Saffron and Orange Blossom Crème Caramel

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The Crème Caramel is, I think, one of the most iconic French dessert, one that you’ll find on every brasserie menu around France or French restaurants overseas. It is a dessert I used to have growing up; even the school cantine used to serve crème caramel. I like to refer to this dessert as the Tarte Tatin version of the Crème Brulée because it has the caramel at the bottom while cooking.  I decided to revisit this classic recipe and give it my own personal twist by adding some saffron and orange blossom aroma. The floral aroma and the richness of the saffron combined with the refreshing scent of the orange blossom goes perfectly with the sweetness of the caramel. It also adds a touch of spring to this classic French dessert!

Ingredients for the Caramel

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 5cl water

Method:

  1. Mix the sugar and water together in saucepan and cook until the sugar becomes golden in colour. Then pour the caramel at the bottom of deep round baking dish, preferably glass or ceramic, and leave to set.

Ingredients:

  • 1 l full fat milk
  • 7 free range eggs
  • 10g saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoon orange blossom water
  • 250 g caster sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius and boil the kettle for the bain-marie.
  2. Bring the milk, saffron and orange blossom to the boil and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, whisk the egg and sugar together until slightly white and foamy.
  4. Pour the hot milk over the eggs through a strainer, and whisk until all the ingredients are dissolved.
  5. Pour the mixture over the caramel, place the dish in a deep tray and cook in the bain-marie for 25-30 minutes.
  6. Let the crème caramel cool in the dish before you take it out as it may collapse if you do it when it’s still hot.
  7. To unmold the crème, gently run a small knife around the edge of the dish. Then place a serving plate slightly bigger than the baking dish over the crème caramel upside down and quickly flip it around while holding both plate. Reserve in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it.

Watch the how to video below or visit my YouTube channel here for more!

 

 

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Chocolate Crémeux with a Dacquoise Biscuit

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Superfoods and raw foods may be the culinary trends du jour, but there’s still something about a decadent chocolate dessert that can tip most diet-devotees of the wagon, if only for an indulgent moment.

This is one such dessert. You know the kind: almost too pretty to be eaten, seemingly rich, but wonderfully light at the same time. Transporting, satiating, moreish. Drooling yet? Stop reading, and start baking!

Chocolate and Coffee Crémeux on Dacquoise:

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Ingredients:

  • 200g full cream milk
  • 200g mascarpone
  • 80g egg yolk, about 4 yolk
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 155g dark chocolate
  • 5g instant coffee

Method:

  1. Boil the milk, mascarpone and the instant coffee.
  2. Whisk the yolk and sugar together until slightly white.
  3. Pour the boiled milk over the eggs in two times while whisking non stop!
  4. Cook the mix over medium heat until it reaches 83 degrees Celsius, just like a crème anglaise.
  5. Place the chocolate in an electric mixer bowl and pour the hot mix over it while whisking. Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted.
  6. Transfer the mix into a clean recipient and wrap it with cling film, making sure it’s in direct contact, and place in the fridge until the next day.

Dacquoise:

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Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 35g plain flour
  • 70g Hazelnut powder
  • 70g icing sugar
  • 30g caster sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 240 degrees celsius
  2. Whisk the egg white in an electric mixer until they become slightly firm, then start adding the sugar. Whisk for about 3-4 minutes to obtain a nice meringue.
  3. Gently fold in the icing sugar and hazelnut powder using a rubber spatula.
  4. Then gently add the flour to the meringue.
  5. Spread the mix on a flat baking tray lined with baking paper, about 1cm thickness, and bake for 6 minutes.

Cut the Dacquoise using a round cookie cutter, the size you use is up to you!

Pipe the crémeux on the biscuit using a pipping bag with a star nozzle and garnish with fresh raspberries.

The richness of the crémeux, the nuttiness of the biscuit and the acidity of the raspberries create, I think, a well balanced dessert!

Bon Appétit

Le Fermier

Paris-Brest

 

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As is the way in many European cultures, the French love to celebrate special occasions with food. And not just any old food, often dishes are created just to celebrate a particular event, at times becoming just as iconic that the event they were created for.

One such dish is the Paris-Brest. This delicious choux pastry was created at the turn of the 20th century to celebrate the annual bike race from Paris to Brest, and is shaped like a doughnut to resemble a bike tyre. The pastry is sliced through the middle and filled with a light and creamy hazelnut praline. Back then, the cyclists competing in the race would snack on these sweet treats (a far cry form the carb gels that pro cyclists have nowadays), but now they are available in most patisseries in France.

To watch the how to make Choux Pastry video click here

Choux Pastry:

Ingredients:

  • 125g water
  • 125g full fat milk
  • 10g caster sugar
  • 10g salt
  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 135 plain flour
  • 245g free range eggs, about 5 eggs

Method:

  1. Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. In a deep sauce pan bring the milk, water, sugar, salt and butter to the boil.
  3. Once the butter has melted, take the sauce pan off the heat and ad the sifted flour. Return the pot to the heat and dry the choux pastry for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Transfer the choux pastry to a mixing bowl and add the eggs one a time, make to incorporate each egg before adding another one, you can use an electric mixer like a Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment to make it easier.
  5. Using a piping bag, pipe the choux pastry in a ring shape, brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with coarsely chopped almond.
  6. Bake in hot oven for 40 minutes.

