Saturday, July 7, 2018

Matcha-strawberry tart

The only thing I love about summer nowadays is the abundance of cheap seasonal fruits that usually trickle in Hong Kong from different parts of the world. Mangoes, lychees, cherries and of course, strawberries! Okay, these berries may look sweet and juicy but almost of all them, well, are a bit tart- no pun intended! 

Not that I'm complaining! I love the flavour contrast of tart berries with the rich and almost sweet filling.

This is 3-layer tart, 4, if you count the berries- the matcha pâte sablée base, almond-pistachio cream and créme diplomat. 

This is a sablée with almond powder added, not only it adds a delicious flavour, it makes the base sturdy and not prone to breakage. The recipe below is my tweaked version from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts book. The tart dough was actually too soft and not really sure if it was the too hot ambient temperature or I added too much butter or egg to the mixture. As I always chill my tart dough overnight, I don't really have a problem with too soft sweet pastry dough. The pastry dough  of this tart wasn't blind baked first but baked together with the almond cream.

I'm not fond of almond cream, there's something almost meaty with the taste and was ambivalent at first whether to use it on this tart. Good thing I gave it another chance heh! I think the added pistachio paste tone down the meatiness so as the strong almond flavour. Maybe it helps that I reduced the amount of almonds.....

For the créme diplomat layer, it was supposed to be a pastry cream but when I looked at the amount, it can hardly cover the almond cream! Note that the original recipe use a 9-inch tart ring and for this tart, I used a fluted 24 cm (9 1/3-inch) tart pan which is a tad bigger. So I added some whipped cream to the pastry cream to make a substantial amount thus the créme diplomat.

Tart crust will stay crisp throughout the day, okay, more the sides than the bottom crust. Surprisingly, the next day, crust still have this delightfully crisp texture, maybe it's those extra liquids that I added.....

So, what are the seasonal produce in your side of the world right now?! 

Matcha shortcrust pastry:

80 grams cold butter, cubed
80 grams cake flour
50 grams plain flour
5 grams matcha powder
30 grams almond powder
60 grams icing/powdered sugar
1 grams fine sea salt
30 grams lightly beaten egg

* Place cubed butter in a bowl, sift in the 2 flours, matcha powder, almond powder and salt; if there are some small almond pieces sitting on the sieve, tip it into the rest of the mixture. Rub mixture together until it resembles a fine breadcrumbs. Gently knead pastry dough 4 to 6 times and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and flatten into a 5-inch square, chill overnight.

* Lightly butter a 24-cm/ 9x1-inch fluted tart pan/tin.

* Roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper into 3-mm thick, it should be 1-inch wider than the tart tin. If you feel that the pastry dough is a bit soft, chill in the fridge for few minutes. Peel the top parchment off the dough, put the tart tin on top and turn it up side down. With the parchment paper on top, gently press the dough along the sized and top of the tin, also smoothing the bottom part. Gently peel off the parchment on top of the dough. Freeze for an hour.

Almond-pistachio cream:

60 grams butter, diced, at room temp
60 grams caster sugar
50 grams almond powder
25 grams pistachio paste (homemade or store-bought)
50 grams lightly beaten egg

* Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Beat softened butter with spatula or a wooden spoon until creamy. Add the sugar, almond powder, pistachio paste and egg; beat until mixture is smooth. Pipe or pipe mixture on top of the frozen base of the tart .

* Bake for 30-35 or until almond cream is golden. Let cool completely.

Pastry cream, make this a day or few hours ahead

125 grams (UHT) whole milk
25 grams caster sugar
25 grams egg yolks
12 grams cornstarch
20 grams butter, softened
1 grams gelatine leaf/sheet (optional)

* Soak gelatine in cold water for about 5 minutes; squeeze off  excess water and set aside.

* In a small saucepan, bring milk and half of the sugar into a boil.

* Meanwhile, whisk yolks and the remaining sugar until light and creamy, sift in the cornstarch and mix until smooth. Gradually add in the heated milk, whisking as you pour to prevent scrambling the yolks. Pour back mixture back into the saucepan, bring into the boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Continue to boil for 2-3 minutes, still whisking.

* Take pan off heat, add in the softened gelatine and stir until completely melted. Add in the butter and mix thoroughly. Transfer cream into a shallow bowl or a rimmed baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap over the surface, let cool. Chill for few hours or overnight.

Créme diplomat:

1 quantity of pastry cream, recipe above
75 grams cream, whipped

* Take out pastry cream from the fridge and whisk until smooth, fold in the whipped cream.

To assemble the tart:

about 500 grams fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into 2 pieces
some pistachio kernels
small amount of heated apricot jam, for glazing the berries
some mint leaves, optional

* Pipe or spread the créme diplomat over the cooled tart crust. Arrange berries on top of the tart, and brush berries with apricot jam. Sprinkle pistachio kernels on top. Chill in the fridge for about 1 hour.

