kimbap

Kimbap makes me think of a few things: a perfect sort of balance, generously filled and filling enough to be a whole meal, and of course the fragrance of roasted sesame oil. Roasted sesame oil could be a perfume or cologne, and would keep the wearer, and everyone within whiffing distance, perpetually hungry.

No recipe to share for this–it’s up to you, but for reference, I’ll direct you to the wonderful Maangchi. Otherwise, enjoy an excessively excessive quantity of photos.

(Contents: Egg seasoned and cooked with sesame oil, blanched spinach with soy and sesame oil, imitation crab, cucumber, green onion, pickled daikon, carrot cooked until it just tender. Rice is flavoured with sugar, salt, sesame oil and vinegar. Don’t be afraid when filling–it holds more than you expect!)ingredients for kimbap

flowery strawberry and rhubarb victoria sponge (a tentimestea second birthday cake)

tentimestea came about during that quintessential teenage experience: the dead end summer job.

The whole day was centred around the lunch rush where the line would stretch back twenty people. It wasn’t a matter of moving fast enough to get rid of the line, it was a matter of simply pushing through it. As quickly as possible, of course.

Typically the ship was manned by only three of us. It was the same three of us every day, in a little stall, air infused with deep frier oil and sweat. It only takes one mistake from one person to make everything to fall off track.

Perhaps it was the intense atmosphere or my own uncertain movements, but I tended to make mistakes. Or be slow. Thus, I rightfully became the target of some antagonism.

Combining one of my coworker’s antagonistic attitude and little things which meant I would stay a little later after closing, I began to feel a bit antagonistic right back. It was hardly Scapegoat Coworker’s fault that I struggle with my job and of course never got paid overtime past closing (and it was only after closing that I had a chance to get all the cleaning and packing up done for the day). It’s hard to be enthused for this sort of job, particularly when you discover that the fast pace of fast food and the responsibility of the cash thrust solely upon yourself, a bit sooner than you are comfortable with, is not your thing. Unhappy coworkers don’t help.

Scapegoat Coworker, contrary to this unweildly epithet, had a short name, perfect for using as a reference spoken with some amusement and exasperation. Let’s call him Bill. Every subsequent coworker of mine is given that nickname.

“How’s Bill?” my parents will teasingly ask whenever work of any sort comes up. Until I figure out that, just as first impressions predicted, they are indeed an absolutely a great person and we switch to using their actual name.

Gosh, sorry Scapegoat Coworker. Your probably undeserved reputation continues, but as with everything, it’ll fade. There will always be a Bill around, but I’d expect perhaps we just got off on the wrong foot and need to both sit down and talk again.pansiesstrawberriesstrawberriesslicing sponge cakerhubarb jampiped whipped creamplacing strawberries on top of the cakeBut that was a (longwinded) aside. I decided I needed something else to occupy myself and make the summer feel like it was contributing to more than just my meager savings. That is where tentimestea came in.

While it took a while for me to settle in, and even now posts don’t come as regularly as they could, the blog has contentedly sat itself right into my life for the past two years.

I don’t quite think of myself as a food blogger (I don’t announce it too proudly to everyone, anyhow), but I do think of myself as someone with a food blog on the side. cake decorated with edible flowersThings have changed from even just one year ago. (In fact, I can hardly believe that I’m still here.) Some things have gone from slight dread in anticipation to quite simple routine… what I want to talk about is the pastry cream.

Milk and cream, eggs and cornstarch. A bit of sugar. Some flavours, at the very least a bit of vanilla. I don’t have it down to perfection, but I can usually churn out something acceptable.

It takes some time to become familiar with something–and unfortunately, because I like to jump around a lot with baking, I don’t become familiar too often.

In fact I’ve changed my attitude towards pastry cream. Before I thought of it as a useful medium for all sorts of things, but not something that I really enjoyed. That started to change as I made more pastry creams and some were occasionally quite nice.

