A treasure of some sorts – Easy everyday gluten-free crêpes

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , Written on le Friday 13 February 2015.

gluten free crepes

We finished packing everything today. An empty bedroom, and ten massive boxes that contain – what we consider as the most important things in – our life.

I have books, too many, and one entire boxeful of kitchen utensils. Wooden handles painted in pastel colours with chips that give away how old they actually are. The fifties, perhaps. A marble rolling pin. A croque-en-bouche cone that I will cherish for ever (merci Richard).

He has fly-tying material neatly packed in small containers. A treasure of some sorts. Feathers, and beads. Threads more colourful than rainbows, and hooks. His waders have been folded with the kind of impatience that only dissipates as the snow melts and the rivers grow strong.

And I think, by what we’ve been told, the snow-melt will be quite intense this year. And really, I cannot wait.
In a few weeks, I’ll see the land, that I’ve watched go by through a plane window during the summertime, white with ice.

In a few days, we’ll be in France. Sea and mountains. Walks through Nice markets. And road-trips to the gorges du Verdon. We have no plans. And perhaps, that is the best plan.

gluten free crepes-2

But I know for a fact that we will have crêpes. Because it’s an untold tradition.

In fact, last week, I had crêpes batter resting as a phone call to my mum turned into a monologue on how many padded jackets I must get to survive winter in the north. And it only stopped when she exclaimed she couldn’t speak anymore because my dad had dinner ready.
And really, she didn’t have to say more; I knew he’d made her crêpes. On a saturday night.
And really, we had too. The French know how to throw a good party.

Those crêpes are the get-real version of my beurre noisette crêpes. Just as wonderful, except I can turn them into a dinner: slices of ham, a generous handful of gruyère, and a fried egg; that combination will never ever get old.
Crêpes of the easy gluten-free everyday kind. Flours, a pinch of salt, a few eggs, milk and water just so, and melted butter. So easy I didn’t even think about posting the recipe here; but I wanted to have it somewhere. And remember the breakfast we had the day after. Crêpes and a sprinkle of sugar. Taking pictures in the middle of our room, surrounded by boxes waiting to be filled, and things chaotically organised on the floor.

gluten-free-crepes

Easy everyday gluten-free crêpes
Gluten-free or not, these crêpes can be made in seconds. You could even place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. Or as I do: in a bowl with a handblender. For these, I used Dove’s Farm flours as it’s what I had in my cupboard, but feel free to replace with your own blend of gluten-free flours or even plain flour (you might need a little less liquid in that case).
If you’re using your own gluten-free flours, make sure they don’t have any xanthan gum as I find it doesn’t really work for crêpes.
For reference the flours I went for have: white rice, brown rice, potato, tapioca, corn, and buckwheat. But I have a feeling it would be quite delicious with oat flour too.

gluten free crepes-3

When it comes to fillings I’m partial to the complète: a slice of cooked ham, some grated gruyère cheese and a fried egg.
For breakfast, a dust of granulated sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice is a favourite, plain jam too really. I realise it must be some kind of reminiscence, but I can’t help to keep my crêpes simple.

What’s your favourite way to serve crêpes?

Easy everyday gluten-free crêpes

200g plain gluten-free flour
100g rice flour (a blend of white and brown)
a pinch of salt
3 eggs
75g melted butter
500g whole milk
200g water

Place all the ingredients, except for the water, in a large bowl and blitz using a handblender. Add the water. You might need more if you see your crêpes are too thick when you cook them. As a general rule, I’d recommend adding less and seeing how you go.

Leave the batter to sit at room temperature, covered with a clean kitchen cloth, for at least 30 minutes or, even better, for two hours or overnight (in which case, keep it in the fridge).
When you are ready to cook the crêpes, heat a lightly oiled non-stick frying pan over high heat, and mix the batter as it will separate slightly during the resting time.

When the pan starts to smoke, pour a laddle of batter onto the pan, using approximately one-third of a cup for each crêpe. Tilt the pan in a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
Cook the crêpe for about 2 minutes, until the edges start to brown and curl slightly. Loosen with a palette knife, flip over and cook the other side for a minute. Serve hot.

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Sea ice around us

memoriesA story about , , , , , Written on le Saturday 07 February 2015.

Let’s rewind to the exact moment when the clocks didn’t even notice when one minute past midnight happened. We didn’t either, really. And that’s why this article is here. One month and seven days too late. So much is about to happen though that I just couldn’t not tell you. Have a wonderful not-so-new year. xx

2014-7

2014-3

2014-17

2014-5

2014-6

2014-4

2014-2

2014-13

paris-pastry-club-book

2014-15

2014-28

2014-11

2014-12

2014-14

2014-27

2014

2014-16

2014-18

2014-19

2014-20

2014-21

2014-26

2014-22

2014-23

2014-24

2014-25

2014-33

2014-29

2014-30

Things I’ve started to do again:
– drawing. It all started with mushrooms drawn with ink and watercolours as I sat on the patio of K.’s summer house. And really, I never want it to stop.
collecting flowers for an herbier. Although I’ve forgotten to keep on doing it, I now have beautiful flowers from the little park around the corner. The one where we took so many walks. The one where he took my hand as my feet were a little unsteady on a longboard. The one that will always remind me of our last year in London.
– making a photo album, that I hope will last us for ever.

Moments to remember for ever:
– that night when we’d just arrived to K.’s friend summer house in Lappland. We ran to the boat house and dug through safety jackets to find the paddles. We set off on the lake to the midnight sun, and a thermo of coffee to keep us warm. The water was so still it felt like we were moving through the clouds. I fell asleep on the bow, but I will tell you more about it all when I – finally! – share my kanelbullar recipe with you.
– those quiet afternoons in Åsen spent drawing and baking in a wood-oven to the sound of the forest around us.
– days at the beach in the south of France. Jumping into waves, not unlike two children in love. I might have lost my bikini-top more than just a few times.
the morning before my book came out. Paris Pastry Club got featured in the Observer Food Monthly and I couldn’t have been any happier.
– walking through Greenwich park on an early autumn day, with a plastic-bag-ful of chestnuts.
– watching K. clean the trout he’d just caught on our last day in Sweden. And noticing how precise and full of love his moves were. Almost as if he’d been doing it everyday of his life. Also, the dinner Svante made us that night.
– the long walks we had by kågealven. Dreaming about the changes about to happen.
– a rainy day, perhaps it was in spring. Perhaps at the end of the winter. We put warm clothes on and gumboots too. And walked to that wild garden where snails are everywhere. I could have stayed there for hours; observing their little merry-go-round. We might have actually.

Things I did wrong:
– not take enough time off for the launch of Paris Pastry Club.
– or to blog.
– or to take pictures.
– bottom line is: not take enough time. Pretty difficult when your daily schedule involves a six o’clock wake up and a three am bedtime. But I’ll make it happen!

Things I did right:
say no when things didn’t feel right.
– kanelbulle. Anytime I got the chance. In fact, I even made some kanelbulle-ish croissants. Remind me to show you the real deal: kanelknut.
– baking Christmas cookies. So many.
– making grand-mère beautiful chocolate loaf cake.
– finding a home of some kind. With rye chocolate chip cookies too.

The not-so official list of 2015.
1. Start writing another book.
2. Visit my grand-mère. Or better yet, make her come to Sweden.
3. Swim in the Bottniska viken. Yes, that’s right, we’re moving to the north of Sweden. In February. Expect a lot of forest pictures and snowy roads. Perhaps, I’ll even see the gulf being covered in sea ice (what a wonderful word juxtaposition).
4. Swim in the Mediterranean too.
5. Start yoga again. Go for runs in the forest.
6. Learn: about gluten-free baking, Swedish, calligraphy. And most importantly, learn how to appreciate free time for what it is.
7. Make a loaf of bread every week (so much for gluten-free baking).
8. Take one picture everyday. And keep on doing my photo album.
9. Fall in love. Over and over again every time I look at K.
10. Visit: Iceland, Copehangen, and the Norway fjords.
11. Celebrate the launch of the German alter-ego of Paris Pastry Club: Fanny’s Pâtisserie :)
12. Snow around us, norrsken [northern lights] above us. Perhaps, the Milky Way too. Dream on!

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A few notes on blind-baking tarts

la pâtisserieA story about , , Written on le Wednesday 28 January 2015.

blind baking tarts-5

Butter the rings

I like to butter my rings before lining with dough. It will slide down the ring more easily and won’t ever ever stick to it once baked.

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How to roll and cut the dough

These days I always roll my dough in betwen two sheets of feuille guitare, a thin acetate. If you can get your hands on it, it’s much better than baking paper, as the dough won’t crease.

If I’m using pâte sucrée or as I show you here my favourite biscuit dough (any kind of soft dough that patches well, really; I can’t think of any aside from pâte brisée or feuilletée), I like to cut strips to the height I want my tart to be and a disk for the bottom.
This is way easier to handle and creates a flawless tart case with perfect corners.

lining-a-tart

To calculate how long the strips that goes around the ring should be, it’s very simple.

circumference = diametre x 3.14

And then, for the bottom-disk: just cut it one cm smaller than your ring.

To line the ring, simply place the strip of dough on the inside, sealing with your fingers where the two ends meet. And then place the disk of dough in the centre, pushing it slightly so that it reaches the sides. Run your finger to smooth out and seal.

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Blind-baking with clingfilm

I usually go for clingfilm whenever I’m blind-baking a large tart (bigger than 10cm-wide), as it’s the most convenient.
Simply layer two large pieces of clingfilm, smoothing out with a tea towel, then place over your unbaked tart case and add rice or pulses up to the rim. Press with your hands to compress your baking weights, making sure they go well into the corners of your tart. Loosely close your clingfilm. If you wrap it too tight, the clingfilm as it shrinks a little with the heat, won’t be in contact with the sides of your tart anymore.

blind baking tarts-3

blind baking tarts-4

This technique is amazing as it bakes the dough much more evenly than any other. But it can be a bit of a pain at times, with the clingfilm breaking and spilling rice everywhere. Yes, it’s happened before ;)

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Blind-baking with cupcake papers

blind baking tarts-2
blind baking tarts

This is my go-to method, one that I learnt at Pierre Hermé, back in 2007. Using your fingers you “break” cupcake paper so that they are the size of your ring. Fill with rice or pulses. And you’re pretty much set. It’s incredibly easy, reusable for almost-ever and the fastest.

This method has only one downside: it will leave imprints on the baked tart case.

blind baking tarts-6

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The baking temperature

At the restaurant I always go for 155°C, but at home, in my not so amazing oven, I’ve found that 165°C works perfectly.
Of course it also depends on the kind of dough you’re using. The best is to experiment, until you’re happy with the results.

As a general rule though, 150-160°C for fan-assisted ovens, and 165-170°C for traditional ovens.

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Peel your tart

blind baking tarts-3-2

This is my absolute favourite trick to make tart cases neater than neat. Simply trim any bits of dough that might have popped out a little out from the rings, either at the base or the top with a peeler.

Do this when your tart case is completely cold. And ever so gently.

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Ceramic baking weights?

No thank you. They’re too big: don’t get in the corners. Too heavy: break the delicate structure of your dough, leave imprints. Too expensive.

If you have any other question, please leave me a comment and I’ll try to answer. Also, if there is any technique or ingredient you would like to see broken down, tell me. x

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Une histoire de tarte au chocolat et oranges sanguines

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , , , , Written on le Saturday 24 January 2015.

[A story of chocolate tart and blood oranges]

chocolate tart orange

The story of this chocolate tart is a simple one. It all started when a friend asked me to show him how to make one.

So we mixed butter and sugar. Added eggs and flour and cocoa powder. And of course salt, because a chocolate tart can never be perfect without salt. We lined an entremet ring (this is the only way I like my tarts these days: allowing way more control over the height of the filling) with the dough and blind-baked it until the shiny pâte sucrée became matte and crisp. We lowered the oven temperature and got on with the chocolate crémeux. Cream and milk (and salt) brought to the boil and poured over milk and dark chocolate, which magically turned into a beautiful ganache. And eggs, just so.

chocolate tart naked

We had a slice. And with just a few other elements, we turned it into a du jour dessert.

That was months ago. And really, I knew that as soon as the first blood oranges would be around, this tart would have to come back. Just so I could show you.

Just like its story, it is a very simple dessert. One that could be made at home, for a birthday or a little unofficial dinner party.
In fact, you could make the tart alone. A Sunday afternoon sort of indulgence. Or the confit, for a glorious breakfast made of crêpes generously layered with the slightly bitter jam-ish.

In any case, here is the recipe. A celebration of an often overlook January. The Monday of the months, some even say. Well, I only have one thing to answer: blood oranges. Everywhere.

chocolate tart orange-2

Tarte au chocolat et oranges sanguines
This dessert might be simple but it has become a favourite with its good balance of rich and light, sour and sweet, creamy and sharp.

chocolate-tart-diagram

It has a few elements:
– the chocolate tart
– the blood orange confit
– the compote
– the blood orange segments
– the hazelnut streusel
– the salted hazelnuts
– the vanilla ice-cream

As I’ve just told you, you could make the tart alone. Perhaps serve it with segments and a scoop of ice-cream. Maybe you would have some tempered chocolate decors or a piece of cocoa nib nougatine. Just consider it as a blueprint for your own dessert.

I do realise, however, that it can seem a bit exhausting to make so many components at home. But really, many of them can be done well in advance (up to a month as I suggest below), and on the day when you want to serve the tart it will just be a matter of assembling.

chocolate tart case

The chocolate pâte sucrée: the dough is made, cut and frozen. Later that day, you can line your ring with the dough and keep it frozen until needed. The hazelnut streusel can be made and frozen; and the salted hazelnuts will keep for weeks in an airtight container.
The blood orange confit can be made and kept in the fridge for a good week. And the vanilla ice-cream, if you choose to make it (a high-quality ice-cream from the shop would do just fine too) can keep in the freezer for almost-ever.

chocolate-tart-before-and-after

So really, on the day you’ll just have to:
– blind-bake the tart case.
– make the chocolate crémeux and bake it.
– allow to the tart to cool down to room temperature. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours, then slice it using a knife dipped in hot water and dried with a cloth.
– bake the hazelnut streusel.
– cut the salted hazelnuts in half.
– make the blood orange compote, although this is barely necessary, I’ve offered two recipes: one with pectine NH nappage which can be a bit difficult to source and one with agar agar.
– segment a few oranges.

Tarte au chocolat et oranges sanguines

serves 16

up to a month ahead

for the chocolate pâte sucrée
125 g butter, at room temperature
125 g icing sugar
5 g salt
one egg
one egg yolk
250 g plain flour
50 g cocoa powder

Cream the butter, icing sugar and salt. Add the eggs and yolks. Finally add the flour. Roll in between two sheets of feuille guitare to around 4mm thick. Using your ring, cut out a 24cm wide disk. And 3 long strips, 3cm wide. Place in the freezer for at least a couple of hours.
Later that day, take the dough out from the freezer. Butter a 24cm ring, place it on a tray lined with paper and arrange the dough strips on the sides of the ring. Pressing slightly where two ends meet to close the dough in a perfect cylinder.
Trim the disk of dough slightly, perhaps a few mm around so that it fits in the ring. Don’t worry if you’ve cut too much as you can always push the dough so that it meets the edges. Run your finger around the corner to seal the case. Place it back in the freezer until ready to use.

for the hazelnut streusel
100 g plain flour
50 g ground almonds
50 g ground hazelnuts
100 g butter
75 g caster sugar
25 g demerara sugar
5 g salt
50 g chopped blanched hazelnuts

Mix all the ingredients together in the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until it just starts to form a dough. Grate using a rack and freeze.

for the salted hazelnuts
500 g water
20 g coarse salt
250 g whole blanched hazelnuts

Bring the water and salt to the boil. Add the hazelnuts and simmer for 20 minutes. Roast at 150°C for around 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

trait

up to a week ahead

for the blood orange confit
250 g blood oranges
120 g caster sugar
100 g blood orange juice
25 g glucose syrup
one vanilla pod
, sliced in half
20 g Grand Marnier

Blanch the oranges three times for 3 minutes in boiling water, refreshing in iced water in between each. Place the oranges in the fridge overnight. Slice thinly, around 3 to 4mm thick, then cut each slice in half. Place in a pan along with the sugar, juice, glucose syrup and vanilla pod. Bring to the boil, and simmer until it reaches 103°C. Chill, then add the Grand Marnier.

for the vanilla ice-cream
860 g milk
275 g UHT cream
80 g skimmed milk powder
7 g sea salt
3 vanilla pods
140 g caster sugar
80 g dehydrated glucose
50 g dextrose
8 g stab 2000

Scrape the vanilla pods, then chop the pods into 5mm segments. Warm milk, cream and vanilla to 40°C. Mix all the dry ingredients together and whisk in the milk. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 min. Handblend. Chill overnight and pass through a fine mesh sieve. Churn according to your ice-cream machine manufacturer’s instructions.

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on the morning

for the chocolate crémeux
270 g Valrhona Jivara 40%
230 g Valrhona Andoa 70%
300 g UHT whipping cream
200 g milk
5 g salt
150 g eggs
(around 3)

Blind bake the tart case at 160°C for 20 minutes, then remove the baking weight and add 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 90°C.

Place the chocolates in a large bowl. Bring the milk, cream and salt to the boil. Pour onto the chocolate in 3 times, emulsifying with a maryse. Handblend without incoporating any air. Add the eggs and handblend until smooth. Weigh out 1kg, and pour into the blindbaked case when it’s still hot. Bake at 90°C, fan 2 for around 55 minutes, until just set and barely jiggly. Allow the tart to cool down to room temperature and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours to firm up.

for the blood orange compote
250 g blood orange juice
20 g trimoline
10 g caster sugar
3 g pectine NH nappage

Bring the juice and trimoline to 40°C. Combine the caster sugar and pectine. Add to the juice and bring to the boil. Simmer for 4 minutes. Chill.

or
250 g blood orange juice
10 g caster sugar
2.5 g agar agar

Bring the juice to 40°C. In a bowl, combine the sugar and agar agar. Add to the juice and bring to the boil. Simmer for 4 minutes. And transfer into a plastic container to set. Once chilled, blitz in a blender until smooth.

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for the blood orange segments
3 blood oranges

Bake the streusel.
Bake at 155°C for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden brown.

Cut the hazelnut in half.
Using the tip of a small paring knife, break the hazelnuts in half.

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to serve
Fill your sink with hot water and dip your knife in it for a few seconds. Wipe the blade clean making sure the sharp egde isn’t facing your fingers, and slice the tart in sixteen, rinsing and wiping your knife in between each slice. Ideally, keep the slices at room temperature for a few hours before serving.

Smudge some compote onto a plate, then place a slice of tart on top. You might want to give the tart a quick flash with a blowtorch to make it shiny again.
Arrange some segments around the compote, then a few pieces of streusel and salted hazelnuts. Finally, arrange three of four strands of confit, and place a small quenelle of vanilla ice-cream onto crumbled streusel (so that the ice-cream won’t move around).

PS. Let me know if you enjoy this kind of articles, and I might tell you more dessert stories. x

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Un week end pluvieux, et des croissants un peu comme des kanelbullar

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , , Written on le Saturday 10 January 2015.

[A rainy weekend, and croissants, not unlike kanelbullar]

cinnamon bun croissant-2

There was that weekend, many-many months ago. I had told you about the days when blogs were not so editorially perfect and how I miss them; about the two crumpets with raspberry jam that I had had for an early afternoon breakfast; and about how we’d moved the kitchen table by the window and took way too many pictures.

Because, you see, my book was coming out the day after. And I guess that – as pretty much the entire universe – when I’m about to step in the unknown I like to delve a bit deeper in my comfort zone.
It might be just a breath. Or as it happened, it might be croissants.

There is this one thing I know for sure though. It’s that there are many rainy weekends ahead of us. And really, I thought I’d take you with me.
A time machine of some sorts.

Making the détrempe under the grey light of a drenched morning.
Rolling turns later that day during the blue hour.
And waking up to gold through our windows to finish shaping the croissants.

By twelve, we had hot coffee – much hotter than I’d usually care for, and freshly baked croissants. And perhaps, you’ll have some too.

This recipe doesn’t make traditional croissants. But more of a beautiful cross between a kanelbulle and a croissant. Soft and slightly flaky, as I only gave the dough two simple turns, as opposed to my usual croissant routine: one simple turn and a double one. In fact, a look at the insides will give it away: the membranes are thicker, and cinnamon speckles dot them throughout.

cinnamon bun croissant-3

Perhaps, if you want to, I could make some regular flaky croissants, just like the ones I grew up on, and show you too. Yes, croissants are nothing new. But I guess, in the constant chaos that surround us all, there is still some wisdom left.

The ingredients.

for the détrempe
300 g strong flour
200 g plain flour
80 g caster sugar
12 g instant yeast
10 g milk powder
10 g sea salt
250 g cold water
45 g butter
, melted and cooled down

for the butter
300 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp ground cinnamon

for the glaze
200 g icing sugar
boiling water
seeds from one vanilla pod

01 make the dough
twelve pm.
Mix the flours, sugar, yeast, milk powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the cold water and butter; and mix until a dough starts to form.

02-knead-the-dough
ten minutes past twelve pm.
Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead for around ten minutes or until the dough feels elastic and smooth.

03 until smoothish
twenty minutes past twelve pm.
Place the dough back in the bowl and clingfilm tightly. Leave in a warmish place for an hour or so, or until doubled in size.

04 make the butter
twenty-five minutes past twelve.
While the yeast is working in magic, work yours with the butter. In a bowl, mix the soft butter (you could flash it in the microwave for ten seconds at a time until soft but not melted) with the ground cinnamon. Perhaps a pinch of cardamom too.

05 make the butter-2
half past twelve.
Scrape the butter onto a piece of piece of baking paper and top with another one. Roll it until you get a rough 40x30cm rectangle. Transfer to a baking tray and chill in the fridge.
Have a cup of coffee. And kisses. And maybe, even tickles down your neck. I highly recommend the latter. That’s what dream-Sundays are made of.

06 the dough after proving
half past one.
The détrempe is proved when it’s almost doubled in size. When you take it, it will be very smooth and elastic.

07-roll-the-detrempe-into-a-rough-rectangle
half past one.
Place the détrempe onto a lightly floured work surface and roll into a rough rectangle. Wrap in clingfilm and freeze for twenty-five minutes to stop the yeast. Then transfer to the fridge and let it be for a few hours.

08 roll the detrempe
five o’clock.
Tea time for some. And feuilletage for others. I can’t help but feel a little sad for the former who’ll never know the calmness only rolling dough can bring.
Take out the butter sheet on your bench to soften it ever so slightly. Place the détrempe onto a lightly floured work surface and roll to a 40x60cm rectangle. Flour more as needed but always make sure to brush off the excess afterwards.

09 place butter
ten past five.
Place the rectangle of butter on the lower half of the détrempe – patching it as you do so to cover any naked corner – then fold the upper half over.

10-place-the-butter
fitfteen minutes past five.
Flatten the dough with your hands to get rid of any air bubbles, and rotate counter-clockwise so that you have a “book” its spine on your left hand-side.

11 roll the dough
twenty minutes past five.
Roll the dough before the first turn.

11 roll-the-dough
For that, I like to press my rolling pin into the dough to create some indents. This step – if done gently yet with sufficient pressure – allows to distribute the butter evenly.
I then start rolling the dough in long movements, from the centre up and then from the centre down. Those two techniques can be applied to any laminated dough.
If the dough starts to stick, don’t hesitate to flour your work bench and reposition the dough.

12 croissant-first-turn
twenty-five minutes past five.
Once the dough has been rolled to – ideally – around seven millimetres, brush off any excess flour, and fold in three, like you would do with a letter.
This is a tour simple [simple turn].

Wrap the dough tightly in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

twenty-five minutes past five (of the am kind).
If you wanted a flakier texture, I would advise to go for a tour double [double turn] now. I went for another simple turn as I’ve told you before. Because fluffy meant something special to me that day, or so it seems.
Of course Karl wouldn’t wake up, so pictures didn’t happen, but here is what I did: I rolled the dough to around seven millimetres thick, then folded it in three, exactly like shown above.
After that, I placed the dough back in the fridge – again, wrapped in clingfilm.

13 cut the dough
half past six (of the am kind).
Get two baking trays lined with baking paper.
Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to a rough thirty-centimetre-wide rectangle. Cut the dough in half width-wise (if that’s even a thing) and place one half onto one of the prepared baking trays. Chill while you get on with the other half.
This will make the dough easier to handle and roll thinner, while the other part stays cool.

Keep on rolling the dough, maintaining a width of around thirty centimetres, until it’s about four or five millimetre-thick.
Cut triangles using a sharp knife, making sure their base is eight to ten centimetre wide.
As you cut the triangles, place them onto the prepared baking tray; and keep in the fridge until needed.

Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the other half of dough.

14-roll-croisants
seven am.
Get two baking trays lined with baking paper.

Take out a couple of dough triangle out at a time. Gently stretch them, then roll without putting any pressure on the layers. And place them with the “point” underneath on the prepared baking tray, generously spaced out.

15 make a double layer of clingfilm
twenty minutes past seven.
Layer two large pieces of clingfilm, chasing any air bubbles and lightly brush with vegetable oil.

16 proof
twenty-five minutes past seven.
Place the layered clingfilm – oiled side down – on top of your croissants, to cover them loosely. Allow to prove at room temperature for around two hours or until wobbly and doubled in size.
If butter starts leaking, then you might want to find a slightly cooler place to prove your croissants. If I’m at the restaurant, then 27°C is the temperature I go for (with 67% humidity for the ones of you who are lucky enough to have a prover).

Once the croissants have proved, brush gently with a beaten egg, making sure not to put any egg-wash on the cut edges, which would prevent the rise of the feuilletage.

Bake at 200°C for seventeen to twenty minutes. Allow to cool down slightly, then transfer to a wire rack.

17 glaze
ten thirty.
Make the sugar and vanilla glaze: mix the icing sugar with enough water to form a pourable icing; stir in the vanilla seeds, and drizzle over the croissants.

THE END. Of life as you knew it.

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That was Christmas – Zimtstern à la cannelle

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , , Written on le Monday 05 January 2015.

zimtstern-3

We found a tree, just a few nights before Christmas. A bit of a happy coincidence. Not that we hadn’t looked everywhere before. Sold out or cheap plastic.

And there it was, still wrapped in some sort of net. We named it Charlie; forgot about the pizza we’d set off to eat, and proceeded to carry it home on K’s shoulder across London. We stopped at the shop, the one around the corner, and got a pizza there. Twenty minutes later, we sliced into it, and later that night, we let the multi-coloured lights (with a green chord and cone-like bulbs; that remind me so so much of the ones my grand-mother brought back with her and her children when they moved back from Tahiti to France) lullaby us to sleep.

charlie

And at that exact moment. With our legs twisted inside each other and the twinkling lights and the smell of forest filling our room. That was Christmas. My Christmas.

But really, I’m not sure why I’m telling you that.

You see, I had amazing plans for this year. I wanted to share with you my favourite – old and new – recipes for biscuits to bake during those nights made of wool socks and candles and mulled wine and peeks through the window wishing for snow.
But before I even knew it, Christmas had well gone. Not that we still have Charlie in our bedroom. Perhaps, we’ll go to the park at the end of our street one night, and dig through the earth to make him a new home.

So we’ll have to make it an extended Christmas this year. Recipes from another time for the one to come maybe; if you don’t mind.

zimtstern

After all, I went to every possible shop to find the perfect star cookie cutter. Buying anything star-shaped that came my way. And I no have many. Possibly six too many.
One thing I know for sure though, you won’t have too many zimtsterns. Ever.

Zimtstern à la cannelle
Adapted from Mingou’s beautiful zimstern (via Pauline, the must-visit source for anything Christmas biscuit related)

Just like we’re not in Kansas anymore, Christmas is far gone. However, as I write this, a couple of weeks after it all happened (for us, it was a delicious lunch at the pub with a little too much wine and a lot too-much laughs), I’m snuggled in bed with Ash in my ears and the comforting thought of many biscuits – cut and arranged in plastic containers – ready to be baked at any time. In fact, as long as we have Charlie on and a wreath on our door, I’m not planning on giving up on the holidays.

glaze-zimtstern

Zimtstern(s?) are new to me. And really, when I first saw them, I knew they were going to be something special. Beautiful chewy, with a subtle cinnamon flavour. A bit like a macaron and yet not quite.
Mingou’s recipe isn’t traditional as it calls for flour. I guess it makes them a little bit cakier (in a good way) and way easier to work with.

I made the soft dough and rolled in – still in between two sheets of baking paper – then cut it and baked it for barely ten minutes. As Mingou says, it’s definitely better not to overbake them as they’ll turn quite hard. The edges will just start to brown slightly when they’re ready.

zimtstern-2

As they cool down, make the glaze, a simple royal icing; I wanted to add vanilla, but then I forgot, although it would make a lovely finishing touch. Next time, tomorrow perhaps?

When it comes to dipping the biscuits in, place them in the icing, then go up and down to get rid of the excess. Finally you can tap the biscuit slightly on your table to smooth the glaze.

Zimtstern à la cannelle

makes around 50 small biscuits

200 g ground almonds
100 g icing sugar
60 g caster sugar
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp maldon sea salt
160 g plain flour
2 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 150°C and line two baking trays with baking paper.

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the egg whites and mix until it forms a dough. Roll in between two sheets of baking paper to around 8mm thick. Cut out using your favourite cutter, from what I’ve seen, the must is a six-point star, something that seemed to be absolutely unfindable in my corner of the world.
Arrange the biscuits onto the prepared baking trays and bake for around 10 minutes, or until slightly puffed up and the edges just begin to brown (ever so slightly).
Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool down completely.

for the royal icing

2 egg whites
380 g icing sugar
seeds from one vanilla pod

Prepare the icing by mixing the egg whites with the icing sugar until smooth. It should be soft to touch, but not too runny. Gently dip the top of one biscuit into it, then remove, allowing the icing to drip for a couple of seconds. Place back onto the baking sheet, iced-side up. Repeat with the remaining biscuits and allow them to set at room temperature for a couple of hours.

The zimtsterns will keep in an airtight container for a couple of weeks.

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On rituals and beautiful habits – Biscuits croustillants à la cannelle

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , Written on le Tuesday 25 November 2014.

[Crisp cinnamon biscuits]

cinnamon biscuits before

I don’t want fig leaf or oak bark infusion. I don’t want gimmicks and royal icing where it’s not needed. I want to explore flour, sugar, butter and eggs.

Give me cinnamon. And whole wheat flour. Oats. And dark brown sugar.

I want to look underneath a biscuit. And see a golden colour. And little ridges. And above all, I want to build a collection of solid recipes for the years to come. For traditions that don’t exist yet, but will. And for those that are already there.

Yes, at times, I love to experience with crazy flavours. The next big thing. Or more. But as I’ve told you yesterday, for me, Christmas is all about rituals and beautiful habits. I hope you feel the same way.

cinnamon biscuit crumb

Biscuits croustillants à la cannelle
Adapted from Trine Hahnemann.

When it comes to a biscuit texture you can get: crisp, crunchy, sandy/short, caky or chewy. These ones are full-on crisp. A beautiful texture which makes them – perhaps – the best biscuits I’ve ever eaten.
So much, in fact, that this year, I’ve decided to forgo my usual vanilla shortbreads and use this recipe as a base instead. Maybe try different shapes, perhaps even thumbprint cookies and see how that goes.

cinnamon biscuit dough

I think their insane texture comes from the initial sanding technique, when the butter gets rubbed into the flour and sugar, which created beautiful layers within the biscuit. So I might experiment with this instead of the usual creaming that most of my biscuit recipes use.
They also make me want to try more of Trine’s recipes. Have you ever? If not, then please, make a batch of these.

As I usually do, I rolled the dough between two sheets of baking paper (but as I mentioned yesterday, it makes me miss the feuilles guitare I use at the restaurant, SO. MUCH. BETTER.) as soon as it gets made, and then go on with the chilling. I’ve found that resting the dough before rolling doesn’t improve the texture, and really, makes it so hard to roll that you have to 1) bash it with a rolling pin to make it somewhat workable or 2) let it outside to warm up a bit (hence, erasing all the benefits of keeping the dough cold at all times: making the water content of the butter less available for gluten to bind).

paper

Two or three important things though when it comes to rolling the dough.
– always roll in different directions.
– every now and then, lift the baking paper and smooth any wrinkles out. They tend to make the dough fragile and the biscuits less pretty.
– before you cut out your biscuits, remove the top layer of baking paper, then place it back (it won’t stick as much), before filliping around and removing the second layer of baking paper. This way, as you cut out, the shapes will stay in your cutter, instead of sticking to the paper (hope that makes a semblance of sense at all?!).

cinnamon biscuits

Also, re-rolling the trimming? I would usually say it’s a big no. But f*ck it, it’s home baking after all.

Biscuits croustillants à la cannelle

makes around 30-40 biscuits

for the dough
375g plain flour
125g light soft brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
250g cold butter
, cubed
one egg

for the sugar topping
one egg, beaten
100 g demerara sugar
4 tsp ground cinnamon
gold shimmer powder
, optional
Mix the sugar, cinnamon, and gold shimmer (if using) to combine.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon 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.
Roll the dough between two sheets of baking paper until it’s around 4-5mm thick.
Place on a baking tray that fits in your fridge, if the dough is too large, you can cut through the paper to make two or more rectangles. Chill the dough overnight.

The next day, cut out your biscuits using either a round 5cm cutter or different shapes, and place on a large sheet of baking paper. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar. Shake off the excess and place on a baking tray lined with paper. At this point you can either freeze the biscuits for a month or so, or bake them straight away.

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Bake the biscuits for 14-18 minutes, depending on their size. They’re ready when evenly brown. Allow to cool down completely and keep in an airtight container. Trine says they’ll keep for a month. If so, my dreams of the perfect biscuit have come true.

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Les biscuits de Noël

la pâtisserie, wordsA story about , , , Written on le Tuesday 25 November 2014.

[Christmas cookies]

les-biscuits-de-noel

This morning, I walked to the shop – warm boots, cosy jumper and wool scarf bigger than I am – and bought three kilos of flour, two of caster sugar, one of light brown sugar. There was eggs (twelve) and seven blocks of butter too. And ground almonds. And candied cherries. And candy canes.

I came back home, rosy nose and frozen hands (when am I going to get mittens?), and made six batches of biscuits and cookies. I rolled dough between two sheets of baking paper – although I wished I had feuilles guitare (very thin acetate sheets), as they make rolling a treat: no wrinkles or folds -, cut out some stars, holly and hearts, rolled some into logs.

The biscuit dough are now resting in the fridge. And tomorrow, I’ll turn the oven on as I make our pot of coffee. And declare the holiday baking open.

After all – and I’ve just realised it – Christmas is only a month away! And I cannot wait. For snow to happen. For that shop at the corner of our street to be – not unlike a forest – full of trees (it’s closed all year-long, aside from the month of December when it turns into a miniature winter wonderland). For hot chocolates, and mulled wine. For candles, and Christmas songs, and biscuits.

A list of the Christmas cookies I’ve made so far:

– cinnamon crunch biscuits
– candy cane and chocolate cookies
– rye and maple syrup biscuits (inspired by those)
Mingou’s zimtstern
– moka biscuits
– Kelli’s matcha shortbreads

And really, I’m planning on making:

– pains d’amandes
– oats and whole wheat flour cookies
– very vanilla shortbreads
– lingonberry jam thumbprint cookies

But really, what are your favourite Christmas cookies and biscuits? To offer, to bake, to eat cosily snogged…

And if you’re already feeling as festive as I am: why does Christmas makes you so happy? For me, it’s combination of: chestnuts roasting in the fire (and the candied ones too), the fairy lights glittering around the house, the beautiful mess that seems to be a constant in the kitchen, the laughs and the occasional glass of champagne, the mix of anticipation and surprises.

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Et un jour en automne – Confiture de châtaignes

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , Written on le Sunday 23 November 2014.

[And a day in autumn – Chestnut jam]

chestnut collection

There is one story. Of the made-up kind. The one I started to tell you – more than – a couple of weeks ago. And really, some of it is true.

It was a perfect autumn day. The first we’d had this year. That morning, I woke up early and made breakfast. As I was waiting for the kettle to boil – ground coffee in the french press, eggs boiling without a timer, the pink jumper that never leaves me these days – I thought about the chestnuts one of my friends found in Greenwich park earlier that week.

peeling chestnuts

We had breakfast in bed. With our coffee cups not-so-safely resting on a book, and perhaps, a few English muffin crumbs in the duvet.

And as K. left for work. I packed a not-so-neatly folded plastic bag in my purse. Warm boots. And wind-induced pink cheeks. Rode a driverless train. And before I knew it, I was gazing methodically up and down.

Up for leaves I would recognise. Down for almost-fluo green spiky balls.

chestnuts

I found a tree. And by any means, I think the squirrels found it first. And the worms too. A few chestnuts playing hide and seek in the grass. In the mud too.

But then, I spotted this trail of fallen treasures. And followed it.

A few hours later – hours made of this magical feel that only gathering can bring – the wrinkly plastic bag was then full with chestnuts. And I very well knew I would be making jam as soon as I got back home.

But the truth is that I now remember why I only make it every five years or so.

squirrel

It’s a wonderland. Until you come home with that plastic-bag-full of chestnuts.

Yes, this is the other part of the story. The one that people-who-make-chestnut-jam never really tell you about.

The one in which you stand by the stove for hours. The one in which you burn your fingers and make your sink messy with chestnut skins. The one in which you pour the thick jam into glass jars that are too hot to touch.

But well, I can’t blame everyone else. Because once you get past the ultimate patience test and land three jar-ful of jam. You’ll be happy.

And forget about it all. Until the next time.

chestnut jam

Confiture de châtaignes
As I’ve just told you, making chesnut jam is messy. But damn, it’s amazing during those cold months, when nothing else but crêpes layered with it and a fat dollop of vanilla ice-cream will do.

If your chestnuts are anything like mine – home of little worms – a quick way to find out the intruders is to plunge the chestnuts in cold water. Any that floats is either empty or wormy (is that even a word?).
When it comes to cooking the jam, the amount of water you add needs to be enough to cook the chestnuts through. I don’t have a standard amount, and since you’ll be reducing the jam to 104°C, it doesn’t really matter as you’ll always be left with the same water content when you reach that teperature, regardless of whether 1 or 2L of water have been added (only the cooking time will be different – the more water, the longer).

Confiture de châtaignes

makes 3 x 300g jars

1 kg chestnuts, with the skin on

Start by scoring the chestnuts using a small knife. Then place under running cold water. Discard all the ones that float and place the rest in a large pan of boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat, and peel the hot chestnuts one by one.

750 g peeled chestnuts
3 vanilla pods
550 g granulated sugar

Place the peeled chestnuts in a large pan, along with the seeds from 3 vanilla pods. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chestnuts are soft. Add the caster sugar and handblend until smooth.

Cook this paste over low heat until it reaches 104°C.

Pour into sterilised jars and screw the lids back on. Turn the jars upside-down and allow to cool down completely before refrigerating.

What are your favourite recipes to make with chestnut jam? I was thinking of making a loak cake, replacing half the sugar by the chestnut jam. More to follow… In the meantime, dearest chestnuts, see you in five years ;)

bye

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The sound of the forest – Gluten-free chocolate fondant cake

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , Written on le Wednesday 13 August 2014.

asen2

gluten free chocolate cake bite

I wish you were here with me. Sat on the patio. There is a wooden table which I’ve slowly taken over: notes, drawings of mushrooms, a mug holding watercolour brushes, a mismatch of cameras, and a cup of coffee hotter than what I would normally fancy.

From where I sit, I can see the logs Karl brought from the little shelter down in the garden on the same wheelbarrow we used to collect the hay that his father – Svante – cut on the day we arrived. They’re neatly piled and possibly enough to keep the fire going for a good week.

gluten free chocolate cake

There is two pairs of rain boots – my new favourite, as they will take me anywhere.

And then, there is the forest. All around us.

This morning, we saw the same hare I fell in love with yesterday. Hopefully, he’ll stick around here a little longer. Svante told me he probably had his eyes on the apple tree that stands right in the middle of the garden.
But secretly, I think we’ve become some sort of wild friends.

Yes, right now, I wish you were here with me. Listening to the sound of the forest after a rainstorm.
It’s, perhaps, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. The lightest raindrops hitting the moss. The cracking branches. The birds’ songs, and the happy merry-go-round of bumblebees. The wind going through soaked leaves.

asen3

The house is quiet. Aside from an old timer ticking seconds like others tick boxes.

You see, I have a gluten-free chocolate cake in the oven – hopefully cold enough by the time the boys will come back from their fishing expedition. The kind where coffee gets boiled over a bonfire and knee-high neoprene boots make you belong to the river. The kind where, when Karl will be here, he’ll smell of burning wood and will have too many stories to share.

And just like the house smelled wonderful yesterday as I was baking kanelbullar. It now smells of chocolate. And rain.

gluten free chocolate cake slice

choc cake recipes

Now a few hours later, I went to pick – tiny – hallon [raspberries] by the pond. And all the times Karl told me to check for worms inside the berries finally made sense.

I cut myself a thick slice of the still-warm cake, fudgy around the rim and slighty gooey in the centre. And with a handful of my rather small bounty and a tall glass of filmjölk, it was just as delicious as I had hoped for.

asen

Gluten-free chocolate fondant cake

You could make this cake with ground almonds only, but I couldn’t resist to try the gluten-free oat flour I found at the supermarket a few days ago.
The process is very simple. Not unlike a classic fondant cake.

The eggs and sugar get whisked together for a few minutes, until the sugar has almost dissolved. Then the melted chocolate and butter get folded in. And finally the flours. A quick trip in the oven; and voilà!

Gluten-free chocolate fondant cake

200 g 70% dark chocolate
250 g unsalted butter
5 eggs
250 g caster sugar
50 g ground almonds
40 g GF self-raising oat flour
8 g sea salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C, and generously butter a 26cm cake tin.

In a heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate and butter; either in a microwave or over a pan of simmering water. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar for around 4 minutes, or until fluffy and almost doubled in size. You don’t want to overdo it, it’s just a matter of dissolving the sugar.

Fold in the chocolate mixture, mixing well. And finally add the ground almonds, oat flour and salt. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 24-28 minutes, until barely jiggling in the very centre of the cake.

Allow to cool down completely before slicing. Or scoop while warm, like I did.

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Pommes de terre

memoriesA story about , , Written on le Sunday 10 August 2014.

[Potatoes]

svante potatis

Tonight, we dug potatoes (but really, doesn’t their French name imply so much more: earth apples) from the ground.

They’re being boiled. And bacon and falukorv are being fried in a cast iron pan that has probably seen many and manier. Eggs are cooking.

And just like this pyttipanna will happen for dinner.

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And there are dragonflies

memoriesA story about , , , , Written on le Friday 08 August 2014.

summer house-2

We drove and drove. It seems roadtrips are always involved whenever we are in Sweden – and really, I’m not complaining.

And while I have so many things to tell you: that one drink Jessica made for us; the roadtrip we took to the mountains, fishing on a lake at three in the morning, under my first midnight-ish sun; the pictures I took with my film camera; the street lights; and the dala horses we’re about to see here in Dalarna.
Yes, while I have so many things to tell you, I’m making the most of modern magic (called 3G dongle, what an ugly word!) to show you where the roads have led us today. In Åsen.

I have a candle and the moon for only light. A wooden table in the garden as an office, with potatis and rabarber at my feet. There is a pond. And there are dragonflies. And really, I’d trade anything for this-right-here-right-now.

summer house-3

summer house-4

summer house-5

summer house-6

summer house-7

summer house-10

summer house-8

summer house-9

summer house-11

summer house-13

summer house-14

summer house-15

summer house-17

summer house-18

summer house-16

summer house-12

summer house-22

summer house-23

summer house-21

summer house-24

summer house-25

summer house-26

summer house-27

summer house-28

summer house

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The August break #2 – Pattern

memoriesA story about , , Written on le Sunday 03 August 2014.

soft pastels

bubble tea

A list of patterns from today.
K’s eggs and bacon for breakfast.  The evening sun through the blinds, projecting shadows on our wall. The fact that no matter how many times I’ve done it, I’ll forever be the worst at packing. Anxiety attack included. Tickles down my neck. Matcha bubble tea for le goûter. The soft pastels we bought yesterday.  The midnight lattes.  The crystals I drew last night. Maybe I’ll show you a picture later. A night at the airport. Not unlike last year.

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Press pause

memories, wordsA story about , , , , Written on le Friday 01 August 2014.

Exactly three months ago, I told you this:

And that too:

But you see, today, I’m only here to tell you about the August break. Literally and metaphorically.

Today, we didn’t pack our bags. Instead, we walked through a sunny London under the rain. Hoping for rainbows. And thunderstorms too.
We went to an art shop and got way too many pencils and pens and brushes and paper. Although, I might argue that these are the kind of things you can never have too many of.

scribbles

Tomorrow, we’ll – most likely – spend the night at the airport. But I’ve learnt my lesson – airports get really cold at night – and instead of a summer dress, I’ll sure be wearing some sort of soft hoodie and thick wool socks.

#theaugustbreak2014. Day one: lunch.

Lunch. Or so they say. We had ours on some stairs made of stone by Charing Cross. A gluten-free avocado wrap for me and a little baguette with things inside for K. I didn’t take a picture. Of course. But I’ll remember those stairs. And most importantly, browsing through the alleys of the art shop. It’d been too long. More to come on that later hopefully. Cross your fingers for me. You see, dreams are – at times – not as daft as they seem.

And while we’re on the lunch subject, I’ve been super inspired by that book (which I haven’t bought, but I can’t help but love the idea). I’m thinking of starting a feed the chefs feature for those of you who are curious of the things I make whenever I’m on staff food duty!

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The gluten-free pastry chef – A story and a vanilla and raspberry baked Alaska

la pâtisserie, wordsA story about , , , , , , , , , , Written on le Tuesday 10 June 2014.

gluten free baked alaska

We started our day with a breakfast made of baguette and butter – or was it butter and baguette? – and coffee, of course.
We drove to Antibes and sat on the clear plastic chairs facing the doctor.

And there, she said it: gluten-free.

I had read books on how gluten affects hypothyroidism. And I sort of knew that I shouldn’t eat wheat. But well, more than anything, I live for my work. And I shouldn’t say – let alone, think – it, but being a pastry chef defines who I am.

69500007

We left and went for a coffee. Somehow puzzled by the news. Fear in the future but also happy to know it will make me feel better.

Such a strange feeling, really. Somehow having to give up what makes you happy in order to be happier.

We walked to the beach. The port on our right. Boats bigger than life and the sun glistening on every wavelet, like stars behind clouds.

gluten free baked alaska

I removed my white dress. And barely sat in the sand before I ran to the water. It was colder than it’d ever been; but I couldn’t care less.

Two hours later, I went back to the shore.
And lay down on the hot towel.

We waited until we were dry and set off to the market.

69500006

You see I’d become a gluten-free pastry chef. An oxymoron of some sort.

But my only way to deal with it was to make something. Anything really. We’d picked up some raspberries at that little stand. The one that’s almost at the end of the alley. Lined with green wax-fabric. And we had vanilla ice-cream and strawberry ice-cream in the freezer.

One hour later, we also had a vanila and strawberry baked Alaska in there.

It wasn’t the prettiest by any mean, but we all had a slice for dinner. Some with an extra spoonful of Italian meringue, some with a fat scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

And I thought that no matter how little gluten there is, food will always be food. In every possible way.
And while we’re at it, I’ve created a new instagram account to document the things I eat. Get ready!

Vanilla and raspberry gluten-free baked Alaska

This baked Alaska or as we call it in French omelette norvégienne [literally, Norwegian omelette] is damn easy to make, and to eat too.
Of course, you could make the ice-cream and sorbet, and if you wish to do so, just drop me an email and I’ll send the recipes over.

The sponge I choose is a no-brainer almond and raspberry cake that my friend Eliot is obsessed with. And I guess that now I’m gluten-free, I will be too.

Vanilla and raspberry gluten-free baked Alaska

for the sponge
225g ground almonds
200g caster sugar
40g honey
20g cornflour
200g (around 4) eggs
60g (around 3) egg yolks
250g raspberries

for the ice-cream layers
500mL vanilla ice-cream
500mL raspberry sorbet

Both placed in the fridge for 30 minutes, before you’re ready to assemble the cake.

for the meringue
150g (around 5) egg whites
300g caster sugar
100g water

Line a 1L loaf tin with baking paper, slightly larger than the tin so you have some ‘handles’.
Place the tin in the freezer while you get on with the sponge.

Preheat the oven to 175°C and line a 30x40cm baking tray with baking paper.
Mix all the ingredients – aside from the raspberries – together until smooth. Pour into the prepared baking tray and spread into a rectangle, roughly 8mm thick. Sprinkle the raspberries on top of the batter.
Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden-brown and springy to the touch. Allow to cool down completely, then cut into 3 rectangles the size of your loaf tin.

Place a rectangle of sponge at the bottom of your frozen loaf tin and top with the vanilla ice-cream, smoothing it down using a maryse. Top with another piece of sponge and the raspberry sorbet. Finally, close the cake with the last piece of sponge and return to the freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight.

When the ice-creams are set, run the loaf tin under hot water to unmould the cake and place on a large serving plate. Return to the freezer while you make the meringue.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and start whisking at medium speed to soft-peaks.
Place the sugar and water into a small pan and cook to 118°C. Once the syrup reaches the correct temperature, reduce the speed of your mixer and pour the syrup down the side of the bowl. When all the syrup has been added, go back to medium speed, and keep on whisking until the meringue feels tepid to the touch.
Spread the cold meringue onto the ice-cream cake and burn using a blow-torch. You can keep the Alaska in the freezer for a few hours before serving, or slice right away using a hot knife (simply run the blade under hot water and wipe dry).

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I’ll be left with cinnamon croissants

la pâtisserie, memoriesA story about , , Written on le Sunday 20 April 2014.

rolling-croissant-dough

I guess like all good things, Sundays have to come to an end too.

Today was a good Sunday. We went to bed late enough to wake up mid-morning. Crumpets happened. I might have eaten two with homemade raspberry jam from last summer.

And we braved the rain – the mostest perfect excuse for a lazy day in – for a trip to the corner shop. In our basket: milk and butter, lots of. Yeast too. And strong flour. We also got a bottle of our favourite white wine and some salmon we knew we’d have for dinner tomorrow.

Croissants were to be made.

We moved the kitchen table by the window and took mostly blurry pictures. And in all measures, that’s more than fine by me. Since when did blog have to be so editorially perfect? Maybe, I miss the early days when it was more misses than hits.

So yes, I made dough for cinnamon bun croissants. Or is it cinnamon croissant buns? I wanted to do a step-by-step. With – of course – gifs as tokens of my love for the old-school.
It might happen. It might not.

In the meantime, cross your fingers for me tomorrow. I have a book coming out and I can’t quite believe it! And it case it was all just a dream, I’ll be left with cinnamon croissants. Life isn’t too bad at the moment.

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No other day than a Sunday – Clafoutis aux myrtilles, le Paris Pastry Club

la pâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , Written on le Monday 14 April 2014.

[Blueberry clafoutis]

clafoutis blueberries paris pastry club

The recipes I make don’t come in printed words. They come in barely-readable letters that I’ve written too fast. Felt-tip pen codes, more often than not smudged with water, or butter, or as you’ve heard me say before, chocolate. Ingredients quantities are crossed out and forever adjusted. I keep those notes in identical notebooks; black leather and square-lined pages, at times blank or simply lined.

The older volumes are worn out to the point of – what common sense would call – no return. But I don’t care about the tears, the smudges, the missing pages, the words I sometimes have to make up since I can’t even read myself.

Those books are much more than a chef’s collection of recipes, they’re the very epitome of that dream I once had. Just like his lips on mine, this morning, before he left. And mine on his, tonight, when he’ll come home.

Dreams are made to happen. They will hit you in a way very few things do.

Yesterday was just that. I’d like to tell you it was early in the morning, but that wouldn’t make sense, and you know, it was a Sunday after all – we had a cup of coffee and scrambled eggs on – not toast but – crumpets; and this alone was a wonder in every possible way. But we had bought a newspaper, which by then, was sitting on the kitchen table.

I opened it, not unlike a Christmas present.

And I took flour and sugar out from the cupboard above the sink. We had a punnet of blueberries on the counter, and eggs, milk and butter in the fridge.

Yes, when the fridge is that full, it can be no other day than a Sunday.

OFM

And you see, I flipped the pages, and clafoutis happened. My own words. In neat printed letters. I needed no recipe for this cake (and really, can clafoutis be called as such, a cake?) that my grand-mère taught me how to make, most likely one summer of the early nineties, most likely with cherries we’d just picked from the garden, most likely we dusted it with a touch too much of icing sugar.

paris-pastry-club-clafoutis

I think – or rather, I know – I must miss grand-mère a whole lot at the moment because I can’t seem to write anything without telling you about her.

But if you knew her, the way I do. And if you loved her, the way I do. You wouldn’t be able to shut the eff up either.

And I guess that just like dreams, grand-mothers have to happen too. And clafoutis might as well come along.
Grand-mère, je t’aime.

clafoutis paris pastry club bite

Yes, I did not need a recipe to make clafoutis. But it was there and it was the most wonderful feeling ever.

The Observer Food Monthly ran a Paris Pastry Club extract, featuring a whole bundle of the simpler recipes I share in the book.
And I’m now beyond excited, counting days, hours, minutes and seconds until the 21st. It will be Easter Monday for most, but for me, it will be forever remembered as the day one of my dreams became true.

In the meantime, let’s make clafoutis become true.

clafoutis paris pastry club plate

Clafoutis aux myrtilles
A recipe from Paris Pastry Club, coming out April 21st.

I would usually make this with the very first cherries, or at the end of the summer, with plums or figs. But you see, this is London and we’re in Spring. No such things as ripe stone fruits in April! I settled for those blueberries we’d been nibbling on the night before after I came home from a busy service. That night we stayed up until five am, talking nonsense and no-nonsense. It was amazing.
I woke up to my phone flashing twitter notifications and too many emails for my sleepy eyes to understand.

We went to the corner shop and bought milk and crumpets, and the Observer. It was just as amazing. Not for the general reasons, but simply because a dream was not as such anymore and my passion was to be read by all of you who’ve encouraged me since the foodbeam days – almost ten years – in the comfort of your own home.

Welcome to my kitchen! A kitchen where dreams happen and cake too!

Since it was only two of us, I divided the recipe by three, but I’ll put the original ingredient list too in case you’re feeding a crowd.

Clafoutis aux myrtilles

serves 2-3
65g plain flour
40g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
one egg
25g unsalted butter
, melted
130g whole milk
100g blueberries
(see note above)
serves 10-12
200g plain flour
120g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
3 eggs
80g unsalted butter
, melted
400g whole milk
300g blueberries

Preheat the oven to 200°C and generously butter a 15cm dish (or a 30cm tart tin, if making the full recipe).

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the egg and mix in the melted butter. Then gradually add the milk, mixing well so no lumps form. If you’re not fully confident it is lump-free, strain the batter through a sieve.

Scatter the blueberries into the prepared dish and gently pour the batter over. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and quite firm. It can be slightly wobbly in the centre but a skewer inserted in the middle of the clafoutis should come out clean.
Allow to cool and serve in thick wedges with crème fraîche or yoghurt, or even maybe ice-cream.

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La rhubarbe

la pâtisserie, le marchéA story about , , , , Written on le Thursday 10 April 2014.

rhubarb

I remember the rhubarb my grand-père used to grow in the garden. It was thick and green; and would be turned into jar-after-jar of compote which my grand-mère always kept in that little cupboard in the garage. On top of my grand-père’s tools, always neatly organised.
One day, I’ll show you that garage.

We would eat the compote on top of yoghurt for breakfast. Or spoon it onto a tart case and cover it with a creamy custard before baking.

Compote de rhubarbe

Rhubarb compote is one of those staples you can never have enough of. Wash the stalks under cold water, then chop into 1cm pieces. Weight out the rhubarb in a large bowl and combine with 20% of caster sugar. So let’s say, for 1kg of rhubarb, add 200g caster sugar; and of course, the seeds and empty pod from a vanilla bean. Mix well, cover with cling film and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge.
The next day or a few hours later (cheeky version), scrape the fruits into a large pan and cook over medium heat – stirring every now and then, more so often towards the end – until the rhubarb has broken down and the syrup has reduced.
If you’re canning, transfer to sterilised jars, close the lids and turn upside down before steaming for 30 minutes. Otherwise, just transfer to a plastic container and refrigerate until cold. You’ll have to use it within 5 days.



And then, I moved to London, where rhubarb is pink and only comes when the trees are snowing with blossoms. It’s my favourite time of the year really.
And my favourite colours too.

rhbflowerscolour palette spring

These days my favourite thing to do with rhubarb is to roast it in a vanilla syrup.

Rhubarbe rôtie

In a large pan, bring 300g of water and 300g of caster sugar to the boil, along with the seeds and pods from 3 vanilla beans.
In the meantime, wash and cut 500g of rhubarb stalks into 3cm pieces and place them into a large roasting tray. Cover with the syrup and bake at 200°C for around 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool down to room temperature.


I like to serve it on top of a cake. Perhaps with frosting, perhaps without.
But in all measures, it should look messy and naughty. Because that’s what cakes are for.

rhubarb cake

For the record – because I’m trying to learn Swedish, one food word at a time, and also because when we were there, I saw the biggest rhubarb bush I had ever seen before, in his dad’s garden, and also because it’s a good-mood word* – rhubarb in Swedish is:

Rabarbrar
Rabarber

* Please tell me I’m not the only one who falls in love with some words. For the way they sound or look.

What is your favourite way of using rhubarb? And any little stories we should all know about?

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