Category Archives: Pastry

Pistachio, Almond and Chocolate Éclairs

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Indulgent éclairs, filled with a pistachio and almond crème pâtissière and topped with a sweet chocolate icing. Not as impossible as they seem, these éclairs would make the perfect special treat.

Whoops. You know that feeling when you think, ‘when was the last time I….‘… well that’s rather how I’ve been feeling about blogging recently! Life has been more than a little hectic, and the end of 2016 seemed to flash by like big and exciting blur. Whilst the rest of the world seems to be (understandably) lamenting the going ons in 2016, I actually had a great year. I took a big leap forwards in life and now when I introduce myself to people, I can say I am a full time baker! So, with a wedding to plan and a new business to grow, the end of 2016 flew by.

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I’m back with a triumphant recipe with these delightfully indulgent éclairs. I don’t know if there is anything as pleasing as making something that belongs in a French Pâtisserie (in taste, not in looks – these definitely don’t have quite the finesse of professional pastry makers) at home. It’s something to do with debunking the myth that they’re impossible to make and only a demigod can succeed! I talked before in my recipe for Profiteroles that Choux pastry is not nearly as complicated as it seems, and then we’re just making a simple Crème Pâttissière (or thickened custard if we want to be less fancy about it!) to fill it.

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Now, I wouldn’t be me if I just made normal chocolate and vanilla éclairs, would I? So, of course, these come pumped with extra flavour from pistachios and almonds in the crème pâttisière. I’ve really grown to love pistachios in the last few years, and they work beautifully together with the chocolate topping and sweet almond flavoured cream. To get the hit of pistachio flavour, this recipe calls for you to make a pistachio paste. It really is quite simple to do, just a bit of a faff. The paste should be a vibrant, inviting green colour. But to get this, you need to rub the skins off the pistachios before roasting. As we don’t need much paste it doesn’t take too much time – but this is your warning! If you decide to skip this step (which you can!) just be prepared for your paste to come out more brown than green…

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As with all filled choux pastry recipes, these are best eaten as soon as possible after filling. If you don’t want to eat them all in one go (then you deserve a medal!) cooked choux pastry buns freeze well. Just defrost at room temperature, and pop back in a hot oven for a few minutes to get crisp again before filling.

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Amaretto & Honey Custard

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The perfect accompaniment for any dessert that goes with almonds; Think pastries, apples, or autumnal stoned fruits. So simple, you’ll question why you’ve not made custard before!

This custard was made to go alongside this Apple & Frangipane Gallette, but honestly would be perfect with many, many desserts! Custard is a wonderfully simple thing to make, but this knowledge makes it ever so slightly dangerous…. you end up in a situation where custard is literally at your fingertips all the time!

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Filed under dessert, Gluten Free, Pastry, Sweet treats

Apple & Frangipane Gallette

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A family sized, sharing pudding made with homemade rough puff pastry, frangipane, and sweet apple compote, served with an almond liqueur custard . All far more complicated than it sounds, this is essentially a glorified apple pie!

You know how sometimes the best things are borne from accidents? Yeah, well this was one of them – an accident I’m absolutely thrilled happened and worked! So, what was this accident, I hear you ask? I happened to have a good portion of un-used frangipane in the fridge (as you do!), and had a bit of a craving for autumnal flavours. Combined with wanting to see if I could master rough puff pastry dairy free, this dessert began to take shape.

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If you don’t fancy going the whole hog and making rough puff, you could easily substitute this for shop bought puff pastry – make the rough puff if you have the time, as I promise it’s so rewarding seeing all the layers of flakey pastry once cooked and knowing you did that! – but I’ll admit cheating with shop bought does help this dessert come together a lot faster.

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The pastry shell looks a little fancy – you could even call it free form! – but is stupidly easy. Just don’t tell your impressed guests! You simply pile the fillings into the centre of a large circle of pastry, and pull in the corners and pinch them together. Wash on a bit of egg glaze, sprinkle with sugar, and voila; perfection.

