Puff Pastry Things

Puff Pastries

Wotchers!

Fab post title, no? Well, we’re at Week 7 of The Great British Bake Off and the only clues from the Radio Times for the showstopper were “three different types of perfectly puffed pastries”. So this might not bear much resemblance to what the contestants are being asked to produce, but I’m going to take the opportunity to return to an economical approach that I’ve mentioned before, namely That’ll Do Cooking.

During the weekend shop, I splurged on some butter puff pastry (on account of life being too short etc. etc) and then got back and chewed my pencil mightily pondering what to make. A slew of recipes went through my mind, including the number one favourite Curry Puff, the ubiquitous Singaporean snack, which evokes fond memories of my time there.

However, I decided to save Curry Puffs for another time since a) they have an unusual pastry which I wanted to show you, and b) my disappointment about the lack of British baking in this (and last) season’s Bake Off meant that I decided to keep whatever recipe I did to these shores.

The only glitch was – there’s not many traditional recipes that use puff pastry, that aren’t either already in my book (she plugged, shamelessly), or that involved going out on another shopping trip, so I decided to go spelunking in the cupboards/fridge and see whether I could find anything suitable to use.

What I found was half a jar of mincemeat, some cream cheese and some poached pears. So I decided “That’ll Do” and therefore these are what I’ve used in three different ways to create this week’s GBBO-Themed blog post.

They might not be as glamorous as those of the Bake Off contestants tonight, but simple? Yes. Delicious? Definitely. Economical? Absolutely.

That’ll do.

Preparation

  • Mincemeat. Didn’t need to do much to this at all. It was a little on the dry side, but I reasoned that the moisture from the pears would sort that out, and anyways, too much moisture would ruin the pastry.
  • Cream Cheese: I added 2tbs icing sugar and some grated fresh ginger to pep up the flavours. Other additions that would work well are zest/juice of a lemon, candied ginger or even crumbled blue cheese and walnuts for a fab sweet/savoury mix.
  • Poached Pears: Since they were already poached, not much to do to them, apart from drain from the syrup. To prepare some from raw, peel, halve and core, then simmer gently in a mixture of 1 cup of white wine, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar until cooked but firm.

Stuffed Pear in Lattice Pastry

If you’re lucky enough to have a lattice roller, then this is a doddle. Even so, cutting the lattice ‘freehand’ isn’t difficult.

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Roll the pastry out thinly.
  • Stuff a pear half with the filling of your choice. I used the ginger cream cheese.
  • Lay the pear half onto the pastry, with the filling contained underneath.
  • Cut around the pear leaving a 2cm border of pastry.
  • Moisten the pastry border with water.
  • Cut a lattice with your roller, or by hand.
  • Ease the lattice apart – you don’t want to stretch the pastry, but have it just wide enough to be able to see the pear through the holes.
  • Drape the lattice over your pear and press the edges into the moistened pastry border.
  • Cut two leaves from the pastry offcuts and attach to the top of the pear.
  • If possible, lay the finished pears in greased, shallow Yorkshire Pudding tins, with the leaves resting on the edge. This will make them stand up nicely when baked.
  • Brush the pastry with egg-yolk whisked with a little water to glaze.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden.

Stuffed Pear in wrapped pastry

Possibly a little trickier to handle than the lattice pastry, but requiring no special skill or equipment.

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Roll the pastry out thinly.
  • Cut 1.5cm strips of pastry. You will need 4-5 for each pear, depending on size.
  • Sandwich two halves of pear with the filling of your choice. I opted for the slightly firmer mincemeat filling here, as it worked well in holding the pear halves together.
  • Starting at the top, wrap the strips of pastry around the pear, making sure they overlap by about half.
  • Cover any gap at the top with either some pastry leaves or use some mini cutters to make shapes.
  • Place on a lined baking sheet or, if they will fit, greased cupcake/muffin tins – the sides of the tins will help keep the pears upright as they bake.
  • Brush the pastry with egg-yolk whisked with a little water to glaze.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden.
  • Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Pear Tart

This looks very intricate, but really it’s just a re-hash of some Valentine’s Pastries I did last year. This time I’ve cut larger squares to make room for the filling, and baked them in greased, shallow Yorkshire Pudding tins so that the edges curl up.

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Roll the pastry out thinly.
  • Cut into 10-12cm squares and then cut the corners as indicated in the diagram.

Pastry Cuts

  • Transfer the prepared squares into the tins – so much easier than when they are filled.
  • Thin the pastry a little by pressing it with your thumb, just over the base of the tin – this helps the sides to puff up and over the filling.
  • Spread a layer of mincemeat on the bottom, and top with a pear half stuffed with the ginger cream cheese filling.
  • Fold the four corners inward and press onto the top of the pear.
  • Using mini cutters, cut a small shape to stick on top to cover the ends of the corners. Alternatively, make the pastry scraps into leaves.
  • Brush the pastry with egg-yolk whisked with a little water to glaze.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden.
  • Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Valentines Day

Heart Eggs

Wotchers!

It’s Valentines Day next week, and so I thought I’d run through some suggestions if you fancy being creative in the kitchen for your loved ones.

