Paris Brest version Conticini

Philippe Conticini is an award-winning French master of patisserie. A creative genius, the New York times once wrote that “Every time you feel you’ve figured out what he’s thinking, he is way ahead of you.” In the 80s, he revolutionized patisserie by using salt and spices, but other inventions include the pastries in glasses (the so-called verrines) and the de-contextualization of desserts from horizontal to vertical (think millefeuilles, to give you a for instance). A constant innovator, he is always on the lookout to recreate traditional French dessert with a modern and own twist, such as this Paris Brest. This pastry dessert was created in 1981 to commemorate the Paris-Brest bicycle race. It comprises a wheel-shaped ring made of choux pastry which is usually filled with cream and praliné, a hazelnut paste.

Conticini’s revolutionary idea was to keep the choux and the praliné components of the dessert, but to turn a wheel into a chain of choux buns, which get extra crunch and texture from the addition of craquelin, a sugary and buttery paste added on top of the choux buns before they are baked to create an even layer of crunchy goodness. The craquelin, in addition to adding texture to the pastry, also ensures an even rise. This recipe was also featured in the finale of the French edition of the GBBO (Le meilleur patissier). I suppose you can buy good quality praliné either online or from specialist shops, but I decided to make my own. Alternatively, you can use any hazelnut paste/spread (Nutella, to name one), but remember those also contain cocoa powder and plenty of other fats – not that this ever scared me. Making your own praliné is extremely easy and only requires the help of a sturdy food processor. The sugar and the natural oils contained in the nuts will do the rest. Last but not least, if you understand French, you can have a look at the tutorial for this recipe here. Hope you enjoy it!

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HOW TO MAKE HOME-MADE PRALINÉ

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Ingredients

  • 125g hazelnuts
  • 125g almonds with the skin on
  • 165g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 45g water

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 165C. Spread the nuts on a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes. Roasting the nuts ensures a deeper flavour and allows to remove their papery skins.
  2. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Take the hazelnuts only and place them inside a towel, then wrap it around them and gently rub them together for a good 2 minutes. This will allow you to remove and detach their skins, which will be left in the towel. Alternatively, take the hazelnuts in your hands and rub them or do it one by one. Either way, discard the skins and put the now peeled hazelnuts together with the almonds.
  3. Pour the sugar, vanilla bean paste and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium heat until the mixture boils. Boil it until it reach 120C (use a sugar thermometer).
  4. Remove from the heat and add the nuts, then use a wooden spoon to mix them in. The sugar syrup will seize and crystallize – don’t worry, this is normal. Put the pan back on the heat over a very low heat and leave the sugar to melt again until it turns a dark amber colour.
  5. Remove from the heat and pour the caramel and nuts onto a baking tray lined with oiled baking parchment or a silicon mat. Leave to cool for 30 minutes.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a food processor equipped with the blade attachment, then process it until it first turns into a sugary powder and then, little by little, it starts to clump together. Keep on processing until you obtain a fairly smooth paste, then remove from the food processor and transfer to a bowl. If the mixture looks too brittle and powdery at first, keep on processing. The nuts will start to yield their natural oil which will turn the powder into a paste.

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HOW TO MAKE THE PARIS BREST VERSION CONTICINI

First of all, we start with the craquelin.

Ingredients

  • 40g unsalted butter, softened
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 50g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Method

  1. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer (or even by hand in a normal bowl), mix the unsalted butter with the rest of the ingredients to obtain a smooth dough-like consistency, then remove from the bowl and place between two sheets of baking parchment.
  2. Using a rolling pin, roll it out to 3mm thick. Remove the top baking parchment sheet and use a 3-4cm round cutter to impress round shapes on top of the craquelin, then cover with the second sheet of baking parchment and put in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.

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Then, we move on to the crème mousseline au praliné

Ingredients

  • 250ml whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 10g plain flour
  • 10g corn flour
  • 2 medium egg yolks
  • 75g praliné

Method

  1. Sift the flour and the cornstarch together.
  2. In a bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, then add the flour mixture and mix that in too.
  3. In a saucepan, combine the milk and the vanilla bean paste, then bring the milk to the boil. While still mixing, trickle the milk into the egg yolk mixture, then combine and transfer back on to the heat.
  4. Mix with a balloon whisk for about one minute, by which point the mixture will have thickened nicely. Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to a shallow tray, then cover tightly with clingfilm and leave to cool completely.
  5. Once your custard has completely cooled, cream the butter with a whisk or in the bowl of a freestanding mixer equipped with the paddle attachment, then add the praliné and, tablespoon by tablespoon, the custard. Mix over medium speed until the mixture is combined and fluffy.
  6. Transfer to a piping bag with a plain round nozzle.

