Le chasseur et le ceuilleur – Macarons à la pèche

PâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , , Written on le Wednesday 15 July 2015.

[The hunter and the gatherer – Peach macarons]

peach macarons

Today, I don’t have any magical stories to tell you.

It’s summer.
And that’s magical enough for me.

Yes, I’ve walked barefoot in the grass. And sat on a bench where the river and the book that both lay past my eyes, almost became one. We’ve taken walks after midnight, with a glow in the sky that only the north can offer. I’ve been baking everyday, at home, at the café.

At times, we’ve opened a bottle of cold white wine and sat at the wooden table of our balcony, K. dreams of reeling a big salmon and I dream of all the berries we’ve going to be able to pick soon; the hunter and the gatherer.

peach macarons filling

Summer has come almost unannounced. After a few days of rain and perhaps, even a few snowflakes at night. And because I’m expecting it to leave us just the same, I have a sense urgency in me that I didn’t even know existed.

It goes along the very blurry lines of baking with as many summer fruits as possible. And telling you about it.
These peach macarons seemed like a good place to start, I hope you’ll feel like that too.

Peach macarons
Makes 40
These macarons are a perfect way to sublimate the wonderful fruits of our orchards and of the forest. Not only they have a wonderful peach flavour, but the raspberries add a touch of acidity and the distant memory of a Peach Melba eaten by the sea.
  1. The crémeux, which - and it's quite unusual - contains potato starch, is adapted from Christophe Michalak. The initial texture is fairly stretchy, but once you add the chocolate and butter, it becomes the most beautiful thing. A recipe that I'm most certainly adding to my notebook.
  2. Making fruit purées at home is super easy. For around 500 g of fruit purée, blitz 600 g of fruits until smooth, then pass through a fine-mesh sieve. Add 10% icing sugar (so for each 100g of purée, add 10g of icing sugar).
  3. The purées freeze beautifully for up to a year, so don't be scared to make more than needed. I trust you to find a way to use the excess.
A few notes on macarons
  1. I've changed my method slightly when it comes to macaron shells since I last told you about it. Instead of mixing the ground almonds, icing sugar and egg whites to a paste, I now add the ground almonds/icing sugar mix and the egg whites straight to the meringue. While it doesn't affect the finished macarons, it makes mixing the batter so much easier.
  2. The stages are quite simple really: make an Italian meringue, and whisk it until it's around 50°C. Fold in the almond mixture and remaining egg whites.
  3. After all is incorporated, you’ll need to deflate the batter slightly. This step, called macaronage, can be done with either a maryse or a plastic scraper. I like to use a plastic scraper and push the batter against the sides of the bowl until I have the correct texture. Now, it’s quite hard to describe the texture of the finished macaron batter: it should almost form a ruban and when the batter drops, it should smooth out into the rest, leaving only the tiniest bump. When you do your macaronage, make sure not to add to much air to the batter or you’ll be left with bubbly shells.
  4. These days, I like to undermix the batter ever so slightly and tap my baking tray on the bench to smooth the shells out. I find that this gives more of a chubby feel to my macarons. If you like the sleek, thinner, look of the Ladurée ones, then you should mix the batter all the way.
  5. I still find that - with macarons - the most delicate stage remains the baking. Finding a temperature that works for your oven can be a bit tricky. Depending on the oven I've baked my shells at many different temperatures, ranging from 140°C to 170°C. As a little rule, 140°C-150°C works best in fan-assisted ovens, while 160-170°C is usually better for conventional or sole ovens.