Then I tried a very, very simple cake, the frasier from Aoki Sadaharu (here’s a picture of it). It was so simple, but the cream in it was not only buttery and rich, but so light, it seemed to melt. Was it a lightened pastry cream? Crème mousseline? Something else?

The categorization maybe doesn’t matter too much. You can use butter and sugar and milk and cream and eggs in all sorts of combination, and the slight differences and techniques produce endless renditions. It’s something to love about baking. There is so much to find even with the simplest and basest ingredients.cake decorated with flowersNow, onto a bit of a review of the last year: While I’ve improved, it hasn’t been as much as I hoped.

Disasters still happen with equal frequency. What has changed is that sometimes I’ll give things a second try…and make them slightly less disastrous.

I tend to obsess…a bit…on the visuals. Chronic underexposure (dark photos can be done beautifully, but mine come across as rather dull instead of atmospheric) and distorted perspectives constantly plague my photos. Sometimes my photos are boring and sometimes I throw in too many needless bits until it’s messy. But I’ve also been much happier with the photos I take.

One of my future goals is to develop my voice as a blogger. I don’t have much of one. (The blandness of this declaration has just confirmed that.) But this requires answering a couple questions each time I write a post. What should I write about? How?

Though I do think my voice comes across quite clearly on this point: I love the combination of cake, fruit and cream. This whole blog could become nothing more than simple butter cakes and ripe fruit and piles of softly whipped cream and I would still be very satisfied…though at some point I might wonder why I keep blogging the same thing.

The problem is that this the simplest and most assuredly wonderful combination. If you are ever time- (or idea-) pressed for a dessert, the Victoria sponge cake is the way to go.

So: to endless cakes and the assurance that sometime in the next year I’ll be putting up more cake/fruit/cream combos: voilà! Here is a(nother) cake!a flowery strawberry and rhubarb victoria sponge

As with last year, this tentimestea birthday cake is rhubarb-y, but not quite as rhubarb themed. 

floral cake

100 g butter

60 g sugar

2 eggs

100 g whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

salt

1 tbsp dried jasmine flowers

1 1/2 tsp chamomile

1/2 tsp dried rose petals

milk

rhubarb jam

a couple large stalks rhubarb

5 green cardamom pods, cracked

sugar, to taste

lilac cream

100 g heavy cream

40 g creme fraiche

lilac sugar, to taste

assembly

strawberries

For the cake, cream the butter with the sugar until light, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Separately whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Crumble the dried flowers between your fingers and whisk into the flour.

Gently mix the flour into the butter mixture until just combined. Beat in milk until it reaches a consistency which allows the batter to drop from a spoon.

Place two greased 12-cm cake rings on a parchment lined pan. Evenly divide the cake batter between the two rings. Bake in a 375F preheated oven around 20-30 minutes or until an inserted skewer is removed clean.

For the rhubarb jam, chop the rhubarb into small pieces. Combine the rhubarb, cardamom pods and a bit of sugar in a small saucepan and cook gently until the rhubarb begins to exude juice. Continue cooking and stirring until the rhubarb breaks down and cooks to a jammy texture. Add sugar to taste. Remove the cardamom pods once the jam has cooled (keep track of how many you have as they can be a bit hard to find).

For the lilac cream, whisk the cream until it is thick and billowy. Whisk in the creme fraiche and continue to whip until it forms soft peaks. Whisk in lilac sugar to taste.

To assemble, slice the top off of one of the cakes to level the surface. Spread with rhubarb jam. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip with lilac cream. Pipe dots of cream around the edge of the cake on top of the rhubarb jam. Pipe more in the middle. Set the second cake layer on top and spread with the remaining lilac cream. Pile strawberries on top as well as some edible flowers if desired.

speculoos & peach éclairs

My goal of 100 posts, downgraded to 90 posts, before tentimestea’s second birthday will likely not come to fruition having fallen off the rails. But I’m holding out for 85, which will give me a nice average of 1 post every 8.5 days–not bad!There isn’t any particular reason to aim for a nice base number such as 100, or even a multiple of 10 (90) or if one must, a multiple of five (85). It’s a bit arbitrary, so I will even aim for just this 84 if need be.

