I had every intention of getting up very early to make these for the family for breakfast, however I don’t think I envisaged exactly how long they would take, bearing in mind that at 6am in the morning, my kitchen is freezing, so the proving of the dough took twice as long as it should have.
This recipe actually looked quite daunting, most of the recipes in Mary’s book take up a page, with a couple taking 2 pages. This one took up three pages, so I admit it was one that I had flicked over quite a lot.
Having been woken by the dog pacing up and down the hallway at 6am waiting for his breakfast I dragged myself out of bed and into the kitchen. The kettle was put on for my first mug of tea, after which I felt more awake and ready to go.
Mary’s first stage is to lightly grease 3 baking trays. I didn’t really see the point of this just yet as it would be a couple of hours before I was at that stage, so I went straight onto the next stage.
Out with the kitchen scales and onto this I placed my mixing bowl. Into the bowl went 450g plain flour, 1/2 level tsp salt and 50g butter (in total for the recipe you required 350g – so the other 300g was put to one side to soften). The butter was rubbed into the flour after which 7g fast action yeast was added, together with 50g caster sugar. These were stirred in.
Into a measuring jug I measured 150ml milk and put it in the microwave until it was warm. This went into the flour mixture, together with 2 beaten eggs. It was mixed together with my hands and turned out onto a board and kneaded for 10 minutes until it was smooth. It went back into the mixing bowl, covered with cling film and left to rise. It should have taken approximately an hour to rise, but as I said before, my kitchen was too cold, so it ended up taking nearly 2 hours before it had doubled in size.
The dough was turned out and knocked back. It was then kneaded until smooth and rolled out to an oblong which measured about 25 x 20cm (the tape measure that I got out of my Christmas cracker certainly came in useful!). The top two thirds were then covered with half (150g) the butter which I had cut into small cubes. This was very similar to the puff pastry I made the other day.
The bottom third of the dough was folded up and the top third down to make a parcel. The edges were sealed together and the dough given a quarter of a turn anticlockwise so that the sealed edge was on the left. Again the pastry was rolled out as before and the remaining 150g butter was dotted over the top two thirds in exactly the same way as before. It was folded again and the edges sealed. The dough was wrapped in clingfilm and put into the fridge to rest for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes the dough was removed from the fridge and placed on a board with the folded side to the left. It was rolled out again as above and folded (no butter this time) and sealed twice more. Once more it was wrapped in clingfilm and returned to the fridge for another 15 minutes.
Whilst the dough was ‘chilling’ three baking trays were lightly greased.
Looking through the recipe Mary gives you five different ways of making the pastries so I thought I would give them four of them a go. The dough was divided into four equal pieces. The four different shapes were as follows:-
The first piece of dough was shaped into a circle and then rolled out into a 23cm circle. The circle was cut into quarters. A small amount of plain chocolate was placed along the wide end of each wedge and rolled up loosely towards the pointed part of the wedge. These were bent round to form a crescent and placed onto the baking tray.
The second quarter was rolled out into a 20cm square and cut into four smaller square. In the middle of each square I placed either a small ball of marzipan or a spoonful of apple sauce (I know that was cheating, but I didn’t fancy making a whole batch of apple filling from the book). A cut was then made from each corner into almost the centre. The four alternative points were then folded into the centre and pressed down firmly. They looked just like the old-fashioned windmills you used to get on a stick when you were little.
These were probably the most difficult and fiddly pastries to make. The next quarter was rolled out to form a 20cm square and again cut into four smaller squares. Again I put a small piece of marzipan in the centre of two of them and apple in the other two. Cuts were made at opposite corners to create to ‘L’ shaped strips. The strips were lifted and crossed over the filling in the centre.
The last piece of dough was rolled out into a 40cm square and again divided into four smaller squares. Into the centre of these squares went either a piece of chocolate or apple sauce. For two of the pastries I folded two opposite corners into the middle and pressed them down lightly. For the remaining two I folded all four corners into the middle and again pressed them down lightly.
There was one more way that Mary suggests, however the reason I didn’t do this was because it used all the dough up and I thought it would be more interesting to have a bit of variation. The last way was
For these the dough had to be rolled out very thinly and spread with a thin layer of almond filling and sprinkled with a handful of raisins. The dough was rolled up as you would for a swiss roll and then cut into 5mm slices (similar I imagine to Chelsea buns).
All the pastries were put onto the baking trays and covered with oiled clingfilm. By now my kitchen was warming up, so they only needed approximately 20 minutes to prove and were looking slightly puffy.
Whilst the pastries were proving the oven was put onto preheat at 200°C.
Before putting them in the oven then were brushed with a lightly beaten egg. Into the oven they went for 15 minutes. I really should have put them in for 10 minutes and then checked on them, as after 15 minutes I think my pastries were slightly over cooked, they were a little too brown for my liking.
The final stage to the pastries was to make some glacé icing by mixing some icing sugar with a little warm water. The icing was spooned over the pastries while they were still warm. Mary said to top the pastries with flaked almonds or chopped cherries, but I decided not too, by now my family were starving. It was a late breakfast.
They tasted absolutely gorgeous and I was pleased to see the layers of pastry when I cut into them. Would I make them again, yes, but I will definitely start the dough off the night before, so all I have to do in the morning is the final prove and then bake!