Macarons

macaron2_lefermier_031215The Macaron appeared in Europe in the middle ages, made from sugar, almond and egg white from the very beginning. Some say that the Macaron was born in the VIIIe century in venetians monastery. They were introduced in France by Catherine de medicis for her wedding with the Duc d’Orléans. The macaron use to be eaten as individual biscuits and it’s not until 1830 that, in Paris, pastry chefs decide to stick two macaron together using ganache to create the “parisian” macaron which was later popularized by the very famous Ladurée.

They are now many different flavours of macaron like a mandarine and olive oil from Pierre hermé in Paris or lime and basil and even peach and rose! I have decided to add a festive touch to my macaron today by using Christmas spices to flavour my crème.

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

Macaron with a Christmas Spice Cream

Ingredients for the shells:

  • 210g icing sugar
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 130g egg whites
  • 150g almond meal

macaron4_lefermier_031215Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 160 degrees Celsius and make sure all the ingredients are measured.
  2. In a food processor, blitz the icing sugar and almond meal until it is very fine. Make sure it is really fine otherwise the top of the macaron won’t be smooth.
  3. Sieve the almond meal and icing sugar to remove the chunky bits, and keep aside.
  4. Whisk the egg white to soft peak, then slowly add the sugar and keep whisking until it is all dissolved. Add the food colouring and whisk until combined.
  5. Using a spatula, incorporate half of the almond meal and icing sugar, mix, then add the other half.
  6. Gently work the mixture by folding it onto itself, making sure you scrape the bottom to get all the ingredients. Work it until it becomes glossy and form a ribbon when you lift the spatula (see video).
  7. Using a pipping bag with a nozzle, lay the macaron on flat baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
  8. Leave them on the bench top for about 15 minutes so that a skin forms on the top. Check if they are ready to be baked by gently touching the top with your finger, if it doesn’t stick then they are ready.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then leave them cool down before garnishing them with the crème.

macaron3_lefermier_031215Ingredients for the Crème:

  • 2 free range egg yolk
  • 25 cl full fat milk
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 25g flour
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 2 star anis
  • 1 orange peel
  • 1 lemon peel
  • 75g soft butter
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds out

Method:

  1. Boil the milk with the vanilla ( seeds and pod) and the spices.
  2. Whisk the egg and sugar until slightly white and fluffy, add the flour and mix until combined.
  3. Pour the hot milk through a sieve, whisk to combined all the ingredients, and cook for about 3-5 minutes while whisking.
  4. Pour the crème in large dish, spread it as thin as you can to cool it down quickly. Once cooled completely, place it in an electric blender, whisk until it is smooth and add the soft butter. Keep whisking until the mixture is glossy and smooth.
  5. To put the macaron together, simply pipe a little bit of crème in the center of half of the shell and put a shell on top!

Paris-Brest

 

parisbrest1_lefermier_180915

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:

parisbrest4_lefermier_180915

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:

parisbrest2_lefermier_180915

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!

Back to Basics: Choux Pastry

Back to Basics: Choux Pastry

choux2_lefermier_260615

As we know them today, Choux pastry was created by a pâtissier named Avice in the 18th century. They were named as such because they looked like little cabbages and the French word for cabbage is “choux”. The original recipe though is thought to have been created in the mid-sixteenth century by an Italian chef in the service of Catherine de Medici.

Choux pastry is one of the quintessential French recipes. The pastry itself is quite easy to make but it’s what you do with it that contains the ‘WOW’ factor. The show-stopping French wedding cake, the Croquembouche, is a tower made of choux pastries, covered with caramel and spun sugar. Profiteroles, éclairs and churros all use the same basic choux recipe and as well as gougères, which are a savoury option, filled with cheese.

For something simpler, why not try filling them with my delicious orange and vanilla crème pâtissière and coating them in a crunchy caramel topping. They will make the perfect dessert to share with friends or family after a delicious meal or to entertain guests at an afternoon tea party!

