Feuillettés with Berries & Cream {ModBak}

For the Puff Pastry section of the Modern Baker Challenge, I’ve decided to take a more organized approach to baking and posting the recipes. In previous sections, I made the recipes roughly in order (although not always) and wrote and published posts as I finished each recipe. As a result, I would often publish several recipes in a row over the course of a few days and would usually finish the section well before the end of the allotted time frame.

At the beginning of the month, as we moved into the Puff Pastry section, I decided to institute “Modern Baker Mondays”. As the name implies, I’ll be posting the recipes on Mondays. I’m going to post one per week, in the order the recipes appear in the book, regardless of when and in what order I actually bake them.

This week’s Modern Baker Mondays offering is the last in a series of sweet mille-feuille, which included chocolate-filled Napoleons and raspberry mille-feuille. The feuillettés are similar to the raspberry mille-feuille, the main differences being size (the feuillettés are mini mille-feuille) and the use of crème anglaise instead of pastry cream.

The feuillettés are comprised of four components — crème anglaise, macerated berries, whipped cream, and disks cut from a baked pastry layer.

Crème anglaise

 Making the crème anglaise is the most time-consuming part, but it’s not difficult. And it’s so good, you may find yourself making it again to use for other things, like berries and cream or crème anglaise ice cream.

Once everything is prepared, it’s just a matter of putting the feuillettés together. This simply involves layering pastry disks, whipped cream, berries, and crème anglaise. So easy a child could do it. Really.

Feuillettés, some assembly required

 We had fun putting these together, and even more fun eating them.

Feuillettés with berries and cream

 This was a simple, stunning, and delicious dessert. It would make the perfect finish to a summer dinner party.

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Raspberry Mille Feuille {ModBak}

This week’s recipe for the Modern Baker Challenge is raspberry mille feuille, a light, creamy, custardy dessert. 

Mille feuille (pronounced “meel fwee”) is French for “thousand leaves”, a reference to the many-layered puff pastry that forms the base of this dessert. Like the Napoleons that I made recently, the mille feuille is made with a baked pastry layer. In this case, the filling is a vanilla custard layered with raspberries and whipped cream.

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned my love for King Arthur’s pastry cream mix and noted that I generally use it whenever a recipe calls for pastry cream. This time, however, I decided to follow Nick’s recipe and make my own pastry cream. The recipe called for milk, sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks, butter, and vanilla. It came together quickly and made a delicious pastry cream.

I covered the pastry cream and refrigerated it overnight. The next day, I baked and cooled a pastry layer, whipped some cream, and set about assembling the dessert.

For the baked layers, I cut the puffed pastry into three circles. The recipe called for 9-inch disks, but I made mine smaller, as I was scaling the recipe down.

With my pastry circles, homemade whipped cream, raspberries, and pastry cream at the ready, assembling the mille feuille was a breeze.

I began by putting a dollop of pastry cream on a plate.

I covered the cream with a pastry disk.

Since I would be serving the mille feuille on the same plate, I slid pieces of waxed paper under the disk to keep the plate clean. I covered the pastry layer with pastry cream,…

…added raspberries,…

…then spread whipped cream over the berries.

I repeated the layering and finished with the third baked pastry disk.

Then I compressed the mille feuille, smoothed the filling around the edges, and pressed crushed pieces of pastry dough around the outside.

When I was ready to serve the mille feuille, I topped it with a bit of whipped cream and some raspberries.

The scaled down version, for which I used half recipes each of the pastry cream and whipped cream, yielded six generous servings.

We really enjoyed this dessert. My father-in-law, who happened to drop by while I was putting it together, raved about it. It was easy to assemble, and the results were both visually stunning and delicious. 

This was another over-the-top dessert from The Modern Baker that can make any home cook look like a professional pastry chef. If you don’t have this book on your cookbook shelf, you’re really missing out.

Neapolitan Easter Pie {ModBak}

After the simple and stunning chocolate orange hazelnut tart, the next recipe I made from the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of the Modern Baker Challenge was Neapolitan Easter pie. I really wasn’t all that excited to make this one, and Margaret’s lack of enthusiasm when she made it didn’t help matters any.

The recipe called for white wheat berries, which is an ingredient I don’t keep in my panty and didn’t want to buy just for this pie. The instructions give several substitutions for the wheat berries, one of which is rice. I happened to be making basmati rice for dinner the night before I made the pie, so I made some extra rice to use in the pie.

The recipe also calls for pastry cream and provides instructions to make it. Given my lack of enthusiasm for this recipe, I decided to take a shortcut and use pastry cream mix from King Arthur Flour. Although, truth be told, I almost always use the King Arthur mix when a recipe calls for pastry cream. It’s quick and easy to mix up, and it’s absolutely delicious.

After making the pasty cream, I whisked in ricotta cheese, sugar, and eggs, then stirred in orange flower water, candied orange peel, and the rice. I scraped the filling into a crust made with sweet tart dough.