Mini troubleshooting guide
  1. Flat and odd shaped macarons with bubbles mean your batter was over-mixed.
  2. Gritty macarons with a pointy top means your batter was under-mixed.
  3. Cracked shells can mean two things: too much humidity in your kitchen/oven or your oven temperature is too high.
  4. Shells that stick to the silicon mat: try to bake them a minute or two longer.
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For the poached peaches
  1. 500 g water
  2. 250 g caster sugar
  3. a few leaves of lemon verbena
  4. 2 peaches
For the peach crémeux
  1. 1,5 (3 g) gelatine leaves
  2. 200 g white peach purée
  3. 50 g raspberry purée
  4. 20 g potato starch
  5. 150 g Ivoire white chocolate
  6. 10 g lime juice
  7. 10 g peach liquor (optional)
  8. 100 g cubed unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the macarons
  1. 150 g icing sugar
  2. 150 g ground almonds
  3. 55 g egg whites
  4. 150 g caster sugar
  5. 50 g water
  6. q.s. pink and yellow food colourings
  7. 55 g egg whites
  8. 15 g caster sugar
Poach the peaches
  1. Bring the water, caster sugar and lemon verbena to the boil.
  2. In the meantime, cut the peaches in 4, leaving them with their stone in the centre.
  3. Put the peach in the boiling syrup, cover with a cartouche, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool down at room temperature, then chill in the fridge.
  4. Once cold, delicately remove the peach quarters from the stone, and peel off the skin. Chop the peaches into 8mm cubes, and set aside until needed.
Make the peach crémeux
  1. Bloom the gelatine in ice-cold water.
  2. Place the purées and potato starch into a small pan, and whisk until smooth.
  3. Cook over medium heat, whisking at all times, until it reaches the boil. Take off the heat and add the squeezed gelatine.
  4. Pour over the white chocolate and mix using a silicon spatula until well emulsified.
  5. Add the lime juice and liquor, and handblend in the butter when the crémeux is around 45°C.
  6. Transfer into a plastic container and clingfilm to the touch. Chill for at least 4 hours or for up to 3 days.
Make the macarons
  1. In a small blender, blitz the icing sugar and ground almonds for a couple of minutes, pulsing so it doesn’t overheat the nuts.
  2. Place the sugar and water in a small pan, and add red and yellow food colourings until you get a deep peach colour. Remember that the colour needs to be a lot darker as it will lighten considerably once the syrup gets added to the meringue. Cook over medium heat to 118°C.
  3. When the syrup reaches 110°C, start whisking the egg whites on low speed. When soft peaks form, add the caster sugar, a little at a time, keep on whisking until stiff peaks form.
  4. When the syrup reaches 118°C, wait for it to stop bubbling – around 30 seconds or so – and pour over your meringue, whisking as you do so, along the sides of the bowl to avoid splashes. Once all the syrup as been incorporated, increase the speed to medium and keep on whisking until the meringue is around 50°C.
  5. Tip the almond mixture and the remaining egg whites over the meringue and fold in using a maryse.
  6. Then deflate slightly until you get a ribbon.
  7. Pipe the macarons using a 9mm nozzle onto a baking tray lined with a silpat. Around 3cm wide.
  8. Leave the trays at room temperature for around 30 minutes, or until a skin forms and the macarons no longer feel tacky.
  9. Bake at 140°C for 12 minutes.
Fill the macarons
  1. Allow to cool down completely, then turn the macaron and fill them with the crémeux using a 11mm nozzle.
  2. Freeze on a baking tray, then put away in an air-tight container.
  3. Allow to cool down completely, then turn the macaron and fill them with the crémeux using a 11mm nozzle.
  4. Add a cube of poached peach in the centre of each macarons, and close the macarons with the remaining shells.
  5. Freeze on a baking tray, then put away in an air-tight container.
like a strawberry milk http://www.likeastrawberrymilk.com/

Bonjour juillet

MemoriesA story about , , , , , , Written on le Tuesday 07 July 2015.

[Hello July]

The sun has been setting just before midnight and rising shortly after one. Lilac bouquets have turned the bushes, which edge the sidewalk, into a purple dream. And ducklings have been following us during our evening walks by the river.

We’ve had a wonderful month of June, perhaps not as sunny as I’ve known it to be, but at times, these sort of matters don’t count.

What does – count – right now is time.
It’s a rather strange thing though, the notion of time. How can something, which flashes by so fast we barely even notice, sometimes feel suspended? Yes, while I can’t believe it’s already July, I did spend many days contemplating the nature around us, almost like a series of still-life captures.

apple-blossom

summerlove

fire

thisissummer

The not-so-official July happy list (featuring some things I never thought I’d ever say).
1. I have a lot of homework to do over the summer.
2. Working in the prettiest café, where I make fika and other pastries, for a month now. And yes, I’m super excited about it.
3. The midnight sun – which I did see for the first time last year as we went fishing on a lake way past anyone’s bedtime (a story I’ve meant to tell you about for too long) – is literally unbelievable; and totally disorienting.
4. I’ve updated the recipe index page! It might have taken a bottle of ice-cold white wine and too many coffees.
5. And I’ve finally given in to google’s recipe format. I sort of really like it.
6. July 24th will mark my ten years as a food blogger. Happy birthday to my little foodbeam (that has been “continued” here since 2011). My first post was about a matcha green tea tiramisu. Perhaprs, I should make an updated version of it soon.
7. However, all those years have got nothing on my inability to finish the MANY drafts I’ve started though. Yes, many of the things – and more – that I’ve told you about in May (!!!) are still not-so-patiently waiting.
8. Summer has definitely started. It might have taken a while, but now, blossoms are exploding everywhere around us. Not unlike some kind of wild fireworks.
9. My English is getting slightly awkward. As you might know, the swedes have a very different word placement system, and I’m at the stage where the four languages I know team up; not for the better.
10. I’ve fallen in love with the manholes of Skellefteå. Don’t ask, just look ;)

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer (or winter for all of you in the south where I’m sure a hot chocolate can do many wonders). x

Rhubarb custard squares

PâtisserieA story about , , , , , Written on le Wednesday 24 June 2015.

rhubarb square

In Kusmark, the apple trees, now heavy with blossoms are buzzing with bumblebees. The rhubarb has grown taller than me. Strawberry and raspberry bushes are just starting to bloom.

Yes, every time we go there – more often than not on the weekend – I can’t stay away from the garden, mesmerised by how fast everything seems to grown around us.

Soon, potato flowers will come. And garlic and onions too.
And by the end of the summer, there will be enough apples in the tree for Svante to make forty litres of cider and a few apple cakes.

roasted rhubarb

But for now, it’s all about the rhubarb we take back with us to Skellefteå in paper bags.

Yes, I’ve made jam, which we spread thickly onto knäckebröd. And compote, stirred into fil and havregryn [oats].

And these little rhubarb custard squares which disappeared faster than we’d like to admit.

Rhubarb custard squares
Makes 10
These rhubarb squares have become a new favourite around here. They're - for me - a better version of the lemon squares we used to have growing up. Beautifully tangy, and with the earthy, floral flavour of rhubarb to match. The recipe itself is of the quick and easy kind. The shortbread is made. Rhubarb is roasted until just soft, and then blitzed with eggs, sugar and cornflour just so. And the "tart" gets baked until barely set.
Notes
  1. The shortbread dough will be slightly more than you need but you can cut out small disks (or other shapes) in the trimmings for almost-instant biscuits to have with your cup of coffee.
  2. When it comes to making rhubarb purée, I love to roast it until just soft. I've found that this brings out the rhubarb flavour, and also makes it so much easier to blend it to a smooth consistency.
  3. This is the kind of tarts you don't want to overbake, so keep a close eye on it after 25 minutes of baking, and as soon as the centre no longer jiggles, it's ready.
  4. It's fundamental to leave the tart to cool down completely - and even better to chill it for a couple of hours in the fridge - before slicing it.
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For the shortbread
  1. 375 g plain flour
  2. 100 g light soft brown sugar
  3. 25 g demerara sugar
  4. 1 tsp baking powder
  5. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  6. 250 g cold butter, cubed
  7. one egg
For the rhubarb custard
  1. 600 g rhubarb, trimmed and washed
  2. 2 eggs
  3. 125 g caster sugar
  4. 50 g cornflour
To finish
  1. icing sugar (optional)
Make the shortbread
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a 20x20cm tin with baking paper, making it go all the way to the top (so that you can use it as handles to take out the tart from its tin later on).
  2. Place the flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, and mix to combine. Add the butter, and rub it in the flour mix until it resembles coarse oats. Add the egg and work the dough until just smooth.
  3. Roll the dough between two sheets of baking paper until it’s around 8mm thick. Cut into a 20x20cm rectangle and place at the bottom of your prepared pan.
  4. Bake the shortbread in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. Set aside, while you get on with the custard.
Make the custard
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Chop the rhubarb into 4cm chunks and roast in the prepared baking tray for 10 minutes, or until just soft.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C.
  4. Blitz the roasted rhubarb, together with the eggs, caster sugar and cornflour until smooth, and pass through a fine-mesh sieve.
  5. Pour the custard over the baked shortbread base.
  6. And bake for 30-35 minutes, until the filling has set.
  7. Allow to cool down at room temperature, then refrigerate for at least two hours.
Cut into squares
  1. Gently lift the tart - using the excess baking paper - from its tin; and place it onto a large chopping board.
  2. Dust with icing sugar and cut into squares, using a sharp hot knife, and cleaning the blade in between every slice using a wet cloth.
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