‘quick’ puff pastry and palmiers

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If this was the quick method for puff pastry, I’m not sure I want to ever attempt the authentic method of making it. Actually, it was fairly quick. I just had to have a lot of faith while rolling it. The recipe for Quick Puff Pastry comes from Cindy Mushet’s The Art and Soul of Baking.

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I have now learned that puff pastry is butter with a little bit of flour. Similar to croissant dough, but without yeast, puff pastry requires three turns–rolling, folding, and refrigerating. The ‘dough’–Cindy even uses dough with quotes–is shaggy and doesn’t form a smooth mass until the final roll. She says to trust her. And trust her I did. You can find the recipe for Quick Puff Pastry HERE. I’ll warn you before you look; it uses 4 1/2 sticks of butter.

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Palmiers, or elephant ears, are crisp cookies made with puff pastry rolled in sugar.  They are simple to make once you have puff pastry.  You roll out the dough in lots of sugar and then you roll the ends up into each other. Refrigerate it for a bit, then slice, roll in more sugar, and bake.  The secret of getting nice and crispy palmiers is to allow enough time for the sugar to start caramelizing before flipping the cookies over. You want a nice golden color around the edges which is a sign that the sugar is doing its thing.

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Because of the way they are cut and baked, palmiers puff out not up. I was so excited when I saw that my puff pastry was actually puffing. I did a happy dance in the kitchen. Then tweeted about it.

I made plain palmiers, but you could use vanilla sugar or add some spices to the sugar.They’re great on their own, but even better with ice cream. They supposedly keep up to two weeks. I wouldn’t know anything about that; they didn’t last that long!

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Palmiers

Adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking
  1. Generously sprinkle sugar over work surface. Place puff pastry in center and sprinkle top with more sugar completely covering it. Roll dough out to a 16 by 10- inch rectangle, sprinkling top and bottom as needed to prevent sticking.
  2. Starting at each short end, fold over the first two inches. Repeat, folding the dough over the next two inches. When the two sides meet in the middle, fold one over the other.  When you are done, the ends should look like a heart. Wrap roll in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Place rack in middle and preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. Pour some sugar in a small bowl. Take roll out of refrigerator and cut 12 1/4-inch thick slices, dip both sides in sugar, and place 2-inches apart on baking sheet. Rewrap roll and return to refrigerator. Bake the cookies for 7 to 10 minutes or until golden at the edges. Flip cookies over and bake for 9 to 12 minutes longer, until they are a deep golden brown. Transfer to rack and cool completely.  Repeat with remaining dough. You could also freeze it for baking on another day.

Spiced Cardamom Twists

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If you love cardamom, you’ll love these. They are very easy–well,  if you have danish dough already prepped– and simple. Cardamom, sugar, chopped almonds, 1 egg, and 1/2 recipe of danish dough. You roll out the dough into a 12-inch by 16-inch rectangle. Brush the surface with the egg and sprinkle with the cardamom-sugar, followed by the chopped almonds. Fold the dough in half and cut into 16 one-inch strips. Twist and place on baking sheet. Let rise and bake in oven.

I made these when work was crazy and had to participate in multiple teleconferences over a weekend. I learned that baking while on a conference call (on mute, of course) is a great way to multi-task. It is much easier to pay attention to the call while baking than when I’m listening from my office and distracted by the computer. I brought them in for a very early (for me) 7:30 am meeting the following Monday and they were a big hit.

Spiced Cardamom Twists

From The Art & Soul of Baking

  • 1/2 recipe Danish Dough (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) finely chopped raw almonds
  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Place dough on work surface dusted with flour and sprinkle top of dough with flour. Roll dough into a 16 by 12 by 1/4-inch rectangle with the longer side parallel to the edge of the work surface closest to you.
  2. Place the sugar and cardamom in a small bowl and whisk to combine.  Lightly beat egg in another small bowl and  brush entire surface of dough with a thin film of the egg. Spread the sugar mixture over the bottom half of the dough leaving a 1/2-inch border along the bottom. Sprinkle almonds evenly over sugar. Fold top half of dough over filling and press bottom edges to seal. Roll over dough with a rolling pin 2 or 3 times to seal and embed the filling in the dough. Cut dough in 16 one-inch strips. Grasp a strip by both ends and twist in opposite directions 4 times. Place twists on baking sheet 2 inches apart. Sprinkle any fallen filling over tops of the twists.
  3. Cover twists loosely with plastic wrap and let the twists rise  in a cool room-temperature spot until  they are nearly doubled in size, about an hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 400° F and position rack in center. Chill the twists in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Bake one batch of twists at a time, rotating the sheet halfway through, for 14 to 16 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer the twists to a cooling rack.