Hazelnut Praline:

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Ingredients:

  • 135g hazelnuts
  • 90g caster sugar

Method:

  1. Toast the hazelnuts in the oven.
  2. Make a dry caramel with the sugar, make it the same way you would for a normal caramel but without water.
  3. Pour the caramel over the toasted hazelnut and leave to cool.
  4. Blitz the hazelnut in a food processor until you have a smooth paste.

Crème Pâtissière:

Ingredients:

  • 180g milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 40g egg yolk, 2-3 yolk
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 20g corn flower
  • 15g butter

Method:

  1. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until slightly white. Then add the corn flour and whisk until mixed through.
  2. Bring the milk and vanilla pod, seeds scrapped out, to the boil.
  3. Pour the hot milk over the eggs and whisk until dissolved. Cook over medium heat until it start to boil, then cook for a further 1 minutes.
  4. Transfer the crème into a clean bowl, cover with glad wrap and leave to cool in the fridge. Make sure the glad wrap touches the crème!

Crème Mousseline Praliné:

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Ingredients:

  • 90g unsalted butter, soft
  • 255g crème patissière
  • 40g hazelnut Praline
  • 40g Hazelnut paste
  • pinch of slat flakes

Method:

  1. Whisk the crème patissière until smooth, then add the hazelnut paste, hazelnut praline, salt flake and whish until combine.
  2. Add the soft butter little bit a the time and whisk for 3-4 minute until homogenized.

Build the Paris-Brest:

Method:

  1. Cut the choux pastry in half, so you have two rings.
  2. Sprinkle hazelnut praline and toasted almonds on the bottom half
  3. Using a piping bag with the star nozzle, pipe the crème mousseline on the bottom half.
  4. Put the top part of the ring back on and sprinkle with icing sugar!

Enjoy straight away for dessert or afternoon tea!

Far Breton

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Brittany is a region set in the north west of France and like most other areas of the country has distinct culinary specialties for which it’s famous both nationally and globally.

Most famous of all Breton dishes I would say is the galette. A savoury kind of crêpe made from buckwheat and filled with delicious but simple ingredients. In the dessert sphere, there is the kouign amann, which is pastry sheets laminated in butter and sugar that caramelize as they cook. (The best version I’ve tasted outside of France can be found at the amazing Lune Croissanterie in Melbourne).

The third famous dish, and the one that I’m showing you today sits somewhere between the two above as it is a dessert, but far less sweet than the kouign amann. It’s the Far Breton.

Far Breton is a custard flan with tasty prunes (which have been soaked in rum or Armagnac) hiding at the bottom that is baked to form a gold or almost black shell on top. This recipe started life in the 18th century and was originally eaten completely savoury as a side to meat.

It’s super simple to make but one tip I would give to achieve the most authentic result is to use the freshest (preferably organic) milk you can find, and, despite promoting using local produce most of the time, butter imported from Brittany or Normandy. The Brittany (and Normandy) regions make some of the best butter in the world and while we have high quality dairy in Australia, the taste just isn’t quite the same.

Far Breton:

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Ingredients:

  • 700ml full fat milk
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 250g plain flour
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 200g pitted dried prunes
  • 50g salted butter
  • 2 tablespoon rum
  • 6 free range eggs
  • 2 vanilla pods, seeds out

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 150 degrees Celsius (fan forced) and place your cake tin in the oven
  2. Warm up the milk and cream in a sauce pan or microwave.
  3. Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla seeds together until slightly white and fluffy.
  4. Add the sifted flour and whisk until the batter becomes smooth.
  5. Pour in the warm milk and mix until combined, then add the rum.
  6. Pour the mix in the hot tin, put in the prunes and salted butter pieces.
  7. Bake in hot oven for about 1 ½ hour. Do not open the oven once the cake is in!

Leave to cool in the tin at room temperature and enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea! Or the way I like it, is with a glass of Calvados!

Watch the how to video below or visit my Youtube channel here to view more videos.

Gateau Basque

 

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My love of cooking has a lot to do with nostalgia. I feel that when making a recipe from my childhood or one that is linked to a place or a special event, I am immediately transported back to that time or that place and can relive those delicious memories once more. Gâteau Basque is one such recipe for me as it represents the time that I spent working in the Basque country early on in my cooking career.

The recipe itself is not fancy or particularly difficult. It’s a classic sweet pastry, filled with a vanilla and rum cream, not unlike the crème patissière that you’d find in a strawberry tart.

In the Basque country this cake is enjoyed as a dessert after dinner, but in fact it would make a perfect afternoon teacake with a delicious cup of coffee or fragrant earl grey on the side.

What recipes are nostalgic to you?

