Dairy Free Pecan Danish

Who doesn’t love a morning pastry?!

For some reason the idea of fresh black coffee, pastries and orange juice in the sun has a certain romance in my mind. I suppose it reminds me of scenes from black and white films, the ones where you get to walk into the sunset. But what happens if you can’t have dairy. Don’t you get to walk off into the sunset………….

Well, with the rise of veganism there is hope for all the people that can’t have dairy for whatever reason. Now that you can get a block of vegan butter, the book turns of Danish pastry are possible. Replace the milk with soya and you are on your way.

That’s the theory at least and with a dairy free F2 currently on surgery with me the pressure is on. This F2 isn’t your normal F2 though, if its not from F&M you probs won’t stand a chance. In fact, she’s probably a missing member of Made in Chelsea (I can say this because I bribed her with Danish Pastries luckily)……….

 

So without delay, I give you dairy free Maple Pecan Danish Pastries

 

Danish Pastry

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Ingredients

  • 8oz Vegan Butter
  • 1lb Plain Flour
  • 1/2oz Salt
  • 4oz Caster Sugar
  • 5g Fresh yeast
  • 250ml Soya milk
  • 4tbsp Maple syrup
  • 4oz Pecan nuts
  • 4oz Dark brown sugar
  • Vanilla
  • 1oz Vegan spread

As you can tell I’ve got slightly better at the artistic shot of all the ingredients. In addition to the soya milk for the baking I also got some single soya cream for pouring over/having with coffee- on a side note it’s really good.

Start by making a simple dough; combine the flour, salt, caster sugar and yeast in the kitchen aid using a dough hook.

 

To this, add the soya milk and eggs – knead for 5mins till you have a silky smooth dough which is very pliable (slightly wet). Form into a ball and leave to proof for an hour -perfect time to write the first part of this blog.

After an hour, the dough should have almost doubled in size and the gluten inside relaxed. Turn it out onto a floured work surface and let the fun begin. It’s time for book turns:

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Step1 – Roll the dough out into a large rectangle (about 40x20cm)

Step 2 – Place half the Vegan butter at the centre in slices in a little raft.

Step 3 – Fold the bottom third of the dough up to cover the ‘butter’

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Step 4 – Place the second half of the butter in slices over the top of the fold (to form another raft)

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Step 5- Fold up the bottom third as shown in progress above

Step 6 – Seal the edges using a rolling pin – cover in clingfilm and place in the fridge to chill for an hour (it stops the vegan butter going soft)

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And there you have it – book turns using Vegan butter – at this point I feel obliged to say you can make the recipe with real butter and milk and it will probably be a million times tastier……….

After the hour is up, retrieve the pastry (now it has vegan butter and folds it’s a pastry not a dough) and roll out onto a floured work surface. The idea is to get somewhere close to the original size.

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Once rolled out, fold the bottom third up and the top third down like before. Seal again and return to the fridge for 30mins – (cold hands and a cold rolling pin help a lot to stop the Vegan butter from melting and ruining the laminations)

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Repeat these further book turns another 3 times which should give you plenty of delicious laminations and ultimately a very flaky pastry.

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Once on your last “turn” you can think about making the filling. For this you will need more vegan butter, vanilla paste or extract, dark brown sugar, pecans and maple syrup.

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Start by slightly toasting the pecans for 5 mins in an oven set to 180C. Once brown, keep around a dozen back and blend the rest to form a sort of chunky pecan dust.

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In a bowl, combine the vegan butter, sugar, vanilla and the pecans. Then fold in the maple syrup to form a deliciously diabetic purée.

Now the pastry should have fully rested, remove from the fridge and divide into two to make working with it easier. Roll it out to form a large rectangle about 5mm thick. Divide this into 6 smaller rectangle which will form the pastries.

In the centre of each pastry place a line of the pecan purée and then cut a fan each side. Wet each side with a little water. It is then simply a case of overlapping the pastry to form the distinctive shape of the pastry.

Remember to pinch the pastry together otherwise it will break open. I learnt the hard way with my first batch – tasty rejects for the theatre team to eat.

With the pastries made – allow one last proof for around an hour in a coolish room before glazing with a beaten egg.

Bake at 180C fan for 20mins

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Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Then top with a little icing and some of the pecans kept from before (I’ve cheated on the icing because of timing and I had this left over from a cake bake)

 

Let’s eat.

Well there you have it – a Dairy free maple pecan danish. For the life of me I can’t understand why you could elect to eat it, but if you can have dairy for allergies then this is a pretty good alternative. It’s wonderfully flaky and very tasty – enjoy with coffee whilst slightly warm.

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Right – have to work out what’s next now…………. I’m feeling nostalgic so homemade nachos to celebrate a family trip to Vancouver I think!!

Salted Caramel Macaroons

Not only are Macaroons the basis of most Bake Off showstoppers, they are a fantastic way to bond with people. In fact if I can’t have a meaningful conversation with someone over a coffee and a macaroon, I rarely keep in touch.

Believe it or not, I’m very fussy with food. I would say till the age of 18 I had a phobia of Fruit and Veg. It’s one of the reasons I got into baking, to allow me to explore foods on my own terms. A problem arises when I go to dinner parties though. As I don’t eat the food, I get lots of concerned looks, but usually the macaroons come out and the tension dies down.

One such occasion happened a few months ago. I was at a consultants house discussing research when his cousin Jenna noticed I wasn’t eating. After the meal instead of asking if I was ok, she simply placed an espresso and a macaroon next to me. What followed I can’t fully recall, some conversation about paradox of medicine and science fiction perhaps. All I recall was the macaroon, salted caramel with a hint of chocolate for dressing.

