Our cookery writer and former Great British Bake Off competitor Kate Barmby has created a real autumnal treat with her walnut frangipane twists.
Nutty recipe with a walnut twist
As children during the autumn months, my brother, my sister and I used to go to school looking like we’d been chain-smokers for 60 years because our hands were permanently stained a revolting yellow. This was not, in fact, due to a tobacco habit, but instead the result of a far more wholesome activity – walnut gathering! There were two large walnut trees in our farmhouse garden and we used to spend hours peeling the acrid green casings to get to the nuts within. I used to be quite proud of my hands ‘gilded’ as a result of my labours. I have always loved the bitter-sweet taste of walnuts and now my own little squirrel, Rebecca, is equally fond of them. I have developed these pastries as a way of passing on my memories of my childhood to my youngest daughter, Rebecca (my other daughter, Lucy, can’t stand walnuts). I have layered slices of English pears sprinkled with chopped walnuts on top of a walnut frangipane on Danish pastry dough that has been twisted to resemble a walnut shell. Once baked the pastries are glazed with warm East Anglian honey. If you are short of time, these pastries also work well with shopbought puff pastry.
Kate’s beautiful seasonal walnut frangipane twists. WALNUT FRANGIPANE TWISTS
This will make double the amount of dough you require but it’s easier to make a larger quantity and freeze half of it for another day. The extra dough can be used to make croissants, pain au chocolate or you could try making pastries with your own favourite fillings.
625g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting 1tsp salt 75g chilled unsalted butter 10g Doves Farm Fast Action Yeast 75g caster sugar 200g cold full-fat milk 3 large eggs A further 450g chilled unsalted butter ( Or alternatively use a shop-bought puff pastry)
115g walnuts 115g caster sugar 115g icing sugar 2 large egg yolks
2– 3 English pears Juice of a lemon 100g walnuts Honey to glaze
1 Put flour and salt into bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Use your hand to distribute salt through the flour. Add 75g of butter cut into cubes, and rub into flour.
2 Once incorporated add yeast and caster sugar. Again distribute these through the flour, then place bowl on stand mixer.
3 Add eggs to jug containing milk. Mix briefly with a fork.
4 With mixer running slowly, gradually add milk and eggs mix and continue mixing to a soft dough ( about six minutes). Scrape this soft mix down from the sides a couple of times during this process. The dough will not come together as a smooth ball in the mixer; tip it on to a floured surface and knead briefly until it is smooth. I use a mixer and try to avoid handling the dough too much as I don’t want to melt the butter with the warmth of my hands.
5 Put dough in a large, tall plastic box ( I use a five-litre) and leave at room temperature for half an hour.
6 Grind walnuts in a food processor fitted with a chopping blade until they are very fine. Then add caster sugar and icing sugar and continue to process until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
7 Add egg yolks and process until a soft dough is formed. Tip out dough on to the work surface and briefly knead into a smooth ball. Wrap the ball of walnut frangipane in clingfilm and put to one side.
8 Peel and core pears and cut each one into 18 wedges. Toss these wedges in a bowl with lemon juice to prevent discolouring.
9 Roll dough into a square approx 50cm x 50cm. Arrange slices of chilled butter into a square between two sheets of baking parchment. Bash and roll the butter into a square approximately 30cm x 30 cm. Peel off the top sheet of parchment and place butter on to dough at 45 degree angle, so it forms a smaller diamond inside the square.
10 Fold corners of dough over the butter. Seal joints by gently pressing out any air as you go.
11 Gently roll out the dough into a rectangle, being careful not to expose the butter. Regularly free dough from surface during rolling.
12 When the rectangle is about 60cm long, fold a short end into the centre and the other end over that ( folding the rectangle into three). Wrap dough in clingfilm and leave to rest in fridge.
13 Roll and fold the dough three more times, turning it through 90 degrees each time. Return dough to fridge for 15 minutes between each fold. The dough will be ready when it looks even and smooth and feels silky.
Shape the dough
14 Pre-heat oven to 200C ( fan). 15 Roll dough into a large rectangle approximately 5mm thick. Use an 11cm pastry cutter to cut out 12 rounds.
16 In centre of each round place 30g flattened oval of walnut frangipane. On either side of frangipane use a sharp knife to cut a 1cm strip from edge of the dough. Do not join up the cuts. Lift the C-shaped strips over walnut frangipane, crossing them over to form twist. Push three slices of pear into frangipane, arranged lengthways.
17 Place pastries on three heavy baking sheets and leave to prove for about 20 minutes.
18 Brush puffy pastries with beaten egg and sprinkle centres with chopped walnuts.
19 Bake in pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes, until risen and golden brown.
20 Warm jar of honey with lid removed in microwave for a minute on full power, then stir.
21 Once baked, put pastries on cooling rack to cool slightly.
22 While pastries are still warm to touch, brush them all over with warm honey.
A perfect treat - Kate Barmby’s walnut frangipane twists.
Lay the sheet of butter on to the rolled out dough.
Fold the dough to create an envelope around the butter.
Folding over the dough is an important part of the process.
Carefully ease the edge of the dough across the circle to form a nest around the frangipane.
Sprinkle chopped walnut pieces over the pears.
Cut out large circles of pastry.
Cut a slice into the dough on either side of the circle.