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Saturday, March 26, 2011

~The Other Other Toaster Pastry~ ...needs no introduction for deliciousness!

This past week I've been pretty swamped with various responsibilities and I haven't had too much time to cook anything interesting... So! In the spirit of tight scheduling and delicious breakfast treats, I thought I'd write up a little something sweet, flaky AND quick!

~Rubied Honey Toaster Pastry~
Crust recipe adapted from Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook 

1 Lbs organic strawberries
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1 Tablespoon brandy (optional)
1/4 Cup baker's sugar
2 Cups amber honey

1 Cup all-purpose flour
1 Cup pastry flour
6 oz cold butter
2 Tablespoons bakers Sugar
Pinch cardamom (optional)
Pinch salt
1/2 Cup ice-cold water

Egg Wash

SPECIAL TOOLS - Blender/Food Processor
                               Pastry Brush

Yield: 8 -10 Toaster Pastries

Just a quick note before we begin:  This recipe is a total scratch version and has a few steps but it can easily be made with store bought pie crust.  The filling can also be made from honey and your favorite jams, jellies or preserves.  Where there's a will there is a way and where there's a time shortage, there are ways to shorten the work!  Isn't food fun?

Begin by making pastry dough.

 Sift together your flours, sugar, salt and cardamom.  Since this dough is much sweeter than standard, I like to cut it with a little bit of spice for complexity as much as the actual spice flavor.  I'm a bit of a cardamom freak so I use it every chance I get but maybe try ginger, cinnamon or even something unusual like grains of paradise!

Now for the butter!  I like to follow the example set by Alton Brown and grate the butter into the flour with a large grater.  Using this particular method works best because you can cut the coldest butter into the smallest shavings in the least amount of time.  The butter has less time to warm up at room temperature and is much easier to work in in the time you've got.

Start with 4 oz of butter.  Work the shavings into the flour mixture by pressing it between your palms or thumb and fingers.  Repeat the process with the remaining butter.  The idea here is that you're making sheets and flattened ribbons.  These sheets of flour/butter/flour/butter/flour (just like in a delicious warm croissant... I'm hungry now...) are what gives the desired flaky-but-tender texture.  Adding the butter in two stages further develops the layers and sheets.  Properly worked, it should resemble crumbly meal with just a few pea sized pieces of butter intact.  

Next, add your water in parts, tossing and turning the flour mixture with a silicone spatula (or your fingers) as you go to ensure even moistening.  When the crumbly dough passes the Wall Test for proper moisture, transfer the lot to a floured working surface and knead once if needed to bring dough together. Divide it in half and form it into 1" thick disks, wrap them tightly in ceran, and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to rest. This dough can be stored for up to 8 weeks in the refrigerator.


While the pie crust chills out in the fridge, prepare the rubied honey filling!

Wash your berries thoroughly and cut the cores and stems out with a very sharp paring knife or strawberry cutter.  Toss whole, cleaned berries along with citrus juice, sugar, and brandy into a food processor or large capacity blender and pulse them a few times to chop fairly fine but not to puree completely.  I like to leave some chunks for tanginess in the end product but it isn't strictly necessary.

Pour the fruit blend into a medium sauce pot and bring it to a moderate simmer for 10 minutes.  This will help cook off the alcohol and bring up the fruit notes and sweetness.  Remove the pot from heat and cool your sauce over an ice bath to room temp.  Set aside.

In another pot over medium heat bring your honey just to a simmer for 30 seconds.  Amber honey is what I like for this but you can also use darker or lighter honeys depending on taste.  Darker honey will give you a more robust flavor but can muffle the berries more than a lighter variety.
Once the honey is nice and hot, pour in the fruit sauce and stir to combine.  Return the mixture to a simmer and cook 1 - 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and ice bath the mixture once more to cool completely.  This filling and spread will keep in an air tight container in the refrigerator up to 1 month.

Once you've got all of your ingredients and parts prepared, get ready to assemble!
Preheat your oven to 350f and center a rack for baking.

On a well floured working surface, roll out your dough in a rectangle shape to just under 1/8" thickness.  Because the two crusts are so close and the filling, by nature of the product, is fairly thin you want to roll these out a tiny bit thinner than you would for a full fledged pie.  Still, if you're a big crust fan the more the better!  Trim the edges, cut the sheets into 8 - 10 rectangles and set them aside.

Assemble your pastries and get ready to bake!  Drop about a tablespoon (depending on how large the pastries will be) in the center of one square and spread it to about 1/2" from the side.  Egg wash the edges, place another square over the top and fork to seal them then  take a sharp paring knife and make 5 vent holes in the surface so they don't puff up too much and burn.  If too much steak gets trapped the inside can stay soggy while the outside gets too brown so venting is just as important when making these as with pies!

Place the pastries on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake off at 350f for 16 - 18 minutes until the edges are nice and golden and the tops feel done to the touch.  Cool on a wire rack and serve warm!

These are all kinds of fun to make.  I think that what tickles me so much is... *sigh* ...a bit of a "stick it to the man" feeling about making things rather than buying them...  I've been on a self sufficiency kick lately making all my own bread, growing as much food as I can at home and really looking in to raising chickens and possibly bees so it feels nice to take anything off the grocery list!
The other part that makes these great is that they're a good way to make yourself (and possibly the kids) eat something for breakfast when you don't want to make anything but maybe coffee. These little guys can be kept wrapped in parchment in an air tight container in the fridge then, as the name suggests, popped in the toaster to heat!

Just like pies, toaster pastry are nearly infinitely mixed and matched with when it comes to recipes. Whole fruit, fruit purees, nuts and raisins, cinnamon sugar, chocolate even savory fillings like chicken or cheese for appetizers and hors d'Ĺ“uvres...   Practically anything you like can be put inside a sweet or savory shell.  You can even add strong flavors to the crusts like more spices, chocolate powder, stocks and broths...  I could use up all of my allotted data usage in one post if I went on too much further!  Go out and give it a shot!  I have a feeling you won't be disappointed with the results.  Keep on Experimenting!


1 comment:

erin scott said...

Brilliant post! Totally inspired and inspiring! These I must make.... The kiddos would be thrilled.