Choux pastry buns

choux-pastry-with-chocolate-cream

We woke up one grey morning and in an effort to brighten the day, decided to try our hands at making choux pastry. It’s a task that seemed really intimidating at first (think Eclairs) but is actually pretty straightforward to make. The ingredients are really simple and most likely things you would already have in your pantry if you bake often. The inside of choux pastry should be airy and moist, not wet and eggy. The great thing about these little puffs is that you can take one out of the oven (close to the time they are done , not before!) and check that they are just right inside. If not, you can keep them in the oven a little longer so they rise and dry out inside. Then leave them to cool a bit and fill with the cream of your choice- we did a simple chocolate whipped cream this time (whipping cream whipped up with a handwhisk and then stirred together with melted chocolate)

This recipe is taken from James Martin’s Sweet. Here are some of his tips for making choux pastry;

  1. Make sure butter , sugar and salt are brought to a boil slowly. The butter should not melt before the water evaporates. I basically just kept the heat very low over a small flame and stirred gently to help the butter dissolve.
  2. Dice the butter small- again to help it melt quicker
  3. Add half a cup of cold water to a preheated tray in the oven before cooking , this will make the texture crispy.
  4. 20 minutes into cooking , open the oven door to let the steam out.

The flavorbender has some great troubleshooting tips too.

Makes 18 medium choux pastry

Prep time : 20 mins      Bake time :

Ingredients

For the choux :

250ml water

100g cold butter diced small

1 tablespoon caster sugar

Pinch salt

150g strong flour

4 eggs

 

Method

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius

Line a baking sheet with silicone paper or use a silicone mat

Place water , butter , sugar and salt in a pan and slowly bring to a boil over low heat. Once the mixture starts to boil, continue to let it boil for one minute.

Then add all the flour in at one go. Keep beating the mixture until it starts to thicken.Depending on the amount of heat, this could happen relatively quickly. The mixture should thicken , be smooth and come away fro the sides of the pan cleanly. This should take a few minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan and place it on the silicone sheet or mat to cool for 5 minutes.

You can use a kitchen mixture for the next step, but we did it by hand- beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure mixture is smooth after each addition. Then continue beating until smooth and shiny,resembling  a thick , smooth custard. If you pick some of the mixture up between your fingers, it should take 3-4 seconds to drip.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a large nozzle (plain or otherwise) with the mixture and pipe out small buns about 2 cm apart. You can smooth out bumps using a wet fingertip (the mixture should not stick to your finger).

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the buns are golden grown. Allow them to cool on a wire rack when done.

When cooled a bit, use a small knife to make a cut at the base of each bun.Insert a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle and filled with filling of your choice. Just pipe the filling into the bun , easy as that!

x Anu & Suba

 

 

 

Wholewheat Pear & Almond Tarts

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It’s been a while since we’ve made tarts and we started missing them this week for some odd reason. So we decided to make some with leftover ripe pears and ground almonds. We picked up this tart crust recipe at the culinary institute and it’s always been successful. We’ve used it for sweet and savoury tarts by just adjusting the amounts of sugar and salt and it’s become one of our go-to recipes now.

To keep your crust crisp, dice and keep the butter in the fridge until you need it. Work quickly to get the dough together- you don’t need to knead it, just bring it all together and let it harden and form up in the fridge during the resting period or your dough may turn out tough. Use only your fingertips to get the dough together , so you transfer less heat to the dough – the idea is to keep it as cold as possible.

If you are using this crust for a savoury recipe, just omit the sugar and add a generous pinch of salt instead.

Makes 4 9cm tarts

Ingredients 

Tart crust 

200g wholewheat flour

100g cold diced butter

20g caster sugar

1  egg beaten

2 tablespoons of ground almonds

1 egg beaten (for eggwash)

Baking beans or uncooked rice (for blind baking)

4 sheets of clingfilm , cut to squares about 10 cm by 10 cm

4 sheets of parchment paper, cut into squares 10 cm by 10 cm

Tart filling

7 medium ripe pears, peeled , cored and diced

50g butter

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsps apricot jam (or any jam you like)

Cinnamon stick

Method

Start with the crust. Place the flour & sugar in a bowl and combine. Using your finger tips, rub in the cubes of butter, sifting the flour and butter through your fingers. Try to work quickly and stop when you get a bread-crumby texture. 