To watch the how to video on my YouTube channel, click Here

Choux4_lefermier_260615

Makes approx. 36 Choux

Ingredients:

  • 500ml water
  • 200g Butter (unsalted), diced
  • 300g Plain Flour
  • 8 Eggs

choux3_lefermier_260615

Method:

  1. Bring the water and butter to the boil.
  2. Once the butter is completely melted, reduce the heat to medium, add the flour and stir well with a wooden spoon.
  3. Cook the dough for a few minutes to dry it a little bit, this process take should take about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough into an electric mixer bowl and mix on medium speed with the paddle attachment to cool it down. The dough should just warm before you add the eggs.
  5. Start adding the eggs one at a time while mixing.
  6. Once the eggs are all mixed through, transfer the mix into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.
  7. Line a couple of flat baking tray with greaseproof paper and pipe 2cm circle on the tray, make sure you leave about 1cm between each choux.
  8. Bake at 200 degrees for 20-25 minutes, the choux should sound hollow and feel a little hard when you press them between your fingers.
  9. Once cooked place them on a cooling rack and leave to cool.

Crème Patissière (French Custard)

Ingredients:

  • 40g Plain flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 500ml Full Fat milk
  • 4 free range egg yolks
  • 2 vanilla pods, seeds out
  • 2 orange zest
  • 20ml cointreau

choux5_lefermier_260615

Method:

  1. Bring the milk, orange zest, Cointreau and vanilla pods to the boil.
  2. In the meantime, whisk the yolks, sugar and vanilla seeds together. Then add the flour and whisk until combined.
  3. Pour the milk over the egg mixture and whisk well until everything is mixed through.
  4. Return the pot to the stove and cook on medium heat while whisking until it thickens up. Once it starts boiling cook it for about 3 minutes more.
  5. Pour the crème patissière into a bowl, place a layer of glad wrap directly on top of it and leave to cool completely in the fridge.

Caramel:

Ingredients:

  • 125g caster sugar
  • 15cl water
  • 100g pearl or hail sugar (for the finishing)

Method:

  1. Mix the water and sugar together in small saucepan and cook the sugar until it becomes golden brown, and then take it off the heat.

choux1_lefermier_260615

Finishing the choux:

  • Make a small hole in the bottom of each choux using the end a pen.
  • Pipe the custard in the choux using a piping bag fitted with a nozzle.
  • Dip the top of the choux in the caramel and the Pearl sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

Galettes des Rois

 

galettesdesroi_lefermier_080115

We sing the song, and relish in raucously shouting the line “FIVE GOLD RINGS,” but many Australians would be surprised to learn that the classic Christmas carol “The 12 Days of Christmas” refers to the 12 days from Christmas Eve, not before it. What’s so special about the twelve days after? Well, this is the lead up a Christian holiday known as The Epiphany (6th January), which is still a public holiday in France and many other European countries.

Now, the French aren’t known for being particularly devout, but we do love a public holiday, and especially one with a special dish attached. For The Epiphany, it’s the “Galette” (or Gateau) des Rois, which translates to “Kings Cake”, in reference to the Three Wise Men who are believed to have visited the baby Jesus on this day.

I seriously doubt the Three Kings presented Jesus, along with their more famous gifts, a brioche-style, over-grown doughnut all those years ago, so I don’t quite know why we make “Galette Des Rois” in celebration of this event. What I do know is that it’s delicious and I’m sure Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus would have loved it as much then as I do today.

Galette des Rois are eaten from the 6th January until Mardi Gras (the Christian one marking the day before Lent fasting begins, as opposed to the Sydney version), and each one will often hide a little porcelain or plastic figurine somewhere in the dough. Whoever finds the figurine in their slice has certain privileges and responsibilities, which differ from country to country. Between countries there are also vastly different names and recipes for the Galette des Rois, even within France itself.

Today, I’ve chosen to share the recipe my Mum used to make for my brothers, and me, which is known as a “Gateau des Rois”.

galettedesroi2_lefermier_080115

Ingredients:

  • 300g strong plain flour
  • 10g fresh yeast
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 6 pinch table salt
  • 100g mixed peels
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 170g unsalted butter (soft)
  • 2cl orange blossom water
  • 2cl dark rum
  • 1 lemon zest
  • 30g glace fruit
  • 30g orange marmalade
  • 20 pearl sugar
  • Tiny porcelain or plastic figurine of your choice (optional)

galettedesroi_lefermier_080115

Method:

