Nuts – NYC

Posted on December 3, 2012

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First off, apologies for the very long BB hiatus. Miss P and I were busy becoming Mrs. and Mrs. Now our nuptial celebrations are over and we are in full-on post-wedding depressions, we can focus on FAR more important things – baking.

On our honeymoon, Butch and I consumed our weight in french baked goods. I’m not kidding. I earned every last honeymoon gained pound from pistachio chocolate rolls, nutella and banana crepes, and the incredibly illusive almond croissant. We had one almond croissant in Nice that was life-changing (with respect to pastry, that is). The inner almond-y goo seeped out onto our fingers like sweet, sweet honey as we ate, flakes of puff pastry all of our faces and shirts. It was magic, and I knew that it was the first pastry I’d have to try to replicate when we got back.

Two things to note for this project:

1. These are a LABOR OF LOVE. I made puff pastry from scratch (I didnt realize thats what I was doing until about half the way through by the way) which you can do or not do, but I wanted to be true to our Provencal experience so I cut no corners. Take the time and do the recipe in full over a lazy Saturday afternoon so you have fresh  Sunday morning breakfast.

2. It was SO worth it. It really, truly was. Was it like the one we had in Nice? Eh, sort of. But it was a homemade almond croissant from scratch and for that it was all the more special.

“L.O.L.” Almond Croissants (adapted from Poh’s Kitchen)

Ingredients:

  • 500g plain flour
  •  1 tsp dry yeast
  • 1 tbs lukewarm whole milk
  • 325ml cold water
  • 25g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 250g unsalted butter, softened

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 tbs milk

Creème Patissiere (Yields about 1 cup)

  • 200ml whole milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthways and seeds scraped
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated
  • 2 tbs plain flour, sifted
  • 20g unsalted butter, diced

Creème d’amande (Yields about 3 cups)

  • 150g unsalted butter, softened and diced
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered
  • 1 1/2 cups almond meal
  • 2 tbs cornflour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp  amaretto liqueur
  • 1 cup creème patissiere

Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • flaked almonds, to decorate
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:

  1. Place the flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast and milk, stirring to dissolve. Wait a few minutes, then  add the water and melted butter and combine the ingredients gently with your fingertips. Add the salt and sugar and keep mixing with your fingers until the dough becomes very sticky. (You may need to add a little more water if the dough is not sticky enough.)
  2. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough with the palm of your hand, rolling it away from your body, for eight to ten minutes. Do not add any flour during the kneading. Place the dough in a bowl, cover the top with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 7 hours. It will double in size in the fridge.
  3. Roll the dough into a rectangle that’s about 1/2 inch thin. Spread half the softened butter over the center third of the sheet. Fold the top third of the dough over the center buttered section. Spread the remaining butter over the folded section, then fold the bottom third over the top.
  4. Turn the dough 90 degrees so that the folded seams are at the sides. Roll the pastry again to form a large rectangular sheet and fold it in three. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
  5. Repeat the process of folding and refrigerating another 3x.
  6. Heat the oven to 425F and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  7. Roll the dough 1/4 inch thick rectangle.Trim the edges, then cut into 12 triangles. Starting from the widest end, roll the triangles up and shape into a crescent.
  8. Space the croissants out on the baking tray and leave them to rise by about one-third in a draft-free, warm room (65+ degrees ideal) for about an hour.
  9. When the croissant have risen brush them with the egg wash and bake for ten minutes, or until golden. Do not open the oven door during cooking time. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  10. Make the creème patissiere. Combine the milk and vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is fluffy and pale, forming thick ribbons when drizzled from the whisk. Add the flour and mix well. Stir the hot milk into the egg mixture and mix well again. Using a fine sieve, strain the cream mixture back into the saucepan, discarding the vanilla bean and any lumps. Cook on low heat for three to five minutes until the mixture thickens, whisking continuously to prevent the mixture sticking to the pan. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl, add the butter, combine well, set aside to cool. Cover the surface of the cream with a layer of plastic wrap to avoid a skin forming.
  11. To make the creme d’amande, beat the butter, icing sugar, almond meal and cornflour in an electric mixer on medium speed until pale and creamy. Add the egg yolks one by one, mixing well each time.
  12. Add the liqueur and the creme patissiere, mix well with a wooden spoon to combine. Set aside until required.
  13. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two large baking trays and line with baking paper.
  14. To make the syrup, place the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil.
  15. Cut the croissants with a serrated knife and brush generously with the syrup. Spread some cremè d’amande on one half of each of the croissants, put the other half on top and spread on more creme d’amande. Sprinkle the flaked almonds on top.
  16. Place the croissants on the prepared trays. Lay a sheet of baking paper on top of the croissants, then place an extra tray on top to flatten (almond croissants always cook between two trays.) Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crisp an golden.
  17. Remove the trays, let the croissants cool down completely, then dust with the icing sugar.

These are a winner, my friends. Kick off the holidays right and try these out. photo(11)

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