Pastry Week · Season 2

Puff Pastry Party

The Showstopper challenge this week is three types of puff pastry treats:  there should be one filled; one iced; and one baker’s choice.  12 of each and it must be FULL puff pastry, not rough puff.  There are a bunch of different types that they make, and I’m rather excited about this.  I like making puff pastry–it’s time consuming, but it’s not hard.

Contestants had a variety of flavors and shapes…Nectarine & Frangipane Squares; Chocolate & Hazelnut Vol-au-vents; Strawberries & Cream Mille-feuille.  Caramelised Apple & Marzipan tartlets; Chocolate Elephant Ears; Passion Fruit Mille-feuille.  French Framboise cream horns; sheet music mille-feuille; Bass Clef Palmiers.  Chocolate, Raspberry & Passion Fruit Mille-feuille; Caramelised apple lattice; Portuguese Custard Tarts.  Pear, Malt & Butterscotch Mille-feuille; Blackberry Lemon Verbena Creme Brulee Custard Tarts; Fig, Orange & Thyme Galette.  Eccles Cakes; Fresh Fruit Baskets; Lemon Cream Eton Mess Mille-Feuille.

Cold butter, hot oven!  Put a weight on pastry that you don’t want to puff a lot.

So for the sake of science, to see if there is any difference whatsoever, I’m making two batches of puff pastry using the same recipe but two different types of flour.  I have one that is made from basic all-purpose flour and another using special bread flour.

I assume that the bread flour has a slightly higher gluten content, but presumably not as high as “strong” flour that I had no luck with in the past.

I also decided to try a new (invented) technique of butter bashing.  The recipe calls for 225 g of butter–which is conveniently exactly 2 sticks–but when you put them side by side and bash them, it turns into a rather round shape.

So I thought, ‘what if I started with a roughly rectangular shape to start?’  So I cut both sticks of butter lengthwise and laid them side by side and bashed them.

Two discoveries:  1) it took less time & effort, and 2) it was rectangular!

Every 20-30 minutes, I pull the dough out of the fridge, roll out, book fold, turn 90 degrees, roll out, book fold, bag up and refrigerate.

First effort:  Custard tarts

I roughly followed the directions for tarts here.  I wanted to save time and aggravation, so I made Bird’s custard.  I cut square-like pieces from the pastry and tucked them into the cups of a muffin tin.  I should have cut 4″ circles and tucked them in gently–it prevents all that extra stuff getting cut off after they’re already in the tin.

Filled the cups with custard…then had to make a second batch of custard when I ran out.

Baked at 400 degrees for 12 minutes, then lowered the temp to 350 degrees and baked for another 15-20.  Initially, I pulled them out but they were underbaked, so I put them back in the oven for a bit.  They looked pretty good after that!

Second effort:  Cinnamon-Sugar Palmiers

There are any number of ways that you can make these easy tea cookies, made even easier if you use store-bought pastry, but that’s not happening here!  This recipe gives you some ideas where to start.  This one I sprinkled with the cinnamon-sugar blend that’s been in my pantry for a while and added a bit of turbinado sugar to add a bit more crunch.

Instead of folding the pieces in, I rolled them towards the center.  Of course, I was using a half-batch of pastry, so all the cookies were small.

Placed them on a pan lined with parchment paper…

Baked…

for too long, apparently…

Third effort:  Nutella Palmiers

Rolled out the dough…

Spread with Nutella…

Roll up like before and slice into 1/4″ cookies…

Line them up on the pan…and if you’re not sticking them right into the oven, chill them in the freezer…

This is also made with the “strong” bread flour instead of the all-purpose flour.  This is a full batch of pastry, so they’re bigger, but it also appears like the layers puffed better in the strong flour version.

I will have to make a full batch of all-purpose to really compare…

Side by side comparison…

Time for tea!

PS – On my FB page, I got a vote to make strawberries and cream mille-feuille.  I had that as a back up plan, but I thought I’d try something with Nutella instead, so I’ll have to make more puff pastry.  Oh darn.

Found a recipe for Mille-feuille here…of course, they say “get out the store-bought puff pastry…”, but the rest is solid.  One of the things that I found for this recipe is not using whipped cream (not dense enough), or using custard (too rich), so one recipe I found did a combo of both.

Custard Filling

  1. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light and frothy mixture, then sieve in flour.
  2. Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the vanilla extract, bring to the boil.
  3. Once boiled, pour the boiling milk over the egg mixture.
  4. Return to the heat and boil continuously, whisking for approximately 3–5 minutes until thickened.
  5. Allow to cool.
  6. When the custard has cooled down fold in the whipped cream.
  7. Chill in the fridge until needed.

 

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