  1. Mix the flour, sugar and salt in an electric mixing bowl, like a Kitchen Aid for example. Mix the ingredients for a couple of minutes with the paddle attachment (the yeast can never be in direct contact with the salt as this would ‘kill’ it). Crumble the yeast and add it to the flour.
  2. Add the eggs, orange blossom water, rum, 80g of mixed peels and lemon zest and knead until you have a firm and elastic dough (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the soft butter a little bit at a time and knead for a further 5 minutes. The sides of the bowl should be clean and the dough should be quiet soft.
  4. Cover the dough with cling film and leave to rest at room temperature for an hour or until it is doubled in size.
  5. “Knock back” the dough, that is, knead it for about 30 seconds and then cover it with cling film and place it in the fridge overnight.
  6. Place the dough on a floured surface and spread it using a rolling pin, just as you would do for normal dough. Fold it in 4 and repeat the process twice.
  7. Form a ball and place it on a flat baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Dip 2 of your finger in the flour and stick in the center of the dough all the way down to the tray to create a hole. Carefully widen the hole using your hands. Reform the dough so it has a circular shape (a bit like a giant doughnut!).
  8. Wrap a pastry cutter or a stainless steel ring a little bit smaller than the hole in greaseproof paper, and place it in the center. That way the hole won’t close as the dough proofs. If you want to place a figurine into your “Galette”, now if the time by simply pushing it into the dough. Make sure you let people know what they may find in their slice before they tuck in!
  9. Cover with cling film and leave to proof for 1 hour.
  10. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
  11. Brush the dough with egg wash (1 egg yolk mixed with 2 Tbsp water).
  12. Bake for 30 minutes. Then cover it with foil and bake for a further 15 minutes.
  13. Cool the “Galette” on a cooling rack until warm.
  14. Meanwhile, mix 2 tablespoon of marmalade with water and keep aside.
  15. Brush the “Galette” with the marmalade and sprinkle the pearl sugar and the remaining mixed peel on top.
  16. This delicious treat is now ready to eat for breakfast or for dessert. In French tradition, whoever finds the figurine in their slice has to make the next “Galette” to share!

 

Cannelé de Bordeaux

1872

 

A Cannelé is a small French pastry with a soft, custard centre and a dark, caramelised crust. Modern versions are cooked using special moulds, ideally made from copper that are sort of a circular shape with a scallop-edge. This shape is widely thought to come from the fact that the word Cannelé in French is very similar to the word “cannelure” which translates to corrugation (think of a classic Aussie tin roof).

The origin of the Cannelé dates back to 1519 when nuns from a Bordeaux convent started to make cakes from flour they’d found on the quay, rhum from the islands and egg yolk left over from winemaking because they used egg white to purify the wine so they would have a lot of egg yolk left over in Bordeaux.

The dish, which is a specialty of the Bordeaux region of France, is made from eggs, sugar, milk and flour, and flavored with rum and vanilla. Today, cannelés are so popular that they can be even bought at Bordeaux McDonald’s!

As you might assume, Cannelés are often served for dessert but mini versions also make the perfect canapé to serve with champagne at a cocktail soirée.

This dish can be a challenging one to make, as put too much mix in the mold and you will get oddly shaped muffins instead of delicate fresh pastries, or put your oven at the wrong temperature and your caramel will go too far (charcoal Cannelé, anyone?). However, the crusty exterior texture and the almost unexpected soft, “vanillary” inner make it worth all the effort!

Ingredients:

  • 1L full cream milk
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 280g plain flour
  • 475g caster sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 10cL rum
  • 2 tbsps vanilla extract
  • 2 vanilla beans

1821                     1835                    1866

Method:

