25th March 2013 Helen 0Comment
I’m off to a good start with this clearing the decks! Thanks to a toddler-napping by Granny and Granda I have some unexpected time to myself so – much mentioned but never posted, here at last is my delish recipe for Almond Pastries – which look ‘sconey’ but are absolutely buttery delights!

These are great and genuinely quite simple. The pastry is the same as croissant pastry which sounds crazily complicated but which really, really isn’t. 
I made a batch back in January when we were due to visit some good friends but the night before, with the pastry and Frangipane all made up, my little one got a tummy bug so we were housebound the next day – albeit with a batch of freshly made cakes!! Desperate not to eat all of them, I googled freezing croissants / pastries and found that you can individually wrap each in tin foil and freeze them. To defrost you just  take them out and leave them to defrost at room temperature overnight before popping into a preheated oven at 180 C for four minutes.  Honestly, they come out tasting as if they were just made! Exactly what every knackered parent needs, with a strong cup of coffee, on a Saturday morning!
The receipes are pretty much based on Paul Hollywood’s one from his very amazing ‘How to Bake’ book.  Here’s the pastry recipe and instructions for the Almond ones. Danish ones will follow during the week!

NB: before you launch into these expecting pastries for elevenses be warned! As easy as these are they take time so you start them the night before you want them. So no danish-less moaning please! Why do you think I’m such a fan of freezing them!?

Almond Pastries

Starting the night before you make a batch of Danish Pastry Dough as below and then a batch of Frangipane – which you don’t need to (but can) do in advance.

Danish Pastry Dough
This is a beautifully silky dough that needs a bit of attention every hour for a few hours but then rises overnight leaving you with a sofy, easy to work dough.  The main warning I’ll give is to be neat.  You’re trying to create really thin layers of butter and pastry so make sure you seal the edges as you fold the pastry and also that you roll it in the right direction – as otherwise your butter will leak out of the pastry package. If the instructions below are confusing here’s a link to making croissants that uses a fairly similiar technique.
500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
10g salt
80g caster sugar
10g instant yeast
2 medium eggs
90ml cool water
125ml tepid full-fat milk
250g chilled unsalted butter
1. Using a mixer with a dough hook, put the flour in the bowl, add the salt and sugar on one side and the yeast on the other.
2. Add the eggs, water and milk and mix at a slow speed for 2 minutes. Mix at a medium speed for 6 minutes.
3. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball. Dust with flour and place in a clean plastic bag, in the fridge, to chill for an hour.
4. Tip the chilled dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangular shape c. 50cm x 20cm and 1cm thick.
5.  You are now going to flatten your butter.  I find it easiest to lay it between two A4 sized layers of cling film and bash it with the pin!  Whatever your method you want to get the butter to a rectangular shape roughly 2/3 the size of your dough – so c. 33x19cm.
4. Lay the butter on your dough covering the bottom 2/3 of it and making sure you come fairly close to the edge.  I do this by peeling back the cling film on one side, flipping it onto the pastry, adjusting it in place and then removing the other ‘sheet’.
5. Fold the remaining ‘unbuttered’ section over the middle section and then fold the other buttered end over that middle section – so you now have three layers of pastry with two layers of butter.  If the last fold is hard to do, make a small slice across the butter layer to create a ‘fold line’ but avoid cutting into the pastry below.  Pinch the edges all the way along to seal in the butter, like so….
Place into a clean plastic bag and put back into the fridge for an hour.
6.  Take the dough out of the bag and place it on a lightly floured surface with the short end towards you.  Roll it into a rectangle, c. 50 x 20cm and again fold each of the end sections in towards the middle. Seal the ends. Place the dough back in the plastic bag, and back in the fridge.
7. Repeat step 6 twice more always leaving an hour between turns.
8. After the last turn, repackage the dough in plastic – maing sure the bag is sealed but loose enough to allow the dough to rise (I find it easiest to use two bags – one either end, that are tucked one into the other).  Leave the dough in the fridge overnight (or for a minimum of 8 hours).  What comes out is a lovely even, silky pastry that is ready to go.
Nest you make the Frangipane – which you can do the night before or whenever you’re making the pastries as it doesn’t take long.
100g unsalted butter, softened
45g caster sugar
2 large eggs
75g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds
1 tsp almond extract
1. Mix the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, using the paddle fitting (or with an electric whisk), for c. 3 minutes.
2. Add the eggs and a heaped tablespoon of the flour and mix for another 2 minutes.
3. Add the remaining flour, baking powder, ground almond and almond extract. Mix for another 2 minutes.
The Frangipane is ready to use – or you can chill it until you need it, which makes it easy to shape.


Almond Pastries (Makes 16 – 19)
1 x quantity Danish Pastry Dough – see above
1 x quantityFrangipane – see above
flour, for dusting
200g flaked almonds
2 eggs, lightly beaten
a glaze – which can be 150g apricot or (as I use) a tablespoon of sugar dissolved in about 4 tbsp water which is brought to the boil for just a moment and taken off the heat

For an optional icing: 200g icing sugar; 2 tbsp water and the finely grates zest of one orange.

1.  Line baking trays with baking parchment / paper or silicone paper.
2. Cut the rested dough in half.  On a lightly floured surface, roll each half to a 30cm square, approximately 5mm thick.
3. Cut into pastry squares c.10cm square.  Fold the corners into the middle and press down lightly with your finger so the fold sticks.
4.  Spacing the pastries apart, place the pastries on the trays, and put each tray into a clean plastic bag, leaving to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours – or until doubled in size.
5. Heat oven to 200C.
6. Place c.1tbsp Frangipane in the middle of each risen pastry and sprinkle with almonds.  Brush with beaten egg. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until risen and golden brown.
7. Make the glaze with either a jam or sugar glaze.  For a jam glaze, mixing the apricot jam with a little water in a pan to dissolve and sieve before using.  For the sugar glaze, dissolve c. 1 tbsp sugar in 4 tbsp water and bring to the boil for a moment making sure not to let it burn.  As pastries as removed from the oven brush them with a little of your glaze and place on a wire rack to cool.
8. When cooled, brush with the orange icing, if using.
Enjoy – especially with a little dash of strawberry jam – and don’t forget to freeze any leftovers.

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