Last, but not least, let’s make the choux buns.

Ingredients

  • 125g water
  • 80g plain flour
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 2g salt
  • 2g caster sugar
  • 125g whole eggs, lightly beaten (measure without the shells!)

Method

  1. In a saucepan, combine the water, salt, sugar and butter, then bring the mixture to the boil but ensure the butter has completely melted.
  2. Take the pan off the heat, then add the flour all at once. Use a wooden spoon to combine the mixture, which will look like a messy lump. That is normal. Put back over medium heat and dry the mixture by beating it with the wooden spoon until the mixture come well together into a big ball and it leaves a slight layer of dough at the bottom. Remove from the heat and transfer to the bowl of a freestanding mixer equipped with a paddle attachment.
  3. Leave the mixture to cool slightly, then start beating it on medium speed. Slowly start adding the eggs two tablespoons at the time and wait until the mixture is fully combined before adding the next lot. Once you have used all of the eggs, the mixture should be thoroughly combined and it should create a trail once you lift the beater. Also, if you were to draw a line in the middle, the mixture should keep the line and not close on itself very quickly.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a plain nozzle.
  5. Pre-heat your oven to 180C and line a big baking tray with parchment.
  6. Use the piping bag to pipe 4 blobs of choux pastry on the parchment where the 4 corners of a 20cm square should be. Turn the baking parchment 90 degrees and repeat the process, piping in the middle of the already piped blobs. Use the rest of the mixture to fill the buns if they look small, they should be approximately 4cm in diameter, all equal and touching.
  7. Remove the craquelin sheet from the freezer and detach the rounds you had pre-cut. Arrange on the piped choux buns, then transfer to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

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To assemble and fill the Paris Brest

Use a serrated knife to cut the crown-shaped choux buns in halves, making sure not to damage the circular structure. Remove the top and set aside.

In a bowl, combine 100g praliné with 50g double cream. I also added 1 tbsp Nutella, but that was a personal choice more than anything else. Transfer this mixture to a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.

Now, pipe a good dollop of the crème mousseline inside each choux bun, then top with one eighth of the praliné and top with more crème mousseline. Cover the crown with the top, then dust in icing sugar and serve. Best eaten on the same day.

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Chestnut and Cream Saint-Honoré

If you are feeling a bit French, why not trying this extremely delicious cake? From a technical point of view, this is slightly difficult as it combines two types of pastry (puff and choux) and requires good piping skills, not to mention being able to make custard. Traditionally, a Saint-Honoré cake comprises a round base of crispy puff pastry topped with a wreath of choux buns and caramel and is decorated with piped chantilly or chiboust cream. The cake bears the name of the patron of patissiers, Honoré, although it wasn’t the latter to create this pastry masterpiece: rather, the cake was conceived by the genius mind of Monsieur Chiboust, a baker and patissier who had his shop on rue du Fauburg Saint-Honoré in Paris. The original gateaux Saint-Honoré was however very different from its contemporary version, comprising a croissant-like dough topped either by custard or whipped cream. 

It wasn’t until the Julien brothers, great patissiers at the time, changed the base to a pate brisée and added the choux wreath on top. This not only was a breakthrough achievement at the time, but it also allowed the brothers to market a higher volume of Saint-Honoré cakes as the gateaux could be filled well in advance and it would still hold its structure. The ones made in the atelier run by Chiboust, on the other hand, had to be filled upon request and right before being sold or the pastry would have gone very soggy and damp. The cake underwent further changes, which established the use of puff pastry in the base and of caramel to both stick the choux buns on top and provide added flavour. Modern patissiers have given free rein to their imagination and the traditional round cake can now be found in all shapes and sizes. The cream on top is also piped in a characteristic shape, so much that you can buy a special nozzle (see here).

This recipe is a contemporary twist on the classic: the caramel is completely absent and the filling is a mixture of both whipped chantilly cream and sweet chestnut puree, and was featured in the December issue of the Yummy Magazine. Try and come across the sweetened variety which is sold in cans. I could only put my hands on a can of the unsweetened variety, which I then mixed with half a small can of evaporated milk and two tablespoon of icing sugar.

