Add a puff to your pas­try

JACKIE CAMERON shares her melt­in­the­mouth de­lights for a post­sea­son sweet tooth

Weekend Witness - - Arts -

AS most peo­ple gather ki­los over the fes­tive sea­son I’m in­clined to shed weight.

This is a busy time for chefs and, while keep­ing guests well fed, the last thing on our minds is feed­ing our­selves! Yes, we taste a lot but sel­dom sit down to a real meal.

So, as we moved into Jan­uary my crav­ing was to make hearty food in my own kitchen that would ooze the aro­mas of pas­try de­lights. If I re­mem­ber cor­rectly, my love of cook­ing stemmed from my de­sire to bake some­thing sweet and pleas­ing that we, as a fam­ily, could en­joy.

Over time I have learnt the nec­es­sary tech­niques, and with many years of ex­pe­ri­ence un­der my apron, I could never re­sort to “buy­ing” over “mak­ing”.

Re­gard­less of how many times I make puff pas­try it’s al­ways thrilling to see the per­fectly lam­i­nated lay­ers of but­ter.

Re­mem­ber to bake this pas­try be­tween 200 to 220°C to en­sure the oven is hot enough to crisp the pas­try, oth­er­wise you’ll have but­ter ooz­ing out, spoil­ing all your hours of love and labour.

It re­ally is very easy if you fol­low this step­by­step recipe. Puff pas­try is versa­ tile for ei­ther sweet or savoury dishes.

A per­fectly­roasted beef Wellington wrapped with chicken­liver­flavoured mush­room dux­elle and blan­keted with hand­rolled puff is my idea of a hearty meal.

Brioche — this en­riched bread is jam­packed with a sug­ary but­ter that adds a savoury but sweet flavour. It de­liv­ers an in­ter­est­ing fine, al­most­aer­ated crumb and it freezes like a dream. If de­frosted prop­erly, your guests will think it has been newly baked! In a per­fect world I would al­ways have a loaf at my side.

Dough­nuts … Wow, they bring on childhood flash­backs! We spent ev­ery hol­i­day at our fam­ily beach cot­tage in Pennington Park. The lo­cal baker lived op­po­site us and be­fore I was even awake my younger sis­ter had walked to the bak­ery and had munched through her daily fix of a jam dough­nut.

In those days (oh dear, I sound just like my par­ents) it was safe for us to walk around, un­ac­com­pa­nied by an adult.

The dough­nuts were so mem­o­rable, and I have tried to cre­ate a recipe wor­thy of the man who thrilled our sweet teeth many years ago. The only per­son who’ll be able to tell me whether I have suc­ceeded is my dear sis­ter who, I know, will will­ingly take up the chal­lenge.

Genoise, used for mak­ing sev­eral dif­fer­ent types of cakes, is a ba­sic in­gre­di­ent for many French patis­series. I, how­ever, be­lieve it orig­i­nated in Italy. If you have a good genoise recipe you will never get stuck.

Think a flan base, in­sea­son,

fruity cream cake, drenched with liqueur; use in a tri­fle; or as ‘lady fin­ger’ bis­cuits in a tiramisu. Use less flour and add co­coa for a choco­late genoise. It’s so ver­sa­tile and well worth mem­o­ris­ing the in­gre­di­ents.

Phyllo pas­try … This is some­thing I haven’t made in years but I was re­cently in­spired when a lo­cal res­i­dent brought me a few tast­ings of her home­made Greek spe­cial­i­ties. If she could do it then so could I! Time is of the essence but the re­sult is worth it. Sweet or savoury — phyllo pas­try has a place in the kitchen.

When it came to prof­iteroles/éclairs we, as a fam­ily, were guilty of overindul­gence.

I clearly re­mem­ber the ex­cite­ment of go­ing to func­tions when my aunt, Molly Cameron, was cater­ing be­cause at dessert time the ta­bles, groan­ing with the weight, would be laden with th­ese de­light­ful treats!

For my fi­nal exam at St John’s School I made a per­fect savoury prof­ite­role/ gougere (a bite­size vari­a­tion on the long eclair) and I knew Aunt Molly would have been proud of me … Many years of per­fect­ing the art of eat­ing them gave me insight into the mak­ing. PHYLLO PAS­TRY (Makes 16 sheets) 500 g cake flour 250 ml wa­ter 1,25 ml fine salt 200 g but­ter, melted Oil Flour, for rolling Method • In a mix­ing bowl place the flour, wa­ter and salt. • With the dough­hook at­tach­ment mix on a high speed for 10 min­utes. • Re­move from the mix­ing bowl and knead by hand for another two min­utes. • Make the dough into a ball, place into a greased bowl and cover with cling wrap. • Leave to rest for two hours in the kitchen. • Then make the dough into 16 balls, about the size of a golf ball. • When you are rolling out … keep

Here’s to step­ping out of your com­fort zone and try­ing some­thing new, or per­fect­ing a skill you have been con­sid­er­ing for years — 2014 is the time for this. May it be kind to all of us … Send com­ments and foodrelated ques­tions to jackie@jack­iecameron.co.za. Visit www.jack­iecameron.co.za to find out more about my women’s chef range, Jackie Cameron Cooks At Home and all my foodie adventures. I al­ways look for­ward to hear­ing from you — phone Jackie Cameron, head chef at Hart­ford House on 033 263 2713. For the lat­est on lo­cal foodie news add me as a friend on Face­book or find me on Twit­ter @jack­ie_­cameron. As­sisted by Elaine Boshoff on recipe de­vel­op­ment and food styling. All Pho­tos taken by Karen Ed­wards Photography — 082 441 7429 or e­mail karene@bun­dunet.com. the other balls well cov­ered to en­sure they don’t dry out. • Flour your hands, rolling pin and the counter top — add flour as needed. • Us­ing your rolling pin, roll each ball as thin as you pos­si­ble, keep ro­tat­ing the dough, you can also stretch the dough, to make it thin­ner. The thin­ner the bet­ter and the more translu­cent it will be­come. You should be able to hold this up to the light and al­most see through it (this can be done on a pasta ma­chine if you have one). • Layer them on top of each other with lots of flour and bak­ing pa­per be­tween each layer. Keep aside for later use. • When us­ing: place a sheet into your dish, cover each sheet with a brush­ing of melted but­ter. • Bake at 120°C for about 30 min­utes or un­til golden, crisp and cooked.

PHOTO: KAREN ED­WARDS

Jackie Cameron.

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