My thought are working towards Valentine’ Day particularly with my once a year competition for Valentine crafts and baking. This inspired these delicate heart-shaped pastry palmiers with a mixed berry compote and custard served with vanilla, macaron and berry swirl ice-cream. I originally got the presentation inspiration from Canelle et Vanille which I spotted on foodgawker. I wanted to enter the monthly tea time treats competition hosted this month by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and next month it will be held by What Kate Baked.
As you bite into these you get gentle waves of flavour as this is no ordinary dough this uses the base Danish pastry dough by Paul Hollywood’s and I just added my own twist. The taste experience starts with the sweetness of caramelised sugar, followed by little pockets of butter, blast of juicy berries, hints of vanilla and that’s just the Palmiers. This is truly the serendipitous moment of my baking journey so far. I write this while listening to January rain by David Gray from the film Serendipity – listen along if you wish I just love to look at John Cusack (sigh).
As you get to the ice-cream you hit a wave of cool vanilla, melt in the mouth pieces of vanilla macaron and swirls of berry tingling all over your tongue. Now I am glad my macarons were a disaster they have truly been reborn. Now every macaron has an ice-cream silver lining when it cracks.
Then you return to warm buttery sugar land and sigh with heavenly delight.
Everything I bake has a story behind it and if you have stopped looking at the imagery above you now have three options: leave; stay and laugh at my story behind the baking; go back to the pictures and drool longer as it won’t melt. It is truly up to you of but of course there is a fourth alternative and that’s bookmarking this for another day to make them. If you want the recipe get ready to scroll past the funny little story (lots)
The Rule of Three
I believe in the rule of three as life incidents seem to happen in threes , fours if you are really unlucky and if you get sets of 5 or more than your life must really suck. Lets start with an example of the rule of three: when the cooker breaks another precious item in your life that you can not possibly live without will say ‘hasta la vista baby’ without coming back and the pet / child / spouse / friend will throw something all across your new / carpet / clothes / sofa. Life makes sure that anything from odd moments to unexpected bills will always come in a series of three in Harry Potter howler fashion landing with an ominous thud on the door mat echoing doom across your existence. My journey to pick blackberries in this recipe also happened to be a ‘rule of three’ experience.
Incident One: Fire Fire
As I made the compote I thought back to the day my son and I picked these on a warm September afternoon. I know it was September as it was warm and this only happens as ‘weather law’ clearly states this can only occur once children have gone back to school as a British summer consists of rain, freak weather and gales to be enjoyed across campsites across the land. In a moment of ‘Come on, let’s do something’ Mother / Son bonding madness I dragged him off the sofa and forced him to cycle to a local village to feed the ducks. We crossed a big bridge which is the kind you can cycle up and down or in reality it’s a half cycle followed by walk and pant the rest of the way up. As we glided around the corner we sailed past two youths when something struck me as odd. My legs were still in their automatic cycle mode and as my son came alongside me I asked him if he saw anything odd? He shrugged but my inner alert system was going into beepity beep overdrive and instinctively my feet stuck themselves out towards the ground and my bike slowed to a stop. I turned around to see smoke rising from the hedges and the two youths running across the bridge.
Doesn’t eveyone have a superhero costume?
As a good citizen I whirled into my fire-fighter superwoman costume I carry for such occasions and returned to the hedges with my son following my dusty trail made from my superfast got to stand and cycle strides. As I screeched up alongside the hedge I could see it was alight and I grabbed my rather large water bottle from my bike. I was now armed with a super soaker water pistol so I took aim at the base of the flames and squeezed. Two water bottles later the fire was out and the World was back to normal again. Phew!
Incident Two : A thorn in my side
On our way back from our ride I spotted blackberry bushes and I got a warm fuzzy feeling about picking blackberries with my Mum as a child because we would do it every year. So with a smile I called across to my son and told him we were going to stop. He was a good sport and we picked quite a few. The juiciest berries were at the top of the bush just out of reach of course. On tip toe I reached and stretched with my hand waving madly at the prized fruit that was so nearly in my anticipative grasp. I reached the prized black jewel and plucked it right from its thorny surroundings and smiled.
The Sataric Laugh of the Blackberry Gods
Just as the corners of my mouth went into an upward motion (which is a bit out of character to be honest) the Gods of blackberry bushes looked down on me and laughed satirically. At that moment my once perfectly poised balance did a quick U-turn and I started to sway like a drunk woman desperately trying to grab onto something other than thorns. This resulted in a frenzied thorn dance before a resounding thud! The prized blackberries in my hand were squished hard as the thorns hit my backside with razor like quality and the quiet lane was filled with all sorts of expletives I am sure my son has never heard me say before. I scrabbled upwards and fell over and thorns embedded themselves in my knee and to make matters worse I was covered in blue stains in places you do not want blue stains. It took about ten minutes for my son and I to pull out the thorns from various body parts before getting on our bikes and let’s just say I didn’t sit down all the way home. At this point whilst writing I am listening to scar tissue by the Red Hot Chilli’s (obviously!)