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Ingredients (for the custard to be used in the choux buns)

  • 330ml whole milk
  • 3 medium egg yolks
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 40g plain flour
  • 1 tsp cognac
  • 80g cream cheese, at room temperature

Ingredients (for the chestnut icing)

  • 15g condensed milk
  • 35g double cream
  • 65g chestnut puree
  • 1 tsp dark rum
  • 1 gelatine sheet

Ingredients (for the choux pastry)

  • 125ml whole milk
  • 125ml water
  • 110g unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 140g plain flour
  • 4 medium eggs

Ingredients (for the chantilly cream)

  • 250g double cream
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Ingredients (for the cake)

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (approximately 30x30cm)
  • 200g sweetened chestnut puree

Method

Start by preparing the custard to fill the choux buns. In a saucepan, bring the milk to a boil, then remove from the heat. In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and the flour in a large bow. Don’t worry if the mixture clumps together, keep on whisking to combine the ingredients as evenly as possible. Place the bowl on a kitchen towel, then add the milk in a stream and keep on whisking the mixture. Transfer it back into the saucepan, then put on a low heat and whisk gently with a balloon whisk until thickened. Make sure to scrape every bit of flour from the bottom of the saucepan. Take off the heat and transfer to a bowl. Add the liqueur and cover the surface with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming, then leave to cool.

Next, move on to the chestnut icing. Soak the gelatine leaf in a bowl of cold water. Mix all of the other ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat. Take the mixture off the heat, then remove the gelatine from the water, squeeze out excessive water and add to the pan. Combine together, then transfer to a bowl, cover with cling film and chill.

Now you can start preparing the choux pastry. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt, then bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, then add the flour all at once and use a wooden spoon to combine. The mixture will be clumpy and gluey, but that is fine. Put back on the heat and use the wooden spoon to move the pastry around the pan. This is to dry out excessive moisture and ensure a crisper result later. After 2-3 minutes, the pastry should be ready. Transfer to a big bowl and leave to cool slightly.

In the meantime, roll out your puff pastry to a 30x30cm rectangle (if you’re not using a ready rolled sheet) or lay your puff pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Using a plate or a cake tin bottom for guidance, mark a 20cm circle in the middle of the pastry, use a sharp knife to cut around it and remove the trimmings, leaving you with a perfect circle. Chill until needed.
Back to the choux pastry. Start adding the eggs one at a time and use your wooden spoon to mix each eggs completely in before adding the following one. The original recipe called for 5 eggs, but I only used 4. The mixture will look like a complete disaster each time you add an egg, but don’t despair and keep on mixing it. Personally, I do this by hand as it allows me to control the thickness and the look of the pastry, but feel free to bang everything in a freestanding mixer or to use an electric whisk. Your pastry will be ready to pipe when if you run your finger in the middle, the two sides remain separate. Another way to check is to take a spoonful of pastry with the wooden spoon and to lift that above the bowl: the pastry should slowly start to flow down, creating a long drape stretching from the spoon.

Transfer the pastry to a piping bag equipped with a plain nozzle. Remove your sheet of puff pastry from the fridge and line two more baking trays with parchment. Pre-heat your oven to 180C.

Now, pipe a circle of choux on top of the puff pastry leaving a 1cm gap from the edge. Once that is done, pipe another circle inside the one you have just made, then a third one on the junction between the two (see picture below). Use the leftover pastry to pipe 2cm rounds on the baking trays. These will be the choux buns on top.

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Bake the puff + choux pastry base for about 25 minutes, then lower the oven to 160C and bake for a further 20 minutes. This will ensure the pastry puffs up and then bakes all the way through. Reserve the same treatment to the individual choux buns, but reduce the baking time to 20 and 15 minutes respectively. I also took them out after the last bake, pricked their bases with a knife and returned them to the oven for another 10 minutes, but you don’t have to do that. I just wanted to ensure they were crisp all the way through.

Leave the base and the choux buns to cool completely before moving on to the next stage. 
Either use a spoon or a piping bag to spread a layer of the sweetened chestnut puree on the base of the cake, inside the choux pastry circle. Transfer the custard to a bowl, then add the cream cheese and mix that in. Spoon it into a piping bag with a plain nozzle, then make a hole at the base of each choux bun and pipe the custard inside the buns. Leave them upside down for the time being if the custard is too runny.