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Cheese Danish

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It turns out that Danish dough is just croissant dough with the addition of eggs.  And that you make Danish dough using the same technique you make croissant dough–rolling it out and folding it three times, keeping it super cold, etc.  I’ve eaten plenty of Danish in my life and never knew that. Of course, I’ve only been baking 2.95% of my life–give or take a few percentage points. 😛

With the addition of the eggs, the dough is a bit stickier. Rolling it out was easier because apparently the eggs coat the gluten strands so there isn’t as much “spring”.

The cheese part of the Cheese Danish is a filling made with cream cheese, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and a tinsy bit of flour. The recipe is from The Art & Soul of Baking and uses a 1/2 recipe of Danish dough which makes 12 good size pastries. I ended up making two batches. I gave some to my brother and his family, I brought some into work, and I kept a half a dozen or so for us. Everyone raved about these. I thought they were unbelievably good and tasted like a Danish should–rich and flaky. YUM.

Danish Dough

From The Art & Soul of Baking

Dough Block (Détrempe)

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) warm whole milk (110° to 115° F)
  • 1 teaspoon, plus 2 tablespoons (1 ounce), sugar
  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast, or 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 2 cold large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) cold whole milk
  • 3 1/2 cups (17 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Butter Block (Beurrage)

  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup (1 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  1. Make the dough block: Whisk warm milk and teaspoon of sugar in small bowl. Add yeast and whisk. Let sit until mixture is bubbly and yeast is activated, about 10 minutes.
  2. In stand mixer bowl, whisk remaining sugar, cold milk, and eggs. Whisk in yeast mixture. In separate bowl, whisk flour, salt, & cardamom until well-blended. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, attach dough hook, and mix on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and a rough mass has formed. {Note: for both croissant dough and Danish dough, you only want to knead the bare minimum to bring the dough together. You want to keep gluten formation to a minimum, which makes rolling the dough easier. It will get plenty of kneading during the rollouts/turns}. Turn dough out on a floured surface. Knead the dough 3 to 5 times to bring it together. The dough is very sticky. Don’t be afraid to flour and/or wet your hands.  The dough will not be smooth or elastic. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.
  3. Make the butter block: Toss the butter with flour and chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes. In cleaned stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat chilled butter on medium speed, scraping down sides as necessary, for 1 to 2 minutes or until butter and flour form a smooth mass. Scrape butter onto a piece of parchment paper, wrap it up and refrigerate while you roll out dough.
  4. Incorporate the butter and turn the dough: Dust surface with flour. Set dough in center and dust the top with flour. Roll dough into a 15 by 12-inch rectangle with short side parallel to the edge of your work surface. Make it as straight as possible. Stretch and pull corners if necessary to make nice sharp corners. Visually divide the dough into thirds. Using your fingers (butter is too cold for spatula) spread the cold butter over the top of the upper 2/3rds of dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border on edges.
  5. Use a letter fold to encase the butter: Fold the empty bottom third over the middle third of the dough. Then fold the top third down over the center. Pinch together the seams at the bottom and sides of dough and gently roll your rolling pin over the top 3 or four times to help seal the seams. You’ve just completed your first “turn”. If the butter has become warm and squishy, refrigerate the dough for an hour. If not, move on to the second turn.
  6. Dust work surface with flour. Position the dough with short side parallel to your work surface and the long fold to your left. Dust the dough with flour and roll it into a 20 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush any flour  from the surface of the dough. Fold the dough using the book fold method: Fold the two short edges to the center of the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch gap. Line up edges precisely and square corners as you fold. Fold one side over the other as if you are closing a book. Briefly roll your rolling pin across the top to seal the seams. This completes the second turn. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.
  7. Dust work surface with flour. Remove dough from refrigerator, dust with flour, and roll into a 20 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush any flour from work surface and fold dough using letter-fold method from step #5. Make sure to square the corners and fold neatly and precisely as possible. Roll your rolling pin over the top to help seal the seams. This completes the third turn and the Danish dough  is finished.
  8. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours before using it.  You can also wrap it up and freeze  for  4 to 6 weeks. Thaw in refrigerator overnight before using.

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
  • 6 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Finely grate zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and sugar in bowl of food processor. Process until mixture is smooth, 20 to 30 seconds, scraping down sides half-way through. Add egg yolk and pulse for 5 seconds and scrape down sides. Add flour, zest, and vanilla extract and blend well–about 10 seconds. Scrape bowl and make sure everything is well-mixed.

The filling can be kept in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Apricot Glaze

  • 1/4 cup (2 1/2 ounces) apricot jam
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water

Combine jam and 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan. Warm over low heat until melted and fluid. If glaze seems too thick, add third tablespoon of water. Strain through fine-mesh strainer into small bowl to remove any chunks of fruit. Use while warm and fluid.

The glaze will keep in refrigerator for one month. Reheat before using.