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The fillings themselves are even more special (and simple) than the pastry. Frangipane is one of the simplest fillings you could ever make (chuck in a bowl and mix kinda simple), and gives any pudding a sweet, intense, almond-y flavour. Hidden under the apple compote, it’s the perfect complimentary companion to the other flavours.

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You could serve this with any accompaniment you like, but this Amaretto & Honey Custard is just perfect.

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Christmas Mince Pies!

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Homemade Christmas treats are one of my favourite things about this season. However, sometimes you just want a quick fix – especially when dealing with allergy friendly food, as pretty much everything tends to be homemade! These mince pies are made using shop bought cheat ingredients, with a few added extras to really make them special.

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Mince pies – I still find the name so unappealing, even though it has been many years since I got over that and discovered the world of mince pies. Despite the fact that the ‘mince’ it is talking about here is a sweetened dried fruit mix, I can’t help but picture beef mince… every time!

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Unfortunately for me, I discovered the joy of mince pies before I gave up dairy, and I still remember one Christmas going completely without as I struggled to find any tasty dairy free varieties, and I definitely felt I didn’t have the time to make them. When you look for mince pie recipes, they tend to be from scratch, making the mince meat, then the pastry, then baking. Quite frankly, who has got time for that, especially around Christmas?!

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So lo and behold this ‘recipe’ with only 2 core ingredients for mince pies. Yes, it is thoroughly cheating, but if at the end you are left with a much superior product to any dairy free mince pies you can find, so much the better! At a minimum, these can take 10 minutes to make, plus 20 minutes to bake. I’ve added in some extra ingredients to make these mince pies really scream of Christmas, but they are entirely optional and still  ridiculously quick.

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Plum & Almond Custard Tart

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An elegant and deceptively easy dessert. An almond pastry case with juicy plum jewels set in a delicious, smooth and creamy almond milk custard. Delicious on it’s own, or served with ice cream or stewed fruits.

I really do love and believe in eating seasonally, and this dessert is no exception. At this time of year, when the berry season has drawn to a close and the stoned fruits are beginning to end, I don’t think there is anything better than baked fruits. Not only does it bring out their sweetness and flavour, it smells as it bakes festive and fills you with warmth. What a perfect way to welcome to cooler seasons that are approaching!

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Plums and almonds are a classic combination; the sweet, nutty almonds provide a delicate base flavour to the dessert, so when you get a pop of bright, tart plum in your mouth nothing distracts you from the flavour. That said – the two flavours really work together. The nutty flavour gives depth to the plums, something particularly desirable when using up the last of the season’s fruits.

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I’m using one of my favourite pastry recipes for this – it originally comes from my Apple & Blueberry Frangipane Tart – but I chose it because it turns out light and short every time. It is also a very forgiving pastry. What I mean by that is if yours crumbles to pieces as you are trying to line the tin (and see my tips and tricks on lining a tin with pastry here!) you really don’t need to worry. Just using your fingers and the offcuts of pastry, you can make your pastry look almost perfect, and it really doesn’t affect the results. Now, that’s my kind of baking!

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Lemon Meringue Pie

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Sweet, tangy Lemon Meringue Pie. Impress your family and friends with this completely homemade dessert; You don’t have to tell them it is a lot simpler than it looks! 

Lemon Meringue Pie is really quite self explanatory, but just incase you’ve never eaten one… Imagine thin, crisp, just sweet pastry, with a generous filling of tart lemon curd which makes your house smell Amazing (capital letter definitely justified!) as it bakes, and then topped with soft, pillowy meringue, with a crisp, sugary meringue-crust on the top. Sounds great, right! Now imagine just how good it tastes…

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Lemon Meringue Pie is such a classic dessert for a very good reason. The combination of the sweet meringue and pastry, heightened by the sharp lemon curd filling just makes it the perfect way to end a meal. Although sometimes it can be on the sweet side, this recipe provides just the right balance of sweet and tart flavours, giving it an appeal to all the family.