And, as post number eighty-four, now that I’m keeping count, I can introduce you to two things:

  1. nice choux pastry
  2. a nice pastry cream

This is rare. 2/2? Very rare.

But there is a bit of complication. The whole 2/2 thing doesn’t quite equal 100%. It’s more of a 70.I always find plain choux pastry enjoyable, but this tastes especially nice on it’s own. It’s not bland. Using browned butter and whole wheat flour, it’s nutty and buttery and crisp on the outside, and because I never cook it enough, still a bit custardy on the inside. (Actually, a bit like a popover.)

The pastry cream, infused with vanilla and then beaten with mascarpone and speculoos butter and lightened with whipped cream. While rich and smooth, it doesn’t have any gluey texture. I think this can be attributed primarily to the mascarpone–it loosens up the pastry cream (preventing any gluey texture from the cornstarch) while still allowing it to maintain its form. In fact, the pastry cream had a lot of structural integrity (just think about disasters such as this!) making it easy to work with.

Importantly, the mascarpone doesn’t overwhelm the flavour of the pastry cream at all. This could become my basic pastry cream, except that do you really want your basic pastry cream to have mascarpone in it? It isn’t always going to be on hand, so unfortunately I still have to keep on working on the pastry cream front…

I wish I could say that I thought of using speculoos butter (analogous to a praline paste in the pastry cream used in a Paris-Brest), but I didn’t. I saw it somewhere else, though when I tried to track down where I first came across the idea I found a whole host of different speculoos éclairs and Paris-Brests. So: a nice pastry cream. And a nice choux pastry.

But together they didn’t work quite so well. The pastry cream and peaches overwhelm the choux pastry–all the flavour of the choux pastry felt a bit useless and redundant. It was still there, and I at least like to hope that the mirrored flavours contributed somewhat, but perhaps not quite as much as I would have liked. Overall it was still delicious though, and surprisingly successful for me.

It’s been a little while since the last time, but I’m sharing these at Angie‘s wonderful Fiesta Friday.

speculoos éclairs with peaches

brown butter choux pastry

Makes around 4 14-cm Paris-Brest rings or around 10-12 éclairs. Adapted from a previous choux pastry adaptation here

Was a bit too loose when I made it–perhaps because I increased the water to account for the water lost when browning the butter, and so the amount of egg required was less than anticipated. Add one egg and then beat the remainder in a small bowl before adding bit by bit. 

Perhaps because of the whole wheat flour, but the pastry is not as silky and glossy and smooth as normal choux pastry. The éclairs still baked up quite nicely though. 

65 g butter

1 tbsp powdered milk

1 heaping tbsp sugar

1 generous pinch salt

160 mL water (reduce a bit too?)

80 g whole wheat flour

around 2 large eggs, or as needed (one time I used two and the batter was a a bit too loose…the second time I used 2 and a bit)

Melt butter with the powdered milk. Cook until browned, let cool before carefully adding the sugar, salt and water.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M (medium star tip). Trace 14-cm circles using a bowl as a guide. Pipe one circle on the line, a second circle inside the first, and a last circle overtop. Try to pipe somewhat thickly to obtain some height to the pastry.

For éclairs, fill a piping bag fitted with a large French tip (not star). Pipe straight lines of batter.

Bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 375 and bake for another 10-20 minutes. I left my éclairs custardy in the centre, but properly they should be nicely dried out so continue baking for longer.

When done, poke holes in the bottom with a skewer to let steam escape and let cool on a wire rack.

pastry cream

It works very well without the speculoos butter as well as a rich vanilla and mascarpone pastry cream.

The idea of using speculoos butter came from somewhere else, though I haven’t tracked down where I originally came across the idea yet. In the meantime, I did find a number of speculoos Paris-Brest though… like this lovely one and this one.  

