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Tag Archives: crème pâtissière

Pavlova Stack with Burnt Salted Caramel

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This is a great dessert which is relatively easy to make. If you can make meringue, toffee and crème pâtissière,  you can create this rustic spectacular! I call it a pavlova stack, as the meringue layers are like mini pavlovas.

The base of the dessert is 3 layers of pavlova/meringue. They are stacked on top of each other with a filling of crème légère and burnt salted caramel sauce.  You can top the pavlova stack with almond praline shards. You could be very precise in making the cake – piping the meringue and piping the crème légère. Or go rustic and free form and just spoon everything on, smoothing out a few rough edges here and there.

Here are the recipes for the component parts: pavlovas, crème légère, burnt salted caramel sauce and almond praline.

Pavlovas

Ingredients

6 egg whites

300g caster sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Method

Preheat oven to 120 degrees C, 100 Gas 1⁄2. Don’t cook these pavlovas on fan-forced setting.

Place a sheet of baking paper on 2 baking trays. Draw a circle on one sheet, 20cm/8 inches in diameter. Turn the baking paper over so that you can see the pencil marking on the other side. Draw 2 smaller circles on the other sheet of baking paper, 15cm/6 inches and 13cm/5 inches in diameter. Turn the paper over so you can see the circle markings. You should be able to fit the 2 smaller circles on one baking sheet.

Do not grease the baking paper!

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff. Gradually beat in sugar, a teaspoon at a time, until very stiff. Stir in vanilla and vinegar.

Spoon the mixture onto the 3 paper circles. You can “anchor” the baking paper down by putting a small dob of meringue under each corner of the paper.

Place baking trays in the oven. Bake for 1.5 to 1.75 hours, depending on your oven.  The pavlovas should be quite dry, but still white – if they are brown they have been cooked too long.

Turn oven off, leave in oven a for further hour or you could leave until quite cold.

Crème Légère – Crème légère is crème pâtissière combined with whipped cream. The result is a light, custardy cream great for filling puff pastry items like eclairs or for filling cake layers.

Crème Pâtissière

Ingredients

500g full fat  milk

6 free-range egg yolks

45g cornflour

120g caster sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract/paste

60g salted butter

Method

Put the milk into a saucepan over a medium heat till just simmering. While the milk is heating, place egg yolks, cornflour, sugar and vanilla in a bowl, and whisk till combined and you have a smooth paste.  Add half of the just simmered milk into the egg mixture and whisk this just to combine. Essentially, you are tempering the eggs, so that they don’t scramble by adding all the hot milk at once. Then add all this mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk. Bring the mixture back to a simmer, whisking, or stirring with wooden spoon, until the the mixture has thickened considerably. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and leave to cool.

To make the creme légère to sandwich the pavlovas together, combine half the crème pat with 300mls whipped cream. The cream must be whipped past soft peaks stage until it is quite stiff – but be careful it doesn’t turn to butter! The idea is that the cream is stiff enough to incorporate the custard.

Burnt Salted Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

200g white sugar

90g salted butter, in small pieces

120ml cream

1 tsp salt

Method

Heat the sugar in a heavy bottomed  saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until the sugar turns into a tea coloured liquid as you continue to stir. At this stage the toffee/caramel flavour is achieved. If you take the liquid to a slightly darker brown colour, you will achieve that “burnt’ flavour – but beware it is really easy to actually burn the caramel!

Now add the butter  very carefully – the caramel will bubble up. Stir the caramel until the butter is completely melted.

Pour in the cream while continuing to stir. The mixture will  bubble when cream is added. Allow the mixture to boil for about a minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the  salt.

Allow to cool before using. The caramel will thicken on cooling and thicken even more in the fridge. To ensure the caramel sauce is pour-able for the pavlovas, VERY carefully microwave to warm up on low heat. Or you could sit the container in a bowl of hot water to warm up.

Almond Praline

Heat 1/2 cup of caster sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Be careful not to stir the sugar – tilt the saucepan to help melt the sugar. Cook for several minutes until the sugar turns a deep caramel tea colour and take off the heat. It’s a fine line between toffee that’s cooked and toffee that’s burnt! *

Pour onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Quickly scatter over a handful of almond flakes.

Leave to cool and harden. When completely cold, break up the praline into jagged shards.

To Assemble the Stack:

Place the largest pavlova on serving plate. It’s best to place with the bottom on the plate, and nice side up – I forgot with this layer and turned the pavlova layer the wrong way up. Smother with about half the crème légère. Drizzle or spoon over, according to taste, a couple of tablespoonfuls of the burnt salted caramel sauce.

Place the middle sized pavlova on top as the next layer. Spoon about quarter of the crème légère over this layer, and drizzle or spoon a tablespoon – or more – of the caramel sauce.  Put the remaining pavlova on top.

At this stage you can refrigerate for a couple of hours until ready serve. There is no reason for not serving the pavlova stack as is – see photo below. It looks pretty good!