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You can make the making of Lemon Meringue Pie as complicated as you like… or we can use a few cheats to really speed it up! The first thing that will be your friend if you are in a hurry is shop bought pastry. Although perhaps not as satisfying as making your own, it sure does speed it up if you need to do this quickly. And, most of them are dairy free! It is very surprising, but read through the ingredients and often they don’t contain any milk… Just avoid the ones that shout about being ‘all butter pastry’ obviously!

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The other way to speed this up is to make your lemon curd in advance. OK – so that’s not really ‘saving’ time, as you’ve still got to make it – but Lemon Meringue Pie does not keep very well, so if you’re short on time the day you want to eat it, taking it straight from a jar you’ve previously made is a great time saver. If you do need to make some just for this pie, then take my Lemon Curd recipe and only make 1/2 the recipe (which is a generous amount for this dessert). By making it right before you bake the pie, you save time not faffing around with sterilising jars and worrying about everything being squeaky clean – we do this normally because we want to be able to keep it mould free in the fridge for some time, but here it’s going to eaten that day so we don’t need to worry!

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So give this classic dessert a go, and you’ll find this will become a family favourite to go back to time and time again.

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Simple 5 Ingredient Fruit Tart

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A quick and simple 5 ingredient fruit tart – Flakey puff pastry topped with jam and fresh fruit, served with ice cream. Perfect if you’re in a hurry!

Catering for anyone with an allergy is hard; I know a lot of my friends over the years have worried about how and what they will cook for me, and one meal still seems to flummox the best of them – dessert! So far the desserts on my blog have catered more towards someone who has had to give up dairy – to show them the impossible is possible – however not everyone has the time or inclination to make them. Sometimes you just want a quick and simple dessert whether it’s to make for yourself or for someone else.

And so it is this dilemma that has inspired this post; here I present a simple 5 ingredient dessert, which only features 1 dairy free ingredient! How have I done this, I hear you say? Well, with one of my shop-bought-dairy-free-life-savers – pre-made puff pastry. I remember the first time I realised that most pre-made puff pastry didn’t actually have any milk in it… it was like a world of possibilities opened up in front of me. Along with the pastry, the other ingredients are jam, fruit, sugar and dairy-free ice cream.

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The ingredient list might seem a bit vague but this is the beauty of it – so simple, and so versatile. The hardest thing you need to do is work out which fruit and jam combination you want to use! The flavour combinations really are endless; Pear & raspberry, apricot & rhubarb, apple & berries, peaches & orange marmalade, even banana and dairy-free chocolate spread would work!

So next time you need to bake a dairy free dessert for someone and get stuck, remember the puff pastry magic and get creative!

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Classic Apple Pie

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A classic apple pie; a just-sweet apple filling with hints of vanilla and cinnamon, encased in crisp shortcrust pastry. Perfect served with a scoop of ice cream or lashings of custard.

My new years resolution for 2015 is to master making pastry from scratch; with my family down this weekend, a succulent leg of lamb roasting away for Sunday lunch, an apple pie felt very appropriate – and what a great way to keep working on my pastry skills.

It is hard to go wrong with an apple pie – it’s so versatile you can really add and change the flavours to suit your taste. For my mum who has been away in India it seemed the perfect English dessert to allow the flavour of her much beloved apples (which are in very short supply in India!) to shine through.

I tried a new shortcrust pastry recipe for this which I will certainly use again. The pastry takes less than 5 minutes to make and once baked is delightfully short and crisp in texture. No soggy bottoms in sight! By letting it chill for a few hours in the fridge it is strong enough to be rolled very thinly without cracking which also makes it easy to line the tin with. You can, of course, cheat and buy a ready made shortcrust pastry (just read the ingredients carefully to find one without milk products!) but this really is quicker than popping to the shops and far more satisfying!

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The filling is very simple, only consisting of 4 ingredients – apples, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. I used Bramley apples for the pie filling and would highly recommend seeking these out rather than using other varieties. Bramley apples are strong in apple flavour and most importantly are sharp rather than sweet. This means you can add small amounts of sugar to create a just-sweet pie – which is then perfect to serve with copious amounts of ice cream or custard. Bramley apples also retain their shape well when cooked which means you still have whole chunks of apple in the pie which gives a pleasing texture.