250 mL milk

75 mL heavy cream

5-cm length of vanilla bean

15 g sugar

2 large eggs + 1 yolk

25 g cornstarch

then,

80 g mascarpone

80 g speculoos butter

60 g heavy cream, whipped

Combine milk and cream in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape seeds into milk. Add the pod. Warm up the mixture.

Meanwhile, whisk the sugar, cornstarch and eggs together. Once the milk mixture has come to a boil, slowly pour into the eggs to temper. Return to the stovetop and cook gently, whisking constantly, until the pastry cream has thickened and the taste of uncooked starch is gone. Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill completely.

Take the mascarpone and add a spoonful of pastry cream to it. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add pastry cream a large spoonful at a time until the mascarpone is loosened and well incorporated, then mix the mascarpone into the  pastry cream. Repeat this process with the speculoos butter.

Whip the cream and gently fold into the pastry cream. Use immediately, or keep chilled until ready to use. I would make the pastry cream ahead of time, but leave incorporating the whipped cream until the last moment.

assembly

peaches

Cut the peaces into small dice. Split the éclairs and fill the bottom with peaches.

Fill a pastry bag with the pastry cream fitted with desired tip. Pipe the pastry cream over the peaches. Cover with the top of the éclairs. Optionally dust with powdered sugar.

eggplant, feta and chermoula pasties

So I’m a bit worried that these pasties are a bit too buzzwordy. Like “innovation” and “community engagement”, I have combined

  • the eggplant (the ever lovely eggplant)
  • with feta (okay, so maybe not quite a buzzword),
  • and then even chermoula (gah!),
  • and lastly with pasty (which may be a buzzword only to me).

The nice thing about food buzzwords is that they are a bit easier to taste for yourself. I made these 10 months ago actually, and they still seem to be awfully relevant. I wouldn’t call eggplant quite on trend anymore–speaking solely from my Western perspective, that seems to be the word reserved for foods making the initial break into the consciousness of the food sphere populated by food magazines and celebrity chefs and frequently updated blogs. But eggplant still carries a lot of weight.

Does anything ruin the atmosphere better than discussion of an ingredient’s popularity? Why focus on whether or not a food is in instead of how it tastes? (It goes either way–either fervently avoiding the trends or riding them).

I think that there is a good reason to consider this. For better or for worse, food trends are what bring awareness to certain ingredients. And sometimes food can get a bit political. It’s part of considering how an ingredient got to your plate, your city, where it came from and why.

On the worse side: take the Western appropriation of quinoa hiking prices for populations that relied upon the grain in their diet.

Or this well-written article, which I can’t recommend enough:

In the United States, immigrant food is often treated like discount tourism — a cheap means for foodies to feel worldly without leaving the comfort of their neighborhood — or high-minded fusion — a stylish way for American chefs to use other cultures’ cuisines to reap profit. The dishes of America’s recent immigrants have become check marks on a cultural scavenger hunt for society’s elite.

Ruth Tam, Chicago Tribune

On the better side: promoting the local food economy, and hopefully the environmental cause at the same time.

Reforming agriculture and promoting sustainability won’t just help us get better and healthier food; it will also fight greenhouse-gas emissions and water pollution. The food movement has been criticized as elitist, but that reputation belies recent efforts to get low-cost fruits and vegetables to urban poor who suffer disproportionately from obesity and diabetes.

Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine

Besides…would I have tried (often unsuccessfully) to cook eggplant so many times and would I have come to love and appreciate eggplant had I not been exposed to so much gosh darn eggplant adoration on the internet and in print? Maybe not! What you may have first noticed is the terrible crimping. I make no excuses for myself; I watched a video, but am the sort of person who can’t pick these things up–or at least not without endless practice. In addition, even when I did think I was getting somewhere with the crimping, the pastry (half Kamut) was too crumbly to pleat. It needs a bit more gluten, so until then a simple fork-pressed crimp works better.

And then there is the fact that I tend to overfill everything (dumplings and buns and so forth), leaving not too much overhang to attempt to pleat and to only succeed in crumbling.

