Vanilla Maple + Coffee Crullers

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Puffed, soft, sticky and sweet. French Crullers. I didn’t actually know that they existed until a few weeks ago when I was thinking about making doughnuts and ended up coming across them. One of my greatest pleasures is a strong cup of coffee alongside a golden brown, shiny, glazed doughnut.

The only downside to making them at home is that its quite a long process. It takes hours to make, prove, shape, prove again, fry and finish. I’m very much the kind of person that would take half a day to do that but I get that not everyone is. That’s where Crullers come in. Make choux paste, pipe it, fry it and glaze it. Finished.

However, these don’t have an ordinary doughnut texture. Expect a soft airy interior that’s not sweet nor savoury; very much like a traditional baked choux. The outside stays soft but retains its shape so that the sweet glaze can rest in its grooves.

Quick, fun and delicious. I just wish I made more.

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Rough Puff Sausage Rolls with Sage + Pickled Walnuts

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After a week of colder and typically English drizzly weather in June, I needed some buttery baked goods to brighten up the days. If you’re wondering what to eat, the answer is often sausage roll. Lunch box treat? Sausage roll. Snack? Sausage roll. Picnic in the park? Sausage roll. Cheeky breakfast? Sausage roll.

The first time you make sausage rolls, you realise what a sad version the shop-bought ones are. Pale soggy pastry, which lost all its flake in transit, filled with grey unseasoned filling. Granted, I have bought my fair share of supermarket sausage rolls. They have their place when time isn’t on your side and you just want convenience. Making your own is definitely more work but the beautiful product you get at the end is more than worth it.

I decided to make rough puff pastry as it’s a little easier than traditional puff pastry, but still gives you a flaky glossy and flavourful crust. By adding in fresh sage, caramelised onion and crushed pickled walnuts the sausage meat develops just the right amount of tang and sweetness.

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Continue reading “Rough Puff Sausage Rolls with Sage + Pickled Walnuts”

Extra-Flaky Cherry Pie

IMG_6700I had never been a particularly big fan of cherries growing up. I’d eat fresh when they were offered but they weren’t ever used in baking by family members. I can count my food dislikes on one hand, I pretty much love everything. Although one of my most loathed flavours is bitter almond, something that accompanies cherry in a lot of recipes. This means Cherry Bakewell tart is pushed to the side lines meaning my childhood memories of baked goods have not a cherry in sight.

When I started working in professional kitchens, one of the first things I noticed was the quality of the produce. Unlike anything you’ve ever tasted in the supermarket. Every ingredient had so much flavour, especially the fruit. Every year when cherries come into season, we receive large punnets of dark shiny cherries. Beautifully sweet and rich with their wine coloured juice, sometimes they seem too precious to do anything with other than leave them.

I’m also not an avid pie maker. Although I’ve always thought there was something so lovely about a pie that brings people together. Its humble but charming. Faced with the task at hand, I was determined to choose an extra flaky pie crust recipe. Enter Stella Parks. After much research, I chose Stella’s recipe knowing that the large butter layers and folding technique would ensure separate crisp layers.

My perfect cherry pie is crisp, buttery and golden. The filling needs to be firm enough to hold together when cut, but soft enough to that it remains silky when eaten. This turned out to be all those things. Delicious fresh. Delicious cold from the fridge. Delicious warmed in the microwave with ice cream. Delicious however you like it.

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A Summer Weekend Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie

IMG_2106 2IMG_2128Usually when I post on here, I plan ahead. I make whatever delicious treat I crave a week in advance and schedule a time on my days off to sit in front of my computer. Today though, I made something so ideal for this warm summer weekend that I had to post it today.

The weather here has been pure bliss; glistening sunshine that tickles the skin, ocean blue skies and a gentle breeze to cool you. My favourite kind of weather is a crisp spring or autumn morning however, this has some strong competition after today’s perfect weather.

For me, summer is about a plethora of vibrant plump fruits and vegetables. Cooking is so much easier in the warm weather. In winter you need to add other flavours to potatoes and lets face it, kind of boring root vegetables. It requires an effort. In summer though, fruits scream with their bright coloured skins and burst with lively flavours bringing your taste buds to life. No need for extras. Just let their natural, delightful sweetness charm you into long summer nights and the smoky calling of your barbecue. Continue reading “A Summer Weekend Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie”

Moroccan Cornish Pasties

Eaten Cornish pastyCornish pasties are always guaranteed to put a smile on anyones face.

Traditional cornish pasties are filled to the brim with meat and veg; all encased in short crumbly pastry. The ideal takeaway lunch to keep you warm as this stubborn weather continues to be unchangeable. Continue reading “Moroccan Cornish Pasties”

Onion Herb Tart

finished tart 2This weeks lesson: do not buy pretty shaped tart cases that you have no experience lining.

Do not attempt to line said tart case in an angry and impatient manner. This will only result in the following: badly made pastry, pale under baked pastry case and, in the end, a broken square pastry case.

As you all know from my previous melt down, I have had trouble lining this tart case. Continue reading “Onion Herb Tart”

Pistachio and Hazelnut Baklava

baklava 2Baklava is one of those foods which I discovered in my mid teens. I didn’t even know it existed until then.