Whip the double cream until it holds soft peaks, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Transfer this chantilly to a piping bag with a star or Saint-Honoré nozzle and pipe on top of the chestnut puree layer. You can be as artistic as you like. Make sure to lightly cover the rim of the choux pastry circle with the cream as this will help the choux buns stick to it.

Now, glue each choux bun on the rim of the choux pastry circle, then top with the chestnut icing and keep chilled until ready to serve.

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Gingerbread & Blue Cheese Canapés

If you make the pain d’épices, what best way to use it up than making these very festive and extremely easy canapés? These come from Elle à table, a French magazine I bought on my last trip to Paris. And they were called “calissons”, in honour of the almond-shaped traditional French candies. Truth is, however, that you can make them in different shapes. For instance, I chose holly leaves.

The combination of gingerbread and blue cheese, I will admit it, is a weird one. When served at my Christmas party, only one of my friends swore by these canapés, while most of the other ones said they were nice but not their cup of tea. The tang of the blue cheese marries well with the sweetness of the dried fruit on top, while the gingerbread at the base provides a more earthy note and a cake-like consistency. I won’t take it personally if you decide not to try these, as they are a bit of an acquired taste.

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Ingredients

  • 150g St. Agur or soft blue cheese (Gorgonzola, just to name one)
  • 3 tbsp mascarpone cheese
  • 10 slices of pain d’épices
  • 6 dried apricots
  • 3 dried figs

Method

  1. Start by using the chosen cookie cutter to cut shapes in the gingerbread slices. Set them aside. In a bowl, beat the mascarpone and the cream cheese until soft, then set that aside. Finely chop the dried fruit and combine them in another bowl.
  2. Now start assembling. Place your cookie cutter back on the gingerbread slice, then dollop about 1 1/2 tsp of the cheese mixture on and use a teaspoon to spread it inside the cutter. Push slightly on the cheese mixture and hold the cookie cutter to ease the contents out, then arrange on a serving platter and sprinkle some of the chopped dried fruit on top. Repeat with the rest of the gingerbread and the blue cheese.

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Pain d’épices

To those of you who might be wondering what this is, let me tell you it’s nothing more than a fancy French version of gingerbread. Thanks to my researches online I found out that, much in the same way as for gingerbread, there seems to be countless recipes, all resulting in a slightly moister or harder cake. The recipe below is copied from La Tarte Maison, where Marina wholeheartedly confesses having been given the recipe for pain d’épices while she was in Paris by a very friendly market stall owner, who also sold her the mixture of spices to make this cake.

According to this French website, pain d’épices has long been eaten in throughout history, although in the past it was known as honey bread – the Greek “melitounta” or “melilates”, the Roman “panis mellitus” and so forth. “Lebkuchen”, or German gingerbread, is first mentioned at the end of the 13th century. A later source specifies this food was consumed at Christmas by monks. During the Renaissance, Alsace (a French region with deeply rooted ties with Germany) boasted so many gingerbread makers that they joined forces in a dedicated corporation whose symbol was a bear holding a pretzel. After spices were introduced in the Western world, the recipe was adapted from a simple honey flavoured cake to a spicy one, which the end result we eat nowadays.

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Ingredients

  • 200g plain flour
  • 130g wholemeal plain flour
  • 180g honey
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 80ml olive oil
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50ml whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp each of ground clove, ground cinnamon, ground ginger and ground nutmeg (or allspice)

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C and grease and line a loaf tin.
  2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and all of the wet ones in a jug.
  3. Slowly whisk in the wet ingredients into the dry ones either by hand, using a balloon whisk or a freestanding mixer on the lowest speed. The resulting mixture will be a bit gluey, but that’s fine.
  4. Transfer the mixture to the tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for one hour. Check if the cake is done with a skewer, then remove from the oven and let it cool completely.

This cake lasts for up to 4 days wrapped in clingfilm and kept in a cool place. I used it to make my blue cheese canapés, but I used the leftovers for a very tasty bread and butter pudding with fresh cranberries.

