I’ve been having a hard time keeping up with new cookbooks lately (and the huge pile on my bedside table is getting even higher) – there seem to be so many good books coming out this year. I remember I made a vague resolution at the beginning of the year to cut back on them as the collection is now getting uncontrollable – but I knew my restraint wouldn’t last very long. And indeed it didn’t, as I still get excited every time I receive one…
I love reading any food books, but you know I have a weak spot for all things baking. I was thrilled to receive these two fantastic books recently – one is Tartine Bread, which you probably don’t need any introduction to; it’s from the fabulous bakery in San Francisco (their first book is great too, and I absolutely love their video). The recipes are tantalising and so are the photos – beautifully shot by my friend Eric who worked at the bakery for a long time and now works as a successful photographer. (He’s working on the OpenKitchen project, cooking fundraising dinners in aid of Haiti, you can find out more here.)
I’ve bookmarked so many recipes from Tartine Bread already and am hoping to write about it sometime, but today I wanted to share a recipe from the other favourite book, Bourke Street Bakery.
I’ve never been to Australia, although I’m hoping I will one day – when visiting this bakery will be top of my list. I first saw their ginger brulee tarts through Yotam‘s tweet while he was visiting the bakery in Sydney and I got really curious about the recipe – so I was happy to find it in the book. Haven’t yet had a chance to try it out, but will report back when I do!
The book covers everything from classic breads to pies, tarts, pastries and cakes – they all look irresistible, but I knew straight away what I was going to make first – praline twists, Danish pastries layered with custard and a generous sprinkle of praline. I love making croissants (or puff pastry in general, I’ve posted a recipe here) – I know it’s not something that provides instant gratification, and perhaps daunting if you’ve never done this kind of ‘laminating’, but with a little planning and practice it’s not as hard as you might think and I seriously recommend having a go. I can assure you that all the effort will be worth it when the heavenly buttery aroma from the oven fills the kitchen, and of course when you bite into the flaky crust!
Their recipe uses ‘plain’ praline (ie nuts coated in caramel), but I also added some pink pralines and it worked wonderfully. These sugar coated almonds and hazelnuts are a popular confection from Lyon – I’ve been wanting to make something with them since I tried this delicious pink praline studded brioche from Pralus in Paris (I’ve posted a photo here).
Their recipe requires a little more time than ‘usual’ croissant doughs – resting the ferment (starter) overnight then proving the dough another night gives a more complex flavour. The finished pastry tasted as great as I hoped, and as it says in the book, the thin burnt caramel that oozes out onto the paper during baking is a treat in itself. Try to use the best ingredients (especially the butter) as you will definitely taste them.
makes about 30
For the croissant ferment
100g strong flour
5g soft brown sugar
2 ½g salt
5g fresh yeast
20g unsalted butter
For the croissant dough
935g strong flour
60g soft brown sugar
35g fresh yeast
500g unsalted butter
All the dough ingredients should be chilled
For the praline twists
400g caster sugar
40ml liquid glucose
200g blanched hazelnuts or almonds (or both)
250g creme patissiere
Egg wash (whisk in 1 egg with 100ml milk with a pinch of salt)
Icing sugar, for dusting
For the creme patissiere
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways
50g caster sugar
3 egg yolks
15g plain flour
To make the ferment, place all the ingredients in a mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook. Process on low speed for about 3 minutes (don’t overwork it) or until a smooth elastic dough forms. (If you don’t have an electric mixer, knead the dough on a clean work surface for about 10 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and elastic.) Make into a ball and leave at room temperature for 2 hours. Cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 3 days before using.
Put the flour, milk, sugar, ferment, salt and yeast in a mixer bowl with a dough hook. Process on low speed for about 3 minutes then increase the speed a little and mix for another 2 minutes (or knead for about 10-15 minutes by hand). You should have a smooth elastic dough that doesn’t break when stretched gently. Make into a ball, place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.
Before laminating (folding) the pastry, remove the butter from the fridge, it should be cold but malleable. Use a rolling pin to gently pound the butter between sheets of baking paper into a 20cm flat square about 1cm thick.
Lightly flour the work surface and roll the dough out into a rectangle, about 20 × 40 cm. Place the butter on one side of the dough and fold it over the top squeezing the edges together to completely enclose the butter. Carefully roll the dough out into a rectangle, about 20 × 90 cm (you may have to clear the worktop like I did!). Fold the rectangle from one long end by one-third, so the dough is now 20 × 60 cm. Fold the other long end over the top so that the dough is now 20 × 30 cm. These folds are similar to the folding of a letter to place in an envelope.
Cover the dough with cling film and rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Repeat this folding and resting process twice more, each time rotating the dough 90 degrees so that as you roll it our you are stretching it in the opposite direction to the previous fold.
Once the dough has been rolled and folded three times and had a final rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes, it’s ready to be used to make croissants, pan au raisin, pan au chocolat or danishes.
To make the creme patissiere, place the milk, vanilla seeds and pod in a saucepan. Heat until just below boiling point, remove from the heat and allowed to cool, then let it infuse in the fridge for about 6 hours.
Place the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and gently whisk until pale, then mix in the flour. Gently reheat the milk and pour into the yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Sieve the mixture into a clean saucepan and bring to boil, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon. Once the custard boils, reduce the heat and simmer for another 5 minutes or so, stirring continuously until the custard thickens and sticks to the spoon. Remove from the heat, allow to cool, then transfer to an airtight container. Place cling flim directly on the surface of the custard, cover with a lid and refrigerate until ready to use. You can keep it up to 3 days.
To make the praline, line a tray with baking paper. Place the sugar and liquid glucose in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the water and bring to the boil, gently swirling (try not stir) until it turns a deep caramel colour. Remove from the heat and add the nuts, then pour the mixture onto the tray. Set aside to cool and when set, break into small pieces (you can keep them in a freezer in an airtight container). Finely chop or blitz in a processor to the size of coarse breadcrumbs.
Take the rested dough from the fridge and roll out into a rectangle, about 35 × 100 cm, 5mm thick. If it keeps springing back, rest the dough in the fridge for about 10 minutes then resume rolling. If the dough is too big to fit in the fridge simply fold it over and place on a tray. Cut the dough in half to make two 35 × 50 cm rectangles. Place the dough on trays lined with baking paper and rest in the fridge for about 10 minutes.
Lay one sheet of dough on a lightly floured surface, with the short length running parallel to the edge of the bench. Spread half the creme patissiere evenly over the rectangle, spreading all the way to the edges. Top with one-quater of the praline to evenly cover the custard. Starting with the short edge furthest away from you, tightly roll the dough towards you. Wrap the log in baking paper and place in the fridge for about 20 minutes to firm up. Repeat with the other dough.
Remove the baking paper from both logs and cut each log into slices, about 2 cm wide, to make about 30 rounds in total. Sprinkle over the remaining praline, patting gently into the dough (if you have pink praline, you can use some at this stage).
Place the rolls back onto the lined trays, spacing well. Cover loosely with a damp tea towel and let them rise in a warm room (about 25ºC) for 1 ½ – 2 hours, or until almost doubled in size. Spray the tea towel with water occasionally if it becomes dry.
Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Remove the tea towel and brush the top of each pastry lightly with egg wash. Reduce the oven temperature to 180ºC and bake for about 15 minutes, or until a deep golden colour. Cool slightly on the trays before dusting with icing sugar.