I was quite happy with the filling. After roasting the eggplant, it was quite dry, but encased in the pastry it steamed quite nicely and become very moist. The flip side of that is that the pasties don’t last as long. While the pastry was crisp and flaky, the wet filling ensured the pastry lost its crispness after a couple days in the fridge.eggplant, feta and chermoula pasties

Makes 8 reasonably sized pasties. 

kamut pastry

The pastry was too brittle and did not have enough gluten for nice crimping. 

100 g Kamut flour (oh gee this is another thing to research)

100 g all purpose flour

generous pinch salt

116 g cold butter

~40 mL cold water

Whisk together flours and salt. Cut the butter into pieces and rub into the flour. Add as much water as necessary until the dough just comes together.

Wrap in plastic and chill completely.

 

eggplant and feta filling

Makes extra filling, enough to fill around 10 pasties.

1 large mediterranean eggplant (equivalent to ~ 2 small eggplants that have been generously trimmed)

~ 4 tbsp olive oil

2 generous tbsp chermoula dry spice mix – I made mine using this recipe

1 small onion

1 clove garlic

50 g feta

handful parsley

handful mint

1/2 tsp sumac

salt

egg yolk, for assembly

Chop the eggplant into dice. Toss with 2 tbsp of olive oil, a generous pinch of salt and 1 tbsp chermoula. Pile onto a tray and roast for 30 min at 400F or until softened. Let cool.

Thinly slice the onion and the garlic. Fry the onion with 2 tbsp of olive oil until soft and translucent, then add the garlic, and finally 1 tbsp of chermoula. Stir constantly to slightly toast the spices, then remove from the heat. Let cool.

Chop the mint and parsley. Crumble the feta. In a large bowl, mix together the eggplant, onion mixture, herbs and parsley. Add the sumac, taste for seasoning and add salt as necessary.

Cut the chilled pastry into eight pieces. Form each into a ball and roll out thinly.

Pile a large scoop of eggplant mixture onto the centre of each round. Fold one half of the pastry over and fold over the overlapping pastry edges to seal. Brush each pastie with the egg yolk, whisked with a bit of water to thin.

Bake at 400F for 30 minutes or until nicely crisped and browned on top

 

yoghurt and tahini sauce

It makes everything better. More buzzwords too! Ack!

20 g runny tahini

70 g 2.5% yoghurt

pinch salt

juice of 1/4 lemon

small handful parsley

small handful mint

paprika and sumac to garnish

Finely chop the parsley and mint. Whisk together the tahini, yoghurt, lemon, salt and herbs. Sprinkle with the paprika and sumac to garnish. Serve along side warm pasties.

lilac shortbread

I have a goal.

100 posts by tentimestea’s second birthday. Doable?

AHAHA maybe not. I just realized how soon it’s coming up.

So, instead: 90 posts?

Perhaps. Just expect a lot of strange, unedited, half written/half rambled/half pounded-out-while-mostly-asleep blog posts. Business as per usual.

This is the last instalment to the (very short) lilac saga, which began with this cake posted last week.

It’s a quick one…and unfortunately not too successful. The sugar is very perfumey but not much was translated into the shortbread.My mother, who has a much better palate and considerably more insightful sense of taste than me, suggested that rather than the floral taste, a bit of the pungency of the lilacs came out, and the cookies tasted a bit as though they were made with cultured butter. I even thought they smelled a bit like cheese while they were baking. But in a very good way, if this does not already sound too strange.Anyways, they’re not at all appalling. The 1:2:3 ratio produces a very fine cookie–buttery and a bit crumbly.

It’s just that they’re not noticeably lilac shortbread. I wonder whether more lilacs with the sugar would have helped…So, what can be done with this lilac sugar? I came across this brilliant lilac sugar doughnut recipe on Hummingbird High, which I think would be especially nice if filled with a rich pastry cream. In a similar vein, perhaps something like scones (the tops brushed with milk and generously sprinkled with sugar) would also be able to preserve a bit of the fragrance of the sugar. Snickerdoodles are rolled in sugar? Any other ideas?

