Sunday, 12 April 2015

Danish Pastries

A lazy start to the day with freshly ground coffee and warm danish pastries - sounds good doesn't it?

Problem is though they are quite time consuming to make so while the rest of the family slept soundly I was up at 7am - shaping and filling the danish pastries before proving them for another couple of hours. And that is on top of the three hours preparation the evening before and then resting the dough in the fridge overnight. You can't have a quick freshly made 'danish' fix!!

Danish pastries are made from laminated yeast-leavened dough. Layers of cold butter are introduced into an egg enriched dough by means of a number of folds and turns. I followed the instructions in Paul Hollywood's Bread Book - the photo above shows the recipe page from his book with perfect distinct layers - with my dough in front, with slightly less defined layers! Paul Hollywood has a great website  too with loads of scrummy recipies.

Good lamination!!

I made mini croissants, maple & pecan pinwheels, apricot & almond turnovers and raisin cinnamon swirls. The results were very tasty and instantly devoured once my lazy family surfaced! 

Friday, 3 April 2015

Easter treats

It certainly brings it home how cosmopolitan London is when on my course I am the only person whose first language is English. With his 'Equality and Diversity' (chefs) hat on our tutor chose his words carefully last week so as not to offend anyone with a different faith. We would be tempering chocolate and making Easter eggs or "any other moulded shape we liked". 

Tempering chocolate is a technique that hasn't come easily to me but the results are improving. A few weeks ago I went to Squires Kitchen cake decorating exhibition in Farnham and marvelled at the skills of chocolatier Mark Tilling. The demonstration table he stood behind was garden themed, totally edible and completely crafted from chocolate - vegetables, toadstools, flower pots, pebbles, soil and beautiful flowers.

I'm quite concerned my NVQ patisserie course is coming to an end and there are quite a few units we still need to evidence so I decided, as I would be tempering a batch of chocolate anyway, to make a few items showing different skills. In 3 hours I turned out a large hollow egg, some small solid eggs, toffee filled chocolates and decorative chocolate shapes using cocoa butter transfer sheets. Nowhere near as professional looking as Mark Tilling's creations but I'm getting there! Shine and a good snap is the sign of properly tempered chocolate.

Fired up with enthusiasm at home I tempered more chocolate and Lottie and I made pudding - a delicious raspberry mousse in a chocolate case. These are so simple to make and all you need are a few silicone cupcake cases, available in shops like Lakeland. Either brush or spoon the tempered chocolate into the mould and cover all surfaces liberally. Set aside to dry before carefully peeling away the silicone case. Then pipe or spoon in raspberry or chocolate mousse and tuck in. Low calorie they are not, gorgeous they are!!

Lottie and I also made some mini Simnel cakes yesterday, another traditional Easter treat. Earlier in the day Lottie made the almond paste which is used to decorate the top and also forms a layer in the middle of the cake. Together we made the lightly spiced fruit cakes, and decorated them with almond paste and mini eggs. It is traditionally decorated with 11 balls representing Christ's apostles, minus Judas who betrayed him. I never knew historically that there were different types of Simnel cake produced around the country. The one that became most popular was the Shrewsbury Simnel Cake. What a coincidence!  

Photo shoot beautifully set up by Lottie!