Cheese Danish

  • 1/2 recipe of Danish Dough (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 recipe Cream Cheese Filling
  • 1 recipe Apricot Glaze
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  1. Dust work surface with flour. Place dough in center and dust top with flour. Roll into a 16 by 12 by 1/4-inch rectangle. Mark dough at 4-inch intervals on all sides. Cut dough into 12 (4-inch) squares.
  2. Place a tablespoon of Cream Cheese Filling in center of each square and smear in a slight oval toward two of the diagonal corners. Fold one of the other corners over filling. Moisten its top with a bit of water and fold the opposite corner over the top and press to seal. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats and place Danishes on prepared sheets.
  3. Loosely cover sheets with plastic wrap and let Danish rise in a cool room-temperature spot until they are doubled in size and look like they have taken a deep breath (about 1 hour). If you squeeze one, it should feel marshmallow-like.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400° F and position rack to center. Chill Danish in freezer for 10 minutes or refrigerator for 15 minutes. Bake one sheet of Danish at a time, rotating sheet halfway through, for 14 to 16 minutes. The Danish should be golden brown. Transfer Danish to cooling rack and immediately brush with a thin layer of Apricot Glaze. Bake and glaze the 2nd Danish sheet the same way. Cool completely and dust with confectioners’ sugar prior to serving.

You can freeze unbaked shaped Danish for 4 to 6 weeks. Let defrost and proof at room temperature for about 2 to 3 hours. You can also freeze baked Danish for up to one month. Thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes, then reheat in 350° F oven for 7 to 8 minutes, until crust is crisped and the center is warmed through.

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Morning Buns

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Morning Buns are cinnamon rolls on crack. Why? Because they are made with croissant dough. Once the dough is rolled out, instead of cutting it into triangles for croissants, it is brushed with an egg and then sprinkled with a brown sugar-cinnamon mixture. The dough is then rolled up, cut into circles, and placed in a buttered muffin tin for proofing.  When they come out the oven, they are immediately rolled in sugar.

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Morning Buns are out-of-this-world delicious. If you love cinnamon rolls and croissants, these are a great marriage of the two.  The recipe comes from The Art & Soul of Baking. The only “problem” is that it uses a 1/2 recipe of croissant dough, so you need to think of a use for the other half. 😛 I used my other half for pigs-in-a-blanket.

Morning Buns

From The Art & Soul of Baking
  • 1/2 recipe (about 1 1/2 pounds)  Croissant Dough
  • 1 large egg, lightly whisked
  • 2/3 cup (5 1/4 ounces) of firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  1. Roll dough into an 18 by 11 by 1/4 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface.  Position the dough with a long side parallel to the edge of your work surface. Sweep off any flour on the surface  and then brush the entire surface of the dough lightly with the egg.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over dough, leaving a 1-inch border along the long edge furthest from you.
  3. Beginning with the side closest to you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Finish rolling the dough onto the border. Pinch all along the seam to seal it. Cut the cylinder into 12 equal pieces. Place each in a generously buttered muffin tin, cut side up.
  4. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow the buns to rise in a cool room-temperature spot until they have doubled in size–45 to 60 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 F with a rack in the center. Chill the buns in the freezer for 10 minutes or the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the buns are a deep golden brown.
  6. Place granulated sugar in medium bowl. Using tongs, gently remove buns from tin and roll in sugar making sure to coat all sides. Then transfer to a silicone mat or parchment paper to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Yes, I did it again.

But this time I made chocolate ones! And almond ones! and oh my, cheese ones!

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This was my second time making croissants from scratch. My first time was such a big achievement for me. It was a lot of work and faith because I didn’t know how they would turn out.

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They were so successful and delicious, that I had no qualms about making them again when they came up as the next recipe for me to try out of The Art and Soul of Baking. This recipe is slightly different than Tartine’s recipe, but the method is the same.  Lots of rolling and turning and refrigerating the dough. It takes about 2 days to make them, so you do have to have a chunk of time to devote. Of course, much of the time is off-hand. You also need space to roll out the dough. And butter, lots of butter. 😛

These made smaller croissants, so they aren’t as big and gorgeous as my first go-around. But the taste was definitely still there. Because I made all-plain the first go-around, I decided to make all the variations in the book this time. The recipe makes 24 decent sized croissants. I made six each of: chocolate, almond, cheese, and plain.

croissants chocolate filling

The chocolate and cheese were simple, you just had some of the grated ingredient before you roll the croissants. The almond ones required me to make an almond pastry filling made from almond paste, sugar, (more) butter, egg, lemon zest, vanilla, and a bit of flour.

croissants waiting to be baked

This recipe was a bit easier for me than the first time. It wasn’t painful to roll out the dough and turn it and cut it and shape it. I would almost say croissants are easy to make and I have absolutely no qualms about making them again. And I definitely will.

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My favorite was the cheese one, because I’m a cheese freak. I used Baby Swiss, which is a semi-soft cheese that is milder and more melty than regular Swiss. The other flavors were quite tasty too.  You can find the recipe for both the croissants and the almond filling HERE.

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I’m submitting this to Yeastspotting, a weekly round-up of yeasted goods and bread.