“Ingredients as fresh as they were 27 years ago.” – Slogan of the Biscuitville Restaurant
This is without a doubt a labour of love and you can make the puff pastry in advance, just freeze then defrost and have it ready for whenever you need it, the almond cream can also be made and stored in the fridge for a few days. I am giving you this recipe if you wish to make these from scratch but alternatively you can buy good quality butter puff pastry also you don’t need to poach the apple’s and pear’s as tinned ones are fine just make sure they are the halved ones, also peaches and apricots are great to use too. Puff pastry is not difficult at all to make, it is the time the pastry has to rest in the fridge that makes it a day’s event but once you have made your own pastry you will truly understand what you have been missing, amazingly flaky, light melt in your mouth heaven!
Puff Pastry Recipe (Makes 1kg – 250g)
- 510 g cold unsalted butter
- Pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoon lemon juice (or vinegar)
- 130g bread flour
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (240ml) water
- 55 g unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice (or vinegar)
- 100 g cake flour
- 310 g bread flour
Method: First to Make Butter Block
- Work the butter with the warmth of your hand and add the salt and lemon juice(or vinegar). Mix into the butter together with the bread flour.
- Shape the butter block into a square at 6-inch/15cm, wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge until firm but not so hard that you are not able to roll out with the dough later.
Method: Second to make the Dough
- Using the dough hook in a mixer on low or medium speed, dissolve the salt in the water. Add the melted butter, lemon juice (or vinegar), cake flour, and enough of the bread flour to make a soft smooth dough. Do not over mix. If you add to much flour, the dough will be too glutinous and rubbery.
- Shape the dough into a tight ball. With a sharp knife, cut a cross halfway into the ball. Let it rest for 30 minutes, covered, in the fridge.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and gently pull the corners of the cuts from each centre of the slits and pull out of the centre to make a square shape.
- Roll the opened dough out to a square slightly thicker in the centre than on the sides and slightly larger than the butter block.
- Place the butter block diagonally within the square dough. What you are looking for is the dough having 4 corners that are triangle in shape. Fold the dough triangles in so they meet in the centre. Pinch the edges together to seal in the butter block.
- Roll the dough into a rectangle about ½ inch (1.2 cm) thick. As carefully and as evenly possible, roll out the dough (40 x 30cm) or (16 x 12 inches). Make sure the butter block does not break through the dough.
- The first step in making the FIRST single turn: Divide the rectangle crosswise into thirds, by eye, fold one-third of the dough toward the centre and to complete the first single turn, fold the remaining one-third over the folded section, brushing away any excess flour from the inside as you fold. The dough has now completed its first turn.
- Cover the dough in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Take the dough out of the fridge, unwrap and position the dough so that the long sides run horizontally. Roll the dough to the same size as in step 4, and repeat the second turn by following step 5. Again chill the dough in the fridge for another 30 minutes.
- Then make the third and last turn repeating step 5.
Your puff pastry is now ready to use and should have around 487 layers of delicious butter and dough. You can keep in the fridge for up to 4 days or store in the freezer.
- 140g dry blanched almonds
- 140g icing sugar
- 150ml simple syrup – (200ml water with equal amount caster sugar, boil till sugar is all dissolved then allow to cool. Measure 150ml)
- Place the almonds in a food processor till it looks like a fine powder then add the icing sugar with the machine running gradually add the simple syrup until the mixture forms a smooth paste. The amount of simple syrup needed can vary depending on how dry the almonds are. You can store the almond paste in the fridge for just over a week.
- 480 ml Full cream milk
- ½ vanilla bean or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 70 g cornflour or cornstarch
- 115g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 whole free range eggs
- 55g unsalted butter
- Place the milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan. If using the vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and the pod halves to the milk and bring to the boil.
- While keeping an eye on the milk, whisk the cornstarch or cornflour, caster sugar and salt together in a bowl gradually add the eggs and mix until smooth and a little pale.
- Slowly add about one-third of the hot milk to the egg mixture while whisking rapidly. Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the remaining milk.
- Place over a medium heat the gently cook, constantly stirring with a whisk until the mixture slowly comes to a slow boil and thickens. Cook for and few seconds longer to make sure the raw starch flavour has gone.
- Remove the vanilla bean and stir in the vanilla extract, if using. Stir in the butter continuing to stir until it is completely incorporated.
- Pour the custard into a bowl making sure you pass it through a sieve just so it is perfectly smooth.
- 285 g Pastry Cream
- 220 g Almond Paste
- Mix the pastry cream and almond paste together until well incorporated.
- 455 g good quality apricot jam
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) water
- Place the jam, sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to the boil over a medium heat. Stirring constantly.
- It’s ready to use immediately when it’s a coats the back on a spoon looking nice and syrupy. If it gets too thick you can add a little water.
Poaching Apple and Pears
NOTE: If you poach apples you will need about 6 granny smiths or any of your choice and pears the same amount, again your favourite. If using tinned fruit you will need one large tin of each.
To make poaching liquid
- I litre of water
- 455 g sugar
- Lemon zest or orange zest
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or a vanilla bean cut and seeds scraped.
- Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- When the sugar has dissolved gently place in the peeled, cored cut in halve fruit into the liquid and poach till just nice and tender but still able to poke with a knife with no resistance.
- Drain poached or tinned fruit on paper towels so they are dry and won’t make the pastries soggy.
- You can reduce the poaching liquid until it becomes thick and syrupy, its great on ice-cream!!!
Assembling the Apple and Pear Danishes
Prepare oven at 190°C
- Using any piece of clean paper, make a template in the shape of an apple and another the shape of a pear making sure it’s at least 2 ½ cm larger than the fruit when it is cut in half and shaped into a fan.
- Roll out puff pastry to approximately 1 ½ cm thickness, place template on top of dough and cut around template to make the shape of fruit. Place on oven baking paper on a baking tray and continue making other apple and pear shaped dough, making sure you leave enough space between each dough piece to allow for puffing.
- Place a couple of teaspoons of the Almond Cream in the centre of each apple and pear shape dough, (careful not to over fill as it will run out the sides when baking.)
- Slice halved pears and halved apples thinly and gently press to create a fan shape. Place on top of the almond cream to cover then brush with apricot jam.
- Bake in the oven till golden brown, take out of oven and give a final brush of apricot jam.
You did it! Now reward yourself by getting into one while it’s nice and warm or if you can wait they are just as delicious cold. Your family and friends will think they have stepped into a French Patisserie. Enjoy!