dust a benchtop or large surface lightly with flour, and roll out the dough into a large rectangle about 5mm thick. Brush the dough with melted butter, and before the butter hardens, sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar, in a thick layer.

Roll up the dough, starting at a long side, keeping it neat and tight. In order to get a taut roll, gently tug the dough towards you while rolling away from you into a spiral. Gently squeeze the finished roll to ensure the roll is the same thickness throughout. Use a sharp knife to cut it crossways into 12 even slices. Take a slice, peel back about 5cm of the loose end of the pastry and fold it in back under the roll to loosely cover the bottom.

Place in the muffin cavities, flap-side down. Repeat with the remaining slices.

Bake the puffin/buns for 25 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and immediately flip them on to a wire cooling rack, to stop them sticking to the cavities.

Dip each puffin/bun into caster sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature. They are delish!

 

Blueberry Oat Cakes

These oat cakes are a cross between cakes, biscuits and scones. They are quite dense, with ground rolled oats and blueberries.

I developed the recipe because I am currently reading “The Violet Bakery Cookbook” by the wonderful Claire Ptak. As well as being a great baker in London, she made the famous wedding cake for Harry and Meghan in 2018. She has several rather rustic scones recipes, often with wholemeal or spelt flour, often featuring fruit, in her book. She is so imaginative in her recipes and I love her presentation too!

The mixture is very crumbly and will be difficult to bring together into a dough, particularly with the frozen blueberries. But don’t worry, just pat the mixture into shape and by resting it, you can cut the rounds from the mixture.

Here’s my recipe. This makes 12 smallish oat cakes. You could double the quantities for larger, more substantial oat cakes.

Ingredients
100g rolled oats
150g plain flour
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
50g raw sugar or brown sugar
Zest of half an orange
125g cold unsalted butter cut into 1 cm chunks
150g creme fraiche
125g frozen blueberries

Method
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Blitz the rolled oats in a food processor until finely ground. Mix all the dry ingredients plus the orange zest in a bowl or in a food processor. Cut in the cold butter by hand until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs, or you can continue to use a food processor on pulse, but be careful not to overwork the dough.

Quickly stir in the creme fraiche until just mixed in. Stir in the frozen blueberries.

Turn the mixture out onto a floured board, and pat into a square about 3 or 4cms thick. Rest for 5 minutes at least, even 10 minutes.

Using a 6cm cutter, cut out rounds and place onto the baking sheet. You will probably get 8 or 9 from the dough, then you will need to gather up the remains of the dough and pat together (don’t re-roll) before cutting out the last few rounds.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the rounds are brown on top. You could check after 20 minutes to see how they are coming along. Take out of the oven and wait until the oat cakes are cool before serving.

Serve on their own – they are sweet enough – or with homemade berry jam and Greek yoghurt.

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.

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.

 

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