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However, to make it utterly delicious and decadent, when you are ready to serve, pile on the remaining crème légère, drizzle with more caramel sauce and decorate with the almond praline shards.

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 *Tip for cleaning the praline saucepan: fill the pan with water and heat on the stove top till just boiling. Turn off heat and leave for a few minutes – the hardened toffee should hopefully dissolve making the pan easy to clean.

 

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Paul Hollywood’s Danish Pastries

IMG_4134I’m on a long holiday at the moment which has given me the time for lots of experimental cooking.

I love pastry so learning how to make laminated pastry seemed appropriate. It’s a lengthy but not difficult process – you just need some uninterrupted time and lots of patience!

I followed the recipes from the god of baking Paul Hollywood, from his book How to Bake: http://paulhollywood.com/books/

I can thoroughly recommend his step by step guide to making Danish pastry dough complete with excellent pictures as well as his individual recipes.

I made the basic dough and then created Pain aux Raisins, Almond Pastries and Berry Danishes as three sweet and delicious pastry morsels. I have also included the recipes for crème pâtissière and frangipane, typical pastry fillings.

IMG_3937Danish Pastry Dough

Ingredients

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

10g salt

80g caster sugar

10g instant yeast

2 medium eggs

90ml cool water

125ml tepid full-fat milk

250g chilled unsalted butter

Method

Put the flour into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the eggs, water and milk and mix on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for 6 minutes.

Tip the flour out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Dust with flour, put into a clean plastic bag and chill in the fridge for an hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out your chilled dough to a rectangle, about 50 x 20cm and about 1cm thick. Flatten the butter to a rectangle, about 33 x 19cm, by bashing it with a rolling pin. 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.

Take the dough out of the bag and put it on the lightly floured surface with the short end towards you. Now roll it out to a rectangle, about 50 x 20cm, as before. This time fold up one-third of the dough and then fold the top third down on top. This is called a single turn. Put the dough back in the plastic bag and chill for another hour. Repeat this stage twice more, putting the dough back into the fridge between turns.

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.

I divided the dough into three, using a third for each pastry type.

IMG_4028Pain Aux Raisins

Ingredients

1/3 quantity Danish pastry dough, chilled

Flour for dusting

1/3 quantity crème pâtissière

80g raisins

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 medium free range egg, beaten

Method

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Roll the dough 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.

Cut the roll 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 degrees C) until at least doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Heat your oven to 200 degrees C. Brush the risen pastries with beaten egg and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or golden brown.

Paul glazes with apricot jam and drizzles with lemon icing. I left them plain this time.

IMG_4060Almond Pastries

Ingredients

1/3 quantity Danish pastry dough, chilled

Flour for dusting

1/3 quantity frangipane

50g flaked almonds

1 free range egg, lightly beaten

Method

Line baking tray with baking paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 20cm square, approximately 5mm thick. Cut into 10cm squares. If you make them a little smaller, and roll the dough a fraction bigger, you can squeeze 6 out of the dough. Fold the corners into the middle and press down lightly with your finger so the fold sticks.

Put the pastries onto the baking tray, spacing them apart. Put the tray into a clean plastic bag, leaving to rise at cool room temperature  (18 – 24 degrees C)  until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Heat oven to 200 degrees C.

Place about 1tbsp of frangipane in the middle of each risen pastry and sprinkle with flaked almonds.  Brush the pastry with beaten egg and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until risen and golden brown.

Paul glazes with apricot jam and optionally drizzles with orange icing. Again, I left them plain this time.

IMG_4062 2Berry Danishes

Ingredients

1 quantity Danish pastry dough, chilled

Flour for dusting

1/3 quantity crème pâtissière

100g mixed berries

1 free range egg, lightly beaten

Method

Line baking tray with baking paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a rectangle, about 30 x15cm and approximately 7mm thick. Cut into 7cm squares. on eaxc square, make cuts from each corner going diagonally almost to the centre so you have 4 triangles. Fold one corner from each triangle into the centre to create a star shape.

Put the stars onto the baking tray, spacing them apart to allow room for spreading. Put the tray into a clean plastic bag, leaving to rise at cool room temperature  (18 – 24 degrees C)  until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Heat oven to 200 degrees C.

Put 1tbsp of crème pâtissière in the middle of each risen pastry and top with a couple of berries.  Brush the pastry with beaten egg and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Paul glazes with apricot jam and drizzles with lemon icing. I left them plain.

Crème pâtissière

Ingredients

500m milk

1 vanilla pod, split down the middle and seeds scraped out

100g caster sugar

4 free-range eggs, yolks only

40g cornflour

40g butter

Method

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. Add the butter and stir until melted and thoroughly combined.

Leave to cool, cover with clingfilm and then chill before using.

Frangipane

Ingredients

100g butter, softened

75g caster sugar

40g plain flour

2 large eggs, beaten

60g ground almonds

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp almond extract

Method

Put the butter and sugar into a food processor and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and one tablespoon of flour and mix well. Add the remaining flour, ground almonds, baking powder and almond extract and process until combined. Chill before using to make it easier to shape.

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