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Boeuf Bourguignon

When you think of quintessential French cuisine, I bet this recipe comes straight to your mind. And rightly so, mostly because the name is in French – and all it means is ‘Burgundy-style beef’ – and because the recipe dates back to a time where farmers could not afford the most expensive cuts of meat and came up with a clever way of making even the less noble cuts tender and tasty – stewing. The recipe was then made famous by the likeness of Auguste Escoffier and Julia Child to the French and English-speaking audiences respectively and it has become a flagship dish ever since.

Let me start by saying that there are a few things you should bear in mind when making this. First of all, the meat should be lean and not excessively fat. Also, it should be cut in big chunks and not in small ones like you would for a British stew. Secondly, you need a big cast iron casserole which you can use both on the hob and in the oven. The meat needs to slow cook for at least 3 hours in a very low oven, so the better quality your pan is, the better. I have been asked to make this using a slow cooker, but as that does not involve much cooking at all, I refused to do so. I do however understand you might be pressed for time sometimes, so you could decide to use that instead. Last, but not least, the wine: the traditional recipe obviously asks for a good Burgundy red wine, but should you not be able to afford/get your hands on one, then a full-bodied red would be just as good.

You can serve this dish à la Française, that is with either tagliatelle or rice cooked in beef stock, or you can opt for a simpler approach and have it with either mashed potatoes or on its own. This recipe comes from the GialloZafferano website.

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Ingredients (for the beef stew)

  • 1.5 kg lean steak beef, cut into 6cm pieces
  • 1 litre Burgundy wine
  • 1 litre beef stock
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 200g pancetta or rindless streaky bacon, cut into small chunks
  • 200g carrots, chopped
  • 200g onions, chopped
  • 30g plain flour, sifted
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed/finely chopped
  • 25g tomato puree
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary and thyme, tied together to make a bouquet garni
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients (for the onions and mushrooms)

  • 300g small onions or shallots
  • 500g button/chestnut mushrooms
  • 100ml beef stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Once you have cut the meat in big chunks, lay some kitchen paper on a surface and put the pieces of meat on it, then cover with some more kitchen paper to pat dry the meat prior to searing it. This ensures the meat does not stick to the pan and forms a nice crusty layer on the outside, keeping all of the juices inside.
  2. Drizzle some olive oil in the cast iron casserole and put it on a medium heat, then add the cubed pancetta/bacon and fry for 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pot and set aside.
  3. Now get rid of the kitchen paper, turn the heat to high and sear the meat chunks in batches of 4 or 5 pieces at a time (if you crowd the pan too much the meat will steam), then remove to a dish and continue until you have seared all of the meat.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium and add the carrots and onions, stirring frequently. Make sure to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the casserole while stirring, then cook for about 10 minutes, until softened and golden.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 250C and turn the fan on.
  6. Return the pancetta to the casserole together with the meat, then cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, until all of the juices have evaporated. Add the flour in two batches and stir well after each addition.
  7. Transfer the casserole to the (really) hot oven WITHOUT the lid and leave it for 10 minutes, mixing well every 5 minutes. This ensures the meat browns well on the outside and forms a slightly charred and harder crust, which will seal the juices inside and make the meat extremely tender.
  8. Remove the casserole from the oven and put it on a medium heat. Turn the oven down to 130C (no fan) or 110C (fan-assisted).
  9. Add the wine to the casserole and mix well, then add all of the stock, but reserve about 2 tbsp to melt the tomato puree in a small bowl, then pour that in as well. Add the bouquet garni and the bay leaves, then bring to a simmer.
  10. When the liquid is gently simmering (do not boil it!), clamp the lid on and put it in the oven for 3 hours. Once that is done, turn off the oven and leave the meat inside to gently cool down until stone-cold.
  11. In the meantime, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Peel the onions and remove the hard bit at the bottom, then drizzle some olive oil in a shallow pan and gently fry the onions until slightly browned. Add the beef stock, put a lid on and gently cook until softened.
  12. In another pan, prepare the mushrooms. Clean the mushrooms, then slice them in halves (or quarters). Drizzle some olive oil in the pan, then add the clove of garlic and gently pan fry it (do not burn it!). Add the mushrooms and pan fry them until golden but still firm. Add the chopped parsley, salt and pepper.
  13. Now take the big casserole with the meat and the juices. Using a slotted spoon, transfer all of the meat to a plate. Also remove the bouquet garni and any other herbs you might have used.
  14. Place a sieve over the casserole and pour the onions and the mushrooms into the sieve, so that the juices would run straight into the casserole. Transfer the juices to a blender and blend until smooth or transfer to a bowl and use a liquidiser to blend them.
  15. Place the meat, onions and mushrooms back into the casserole, then pour the gravy-to-be in a shallow pan and reduce by at least half its volume. You need to reach a velvety consistence, thick enough to cover the back of a spoon. Once that happens, pour the gravy over the meat and vegetables and serve at once.
  16. If you are feeling very French, you can serve it the original way, that is with some tagliatelle seasoned with a pinch of cracked black pepper.