I also have a cake coming up with a lilac sugar and crème fraÎche whipped cream (spoiler: it worked! you can taste something!). 

lilac sugar

Fill a jar with lilac flowers (if washed, dried completely) and granulated sugar. Screw tight and allow to sit for a few days before use.

lilac cookies

Follow the 3 flour:2 butter:1 sugar (by mass) ratio, using lilac sugar and half spelt flour. Press into a square log, roll the outside in additional lilac sugar, and chill completely.

Slice thinly and bake at 375F for 7 to 10 minutes or until they appear dry and just firm, but not browned.

strawberry, elderflower and vanilla millefeuille

It sounds as though I’m talking about a novel or a movie when I say that it captured my imagination; rather, I’m actually talking about a pavlova. A layered pavlova with elderflower cream and rhubarb-macerated strawberries from A Pug in the Kitchen.

I took a bit of a millefeuille reinterpretation: vanilla pastry cream, and strawberries macerated in elderflower tonic.  I did have some trouble with my rough puff pastry. Take a look at the second image of these tarts I previously made to see what I was expecting. I think what I did differently this time was simply taking too long (a few too many progress photos slowed me down), so I began to lose the distinction between butter and dough in the pastry. It is fine, as any pastry with that much butter, and baked until crisped and browned is still good, but the pastry layers were more tender and crumbly than flaky and thousand-layered. I was hoping this would be THE pastry cream to end all pastry creams. It was not.

The aim was the super-rich-buttery-yet-light quality of an Aoki Sadaharu pastry cream. Well, not particularly at all. It was much too heavy (so, of course, more whipped cream next time–much more!). I think I make a very eggy pastry cream, and while I like the distinct custardy taste (in this case, very much vanilla ice cream base), it probably isn’t what I’m looking for: maybe lighter on the eggs would be better. I thought the incorporation of the butter would recapitulate some of the richness, and perhaps it would have done so successfully if there was enough whipped cream to also lighten it.

But it was still a very decent pastry cream–thick enough to hold its shape, not too sweet, and rich and eggy and distinctively tasting.The quinine in the elderflower tonic provides a bit of bitterness to temper the sweetness of the macerated strawberries. The elderflower flavour is not very apparent though, but it is there if you know to look for it (so I noticed, but understandably no one else did). The millefeuille are best with just a bit of icing sugar on top; the icing is much too sweet.slice of strawberry millefeuilleI had read that millefeuille should only be assembled immediately prior to eating. I agree that this is best, though I do think it actually keeps quite well. The pastry looses its crispness, but it is far from soggy or mushy. Laying the macerated strawberries on top of the pastry cream may have helped to prevent any sogginess that perhaps would have occurred with direct contact between the strawberries and pastry.

I can also vouch for the millefeuille still being quite nice even after two days in the fridge post-assembly (above is a picture of a cross section). The pastry remains tender enough and with the pastry cream firmed up, they are easy to slice.

The Truman Show (image source)

The bottle of the elderflower tonic was so pretty I just left it on the table in the background while taking photos–and it ended up in every photo. Oops. Subtly aggressive product placement? I should get paid for this. strawberry, vanilla and elderflower mille feuille

General aspects adapted from Ruby Tandoh’s Crumb. Strawberry and elderflower flavour profile inspired by Suzanne’s gorgeous strawberry and elderflower layer pavlova

 

whole wheat pastry

Baking procedure borrowed from Crumb by Ruby Tandoh. Pastry itself adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini’s rough puff pastry and Chez Pim’s pie dough

150 g cold butter

150 g whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp salt

a few spoonfuls of sugar

ice water

thyme sprigs

Cut the butter into thin slices. Mix together the flour, sugar and salt on a good working surface. Place the butter pieces on top, turning over to dust completely with flour. Using a metal bench scraper or the heel of your hand, flatten the pieces of butter. Use the bench scrape to fold the pile of butter in flour in half over itself and flatten once more. This process will create gradually thinner and thinner flakes of butter. Once the butter is flaked throughout thinly, make a well in the centre and mix in the water, folding over with the bench scraper.

