Pastry Week

Anyone who follows me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook will be aware of the complete obsession I have with baking and in particular The Great British Bake Off.  Every week myself and fellow twitterati attempt to replicate some of the delights on offer by the GBBO contestants using the #GBBOTwitterBakeAlong and as I failed the previous week due to a total boycott of “Batter Week” – Churros are more a choux pastry in my opinion (don’t get me started!) – I decided I would turn that frown upside down and get layering in a dough/butter kind of way!

I turned to the internet to browse the trillions of Danish Pastry recipes available, watched quite a few YouTube instructional videos and trawled many blogs to find the most straight forward recipe.  The favoured recipe it appears was by “Ole Blue Eyes” Paul Hollywood – tried, tested, blasted, applauded, and tweaked by many but straight forward enough!

http://paulhollywood.com/recipes/danish-pastry-dough/

Ingredients

– 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

– 10g salt

– 80g caster sugar

– 10g instant yeast

– 2 medium eggs

– 90ml cool water

– 125ml tepid full-fat milk

– 250g chilled unsalted butter, preferably a good-quality Normandy butter

  1. Put the flour into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the eggs, water and milk and mix on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for 6 minutes.
  2. Tip the flour out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Dust with flour, put into a clean plastic bag and chill in the fridge for an hour.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your chilled dough to a rectangle, about 50 x 20cm and about 1cm thick. Flatten the butter to a rectangle, about 33 x 19cm, by bashing it with a rolling pin. Lay the butter on the dough so that it covers the bottom two-thirds of it. Make sure that it is positioned neatly and comes almost to the edges.
  4. Fold the exposed dough at the top down one-third of the butter. Now gently cut off the exposed bit of butter, without going through the dough, and put it on the top of the dough you have just folded down. Fold the bottom half of the dough up. You will now have a sandwich of two layers of butter and three of dough. Pinch the edges lightly to seal in the butter. Put the dough back in the plastic bag and chill for an hour to harden butter.
  5. Take the dough out of the bag and put it on the lightly floured surface with the short end towards you. Now roll it out to a rectangle, about 50 x 20cm, as before. This time fold up one-third of the dough and then fold the top third down on top. This is called a single turn. Put the dough back in the plastic bag and chill for another hour. Repeat this stage twice more, putting the dough back into the fridge between turns.
  6. Your dough now needs to be left in the fridge for 8 hours, or overnight, to rest and rise slightly. It is then ready to use.

So I followed this pretty much to the letter (minus the 50x20cm and 33x19cm – my dough kept springing back fighting against any attempt at measuring) and following many book folds (the recipe mentions single folds however I generally alternate this with a book fold) and assistance from my dutiful husband 🙂 the dough was placed in the fridge to prove overnight.

In the morning I prepared all my fillings and set them aside to cool:

  1. Maple & Pecan – mix 80g of maple syrup with 80g of golden syrup, one egg yolk, 50g brown sugar (I used light muscavado), 80g butter and 40g double cream.  Bring to the boil slowly and boil for a few minutes till the colour of toffee.  Remove from the heat and mix with 90g crushed pecans (keep a few aside for garnish). I had a small amount of syrup left as don’t make the filling too wet – however the remaining syrup I kept to heat and make an icing drizzle later once baked.
  2. Creme Pat – I followed this recipe http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/how-to-cook/how-to-make-a-creme-patissiere and split the mixture into two.  I added 90g of melted white chocolate to one for the Raspberry Pinwheels and the other mixture was added to the Apple & Raspberry Swirls.
  3. Apple & Sultana – chop one brambley apple (any apple will do so don’t stress about having brambley) and put in a pan with 3 tablesppos of water, couple of handfuls of sultanas, teaspoon of cinnamon, tablespoon of ground almonds, knob of butter and heat gently till the apple is soft and the mixture starts to resemble toddler food 😉 – leave to cool.

I split my enormous dough into 3 and started the process of cutting shaping and final proving before baking.  I really did “wing it” with the designs in all honesty as I have the arty touch (or so my biased parents say) and the Pinwheel was pretty easy to master and looks impressive once baked, the plaits however did look like mummified corpses I’m afraid…..I added the mixture before proving all the pastries other than the Raspberry & Creme Pat as I added this just before baking – no reason other than my gut instinct said so lol! (Or maybe I forgot 🙂 )

Little tip for proving your dough in Scotland in autumnal temperatures – Turn on your oven to high for one minute and then turn off, place the shaped dough in the oven with a small pan of boiled water and close the door – I use this method for bread alot!  Or if you have a separate small oven/grill above your main oven, place the trays of dough in here while the lower oven is pre-heating as the rising heat worked wonders with mine and I always pre-heat for minimum 40 minutes given that I have a slightly temperamental old oven.

All in all I can say I found the puff/croissant/danish pastry making pretty enjoyable.  the dough has a lovely texture to handle and having recently broken my Brioche Virginity (post to come later) I discovered the joy of starting a bake one day and ending it the next…..it was a recipe requiring slow gentle attention with intermittent rolling and folding. The pastries turned out rather good with apricot glaze, drizzled chocolate and maple icing and my husbands workies have been treated today with the goodies!  P.s. I am a total feeder in an Irish/Scottish/Jewish mother kind of way – eating is not optional when you visit 🙂

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