* Slice and serve. Best eaten the same day it's made.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Matcha brioche feuilletée/ flaky matcha brioche

Baking my way through my longggggg to-bake list!

Brioche feuilletée is basically an enriched bread made almost the same way as danish or croissants. Butter block is encased in a brioche dough, rolled and folded several times to create flaky layers.

Brioche is a French pastry similar to an enriched bread, it has a higher egg and butter content to give it a tender crumbs.

How to make a brioche that will stay soft for days?! Okay, maybe 3 days because obviously at that time, even crumbs are all but a memory....

The secret is all in the kneading, okay, not a secret really. If you're into Asian-style bread and most of those bread are enriched meaning egg, milk, butter, sugar and kneaded within an inch of its life. Yup, stretch the dough and look for a window pane, just Google it. Depending on the recipe, some brioche dough will tear after you'll stretch it far too wide so just use common sense....

The recipe is from Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts book that I borrowed from the library. Listed below is actually my tweaked version, substituting some of the bread flour with cake flour, added more milk as the dough was too dry and Saf gold yeast instead of fresh yeast. Instructions are also the one I usually do when I make danish and croissants.

Matcha is again sprinkled on both sides of the butter block rather than on the dough as it adds an interesting colour and flavour contrast.  You can use other flavours such as ube or purple yam, purple sweet potato, pandan/strawberry/raspberry powder to name a few.

If you want a bigger brioche, cut the dough into 8 or 9 portions. I made 12 pieces so brioche is on the small side.

You need European-style butter with 84% butterfat as it is drier and melt slower than some butter. You can, of course, use any good-quality butter but always remember, don't skimp when it comes to your baking ingredients!

Texture of the crust is shatteringly crisp while brioche is still warm but will lose its crispness once it cools down.

I didn't use egg wash in this pastry, only a spray of water on top before the 2nd proofing.

Baking is obviously a relaxing endeavour and if you want to learn laminating dough, turn on the aircon for cripes' sake! Okay, but that doesn't mean I can roll the dough uniformly yet, but hey, at least no French words were uttered while making this fantastic flaky pastry!

Recipe adapted from French Pâtisserie with slight tweaks 

Makes 12 brioche (2-1/2x3-inch each) 

60 grams whole egg, chilled, slightly beaten
87 grams whole milk, chilled
5 grams fine sea salt
30 grams caster sugar
220 grams bread flour
30 grams cake flour
3 grams Saf gold
20 grams butter, softened

150 grams unsalted butter (84% butterfat), well-chilled
4 grams matcha powder

If using a bread machine: Pour beaten egg and milk into the bread pan/tin, followed by salt, sugar and the 2 flours. Make a well on top the flour and add in the yeast, cover it with some flour. Turn on the dough kneading cycle and do 2 cycle, about 22 minutes each, add in butter after 20 minutes. Take out the dough, knead for another 10 minutes. 

* Shape into a smooth round ball then flatten into about 6-inch square, cover with plastic wrap but don't wrap it too tight; leave a bit of space for the dough to expand. Place dough on the baking sheet, let stand for 30 minutes then chill in the fridge overnight.

Make the butter block: Place sliced butter between 2 sheets of parchment paper and shape into 5-inch square. Sprinkle the matcha powder on both sides of the butter. Chill until needed.

The next day:

* Take out dough from the fridge, roll dough to 8-inch square, put butter block at an angle, just like a diamond (in the sky).  Roll out the 4 sides of the dough to 3 1/2-inch, close the flaps to encase butter.

* Once butter is enclosed, gently pinch the seams. Use hands to flatten dough so as to soften and spread the butter along the sides, to create an 8x6-inch square rectangle.

* Using a rolling pin, press it up and down on top of the dough, creating ridges so that butter and dough will adhere better and also elongating it. Once dough is pressed down all over, roll the pin back and forth, smoothing out the ridges. Do this every time before you roll the dough.

* Roll dough into 8x16-inch rectangle, remember to fluff/lift the dough from time to time to prevent sticking on the work surface. Dust flour as needed.

* Do the 3-fold, just like folding a letter. Rotate dough at 90º so the the opening is on the right. This is the 1st turn. 

* Wrap dough in plastic wrap, place on the baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes.

* Do the 2nd turn the same way as the 1st and chill for another 30 minutes.

* Do the 3rd turn and chill for 1 hour.

* Lightly butter two 6-cavity muffin pans, set aside.

* Roll dough into 5x18-inch rectangle and cut into 12 pieces. If you want a bigger brioche, cut into 8 or 9 portions. 

* Braid each piece and place it on a lightly-grease muffin pan. 

* Spray top of each piece with water and cover with lightly-floured plastic wrap. 

* Proof for 2 hours, depending on ambient temperature or until doubled in size.

* Bake for 15-17 minutes, convection function, or until brioche is golden brown.

* Best eaten warm but still wonderful at room temperature.

* Store leftover in an airtight container at room temp, consume within 3 days.