Incident Three : Nice puppy
During my standing cycle home it occurred to me that I was experiencing the rule of three and I was now a bit suspicious of life ahead. My thoughts were running away with me and I was distracted by a very cute puppy being walked by its owner (who wasn’t cute). The corners of my mouth started their upward motion again and I should know better, really I should but it was such as cute puppy. The owner of the puppy turned around and I gave him the benefit of my ‘your puppy is so cute’ smile and then realised I was supposed to be turning left as my son had zipped ahead of me. I squeezed the right brake and immediately launched into the sky, did a dazzling 360 turn in the air before propelling towards the ground in that slow motion way that only happens during times of trauma and tat’s when I I saw the bike hurtling towards me. ‘This is going to hurt’ I think for a nano second before the bike lands on me and I am led sprawled out on the ground with a bike on top for decoration and the wheel in a very unfortunate place to accompany my blue stains. The man hearing the crash turns back around and politely asks me if I need any help. I groan ‘yes’ as I felt like I was a bike stand at that precise moment in time. Needless to say I didn’t get back on my bike that day I just hobbled back down my street with a wonky twisted wheel and a cowboy walk with my pride well and truly dented. All said and done after eating one of these I have now been rewarded for my rule of three day. I hope you enjoy them.
Pastry Ingredients (finally)
This recipe comes from Paul Hollywood and has been adapted from here.
625 g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
12 g salt (personally I just used salted butter)
15 g dried yeast
500 g butter (cold)
75 g caster sugar
Water to mix
100g Mixed berries
2 tbsp of corn flour (starch)
30g vanilla sugar
½ tin of custard
Day 1 Instructions
1. Add some body temperature water to the dried yeast
2. Place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add in small amounts of warm water until the dough becomes pliable and will stick together in a ball
4. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead well until it feels elastic. (see below).
5. Return the dough to the bowl and leave in the fridge for 1 hour.
What exactly is elastic dough?
As a pastry novice when I read recipes that say knead until elastic what does this mean? Do I assume the dough is ready to use when I can use it as a catapult or is it more like an old pair of underwear that does not want to stay up type of elastic? Paul recommends kneading for 10 minutes. So as I am not a very good kneader I did 20 minutes to be on the safe side. After 10 minutes my muscles were starting to bulge and my by 20 I was as pumped as a bodybuilder. If my elastic had failed at this point there was no way my arms would be able to get straight enough or have the strength to pull them up.
5. Put the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll into a rectangle shape measuring 60 x 30cm.
6. Flatten your butter. I stacked my butter and measured and marked 1 cm intervals on it . Cut these 1 cm intervals and lay the butter onto clingfilm in a puzzle type butter layer. Add a top layer of cling film and roll out as this is so much easier! The butter only has to cover 2/3 of the dough.
7. Fold the unbuttered layer of dough 1/3 of the way over the buttered dough. Then fold the remaining one-third of the dough over. Once you have 3 layers folded it is time to put the dough in the fridge to chill for 1 hour.
8. Roll out the dough to the same sized rectangle as before on a floured surface. Repeat the folding process, one side on top of the other, and place the dough back in the fridge for another hour.
9. Here is the killer you have to repeat this another 2 times at hourly intervals! Then you get to warp you dough with exhaustion cling film and put it in the fridge to sleep overnight. Collapse now and leave the surfaces as you will only make them dirty again in the morning.
Making the Compote (do this during one of your hour waits)
Put your fruit in a small pan and add the sugar. Leave on a low heat and cook until the sugar has dissolved and it is bubbling. Ad the two tablespoons of corn flour and stir. Cook for one further minute until it thickens. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Making the Ice-cream
Leave store brought ice-cream to soften slightly (you did enough work with the rolling!) but not to the stage you can drink it, you just need to be able to get a spoon through it easily. Crush disastrous and dodgy looking macarons with your hands over the ice cream and stir. Add 4-5 tablespoon sized dollops of compote (leaving some for the plalmiers filling tomorrow) and swirl about slightly but not vigorously that you end up with a pink mush. Return to freezer for a good few hours until frozen.
Day 2 : Make and Bake
1. Preheat the oven to 400F. 200C/ 180 Fan/ Gas 6 and line two baking trays
2. Put the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll into a rectangle shape measuring 60 x 30cm.
3. Cut into 3 sections – I used one for small palmiers (as pictured) and a batch of larger palmier style pastries. I then wrapped the remaining two sheets of pastry in clingfilm and placed on a baking tray to freeze for use another day.
4. With the section you are using cover it in custard to which I added an extra teaspoon of my own vanilla essence.
5. Place spoonfuls of the berry compote across the pastry and swirl around to mix with the custard.
6. Measure half way along your pastry and place your rolling pin there as a marker. Now roll each side to that point so they meet in the middle. Roll one side on top of the other and then cover your pastry in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 30 mins or longer.
8. Sprinkle with vanilla sugar
9. Place palmiers on a lined baking tray in the oven for approx 10 mins on one side and then turn over and bake for further 3-4 minutes
10. Place danish style pastries on a lined baking tray in the oven for approx 15 -20 mins until golden
11. Brush both with warmed apricot jam and when cooler drizzle a water icing over the top if you wish
3 Tbsp of icing sugar
¾ tbsp of water
1. Mix the icing sugar mixture until it coats the back of the spoon and then drizzle over the top of the Palmiers if you wish – but only when they are cool to touch ( not like me who was a bit hasty).
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