Tag Archives: puff pastry

Pear Pastry Braid

Pear Pastry BraidIt’s almost time for pie. Almost.

Yes, I know it’s November now, but I can’t just switch from Popcorn Balls to Pumpkin Pie on a dime. And truthfully, I’ve been concentrating too hard on the World Series and anticipating the new Scorsese film this week to fully get down to business with Thanksgiving. Rest assured though that the pies are coming. Sides, too! But first, this Pear Pastry Braid.Pear Pastry BraidI mean, do you see this beautiful thing? Is it brunch food? Is it dessert? I don’t know. I don’t make the rules. I just make the pastry.Pear Pastry BraidAnd oh, is this a good one. Pear Pastry Braid is super buttery and filled with tender pears that have been tossed with ginger, lemon, and a few tablespoons of sugar. Yum!Pear Pastry BraidDon’t let these glamour shots deceive you–it’s surprisingly easy to make. Simply roll out a sheet of rough puff pastry (or the frozen thawed all-butter stuff), make a bunch of diagonal cuts down both long sides and fill the center with sliced pear filling.Pear Pastry BraidPear Pastry BraidAlternating sides, carefully cover the filling with overlapping strips of dough, producing a braid-like appearance. Give it a brush of egg wash and a sprinkle of sugar, and then let it bake til golden.Pear Pastry BraidSounds like a lot, but the time from when you start peeling pears to when you pull the finished pastry out of the oven is less than an hour. It can be sliced and served warm too, meaning that you don’t have to plan crazy far in advance (especially if you already have the pastry dough in the fridge). There’s so much planning around food this time of year that it’s kind of nice to have something you can make when the mood strikes or when someone says they’re going to pop by.Pear Pastry BraidYou know what else is nice? Eating a slice of sweet, flaky Pear Pastry Braid in your pajamas on a Saturday morning. Or a Saturday night. Or both.

What?! I don’t make the rules. I just make the pastry.Pear Pastry Braid

Pear Pastry Braid
makes 1 braid, about 6 servings

Rough Puff Pastry:*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

Pear Filling:
4 medium firm-ripe pears
5 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

Make Rough Puff Pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the pear filling. Peel the pears with a vegetable peeler. Working with one pear at a time, use a large, sharp chef’s knife to trim off both ends. Slice down through the stem end to halve the pear lengthwise. Use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds. Slice the pear as thinly as you can.

Place sliced pear pieces in a medium mixing bowl. Toss with 4 tablespoons sugar, ground ginger, salt, and lemon juice. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a half-sheet baking pan with parchment paper.

Assemble the pastry braid. Flour a rolling pin. Unfold dough on the prepared pan. Roll dough out to 12×16-inch rectangle. Orient the pan/rectangle so that the side nearest you is a short side.

Carefully dust the edge of a sharp knife with flour. Cut off two small corners of dough on the edge furthest from you. Leaving a 4×16-inch space in the center for the filling, cut 1-inch diagonal strips strips down both sides of the pastry, as pictured in the post.

Fill the pastry braid. Leaving 1/2-inch of space at each short end, mound pear filling along the center (intact) section of dough. Make sure to leave any accumulated liquid behind in the bowl. Dot filling with butter.

“Braid” the dough. Starting at the edge furthest from you, take a strip of dough and carefully lay it across the filling. Then grab a strip of dough from the right side and carefully lay it over the filling so that it is overlapping the first strip. Continue doing this, alternating left and right until you reach the end of the braid. Fold the short edges up slightly to seal.

Make the egg wash. Combine egg and water in a small bowl and whisk together with a fork.

Paint egg wash over all exposed pastry. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake pastry braid for 25-30 minutes, or until pastry is golden and pears are tender.

Let pastry braid cool on its pan on a rack. When you can handle it (I could at 30 minutes, although it was still warm), very carefully slip your hands palm-side-up under the pastry and quickly lift it onto a large cutting board or serving tray. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice it into pieces. Serve immediately.

Pear Pastry Braid is best the day it is made.