At this point, perhaps chill the pastry. Dust the surface with some additional flour, and with a rolling pin, roll out the dough into an elongate rectangle. Fold up into thirds like a letter. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and roll out into an elongate rectangle again, and the fold up once more. Repeat this 3 or so more times (somewhere in the range of 2-5 more times) such that you will have repeated the folding process 5 times. During the folding process, the pastry can be dotted with thyme leaves or sprigs of thyme if desired to incorporate them. Wrap in plastic and chill.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut into three even pieces and roll each one out quite thinly into rectangles roughly the same shape (such as a 12″ by 6″ rectangle). Rub the pastry all over with a bit of powdered sugar (this works very well!, and is taken from Ruby Tandoh’s Crumb) which ensures the pastry browns nicely. Sandwich the pastry layer between two sheets of parchment paper and then between two jelly roll pans (which can be weighted down if you think it necessary). Bake for around 10-15 minutes, then remove the top pan and bake for another few minutes or until nicely browned.

Let cool and repeat for the remaining three layers.

Take the three layers of pastry and trim to the largest rectangle they can all contain. For me, this was a 8 1/2″ by 5″ rectangle.

 

vanilla pastry cream

This pastry cream has become too far removed from the original sources (I keep on looking at an adaptation on my blog of a previous adaptation on my blog of a previous adaptation on my blog that was made from a combination of two sources), so I guess I won’t cite anything anymore. I think I’ve ended up with a quite eggy pastry cream: it is very custardy, and this one I also used a lot of butter to make it quite rich. 

260 mL milk

75 mL 36% cream

5 cm length of vanilla bean

25 g sugar

27 g cornstarch

pinch salt

125 g whole egg (2.5 large eggs)

1 egg yolk

40 g butter

Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds from the pod. Warm up the milk and cream in a saucepan with the seeds and pod of the vanilla bean.

I never seem to take my own advice (though I intended to!), but I will present it here anyways: Whisk the sugar, cornstarch and salt together. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking into the cornstarch completely until smooth (no cornstarch lumps) with each addition. This should help avoid lumps.

Temper the egg mixture with the milk and cream. Return to a medium heat over the stovetop and whisk continuously and vigorously until the pastry cream has thickened. I usually continue cooking it over the stovetop for another few minutes (whisking very constantly and vigorously) to ensure all the starch is cooked.

Remove from the heat, and whisk in the butter small piece by small piece. Transfer to a bowl, cover, let cool completely, then chill.

 

assembly

strawberries

elderflower tonic syrup (here is one that I used)

100 g heavy cream

40 g creme fraiche

Slice the strawberries and toss with some elderflower tonic to taste (and a bit of sugar if the strawberries need it). Set aside to macerate for an hour to overnight.

Drain, and reserve the juices for serving… or just eating, or what have you. Toss the strawberries with a bit more tonic to flavour.

Whip the cream and creme fraiche together until billowy and fold into the pastry cream.

Take the three rectangles of pastry and cut into the desired size. I made four 1 1/2″ by 5″ rectangles and two 2 1/2″ by 2 1/2″ squares out of each rectangle. Cut the same shapes from each rectangle to get a top, middle layer, and a bottom.

Take the bottom pieces of pastry and pipe the pastry cream over the bottom, and place some macerated strawberries overtop. You can make a bit of a trough with a small offset spatula or spoon in the pastry cream to more effectively hold the strawberries. If you do this, do not pipe right to the edges of the pastry so that the cream doesn’t squish out when you make the trough. Top with a second piece of pastry and then repeat, and finally top with the third and last pieces of pastry.

Dust with powdered sugar, or spread with a bit of thin powdered sugar icing (you can use the strawberry juice to make a nice pink icing), or dollop with more pastry cream.

I found the addition of icing too sweet–I think it is best just dusted with some powdered sugar.