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Salmon en papillote

A very nice and easy supper, steaming salmon (or any other fish to be honest) with plenty of spices and accompanying it with some boiled greens allows me to have a non-fuss healthy dinner with plenty of flavour. For more options, try adding other ingredients (red peppers, spinach, carrots to name a few) or varying the fish. Trout or cod would also be nice.

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Ingredients

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • juice from half a lime
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • green beans, to serve with

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Cut two pieces of foil and lay each salmon fillet in the middle.
  3. Drizzle with the sesame oil, mirin, soy sauce and lime juice.
  4. Scatter the red chillies on top and add the spring onions and the celery slices.
  5. Wrap the foil around the filling so as to make a small parcel and make sure you crimp the edges and seal it properly.
  6. Lay on a baking tray and cook for about 15 minutes.
  7. Take them out of the oven and let them rest for another 5 minutes before opening on the plate and serving up with some freshly boiled greens.

Quiche Lorraine

I had been scouring the internet for a while to find a decent Quiche Lorraine recipe, one which potentially did not include any cheese, onion, ham or anything which deviates from the original recipe. I was therefore extremely happy to stumble across Rachel Khoo’s recipe on YouTube, where she clearly states that a self-respecting Quiche Lorraine only comprises eggs, cream and bacon. If you add anything else to it, then it just is something else. Please have a look at the TIPS sections as I give out quite a lot of useful information!

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Ingredients

  • 90g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 180g plain flour
  • 2 eggs yolks (for the pastry)
  • 1 egg white
  • 150g bacon lardons OR pancetta cubes
  • 4 eggs + 2 egg yolks
  • 300ml double cream
  • salt & pepper

Method

  1. In a bowl, cream the butter with the sugar and the salt.
  2. Next, add the flour, the egg yolks and a couple of tablespoons of cold water.
  3. Bring the mixture all together either using a wooden spoon or your bare hands (preferable!), then once you have reached a good consistency, wrap it in clingfilm and put in the fridge to chill and relax. Possibly overnight but, should you not have the time (or patience), one hour will do just as good.
  4. Once the pastry is ready to roll, take it out of the fridge and either place it between two sheets of baking parchment (as Rachel does) or use the standard method of dusting a work surface with some flour and rolling it out to fill a 23cm loose-bottom flan tin.
  5. Put the pastry case back into the fridge until you are ready with the filling.
  6. In a pan, fry the bacon lardons until crispy, then drain them on a piece of kitchen paper.
  7. In a bowl, beat the remaining eggs and egg yolks with the double cream. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  9. Prep your base for blind baking, then pop in the oven with the baking beans for about 10-12 minutes until the edges are crispy.
  10. Take out of the oven, remove the baking beans and brush the pastry case with the egg white, to prevent a soggy bottom. Pop back into the oven for another 10 minutes.
  11. Once that is done, take the pastry case out of the oven once again and scatter the lardons on the bottom, then pour in the filling.
  12. Bake for 40 minutes until nice and golden on the top.
  13. Remove from the oven and unmould using a jar or a tin.
  14. Serve while warm.

Tips

  • In her recipe, Rachel rolls out the pastry for the case and then puts it into the tin. She then trims the edges prior to baking and chills it. This is fine if you do not intend to blind bake your pastry, as the filling will keep it in place. However, as I discovered, blind baking ensures the pastry is nice and crispy on the sides and bottom, which avoids the so-called soggy bottom. In this case, I would suggest not trimming the edges but leaving the pastry whole, then trimming it once it comes out of the oven after step 13.
  • To roll out the pastry, Rachel relies on two sheets of baking parchment. She says this prevents creating a mess with flour and ensures the pastry doesn’t stick to the table. True, but I prefer using flour and seeing the pastry as we go. I gave her method a try, but the baking parchment ended up folding and creating creases all over, which were in turn transferred to the pastry.