Note:

You may use frozen all-butter puff pastry instead. Thaw according to package directions and begin the recipe at the paragraph that begins “Make the pear filling.”Pear Pastry BraidPear Pastry BraidPear Pastry Braid

Tomato Pesto Tart

Tomato Pesto TartI can’t believe it’s taken me so long to post this Tomato Pesto Tart. I’ve been thinking about it for years!Tomato Pesto TartI always intend to bake something savory during the summer, but I inevitably become consumed with berries and cherries and peaches, and before I know it, I’m cracking open a can of pumpkin. I’m in my third year as a blogger and I’m pretty sure that this is my very first savory, summery baked main course!Tomato Pesto TartThis Tomato Pesto Tart is basically everything you love about caprese salad, wrapped up in crazy-flaky Rough Puff Pastry and baked until bubbly.Tomato Pesto TartThere’s a layer of basil pestoTomato Pesto Tarta layer of torn fresh mozzarella cheese…Tomato Pesto Tartand a layer of sliced fresh tomatoes.Tomato Pesto TartI used some vine-ripened tomatoes that looked good at the green market, but feel free to use heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, or any other variety you like! Just make sure to drain them on paper towels so they don’t make the tart too wet.Tomato Pesto TartDrizzle the tart filling with olive oil and give it a good sprinkle of salt and pepper before baking for about half an hour. You’ll know it’s ready when the filling is a little bubbly and the crust is golden.Tomato Pesto TartLet the tart cool for a few minutes before slicing it up. Add a side salad and you’ve got a great weeknight meal! This would also be a good dinner party option.Tomato Pesto TartTomato Pesto TartOooh, or a garden party! I don’t have a garden, nor do I throw very many parties, but I could see this being absolutely perfect for a garden party.Tomato Pesto TartI also don’t know anyone who throws garden parties (because New York), but if you have a garden and want to throw a party in it (or if you are buddies with the garden party queen, Ina Garten) please make this tart and invite me so I can live out my Tomato Pesto Tart fantasy, okay? Okay.Tomato Pesto Tart

Tomato Pesto Tart
makes one tart, about 6-8 servings

Rough Puff Pastry:*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

For assembly:
5-6 vine-ripe tomatoes, 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup Basil Pesto (homemade or prepared)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn
1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
pinch of Kosher or sea salt, optional
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
torn fresh basil, for garnish (optional)

Make Rough Puff Pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the tart. Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed quarter-sheet pan or jelly roll pan with parchment.

Drain tomatoes. Place tomato slices on triple-layers of paper towels. Let sit 10 minutes before gently flipping. Let sit another 5-10 minutes, or until you are ready to use them. Do not skip this step.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 10×14-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to the prepared pan. Trim any overhang to 1 inch. Dock center of the dough with a fork. Refrigerate for 15 minutes if dough becomes too sticky.

Spread basil pesto over the docked dough. Scatter torn mozzarella over the top. Remove tomato slices from paper towels and arrange them over the mozzarella, slicing them to fit, if necessary. Drizzle olive oil over the top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold overhang over the edges of the filling. Refrigerate for 15 minutes if dough becomes too sticky.

Make an egg wash. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together egg and water. Use a pastry brush to apply egg wash over any exposed crust.

Bake 28-30 minutes, until edges are puffed and golden brown. Large bubbles may form during baking. Pop them with a fork or sharp knife, as needed.

Let tart cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use parchment to remove tart to a cutting board. Remove parchment. Scatter with torn fresh basil, if desired. Slice tart into pieces. Serve immediately.

Tart is best eaten the day it’s made, but may be refrigerated for up to three days. If stacking slices, use wax paper as a barrier.

Note:

If you do not wish to make the Rough Puff Pastry, you may use one sheet of frozen all-butter puff pastry that you have thawed according to package directions.

Tomato Pesto TartTomato Pesto Tart

Easy Scratch Chocolate Croissants

 I love a good complicated cooking project. My idea of the perfect day? Making a full Thanksgiving dinner by myself.

Yeah, I’m a little crazy.

But not crazy enough to attempt croissants from scratch…yet. The dough itself isn’t complicated, but there’s a ton of folding, and then there’s a process where butter is laminated into the dough. I’m sure I’ll get around to making the real deal someday, but for now I’m taking the easy way out.

