Orange Spiced Cloudberry Galette

This was a big day for me.  Why?  Today, I ran my first 10km race.  In fact, today I ran 10km for the first time ever.

Well, actually, I probably should clarify that statement.  When I say run, I in fact mean a jog-so-slow-you-inevitably-have-people-constantly-passing-you.  And when I say jog, I mean my level of exertion when not taking absolute and complete advantage of a well-deserved rest every now and again at water stops along the way.

During my race, I tried to keep my mind distracted.  Once I start thinking about what I am actually doing, the game is up.  Not surprisingly, I thought about baking.  I pondered that I would prefer to be making pâte feuilletée for six hours, rather than run for just over an hour.  I then also thought about my outstanding pastry for the month.  Pâte brisée.  More specifically, I was creating these mini galettes in my mind.

Recently, I found some cloudberry jam.  My first experience of cloudberry was last year, in Finland.  I sampled cloudberry ice-cream – a popular local favourite – and instantly loved the unique flavour.  The orange coloured berry has a distinct tartness, and paired so well with creamy vanilla ice cream.  In Finland, they often eat cloudberry with Leipäjuusto, a squeaky cheese similar to haloumi.  With this in mind, I was originally planning of complementing the cloudberry jam with ricotta, in a similar manner to a crostata di ricotta e marmellata (jam and ricotta tart).

But then I remembered the recipe for Orange-Spiced Pâte Brisée in Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking.  The idea of a spiced pastry that could carry the flavour of a seasonal fruit (Sherry’s recommendation), ultimately won me over.  This simple combination ended up as my must try for the cloudberry jam.

I was happy I kept it straightforward.  In fact, it was quite fortuitous – given the exertion of the day – that the simplest pastry and dessert brought my pastry month to an end.

I made half the recipe to produce four 10cm (2.5 in) galettes.  To increase the Scandinavian twist, I also substituted ground cardamom for the recommended ground ginger.

The result?  Simple but delicious.  The cloudberry jam was sweet, but still permeated strong tart overtones.  With minimal sugar and a strong spice in the pâte brisée, the pastry balanced the jam filling perfectly.  I will definitely make this quick and easy pastry again to pair with a multitude of fresh fruits and other mouth-watering jams!

{ Orange-Spiced Cloudberry Galettes }
Pastry adapted from Sherry Yard

* Ingredients *
250g or 2 sticks of cold unsalted butter
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup cold water
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 large egg, at room temperature

* Directions *
Cut the butter into pieces and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.  Sift together the flour, sugar, spices and salt into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the frozen butter.  Mix on low speed for 2 minutes.  Stop the machine and by hand pinch flat any large pieces of butter that remain.  Whisk together the water, juice and egg in a small bowl.  Turn the mixer on low speed and add the liquid all at once. Mix just until the dough comes together, about 15 seconds.  The dough should be tacky but not sticky.  Remove the dough from the bowl and wrap in plastic film.  Chill for at least 1 hour.  Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.  Quickly roll out each piece into 15cm (6 in) circles.  Chill again for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).  In the centre of the dough, place the jam of your choice.  Fold up 2cm (about 1 inch) around the edge and pinch gently to adhere the folds.  Brush with egg and sprinkle with sugar.  Baked for 30 minutes.

Makes eight 10cm (2.5 in) galettes

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Chocolate Eclairs

I admit this is a very obvious choice.  When you mention pâte à choux, who would not immediately think of chocolate éclairs?  So, perhaps I am predictable.  But at least I baked something delicious, yes?

Admittedly, this is not the first time I have made pâte à choux.  Earlier in the year I made a quick batch of profiteroles – inspired after a pastry class with the head pastry chef at E’cco Bistro.  I promised myself that my next batch of pâte à choux would deliver me some tasty éclairs.  So here we are.

I used a vanilla pastry cream filling for the éclairs, and a simple ganache for the glaze.  For both the éclairs (and the profiteroles previously), I did not end up with a neat glaze finish.  I remember the beautifully smooth finish on the éclairs at Fauchon in Paris – and long to replicate that slick look!

Anyway, glaze neat or messy, these éclairs were delicious – even if they were predictable.

{ Pâte à choux } adapted from Sherry Yard

* Ingredients *
¼ cup water
¼ cup milk
45g butter, at room temperature, cubed
½ cup plain flour, sifted
2-3 eggs, at room temperature

* Directions *
Place water, milk and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until butter melts and mixture just comes to the boil. Add all the flour to the butter mixture at once and use a wooden spoon to beat until well combined. Place over low heat and cook, stirring, for at least 4 minutes or until the mixture forms a mashed potato like appearance.  Remove from the heat.

Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed for a few minutes to cool the mixture down.  Then start to add the egg one by one.  Make sure the egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one.  Before you add your last egg, check for consistency.  (See notes.)  Once done, the dough should be shiny and smooth.  At this stage you can fill a piping bag with the choux paste and use straight away or freeze for later.  (See notes.)

Preheat oven to 220 C or 425 F.  Line a baking sheet with Silpat.  Pipe the eclairs onto the baking tray. Brush the tops with a little egg mixture. Bake for 10 minutes, or until begin to rise.  Turn the temperature down to 180 C or 350 F.  Carefully prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon and bake for another 15 minutes.
When cool, cut the top half off each one with a serrated knife.  Set the tops over a cooling rack.  Drizzle ganache over each top (you can use any recipe you like for the ganache).  Place the tops in the ridge to set, about 15-20 minutes. Fill the eclairs with a simple pastry cream. 

Makes 12 eclairs 10cm (4 in)

{ Basic Pastry Cream }

* Ingredients *
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup cornflour

* Directions *
In a medium-sized stainless steel bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together with a wooden spoon. (Never let the mixture sit too long or you will get pieces of egg forming.)  Add the cornflour to the egg mixture until you get a smooth paste.  Set aside.
Meanwhile in a saucepan combine the milk and split vanilla bean on medium heat until boiling. Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.  Remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and add the seeds to the egg mixture.
Place the egg mixture back into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly.  When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 – 60 seconds until it becomes very thick and it is hard to stir.
Remove from heat and pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming.  Cool.  If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days.  Beat before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.

Makes 1 ½ cups

{ A few tips … }

1. You can freeze the pastry before you pipe into puffs.  Transfer the mixture once cooled to a piping bag, seal and then freeze for up to 2 weeks. 
2. The number of eggs given is a bit of a guide.  When you have added the second last egg, check the consistency.  The pastry should be more firm than runny.  If it is a little runny, add the last egg.  Sherry’s tip is to pinch off about 1 teaspoon of the dough with your thumb and index finger, then pull your fingers apart.  The dough should stretch rather than break.  If it breaks, add the last egg.
3. Steam helps these little puffballs rise.  Sherry recommends putting a cup of hot water into a baking dish at the bottom of the oven when you put your puffs in to bake.
4. Filled puffs only last a couple of hours in the fridge.
5. Consider filling with a lovely chocolate custard for a different twist.

gingerbread

In my bread quest this month, I could not go past brioche.  There are many egg-based breads.  Brioche :: Challah :: Panettone :: Stollen :: Pulla.   Brioche is probably the richest of them all.  In Sherry Yard’s, The Secrets of Baking handbook, she explains the foundation brioche recipe and its versatility to make flavoured brioche, lean and rich brioche, sticky buns, as well as fried brioche in the form of beignets and doughnuts.  When flicking through the pages, I stopped on her Gingerbread Brioche recipe.  I simply nodded and knew it would be where I would start.

As breads go, the recipe was actually quite simple.  Well, if you have a stand mixer, that is.  You simply make a sponge (yeast and warm milk added with a little sugar and flour to make a batter) that rests for about half an hour.  Then you add that with the rest of the ingredients into a mixer and gently work the dough for a few minutes.  Once that is done, it simply needs to proof a couple of times.  At the end, you shape into your favoured tin, and voila, you are done!

I only made half the recipe suggested as I was light on brioche à tête molds – I only had two medium sized available.  Even when I filled those I had some dough left over.  I looked around for some alternative pans / molds that would take the remaining dough.  I pulled out some little pudding molds which were perfect for the job.  For these mini gingerbread-y versions, I wrapped up the dough around a little square of dark chocolate.  What could be better?

The end result was fabulously light, buttery, rich and soft all wrapped up together.  The texture just perfect.  The only thing I would change next time would be the amount of nutmeg.  The flavour was a little overpowering compared with the other spices included.  When I was adding the spices I did pause when reading the quantity of nutmeg (thinking it was too much), but shrugged, figured Sherry knows best, and continued on.  I would probably reduce it by half or even a quarter next time.  But I have retained the original quantity in the recipe below, in case you are a nutmeg nut!

Sherry makes this bread specifically for French toast.  She serves it with orange butter and walnut-maple syrup.  After tasting the bread, I think she is on a winning combination.

