Saturday Morning Bakery

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Our landlord had arranged to come and meet us at 10am this morning so that he could drop off our spare house keys and our post box key. By 11am, we were getting anxious. By 11.30am, we were on the phone and he reassured us that he was 'nearby'. 

By 12am I was baking. I had given up.

I've been wanting to make Palmiers (or Pigs' Ears, as we used to call them) for a very long time, but I've put them off because I thought it'd be too difficult to get them beautifully light and fluffy with the perfect combination of caramelised sugar crystals on flaky pastry and doughy insides.

But today, after being 'stood up' by the annoying landlord, was the perfect day of opportunity.  I used this recipe as a base but jiggled it a bit because I didn't have enough of the ingredients handy. 

Essentially, it's this:
1/4 C butter
1/4 C caster sugar
1 roll of puff pastry (I used store-bought, but a slightly sweeter home-made version would be a lot better)

Sprinkle half the sugar onto your rolling surface (instead of using flour). Roll out the puff pastry into a neat rectangle. I think it should be about 5mm thick, but that's up to your preferences. Melt the butter and brush on, before sprinkling on the rest of the sugar evenly. 

Roll up each end tightly until they meet in the middle. If you're going to have too much space (like mine, below), you could easily roll until the last turn and then make that turn slightly larger to minimise the last gap. I particularly like a slight gap in the bottom because it lets the sugary syrup settle there, but you'll see soon what I mean.

After you've rolled it, push it flatter to make sure it sticks and then wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour. When it's a bit more solid you can slice it into 1cm thick slices, brush each slice with butter on each side, and lay on the baking tray about 5cm apart. They will bake and flatten out. 

I baked mine at 160'C fan-forced for 20 minutes until brown on the edges. Take them out, turn them around, and bake for an additional 10 minutes on the other side. Sprinkle the hot palmiers with caster sugar and then let them cool for 10 minutes.

Here you can see the Palmiers before they go into the oven... like little bunny ears! At this stage I had to resist the temptation to fill them with chopped nuts, cinnamon and something syrupy. 

But look! They came out beautifully! I particularly like this picture with my shiny Kenwood Chef, my sugar jar (the cupcake is filled with sugar cubes) and on the far right, the Hot Cross Cookies I baked on Thursday. More on those later. 

Here's a close-up so you can see how nice and crisp they come. The extra sprinkled sugar just melts on the hot palmiers so that they are really sticky and you can still enjoy the different textures of flaky pastry and crystallised sugar. This is probably the easiest (and cheapest!) baking I've ever done, I can't believe I was putting it off for so long! 

Anyway, the landlord eventually pitched up around 13.30, only to tell us that he had left our keys in his other car. 

We had missed out on the first sunny day in London this year - just look at how blue the skies are from our balcony!

This is the first time it hasn't been snowing/raining/drizzling/foggy/cloudy/misty/freezing this year. 

After the Landlord had left (after his three minute visit), we took a little stroll to the edge of the marina.

Not a person in sight, but look at all those gulls! They're just hanging out, watching this view:

No wonder they're all facing the same way. Well, almost all of them. This guy was hanging out near us, hoping we'd throw him some food:

He was in luck, there was a piece of bread handy. 

So regal! There are two swans who live in the dock near our block of flats, but I had no idea they were so tame (until they chase you, of course - swans are terrifyingly large birds). Good for photograph purposes. Can you see how thick and murky the Thames is?

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