Here is my version of that macaroon – To my knowledge Dr Coleman bought them so I can’t steal his recipe for a direct comparison.

Macaroons

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Ingredients

  • 7oz Icing sugar
  • 4oz ground almonds
  • 3 egg separated – Whites (with no yolk)
  • 2oz Caster Sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Start by taking a pretty picture of the ingredients (including the caramel ingredients) with a set of vintage scales. These were my Grans – except they’ve been repainted.

Now, combine the icing sugar and ground almonds in a bowl and mix well. Then sieve to remove any large bits of almonds, these will cause the tops of the finished macaroons to split.

In a spotless, dry bowl add the egg whites with a pinch of salt. Whisk on high-speed, as if making meringues. When they have reached firm peaks (tested by holding over your head), add the caster sugar a spoon at a time.

Fold in the almond/sugar mix to the egg whites using a large metal spoon till completely incorporated. The end result will be a light but glossy mixture which runs slowly off the spoon.

Transfer to a piping bag with approx 1cm opening and pipe the size of macaroons you want to make onto baking paper. I always thing about the size of an old penny is correct.

The next bit is important, leave them for between 15mins to 1hr to form a crust. When the outside is firm, not sticky/tacky/soft, transfer to a preheated oven at 170C and bake for 10mins.

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Remove from the oven when the tops are crisp and the bottoms dry. Leave to cool completely on the baking tray.

 

Salted Caramel Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 2oz Butter
  • 2oz  Sugar
  • 100ml Double cream
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 2oz unsalted Butter
  • 4oz Icing sugar

After weighing all the ingredients, start by heating the sugar and water till it has reduced down to produce a thick syrup with a light brown colour. Don’t stir during this period, it will act as a point of crystallisation and mean you have to start again.

Once the syrup is ready, add in the butter and cream. This bit is the part you don’t want to be stood with your face over the pan…….. it causes a lot of steam.

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After this, it’s simply a case of cooking the caramel down until a temperature of 118C is reached. At this point, it’s ready; you can add in the salt now or even a kick of vanilla, lavender or just leave it deliciously plain. Obviously I’ve added a bit of French sea salt…

Cream the unsalted butter together with the icing sugar till no lumps remain. Then add a healthy spoon of the salted caramel and a dash of double cream.

Right, all that remains is to combine 2 shells of the macaroons with a generous helping of the caramel buttercream and put the coffee on. Whilst it brews, pipe a few decorative lines of chocolate onto the top shell.

Let’s eat

So there you have it, delicious salted caramel Macaroons. Crunchy on the outside with a chewy core, the sweet filling partly offset by the bitter edge of the sea salt.

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All you need now is someone to share them with – a friendly actress usually helps.

A night at Searcys- Harissa mayo, chips and champagne

I like to think our tea room is a bit unique. Although it’s only open two days a week, the food doesn’t get rolled over. If it doesn’t sell, it gets eaten by us or given to the wildlife (foxy and badger do well). Now some argue this isn’t good for the accounts, but it’s better for the costumers and gives me loads of stuff to use for blogs. This week we had about 4 jackets left over on Sunday, so I decided to make some wedges.  The only tricky bit was what to have with them.

Well, I’m a bit of a superstitious person. If I’m test flying I give the ground team my mobile and if I’m in London I always have champagne and chips with spicy mayo at Searcys at St Pancras Station. This started when I took and passed my first surgical exam!! With results of the second exam out and a pass achieved, I thought I might give making the spicy mayo a go. It’s flavoured with harissa and amazing with chips and a glass of Verve.

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Harissa mayo

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Ingredients

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 125ml olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon White wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 teaspoon each of caraway, cumin and coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons chilli flakes
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • Jacket potatoes – for the wedges

 

Start by checking you have all the ingredients ready and also a friend on hand to help. Luckily dad’s around.

Start by separating the egg, you only need the yolk so you can either throw away the white or use it in something else. Transfer this to a bowl and gently whisk to break up.  Now the fun begins, add the oil a drop at a time and whisk till fully mixed.

 

Mayo at this point will split if you add the oil too fast and it doesn’t get incorporated. You can save it by adding another egg yolk if it does split.

Continue adding the oil a drop at a time (hence the need for dad) until the mix starts to thicken up. Then add the vinegar – it helps to stabilise the mayo.

 

Now, using your assistant again add the remaining oil in a continuous slow stream whilst frantically whisking. What results is homemade mayo – you can add some mustard, salt and pepper to make lively normal mayo or……..add harissa paste to make something special.

 

Harissa is sort of like a spicy North African ketchup alternative. It’s made by combining Caraway, Cumin and coriander seeds and gently toasting in a dry pan for a couple of minutes. These are then added to the chilli and ground up in a pestle and mortar.

 

Then add the finely chopped garlic and grind again in the trusty pestle and mortar. You can add a bit of oil to form a paste at the end.

 

All that remains is to combine the mayo with the Harissa paste and fold together.

 

Let’s eat

Make a few wedges with the left over jacket potatoes by chopping into 8 and cooking on the Aga in a bit of oil. Season with some salt and pepper.

 

Serve the wedges with a little ramekin of the mayo, a few olives and some perfectly chilled champagne (Jennie gets Verve, Alice-Moet, Holly edged towards Rothschild but when it’s just me – Pommery)

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