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Entries in pastries (4)

Tuesday
Jan102012

Sweet Discovery: Pasteis de Belem from Portugal

Pasteis de Belem from Portugal

The best kind of mail? The kind that comes with an introduction to a new baked good. And recently, I became friends with a new baked good with a fascinating history, via reader Sofia from Portugal, who is "married, have 2 girls, baked my first cake when I was 12 and never stopped since, work in the shipping business and am part-time cake designer since 2007 and I am totally and absolutely mad about chocolate." A true friend! Here goes Sofia:

I Live in Lisbon, Portugal and would like to tell you about some sweet pastries called Pastéis de Belém (baked since 1837).

Well, how shall I begin to describe these marvelous, wonderful and crunchy pastries? Let's start with a little historical context.

It all began early in the 19th century.

Next to the Jerónimos Monastery, there was a sugar cane refinery, but liberal revolution resulted in the extinction of the religious orders and convents, and monasteries were closed and the workers and the clergy were expelled.

Pasteis de Belem from Portugal

In an attempt to prevent eviction, a monk had the idea of selling some sweet pastries, which quickly gained success and began to be called Pastéis de Belém!

At that time Belém was still far from the city of Lisbon. However, the grandiosity of the monastery and the Tower of Belém attracted visitors who soon grew used to savoring the delicious pastries baked in the monastery.

Nowadays it is said that the recipe is still the original, some ingredients remain a secret, and the pastries are baked in the “secret room”.

Now the pastries…

Pasteis de Belem from Portugal

The outside is made of light, crunchy pastry with a slight pinch of salt. The inside is creamy and sweet. They are better when still warm and are served with powdered sugar and cinnamon.

If you’d like to come over and have a taste, prepare yourself for a long line.

In the Summer or in sunny Winter days one good thing to do is to buy the pastries and cross the street to eat them in the park sitting on a bench, if available, or on the grass (beware of sparrows that will approach to eat crumbs)!

Pasteis de Belem from Portugal

How I like to eat them: take little bites around until the filling is surrounded by a thin coat of pastry and then put it all in my mouth.

Note: In the same street, but one block away there’s a Starbucks and I can assure you, it all goes very well together.

Saturday
May222010

Morning Glory: The Lovely and Amazing Morning Bun

It's time to talk about the Morning Bun, that beautiful American adaptation of French breakfast pastries.

First off, what is this thing? As Carey Jones put it so beautifully on Serious Eats,

In my mind, the morning bun is the perfect synthesis of the classic croissant and the irresistible sticky bun. Call it a croissant in cinnamon roll clothing. It’s made of a buttery croissant dough, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar (and often walnuts or pecans), then rolled into spirals. Each one is baked in a muffin tin, and when the morning buns rise, they spill up and out of their little slots. Kept in close quarters, the bottom stays a bit doughy, like a sticky bun interior, while the top lifts into an appealingly flaky, cinnamon-speckled dome.

Legend (that being lore from a CakeSpy Shop customer Katie's friend) has it that this bit of sweet manna originated in the Midwest US, perhaps the result of French settlers trying to recreate a piece of home with the ingredients and supplies they had readily available? It is listed on the Wisconsin Food Hall of Fame, at any rate.

But regardless of where it came from, one thing is certain--these beautiful buns are just as tasty as they look, and if you see one at your local bakery, you should grab one. Of course, making a trek to Tartine for one based on the picture above wouldn't be out of the question, either (and while you're in the Bay Area, hit up La Farine, too!).

For more lore and love on the subject of the Morning Bun (and recipes/bakery suggestions too!), you might like to read Serious Eats, Pink Stripes, and Apartment Therapy.

Tuesday
Jul152008

It's Biscuit, It's Biscuit Time!: Macrina Bakery's Buttermilk Biscuits

Macrina's Buttermilk Biscuits

When talking about bakeries in Seattle, the moment will inevitably come when someone asks us "What do you think about Macrina?." After all, Macrina Bakery is probably one of the more famous bakeries in Seattle: it's won awards, it's been featured in numerous cookbooks and on the Food Network. But it's also a very polarizing subject for locals, who either seem to love or loathe the place.

 

Naysayers will say that they're inconsistent, that the service is slow and sometimes surly, the baked goods dense and exceedingly--perhaps too--rich.

Strangely, those are all the same reasons we love it. Sure, it can be frustrating at times, but it feels deeply human and homey somehow. And our very favorite item there? The buttermilk biscuits with fresh preserves.

Now, a Southern purist might be appalled by these biscuits--made with buttermilk, shortening, pastry flour and yeast, they seem to be on a different wavelength than the light-as-air, fluffy White Lily flour and lard sort from days of yore. Due to folding the dough three times before baking, they attain a level of flakiness that seems somehow denser than other biscuits, and works wonderfully with a morning coffee. And at approximately 7:15 a.m. in the morning, shortly after the bakery has opened for the day (we never go right at 7 because the biscuits are never out first-thing), we couldn't imagine anything sweeter than the rows and rows of golden-hued biscuits, still warm, each with a glistening jewel-like dollop of fresh preserves.

As for the haters? Go ahead, keep hating--more biscuits for us.