Then add in the beaten egg and stir it through the beradcrumb mixture with a fork. Use your fingers to bring the dough together without kneading. Flatten it into a square (this will make it easier to roll out) and wrap tightly in clingwrap. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

While the dough is resting, make the filling. 

Place the pears, cinnamon stick, butter and sugar in a saucepan over low heat.Allow the pears to cook until soft. Then stir in the jam. Continue to cook until it reaches the consistency you like – we like the pieces really soft but still holding their shape. Also ensure any water in the filling has evaporated before taking it off the heat and allowing it to cool. Add the ground almonds and stir through. You can put it in the fridge to help it cool faster. Pouring very hot or watery filling into the tart cases may cause the filling to seep through , so you want to make sure it’s cool enough. 

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Take the dough out of the fridge and divide into quarters. Roll out one of the quarters to a 1/8 inch thick circle on top of a sheet of clingfilm. Then sliding your hand under the clingfilm, lift up the rolled out circle and place it directly facedown on top of a tart mould. Remove the clingfilm and then push the dough down and into the bottom of the mould. There should be extra dough hanging over the sides of the mould. Then just use your fingers to push the dough down over the edges of the mould cutting it on the edges and removing the excess. 

Dock the dough by poking holes around the the base  of the tart case with a fork. You can use the fork to press down on the edges as well, to create a pattern. Then put it in back in the fridge to set for 20 minutes.Repeat with the other quarters. 

Meanwhile roll out the leftover dough to to top the tarts. You can use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and place these over the filling or go with the traditional lattice crust. Since we’re not sharing videos yet, take a look at this one to see how to create a lattice crust.

When the 20 minutes are up, take the tarts out of the fridge,egg wash the whole tart, place a square of parchment on the inside and fill the tart with the baking beans or rice. Blind bake in the oven for 7-9 minutes. Then take them out of the oven, remove the beans/rice and parchment and fill with the pears. Top with the shapes you’ve cut out or lattice crust , egg wash and bake again for another 15 minutes until the crust is golden brown. 

Dust with icing sugar before serving. 

x Anu & Suba

 

 

Stone Fruit Season : Plum hand pies

Plum hand pies

Next in our stone fruit series are these cute hand pies made with ripe , sweet plums. This one was a hit with my daughter, probably because they were small and therefore easy for little hands to hold- its a bonus that they’re sweet and crumbly (toddlers seem to love making a mess with crumbly things!). The pastry is so simple to make and is taken off a recipe from Bon Appétit , the filling is a thick plum jam with a hint of cinnamon. Just remember to start with ripe plums.

Makes 8 hand pies

Ingredients

For the pastry

For the filling

2 cups ripe plums, stones removed and sliced

1 Cinnamon stick

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

20g butter

Equipment

Pastry cutter of any shape (we used one that is of 5 cm diameter)

Rolling pin

Pastry brush (for egg wash)

Method

First make the pastry dough. Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Then add the cubed butter, rubbing it in with the tips of your fingers until you get a coarse , breadcrumb like texture.

Don’t work the dough too much, just enough to get that desired texture. Then add the ice water slowly and form the dough into a ball. Flatten it into a square shape, then wrap it in clingfilm and leave it in the fridge to firm up for 2 hours. 

While waiting, make the filling. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the plums , sugar, salt, cinnamon stick and water. Stir to combine all the ingredients.

Cook the plums until they completely soften , melt and become a jam. This could take about 30 minutes over low heat. Keep stirring, especially towards the end so the jam doesn’t stick to the pan. 

Once the filling is ready, take it off the heat and let it cool. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

When the pastry is ready, take it out of the fridge and place it on a  floured surface. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius. Dust your hands and your rolling pin with flour too. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1.5 cm. Then using a cutter of your liking, cut out as many shapes as you can. Re-roll the leftover dough and do the same. 

Lightly brush the cut-outs with the egg wash, this will help to ensure the filling doesn’t soak through the pastry. Place half a tablespoon of filling in the middle of one cut-out , then place another cut out on the top- egg washed side down. Repeat with the rest. You now have your pies. 

Using a fork, press down the edges of each hand pie to seal them. Using a small sharp knife, make 2 small vertical cuts on the top of each pie. Then lightly egg wash the tops of each hand pie as well. 

Bake in the oven for about 15 -20 minutes until the pies are golden. 

x Anu & Suba