Friday, 23 August 2013

Cream Cheese Croissants and The Elusive Cronut

I'm sure by now you've heard about Chef Dominique Ansel's trademarked Cronut. The croissant-like doughnut that's fried, filled and glazed. All the hype suggests they'll be the next big thing and I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing similar creations popping up at bakeries and markets, giving cupcake and macaron makers a run for their money. Curious myself, I've created is a simple (perhaps bastardised) croissant dough and doughnut inspired by Chef Ansel's famous Cronut and had some delicious results.

First up the dough. Looking for simplicity, I used the Mother Dough recipe from Christina Tosi's Momofuku Milk Bar. This is such an easy dough to bring together and it's more than likely you have the ingredients on hand as it's just  flour, water, salt and active dry yeast. The croissant's airy layers are created by laminating (rolling and folding) the dough with an unorthodox mixture of cream cheese and butter. The cream cheese imparts a slight sourness to the pastry that will compliment your chosen embellishment be it sweet or savory. I tried mine with home made peach jam, another with a dusting of icing sugar and a croissant classic, ham and cheese.

I know making your own croissant dough can sound daunting but don't let this recipe intimidate you. For success, I've broken the method down into manageable steps that can be completed over a several days. As for cronuts, deep fried croissant dough is just as decadent and indulgent as it sounds and is well worth the effort.


Cream Cheese Croissant Dough

Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar's Kimchi and Blue Cheese Croissants.

Notes: Milk Bar's recipe is worth the read as it has some really good tips on laminating the dough, much more than I was able to cover here. If your feeling adventurous steps listed under Day 1, 2 and 3 can definitely be done in a single day.


275g  Plain Flour
1 tsp  Salt
2g  Active Dry Yeast
185ml  Warm Water
Vegetable Oil

Butter Mixture
115g  Butter, room temperature
100g  Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/2 tsp  Salt
1 tbsp  Brown Sugar

1  Egg, for glazing


Day 1
Prepare the mother dough and butter mixture. For the mother dough combine the flour, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the water and using a dough hook mix on low speed for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer up to the next speed and mix for a further 4 minutes or until the dough is smooth and silky. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to proof at room temperature for 45 minutes.The dough can now be stored in the fridge for up to three days until your ready to tackle Day 2.

For the butter mixture combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Place the butter between two pieces of grease proof paper and flatten into a rough 10x15cm pad. Leaving the paper on, transfer to the fridge to firm up until ready to use.

Day 2
Take the dough out of the fridge and let stand for 40 minutes to come to room temperature. Punch down the dough, dust your work surface lightly with flour, and role out the dough into a rough 20x30cm rectangle. Place the butter pad on one half of the rolled dough. Fold the dough over to cover the butter and pinch the edges closed. Let sit, covered, for 10 minutes.

Working on a lightly dusted work surface, gently roll out the dough into a 20x30cm rectangle. Create a 'double book' turn fold by folding in the short edges over 1/4 of the dough, fold over another 1/4 so the first fold meets in the middle. Then 'close' the book, by folding one short edge over the other. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and return to the fridge for 30 minutes to rest. Repeat the rolling and folding steps at least two more times to ensure nice flaky layers. Return the dough to the fridge until ready to use.

The following diagram shows a cross section of how a double book turn fold is created.

Day 3
Take the dough out of the fridge and rest for 10 minutes. Working on a lightly dusted work surface, gently roll out the dough into a 20x30cm rectangle. To make croissants, cut the dough into triangles 20cm long and about 10cm wide. To make the crescent shape start from the wide end of the triangle and carefully roll the dough towards the pointy end, gently stretching the dough widthwise and lengthwise as you go. Place on a baking tray leaving plenty of room between the croissants. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to double in size.

Heat the oven to oven to 190°. Whisk the egg with 1/2 tsp of water and generously coat the croissants with a pastry brush. Bake the croissants for about 25 minutes until flaky and golden. They are best eaten the same day as baking but also tasty when reheated or toasted. 