  • Add the milk, butter, rum, vanilla extract and vanilla beans (seeds removed and placed to the side) all to a medium saucepan and bring to the boil.
  • Turn the gas off when it starts boiling and leave on the stove to infuse for 15 minutes.
  • In a mixing bowl add the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla seeds. Whisk the eggs and sugar until the mix become slightly white.
  • Reheat the milk mix in your saucepan on a medium heat until it starts to simmer, turn the gas off again to let it cool down just a little (the milk needs to be quite hot, but not boiling, when you pour it in as this will slightly cook the eggs, giving the Cannelés the perfect consistency)
  • Add about 1/5 of the liquid to the mixing bowl with the eggs and sugar, while whisking.
  • Whisk well, then add the flour, then whisk again and finally add the rest of the milk (by doing it this way you’ll avoid having lumps in the mix).
  • Leave the combined mixture to rest in the fridge for 24 hours.
  • While the mix is finishing its resting, grease the moulds with melted butter, put them upside down to get rid of excess butter, let it set and repeat the process one more time
  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Celsius. The Cannelés have to be baked at 2 different temperatures. The cooking starts at a high temperature to caramelise the outside, then lower to cook the inside.
  • For a 5cm high cannelé mould, fill the mould with mixture up to the 4cm mark, and no more. Filling the Cannelé moulds precisely is critical to the success of the finished product.The cannelé mixture will rise in the first stage of the cooking process and if the mixture rises above the lip of the mould it will get stuck and you’ll end up with a “rustic” looking cannelé muffin instead.
  • Place the Cannelé into the oven and cook at 250 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes, then lower temperature to 200 degrees Celsius and cook for another 35 minutes.
  • Take the Cannelé out of the oven and unmould them straight away and place them on a cooling rack, leaving to rest for 2 hours before tasting.

Homemade baguette

IMG_2784[1]

 

 

We  generally attributed the invention of leaven bread to the Egyptians , who have made ​​the discovery by chance. Dough unleavened bread (water, milk and flour) was skipped, would have “spoiled”, but would still have been fired, leading to the discovery of leavened bread. The bread evolution slowed down during the invasions of Normandy particularly because of non-maintenance or destruction of the Gallo-Roman watermills. Since the Renaissance, the development of science benefits the milling and baking technology, the first applicable to the yeast scientific work benefits from the invention of the microscope by the Dutch Antonie van Leeuwenhoekk, the fermentation by yeast grows, bread diversifies and coarse bread (from peas of beans or acorns ) no longer appear in times of scarcity. In Paris, the first industrial bakery was founded in 1836 . The same decade also saw the emergence of the bread stick.  Consumption of fresh bread then democratize ,the people had the habit of eating far from stale bread.

 

IMG_2839[1]

Baguette:

 

Ingredients:

  • 500 g Bakers flour
  • 250 ml warm water
  • 24 g fresh yeast or 8 g dry yeast
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 TBSP olive oil

IMG_2844[1]

 

Method:

  • Place flour in a mixer with a hook attachment, add salt and mix for about 30 seconds just to incorporate the salt. In a separate bowl place the yeast and add a little warm water to dilute the yeast, if you are using dry yeast you’ll need to leave it activate for about 8-10 minutes until it starts to bubble on top. Add the yeast to the flour while mixing, and then slowly add the water while mixing. The bowl should be clean when finished, if it sticks a little you can add a bit more flour. Knead the dough for about 3-4 minutes, then put on the kitchen bench and knead it for about 1-2 minutes to form a smooth ball. Put it back in the bowl and cover it with a towel, leave the dough rest until it has doubled in size. Once doubled in size take the dough out and put it on the bench. Knead it for about a minute, just to knock all the air out. Portion the dough into little ball depending on the size you want your baguette to be. Then using the palm of your hand flatten the dough a little to form like a rectangle, then roll a 1/3 of the rectangle over itself a and knead it with the palm of your hand. Repeat until you have a cylinder like shape, then using both your hands starting in the middle finishing at both ends; roll the baguette to give it a nice round shape, same principle as rolling gnocchi. Place the baguette on a flat baking tray with a little bit of flour to prevent sticking. Cover the baguettes with a towel and leave to proof until doubled in size. Preheat your oven at 220 degrees Celsius and place a bowl of water at the bottom. The water will create a bit of humidity and give the bread a beautiful golden colour. Once doubled in size, with a Sharpe knife slightly mark the top of the baguette, this help the steam escape while cooking, and also give it a great look. Bake for about 16-18 minutes, turning them around about half way. Once cooked, place them on cooling rack. Voila, your baguettes are done. My favourite way to enjoy a freshly bake baguette is to have it with delicious cheese platter and a glass of red wine. What’s yours? Let me know at lefermierblog@gmail.com . To watch my how to video check out the link here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93c3IZMbWKU

À bientôt,
Le Fermier

 

  • IMG_2784[1]