Ingredients:

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For the pastry:

  • 300g plain flour
  • 3 pinch salt
  • 120g unsalted butter, soften
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 2 teaspoon rum
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder

Method:

  1. Combine the soft butter and sugar in a bowl.
  2. Add the flower, baking powder, eggs, salt and rum and mix until combined.
  3. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured bench and slightly knead the pastry until you have a smooth dough. But do not over work it!
  4. Slightly flatten the pastry, to make it easier for yourself when you roll it, wrap it in cling film and place in the fridge for about 1 hour to rest.

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For the Cream:

  • ½ l full fat milk
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 40g flour
  • 2 teaspoon rum
  • 2 vanilla pod, seeds and skin separated

Method;

  1. Bring the milk and vanilla skin to the boil.
  2. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add the flour and mix until combined.
  4. Pour ¾ of the hot milk over the eggs mix and whisk until dissolved. Pour the mix back into the saucepan and cook on medium heat while whisking for about 4 minutes. The cream needs to be cooked well so it thickens when it cools down.

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Baking:

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 160 degrees Celsius.
  2. Butter a 22cm baking dish (medium depth) with soft butter.
  3. Roll the pastry on a floured bench to a 4-5 mm thickness.
  4. Take 2/3 of the pastry to line the base of the dish, make sure the sides are clean.
  5. Once the cream has completely cooled down, transfer it the baking dish.
  6. Use the rest of the pastry to do the lid that goes on top of the dish. Tuck the sides in well.
  7. Using a fork, gently score the top of the pastry.
  8. Brush the top with a slightly beaten egg and bake in hot oven for about 40 minutes depending on the oven you have. The top should be golden brown and if you pierce it with knife, it should come out clean.

Leave the Gâteau to cool down completely before serving, or keep it for the next day of you can resist – it will be even better!

Watch the how to video below or visit my  YouTube channel  here for more

Homemade Brioche

 

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If I had to describe brioche to someone who had never tried it before, I guess I would say that it’s a hybrid between cake and bread. It often comes in loaves just like bread, but as soon as you slice it you can see the texture is lighter, and more buttery, yet not quite spongy enough to be cake. It’s because of exactly these properties that the French class Brioche as a viennoiserie, along with pastries like croissants and pains au chocolat.

The first written reference to Brioche was in the 15th century and though it’s origin isn’t confirmed, it’s generally believed to been a Norman creation (i.e. from the north of France).

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Savoury brioche is often eaten at breakfast in lieu of bread in France. Sweetened varieties can be likened to Greek Easter bread, and in fact, my favourite kind of sweet brioche, called Mouna, is also served around Easter time. Mouna is traditional in Pied-Noir or Algerian cuisine, and because this is where my Mother was born, she has made it for Easter ever since I was born.

You can use brioche to substitute for bread wherever you want to add a richer flavour and fluffier texture. For example, use it as burger or hot dog buns, or slather some cheeky nutella on top of a slice at breakfast, or, use it to make French Toast like many Aussie cafés are already doing.

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Ingredients:

  • 500 g strong flour (bakers flour or OO)
  • 20 g salt
  • 20g fresh yeast or 7g dried yeast
  • 300g unsalted butter, soft
  • 6 free range eggs
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoon milk, warm

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Method:

  1. Crumble the yeast in a small bowl, add the warm milk to it and dissolve the yeast using your finger tips or if using dry yeast, sprinkle it over the warm milk and let it activate for about 10 minutes (or until it starts bubbling on top)
  2. Place the flour, salt and sugar in an electric mixing bowl with the hook attachment (I like to use a Kitchen Aid) and mix the three ingredients together.
  3. Add the yeast to the flour and mix a little. Then add the eggs one by one and mix until combined.
  4. Knead the dough on high speed for 8-10 minutes to really work the gluten in the flour and give the brioche dough the strength and elasticity we want ( the dough should not stick and the sides of the bowl should be clean).
  5. Add the butter a little bit a the time, wait until the butter is incorporated before adding more! Knead for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Loosely cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rest until double in size. Then, knead the dough on a lightly floured bench to knock the air out of it and put it back in the bowl, cover with cling film and put it in the fridge over night.
  7. The dough will be easier to work with and have a better flavour by proofing slowly overnight.

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The next day:

  1. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Take the dough out of the fridge and slightly knead it on a floured bench.
  3. Portion the dough in 100g balls, this recipe should give you about 10.
  4. Now you can form whatever shape you want, I chose to make buns with my brioche because I was having homemade Hotdogs for dinner!
  5. Place your Buns on a flat baking tray lined with baking paper, you may need to use more than one tray as we do not want them to close to each other. Loosely cover them with glad wrap and leave to proof in a warm spot until double in size.
  6. Brush the brioche with a couple of beaten egg yolk mix with a little bit of milk and sprinkle some hail sugar on top if you’re making sweet brioche or some sesame seeds for example for savoury brioche.
  7. Bake in the hot oven for 15-20 minutes, the brioche should be golden on top.
  8. Once cooked place them on a cooling rack and leave to cool.

Tip: Do not let the yeast come in direct contact with the salt as it would kill it.