To make doughnuts, roll the dough out as described under Day 3. Using cookie cutters cut circles and wholes to form the doughnuts. Cover the doughnuts loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to double in size. Deep fry the doughnuts in a vegetable oil that's about 180-190°. When cool dust with icing sugar or glaze with your choice of icing. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

ANZAC Cookies

With ANZAC day tomorrow I thought it would be appropriate to whip up some ANZAC cookies. These were one of my favourite cookies to bake as a kid. There was no waiting for butter to come to room temperature, no eggs, and no creaming of butter and sugar. I just wanted hot buttery cookies as soon as possible. 

For ANZAC's you simply gather your dry ingredients, mix up your wet ingredients and combine. They're that easy. Oh, and it's a bit of fun watching the syrup bubble up and fizz like a mini volcano when you add the bi-carb soda.

This particular recipe results in a chewy golden brown cookie with that desirable sweet salty bite from the addition of bi-carb soda. If you like crispy cookies just bake a little bit longer than recommended below. Remember to watch your cookies carefully towards the end of baking as they tend to burn very quickly and will continue to cook on the tray once removed from the oven. 

How do you like your cookies - soft and chewy or hard and crispy?

Recipe: ANZAC Cookies

Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine Dec/Jan 2013
Makes 13 large cookies
Oven Temp: 160°


2 cups rolled oats
1 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup golden syrup
125g butter
1 tsp bi-carb soda
2 tbsp boiling water

  1. In a large bowl combine oats, flour, sugar and coconut.
  2. Place butter and golden syrup in a saucepan. Melt over low heat stirring occasionally.
  3. Combine bi-carb soda and water and stir into butter and syrup. The mixture will froth up quickly. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  4. Spoon mixture onto prepared trays and flatten slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes (for large cookies) or until lightly golden. Allow to cool on the trays for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Ensure you give the cookies plenty of space on the tray as they tend to spread. 
  • I usually weigh all my ingredients but didn't in this case to keep things simple.
  • I used a 2" (5.5cm) cookie scoop to make 'large' cookies.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Apple Almond Spice Cake and Some Bundt Cake Tips and Tricks

The apple season is coming to an end at Old Farm New Farm with only some of the late season varieties still on the trees, namely red delicious and granny smith. I'd been ignoring the red delicious as they tend to be quite thick skinned and floury, and definitely my least favorite on the farm. However, on tasting a couple I was a bit surprised at how nice they actually were this season. They had quite an enjoyable mellow flavour and a notable almondy character. 

Though red delicious aren't traditionally a cooking apple I used them in this recipe as I was looking for an apple that was going to break down easily through the cooking process. And having already baked to many apple cakes this season I wanted a cake that wasn't immediately recognisable as apple and thought the lack of acidity in the red delicious would help hide the apple in this apple cake. 

Inspired by classic tea cakes I used cinnamon for spice and almond liquor to enhance the almond notes of the red delicious. The almond meal and grated apple added texture and moisture. The apple all but disappeared resulting in a cake with a very moist and delicate crumb. The most notable quote from the testers was 'Delicious!'.

Recipe: Apple Almond Spice Cake 

Oven Temp: 180°

Equipment: I used a Nordic Ware 6 cup Bundt tin


150g Cake Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
60g Almond Meal
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
200g Sugar
125g Butter
1 Egg
170g Apple - Peeled, cored and grated
1/2 tsp Lemon Zest
1 tbsp Amaretto (almond liquor)
125ml (1/2c) Milk

  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and almond meal. set aside. 
  2. In a separate bowl cream butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes. Add egg and continue creaming until homogenized and fluffy. Stir in Amaretto, apple and lemon rind.
  3. Add flour mixture and milk. Stir briefly to combine.
  4. Pour into a prepared bundt tin* and smooth out the surface. Bake for around 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  5. Invert cake*, cool and serve withing a dusting of icing sugar.
*See Tips below

Bundt Tin Tips and Tricks
  1. To ensure your cake doesn't stick to the tin carefully grease or spray your tin getting into all the nooks and crannies. Then lightly dust with flour, tapping out any excess.
  2. After taking the cake out of the oven releasing the cake is make or break. To increase your odds of a good release, wait about 5 minutes before trying to invert the cake. This window allows the cake to 'set' so it doesn't break apart but don't wait to long as as it cools the sugars harden and will stick to the pan. 
  3. Another tip to help release your cake is to gently push the cake away from the sides of the tin with a small plastic spatula before inverting. 
  4. When cleaning your bundt tin don't use anything abrasive, warm soapy water should do the trick.