To fit this in around cooking a Sunday roast it is easiest to fully bake it before you cook your roast and then reheat for about 15 minutes at 200 degrees when you are ready for dessert.

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Apple & Blueberry Frangipane Tart

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A wonderful dessert for after Sunday lunch – sweet shortcrust pastry filled with almond frangipane and topped with sharp apples and blueberries for a fruity burst. Served with an almond milk custard.

Last weekend we did a Sunday roast for lunch and I thought it was the perfect time to get cracking on my New Year’s resolution for this year – Pastry. Pastry is something I have always wanted to be able to bake as I genuinely don’t think there is anything better than a homemade apple pie, surrounded by pastry you’ve made. That said – pastry terrifies me! Even without the challenges of replacing butter with a dairy free substitute, it is hardly the easiest or most consistent thing to make.

I found this recipe a long time ago in You Magazine, and have often looked at it thinking about how much of an achievement it would be to make this with homemade pastry. Last weekend the time felt right to try – and I’m pleased to say it worked fantastically! The only addition I have made to the recipe is to add more blueberries and rather than just sprinkling them on top of the tart, add some in the middle too.

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Frangipane is a sweet almond filling – a mix of butter, sugar, ground almonds, a little flour and eggs – that when baked becomes a light fluffy nutty cloud of goodness… it’s hard to describe something so tasty and perfect! To serve, I’ve made an almond milk custard. It would be fair to say I am a custard fiend and this custard hands down beats any ready made custard you can buy – dairy free or otherwise, so definitely give it a go.

As a whole, this dessert looks a lot more impressive and time consuming than it actually is. The pastry and frangipane filling are done in a food processor (no processor? Use a bowl and wooden spoon for the same effect), making slicing the apples at the end the trickiest bit – and hardly difficult by anyone’s standards. The only watch out is that the pastry is best chilled overnight (this helps a lot when rolling out the pastry and lining the tin) so a little preparation and organisation is needed the night before.

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Dairy Free Profiteroles, Hazelnut Crème Pâtissière and Chocolate Sauce

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I used to LOVE profiteroles and they were something I had accepted I would never be able to eat again. A big part of this was a lack of confidence making any sort of pastry dairy free, plus being stuck about what to fill them with. However, after watching an episode of the Great British Bake Off and getting a lesson in how to make custard from my mum, I felt I should be brave and at least try.

And I’m so pleased I did – because they were a lot easier than I thought they would be and were SO tasty. These were a complete first attempt as I had never made choux pastry, or crème pâtissière and I’m pleased to say that I succeeded!

Choux pastry is a great thing to know how to make, and really not as hard as you think. Once you’ve mastered the recipe, you can go on to make eclairs, or cream puffs (with a different filling of course) or even savoury gougères. From the vast amount of research I did on profiteroles, I found that two things are key.

  1. Get a lot of air in the dough by whisking more than you think you’d need to as you incorporate the eggs. This helps them rise and become very hollow in the centre.
  2. Add steam – the simplest way to do this is to ensure you do not evaporate off too much water when you create the dough and to shake water over your profiteroles before you bake them. It sounds mad – but steam is the raising agent in choux pastry.

The crème pâtissière was the perfect filling for the profiteroles and the hazelnut flavour from the milk was deliciously complimentary with the chocolate sauce. No one was missing the cream 🙂 Although the milk carton (I used Alpro) does state ‘not for cooking’ I did not find any issues with the flavour or texture of the milk once heated. I can see myself perfecting my creme pat as it is such a versatile filling for desserts… so expect to see this again!

I was concentrating hard on these as I cooked (we had my boyfriend’s parents round for lunch and there was no back up dessert – so the pressure was on!), so forgot to take good step by step photos as I went. Next time I make these I will write a ‘how to’ post with better step by step instructions so you can all enjoy some perfect homemade profiteroles.

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