I can remember eating my first sweet piece thinking it was both delicious and weird. It was unlike anything I had ever had. Flakey, nutty and sticky. It was just so… turkish! Never would I have thought I could possibly make this dreamy treat at home. Continue reading “Pistachio and Hazelnut Baklava”

Caramel Nut Tart

Caramel nut tart

I think you can see for yourself, but I think that this tart is seriously beautiful. The top of the caramel dances in the light like glass. The nuts peep out of the surface like gems. All of that sweet crunchy goodness is encased in short and crumbly cinnamon pastry. When the tart is fully set it cuts really nicely. It’s really sweet so you don’t need anything on the side apart from some creme fraiche or marscapone.

I like to keep a little of the caramel back for Ice cream, because you’ve got to always think of your next sweet fix right?

Tart on stand

Assorted nuts

before rolling

finished pastry

Cut nut tart

 

 

Ingredients – Recipe adapted from The Bouchon Bakery – yields one 8 by 3/4 inch tart

Pastry (Pâte Brisée)

  • 152g plain flour
  • pinch salt
  • 115g cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 30g cold water
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • a few grates of fresh nutmeg

Filling

  • 185g assorted nuts (I used: cashews, pistachios, pecans and macadamia)
  • 85g glucose
  • 125g sugar
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 130g double cream (divided into 100g and 30g)

Method

Pastry

  • Place 70g of the flour with the salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to low-speed and gradually add in the butter cubes. Once all the butter has been added, turn the speed to medium and beat for about 1 minute until the butter is fully incorporated. Turn the speed back to low and gradually add in the remaining 82g of flour. Mix until combined; don’t over mix here. Add in the water and beat on low again until smooth, not sticky. There shouldn’t be any lumps of butter left in the dough.
  • Take the dough out of the mixer, pat it into a disk and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight. The longer the better.
  • When you’re ready to roll out the dough, take a 8 inch tart ring and place it onto a lined baking tray.
  • Unwrap your pastry and place it between two pieces of parchment paper. Using a rolling-pin, hit the top of the dough. Continue to do this so that your pastry begins to get thinner and wider. This will ensure the pastry doesn’t crack when being rolled.
  • Start by rolling your pastry, rotating 90 degrees every so often so that your pastry is still circular. Roll it big enough to fit well over your ring. This is important as you need excess to push into the corners of the tart ring.
  • Remove the top piece of parchment paper. Turn the dough over so that the pastry side is down. Lay this over your tart ring and gently ease the pastry into the tart ring, pushing it against the bottom and sides. Now peel off the parchment paper and press down the pastry into the tart ring again so that it is securely in the tart ring, with no gaps along the base edge of the ring. If you have long nails, take an excess piece of pastry, roll it into a ball, dip it in some flour and use this to push your pastry.
  • Note: if you like, you can just roll your dough out between parchment, peel off the top layer, dust the pastry with flour and turn upside down. Peel off the other piece of parchment paper and flour this side of the dough. Roll the dough around your rolling-pin and unroll it over the tart ring. Then push it into the ring. This is a more traditional way of lining a tart ring, which you may be more used to.
  • Cut off any excess pastry that hangs over the edge of the tart ring, using a sharp knife.
  • Freeze the lined tart ring for 30 minutes, this will help to keep the pastry from shrinking when baking.
  • While your tart is freezing, pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees C.
  • When your tart is ready for blind baking; take a piece of aluminium foil, scrunch it up in your hands, unravel it and line the inside of your tart. Fold over the edges of the foil over the ring to protect the edges of the tart as well. Fill the tart with baking beans or rice.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, rotate the baking tray and bake for another 20 minutes. Keep an eye on your pastry; depending on your oven, it may not take 40 minutes. The dough should be set underneath the foil and no longer sticky.
  • Remove the baking beans and foil and return to the oven for another 10 minutes until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Filling

  • Place your assorted nuts onto a baking tray at 160 degrees C. Roast for about 8 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Place the toasted nuts into the baked pastry case, still in its tart ring. The tart should be very full.
  • For the caramel: Before you start, get all of your ingredients ready. Place the glucose into a large saucepan, on hight heat, and bring to the boil.
  • Turn the heat to medium and add the sugar in three additions, stirring between each addition until the sugar has dissolved. After a few minutes the sugar should be bubbling and a rich amber colour, 177 degrees C.
  • Quickly stir in the butter. Once the butter has melted, stir in the 100g of cream. Be careful as the caramel will bubble violently.
  • Continue to cook the caramel, stirring every now and again to keep it from burning in places. When the caramel reaches 120 degrees C, take it off the heat.
  • Now add in the 30g of cream and stir to combine.
  • Pour the caramel over the nuts in the tart shell. Do this slowly so that it doesn’t spill over the edges. Some of the nuts will stick out of the top. If you reserve a bit of the caramel, take a pastry brush and brush caramel onto the top of the nuts to make them shiny.
  • Leave to set completely. Remove the tart ring and serve.