{ Gingerbread Brioche }

* Ingredients *

Sponge:

½ cup whole milk at room temperature (see note)
1 tbsp dry active yeast
2 tbsp sugar
½ cup bread or all purpose flour

Dough:

1/3 cup unsulfured black-strap molasses (see note)
3 tbsp packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cloves
4 cups bread flour 
2 tsp salt
6 large eggs, slightly beaten
9 ounces unsalted butter, softened but still cool

1 large egg

* Directions *

Make the sponge.  Combine milk and yeast in the mixing bowl of a standing mixer. Whisk and let sit for 5 minutes.  Add flour and sugar, mix to form a thick batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30-45 minutes, until bubbles form.

Add the molasses, brown sugar, spice, flour, and salt to the sponge. Add the eggs. Beat with the paddle attachment on low speed for 2 minutes, until the eggs are absorbed. Increase the speed to medium and knead the dough for 5 minutes.  Hold the mixer when necessary.

Turn the machine down to medium low speed and add the butter, 2 tbsp at a time. Knead for another 5 minutes, until the dough is shiny.  Scrape out the dough and clean and lightly oil the bowl.  Don’t worry if the dough is difficult to handle.  Place the dough back in the bowl then turn it over so that the top is oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours, until doubled.  When dough is has doubled in volume, punch it down by folding it two or three times. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

After the second rise, the dough is ready to be shaped.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  For brioche à tête generously butter two 8 inch brioche molds and put them on a baking sheet.  Punch the dough down again and transfer it to a work surface.  Set aside the equivalent of about 1 cup of dough, and divide the rest into two portions.  Firmly roll each portion of dough on the table in a circular motion with the palm of your hand to form a smooth ball.  Place into each mold.

With the reserved dough, divide in half and roll into a bowling pin shape.  Make an indention in the centre of the larger ball, and place the small pin into the centre of the brioche. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400F or 200C.  Lightly whisk the egg and gently brush the surface of the dough.  Bake for 10 minutes and reduce heat to 350F or 180C.  Bake for another 30 minutes depending on the size of your molds.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

{ A few notes … }
1. For the milk, I warmed mine ever so slightly to about 80 – 90 F.
2. I have had trouble finding unsulfured molasses in Australia.  As a substitute, I used dark treacle.  I use treacle for all my gingerbread baking and it works a treat.
3. Tête means head, as you can see why!

Profiteroles3

In honour of French patisserie treats, I have short-listed a few items to bake this month.  First up were madeleines.  Next challenge, profiteroles.

I am fascinated by choux pastry (pâte à choux).  This multipurpose pastry can be used to create cream puffs, profiteroles, and éclairs.  I recently attended a class at Black Pearl Epicure and the lovely Kristie Rickman, head pastry chef at E’cco, demonstrated a few pastry essentials.  Choux pastry was on her list and she created a number of mouth-watering cream puffs.  Inspired by Kristie, I decided to recreate the golden puffy delights at home.

As my deliciously light madeleines turned out perfectly, I thought I would continue with Sherry Yard as recipe guide for the choux pastry.  Kristie shared a sensational chocolate custard recipe, so there was no question what to use for filling.

There are a few steps to this recipe, but all are very simple.  The end result is worth the effort!  In fact, I was given some feedback on these little chocolately puffs of goodness.  They were apparently absolutely delicious … but just way too small!  So next time I make pâte à choux, I need to upgrade to éclairs!

{ Pâte à choux } adapted from Sherry Yard

Makes about 18 medium sized puffs

* Ingredients *

¼ cup water
¼ cup milk
45g butter, at room temperature, cubed
½ cup plain flour, sifted
2-3 eggs, at room temperature

* Directions *

Place water, milk and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until butter melts and mixture just comes to the boil.
Add all the flour to the butter mixture at once and use a wooden spoon to beat until well combined. Place over low heat and cook, stirring, for at least 4 minutes or until the mixture forms a mashed potato like appearance.  Remove from the heat.
Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed for a few minutes to cool the mixture down.  Then start to add the egg one by one.  Make sure the egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one.  Before you add your last egg, check for consistency.  (See notes.)  Once done, the dough should be shiny and smooth.  At this stage you can fill a piping bag with the choux paste and use straight away or freeze for later.  (See notes.)

puff-ballstopsbottomsPreheat oven to 220 C or 425 F.  Line a baking sheet with Silpat.  Pipe the profiteroles onto the baking tray. For medium sized puffs, pipe about 3-4 cm in size (1 ½ inches).  Brush the tops with a little egg mixture. Bake for 10 minutes, or until puffs begin to rise.  Turn the temperature down to 180 C or 350 F.  Carefully prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon and bake for another 15 minutes.