Whoever you’re cooking for, young or old, you don’t want to get so knee-deep in recipes that you end up spending all your time in the kitchen – that’s DEFINITELY not romantic – so all of these suggestions are simple and quick, allowing you to indulge and be indulgent, without sacrificing your whole day.

After exhaustive (10 minute) research via Twitter earlier this week, I decided to go with Breakfast recipes – a little out of the ordinary perhaps, but it then frees up the rest of the day for other fun stuff, instead of spending it slaving over a hot stove. A little sweet, a little savoury, a little bit of something to warm the cockles of your heart.

Heart Eggs

Frankfurter sausages
Eggs
Cream (for scrambled egg)
Salt & Pepper
Parsley (optional)
Wooden cocktail sticks

  • Cut the sausages almost in half, leaving 2cm of one end uncut.
  • Open out the two halves of the sausage and bend each half backwards until they meet.
  • Fasten together with a cocktail stick. NB You need the slim frankfurters (probably to be found vacuum-packed, in a chiller somewhere near the cooked meats in the supermarket). Tinned or jar’d frankfurters are too thick and will split when you try to bend and shape them *eyes heaped bowl of 18 broken test sausages in the fridge*.
  • Once you’ve got your heart shapes together, you can choose how to fill them with egg. You don’t HAVE to fill them with egg – you could use tomatoes or bacon or anything else breakfast-y – but the egg, once cooked, will hold the sausage in shape, allowing you to remove the cocktail stick without the sausage whiplash-ing back to its original shape.
    • Whole egg – this is relatively straightforward, but can get a bit oozy if there are any gaps beneath the lower edge of the sausage and the baking tray. To try and keep spillage to a minimum, grease some foil with a little butter and fold it underneath and around the sausage heart shape, in effect making it into a little pan. Any egg that does seep out is thus contained, and can be trimmed off once cooked. Bake in a 160°C, 140°C Fan oven for 5-10 minutes until set. Remove foil and cocktail stick before serving.
    • Scrambled egg – Whisking the eggs makes them more liquid, so the best solution for serving your heart sausages with scrambled eggs is to partially cook them before filling, then finishing them off either in the oven or in the microwave. Cook the eggs until half cooked then spoon mixture into the sausage shapes. Bake in a 160°C, 140°C Fan oven for 5 minutes or for 30 seconds to 1 minute in the microwave. Remove cocktail stick. Fluff the surface with a fork if necessary before serving.

Breakfast Pastries

Valentine Pastries

These aren’t heart-shaped, but they’re almost unbelievably easy to make and look so cute, I think they’ll go down a storm.

You will need:
1 sheet All-Butter puff pastry – using the ready-rolled makes this even speedier.
Jam
Icing sugar
Spray oil or beaten egg for glazing
Icing sugar
ruler

  • Unroll (or roll out) the pastry to a flat rectangle approx. 5mm thick.
  • Measure the dimensions using the ruler, and mark it out into squares of size 8-10cm
  • Using a sharp knife, make cuts in the corners of each square as per the diagram below.
  • Pastry CutsDon’t try and cut around the corner – insert the point of the knife at the corner and draw it away from the corner to make the cut. Repeat for the other side, then repeat for the other three corners, leaving a small (1-2cm) strip of pastry at the middle of each side uncut.
  • To complete the pattern, take the outer corner of the pastry and bring it into the centre of the square of pastry and press down firmly. When all four corners have been brought into the middle, they will have formed the four ‘petals’.
  • Put a small blob of jam into each petal.
  • Put pastries onto a baking sheet lined with parchment (the jam WILL bubble and ooze) and either spray lightly with oil or glaze with the beaten egg.
  • Bake in a 220°C, 200°C Fan oven for 8-10 minutes.
  • Dust pastries with icing sugar and ‘top up’ the petals with more jam if necessary.

Palmiers

Just as easy as the above pastries, you could even use the one sheet of puff pastry to make both if you’re not catering for large numbers! Your choice of filling, sweet or savoury, is rolled inside puff pastry and then chilled and cut into slices which bake into crisp and flaky, heart-shaped bites.

Raspberry Palmiers

Raspberry Palmiers

Pesto Palmiers

Pesto Palmiers

You will need:
1 sheet All-Butter puff pastry
Sweet filling: Granulated sugar & flavouring – I used freeze-dried, powdered raspberries, orange/lemon zest, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg  also work – whatever you feel like.
Savoury filling: Pesto and finely grated cheese – I used Grana Padano – tasty like Parmesan, cheap like me 😉

  • Roll out the puff pastry
  • Add the filling. If sweet, mix your flavouring with the sugar and sprinkle over the pastry. For the savoury filling, spread the pesto over the pastry and then sprinkle with cheese.
  • Starting with the left-hand side, roll the pastry to the middle (like a swiss roll). Repeat with the right side. Press both sides together and shape the point of the heart.
  • Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 220°C, 200°C Fan
  • Remove the rolled pastry from the freezer and cut in 5mm slices and arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes until crisp.
  • Cool on a wire rack.

Heart Sandwich

Heart Sandwich

Heart Sandwich

For that minimalist breakfast, or for a packed lunch. Use an oval roll (finger rolls are fine) and, once filled, cut it on a diagonal. The two halves can then be rearranged as in the picture to make the shape of a heart.