 

Macrina's Buttermilk BiscuitsMacrina's Buttermilk Biscuits 

In Seattle? Visit Macrina's shop(s--there are three) at 2408 1st Ave. in Belltown 206.448.4032 (and our favorite); at 615 West McGraw Street in Queen Anne, 206.283.5900; and at 19603 Vashon Hwy SW on Vashon Island, 206.567.4133. You can visit them online too at macrinabakery.com.
Not in Seattle? Well, luckily we have the recipe (though if it's more your speed, the recipe for their now famous Sour Cherry Coffee Cake, which was featured on the Food Network's "Road Tasted" show, can be found here). Also, their book is well worth investing in; it can be found here.
Macrina's Buttermilk Biscuits (With a few notes of our own--makes six generous biscuits)
Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 teaspoon dried yeast
  • 3 cups pastry flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups vegetable shortening, cut to 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • egg wash made from 1 egg and 1 teaspoon water
To Garnish: Coarse sugar (use as desired) and 1/2 cup preserves, your favorite type (we like marionberry). The coarse sugar is not a deal breaker but does add a nice crunch; the preserves are absolutely necessary.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, combine warm water and yeast. Mix with whisk to dissolve yeast, and let sit for five minutes while yeast blooms.
  3. Sift flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl. Toss with your hands to combine. Drop pieces of shortening into bowl. Using pastry cutter or fork, cut in until coarse and crumbly.
  4. Add the yeast-water and buttermilk, and mix with a wooden spoon, but only until it all comes together--do not overmix.
  5. Coat hands with flour and pull dough from bowl on to a floured surface. Pat dough into a rectangle, approximately 9 x 5 inches, so the long side is facing you. Dough will be sticky so keep flouring your hands as needed.
  6. To achieve a flaky, layered effect, it's important to give the dough a series of tri-folds: fold into thirds like a letter, folding the left third over the center third first, and then the right third on top. Sprinkle more flour and roll out to a 9 x 5 rectangle again, repeating the tri-fold step twice more (for a total of three tri-folds), ending with a rectangle 3/4 to 1 inch thick.
  7. Cut into six equal rectangles and place on the baking sheet. Brush with your egg wash and sprinkle on raw sugar.
  8. Bake on center rack for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown on top and bottom (ours only took 18 minutes to get to the point we liked). Let cool for ten minutes or so, then dent the top with a spoon and fill with a generous dollop of your preserves.

Finally, as a bonus, a couple more photos of other Macrina baked goods:
Cupcakes at Macrina, Belltown, SeattleMacrina BakeryKiwi Topped Cupcakes at Macrina, Belltown, SeattleNice Buns at Macrina, Seattle
Macrina Bakery on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

Saturday
Jun212008

Holy Ravioli: Falling in Amore With a Sweet Treat From Philadelphia's Termini Bros. Bakery

"Ravioli" Pastry, Termini Bros. Bakery, Philadelphia
Picture, if you will, two of the greatest masterpieces of Italian cookery--the cannoli and the calzone.

Got it? Now, imagine that these two beauties get married and have a baby. An unholy, but wholly delicious, cheesy and carbohydratey baby.

The "Ravioli"Termini Bros. Sign
It is with that vision that we introduce our newest obsession, the "Ravioli" pastry from Termini Bros. Bakery, a venerable institution of sweetness in Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market. In appearance it resembles an enormous half-moon ravioli, though its sheer size is more empanada or calzone-esque. But the physical resemblance to aforementioned savories is where the similarities end--once you take a bite, this baby is all sweetness. Its slightly sweet pastry casing encloses a hefty dose of decadent cannoli cream, rich, dense, and studded with chocolate chips.
And man, is it delicious. But eaters beware--this is a seriously substantive sweet, and is perhaps best enjoyed with a buddy. If you ate it all by yourself (and trust us, you probably will if no one is around) cardiac arrest might ensue--although really, there are far worse ways to go.
And til that moment, this is most certainly amore.

Are you in the Philadelphia area? Termini Bros. Bakery has a few locations (we went to the Reading Terminal Market one); visit termini.com for more information.
Wanna try making them? While we weren't able to locate a recipe for the "Ravioli" pastry per se, we're going to try to make our own by combining two recipes--one for cannoli cream filling found on cooks.com, and one for sweet empanada dough, found on laylita.com. We haven't done it yet but we'll let you know how it turns out.

Pastry Dough Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼- ½ cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 sticks butter or 16 tbs, cut into 16 pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-4 tbs cold water


Preparation:

  1. Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor.
  2. Add the butter, eggs and water until a clumpy dough forms.
  3. Knead the dough for a few minutes.
  4. Form dough into 2 balls, flatten into thick discs, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas, use round molds or a small plate or cup as a mold, you can choose how large based on whether you want small or medium sized empanadas .
  6. Use the empanada discs immediately or store in the refrigerator or freezer to use later.You should get about 15-18 medium sized empanada discs or 25-30 small empanada discs.

Cannoli Cream Filling

  • 3 c. very dry ricotta
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • Chocolate chips
Drain ricotta in a colander until very dry, overnight or longer if necessary. Mix with sugar and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer at high speed for 8-10 minutes. Fold in some chocolate chips and use to fill cannoli or between cake layers. Fills about 15-18 cannoli.


Termini Brothers Bakery on Urbanspoon

 

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