I topped the pie with strips of dough arranged in a lattice pattern.

Yeah, that cinnamon was supposed to go on top of the pie before the crust

 I baked the pie at 350°F for about 40 minutes, until the crust was baked through and the filling set and slightly puffed up.

It smelled good coming out of the oven and reminded me of a custard pie my mom used to make when I was younger.

I enjoyed the pie more than I thought I might. The flavor was similar to custard pie, and the orange peel and flower water added a bright, citrus note. The rice gave it a texture similar to rice pudding and helped the filling hold up well to the crust. It was especially good served just a little on the warm side (the same way I like my pudding).

So, overall, this pie was a pleasant surprise. That said, I doubt that I’ll make it again. Unless, perhaps, one of my daughters dates an Italian guy. And I’ve got a few years before I need to worry about that. Not enough. But a few.

Parisian Fruit Tarts {ModBak}

This is the first tart recipe in the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of The Modern Baker, and although I generally bake the Challenge recipes roughly in order, this was actually the 11th recipe I made from this section. We started baking from this section at the beginning of April, and I wanted to wait until the fruit at the grocery was a bit nicer looking before I made this tart.

This tart has three components — crust, pastry cream, and fruit filling. Each one is fairly easy to put together. The recipe calls for press-in cookie dough for the crusts, so that’s what I used. Based on my previous experience with this crust recipe, I refrigerated the dough before pressing it into 4 1/2-inch tart pans. The chilled dough is much easier to work with, and chilling some of the dough while working with the rest keeps it firm enough to handle. I baked the crusts for about 15 minutes at 350°F until the crusts were nicely browned and baked through.

The tart recipe includes a recipe for pastry cream, but I decided to take a shortcut and use King Arthur Flour pastry cream filling mix, which makes a rich, delicious pastry cream with no cooking or fuss.

The fruit was also very easy to prepare. I made an apricot glaze by boiling strained apricot preserves and water, then reducing it by about one-third. While the glaze was cooling, I washed, peeled, and sliced the fruit — kiwi, mango, blueberries, and blackberries. I had wanted to use fresh pineapple and strawberries, too, but I bought them too early and they weren’t in the best shape by the time I made the tarts.

After layering the fruit in a bowl, I poured in the glaze, then mixed it all gently with a rubber spatula. To assemble the tarts, I spread a layer of pastry cream in the shells, then piled on the fruit.

We absolutely loved these tarts. The crunchy cookie dough, creamy filling, and sweet-tart fruit all worked perfectly together. I will definitely be making these again and again for my family and friends. And since you can use any mixture of fruit you want, the possibilities are endless.

If you grew up eating “fruit pizza” made with canned sugar cookie dough and cream cheese filling, you owe it to yourself to try the real thing. You’ll be amazed at how easy these stunning and delicious tarts are to prepare. You could also make this as a single large tart, like my friend Abby did, to take to a party or carry-in dinner.

Either way, I guarantee it will make more of an impression than fruit pizza.

Bavarian Cream Cheese King Cake {Recipe}

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange oil or extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil or extract 
  • 1 pecan half, uncooked dried bean or King Cake Baby

Bavarian Cream Cheese Filling:

Glaze:

  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange oil or extract 
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Purple, green and gold sugar crystals

Directions

Combine the yeast, flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and lemon rind in mixer bowl and add water, warm milk, butter,  egg yolks, and orange and lemon oils. Beat with dough hook on speed 1 for 2 minutes until smooth. Increase speed to 2 and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic (6-8 minutes). Place the dough in a well-greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top.

Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into three pieces of equal weight, and preshape each piece into a batard. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. 

Roll each batard into a rope, about 30 inches long. If the dough springs back too much, allow it to rest for 5 minutes and continue rolling. Lay the ropes vertically side-by-side with one end near the edge and the other toward the back of the counter. Numbering the ropes 1-3 from left to right, lift the end of rope 3 closest to you and lay it over the center of rope 2. Do the same with rope 1, lifting it and placing over center of rope 3, which is now in the center. Continue braiding, alternating between the right and left sides, until you reach the end. Press the ends together, then rotate the dough 180 degrees, so the unbraided sides are again facing you. Braid as above, this time moving the outside pieces under the center, until all the dough is braided. Press the ends together.

Place the braided dough on a buttered baking sheet. Shape into an oval, pinching ends together to seal. Press the King Cake Baby, pecan half or dried bean into the dough from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough.

Prepare filling ingredients by beating cream cheese on high speed until smooth. Add remaining ingredients, mix on low until combined, then on high for 2 minutes. Spoon filling into piping bag fitted with large tip. Fill King Cake by piping Bavarian cream into crevices in braid.

Cover with a floured towel or plastic wrap sprayed with pan oil, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the cake to a rack and allow to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the ingredients and beat until smooth. To assemble, drizzle cake with the glaze. Sprinkle with sugar crystals, alternating colors.

Be sure to check out my classic King Cake recipe, too.