When the puffs cool, cut the top half off each one with a serrated knife.  Set the tops over a cooling rack.  Drizzle ganache over each puff top (you can use any recipe you like for the ganache).  Place the puff tops in the ridge to set, about 15-20 minutes.

Fill the puffs with a filling of your choice.  Use the Chocolate Custard recipe below or choose plain whipped cream or vanilla custard.

Then replace the tops to finish off your lovely puff!  If you are greedy like me, try to eat these cream filled sensations in one single bite.  All the flavours complement well.  If you can somehow resist not popping the whole thing in your mouth in one go, they still taste pretty good, too! 

{ Chocolate custard } adapted from Kristie Rickman

Sufficient to fill 18 medium sized puffs

* Ingredients *

3 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
25g plain flour
250ml milk
50g good-quality chocolate
100ml cream, softly whipped

* Directions *

Lightly whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Add the flour and whisk to combine.
In a saucepan, slowly boil the milk.  Once the milk has reached a boil ladle about ¼ cup into the egg mixture and whisk well.  Then transfer the egg mixture into the rest of the milk and cook slowly over medium heat until the mixture thickens and comes to the boil. Add the chocolate, stirring until to melt through.
Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the top to prevent a skin forming. Cool to room temperature. Once ready to use, stir in the cream.  Transfer to a piping bag to pipe mixture into the prepared puffs.

{ A few tips … }

1.  You can freeze the pastry before you pipe into puffs.  Transfer the mixture once cooled to a piping bag, seal and then freeze for up to 2 weeks.  I made my pastry a week ago, popped it in the freezer, then let it defrost for about an hour before piping.
2.  The work of adding the eggs is made much easier using a stand mixer.  But you can complete this step by hand if necessary.
3.  The number of eggs given is a bit of a guide.  When you have added the second last egg, check the consistency.  The pastry should be more firm than runny.  If it is a little runny, add the last egg.  Sherry’s tip is to pinch off about 1 teaspoon of the dough with your thumb and index finger, then pull your fingers apart.  The dough should stretch rather than break.  If it breaks, add the last egg.
4.  Steam helps these little puffballs rise.  Sherry recommends putting a cup of hot water into a baking dish at the bottom of the oven when you put your puffs in to bake.
5.  When I cut the tops off my puffs, I set out the bottom half in the same order as the tops on a separate baking tray.  That way I could match the correct top and bottom together easily when it came to assembly time!
6.  Filled puffs only last a couple of hours in the fridge – but probably not a problem if your household has a sweet tooth like mine!

So for my short-list of French-style patisserie treats this month, I have one challenge to go.  Next week I will be tackling croissants.  Souhaitez-moi bonne chance!

chocolate-madeleine

I have been reminiscing about my recent trip to a handful of Paris’ best patisseries.  To pay sort of tribute (and to sadly attempt to re-create the experience), I have short-listed a few decidedly French treats to bake.

First up, madeleines.  The recipe selected is courtesy of the magnificent Sherry Yard.  Magnificent as her ability to translate volumes of detail about the fundamentals of baking, in way an amateur can understand, speaks to her enormous skill.

I also could not resist baking a delicious buttery treat that was adorably shaped as a shell.

Sherry’s basic recipe is for a Orange Blossom Honey Madeleine.  Sherry provides a few variations for lemon, pistachio and chocolate to cater for a variety of palates and tastes.  I opted for chocolate, as I truly cannot resist this flavour in its many forms!

The recipe is quite simple.  You just need to factor in a little time for the batter to chill.  Sherry includes the addition of almond meal to add flavour and lightness to the batter.

{ Orange Blossom Honey Madeleines }

Makes about 8 dozen mini or 4 dozen standard cakes.

* Ingredients *
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cake flour
½ cup almond flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ pound unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup orange blossom honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons orange flower water
2 tablespoons chopped kumquats or 1tablespoon mince orange zest
4 eggs

* Directions *
1. Sift flours, baking powered and salt into bowl and set aside
2. Beat butter on high until soft.  Slowly add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Mixture should be light and fully.  Beat in honey, vanilla, orange flower water and kumquats or orange zest.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time.  Add the flour mixture to the batter in thirds until just incorporated.  Cover the batter and chill for at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).  Brush moulds with butter and dust with flour.
5. Spoon batter into the pan, filling each about three-quarters full.  Bake for 10 minutes for mini or 15 minutes for standard size, or until golden brown and firm to the touch.
6. Best served warm from the oven but can be stored airtight for 3 days and in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.

{ Chocolate variation… }
Replace ¼ cup of cake flour with ¼ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder.