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

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: three simple turns. 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).
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.
If you wanted a flakier texture, I would advise to go for another tour simple [simple turn] now.

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 26°C is the temperature I go for (with 65% 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.

That was Christmas – Zimtstern à la cannelle

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-illustration

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.

On rituals and beautiful habits – Biscuits croustillants à la cannelle

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.