I’m certainly not going to skimp on flavor though. No way! These chocolate croissants are buttery, flaky, and bursting with chocolate! And they take just two hours start-to-finish. 

Easy Scratch Chocolate Croissants are super simple. The dough is what’s called a “rough puff“–homemade puff pastry with all the difficulty taken out. It only has four ingredients, takes just minutes to put together, and is just as good (if not better) than the all-butter puff pastry you find in the freezer aisle. Plus, there’s some serious pride in being able to say “Oh, yeah. I made the pastry.” Trust me–when you say that, people look at you like you’re Julia Child. What they don’t know is that it’s really no trouble at all.

Basically, rough puff pastry is like making pie dough or biscuits–cold butter is cut into dry ingredients before liquid is added. After everything is stirred together, a shaggy dough forms. Be careful to keep everything cold; the butter must stay solid until it reaches the oven, or the dough will be tough instead of flaky and layered.

A word on ingredients. Don’t be tempted to use regular store-brand butter here–the dough needs the extra fat content found in European or cultured butters. Plus, this recipe has so few ingredients that quality really matters. American-style butter is delicious, but if you’ve ever had European butter, you know how insanely rich and luxurious it is. When it’s used in pastry, that richness translates into some seriously amazing breakfast. So, don’t use just any butter you have in your fridge–go for the really good stuff. I like Kerrygold, Lurpak, and President. Enough about butter! Back to the rough puff. Once you have your shaggy dough, turn it out onto a very well-floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle that measures roughly 8×10″. Take one of the short sides and fold it so that the edge of the dough meets the center, like folding a piece of paper to fit in an envelope. Fold the other short side of the dough over the top–again, just like folding paper for an envelope. Turn the folded dough one quarter-turn. Roll it back into an 8×10″ rectangle, then fold and turn again. Repeat this until you have done it six times total. This will create unbelievably flaky pastry with visible layers!

Wrap your folded dough in plastic wrap, and chill it for at least an hour. This dough may be chilled up to 48 hours, or frozen! If you choose to freeze it, just thaw it in the fridge overnight before using it.

When you are ready to make croissants, unwrap your folded dough and place it on a very well-floured surface. Unfold the dough and use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out to a 12×18″ rectangle. Slice the dough into eight small triangles, each with two long sides.  
Take each triangle and place a bit of chopped dark chocolate near the short side. Use your fingertips to roll the short side over the chocolate, continuing to roll toward the point where the long sides meet. Shape the ends in any way you choose, and pinch any gaps together. If the dough gets warm or sticky at any point in this process, chill it briefly before continuing. 

  Place your croissants on a lined baking sheet, and brush each one with egg wash. Place the pan in a 425F oven and close the door. Immediately turn the oven down to 400F and bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden. Then, prepare for buttery, flaky, chocolaty heaven. Oh my word.

I know that seems like a lot of steps, but this really is a simple recipe. There are only six ingredients, and you can have warm, homemade chocolate croissants on your table in about two hours! All that’s left to do is sit back with a cup of coffee or tea and pretend you’re in Paris 😊 

 Easy Scratch Chocolate Croissants
makes 8 small croissants

Rough Puff Pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

For Croissants:
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 large egg, room temperature

Make the pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough square. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll into a 12×18″ rectangle. Use a sharp knife or pizza wheel to cut dough into quarters. Slice each quarter diagonally so that you have eight triangles with two long sides and one short side. Place roughly 1 tablespoon chopped dark chocolate near the short side of each triangle. Use your fingers to roll the short side toward the pointed end where the two long sides meet. If there are any gaps, squeeze them together with your fingers. Repeat with all triangles.*

Place croissants at least 2-inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Whisk egg with a fork. Use a pastry brush to paint each croissant with egg. Place full pan in oven. Immediately turn temperature down to 400F. Bake 12-15 minutes, until puffed and golden. Let cool five minutes before serving.

Croissants are best the day they are made, but will keep in a covered container at room temperature for up to 48 hours. 

Note:

Easy Scratch Chocolate Croissants may be frozen at this point. To do so, place croissants on a lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Once completely frozen, place croissants in a freezer bag for up to one month. When you are ready to bake, there is no need to thaw. Follow the instructions as written, adding a minute or two to the baking time.