I’ve had the week off last week to recharge and reboot. It’s surprisingly hard to do absolutely nothing when life normally racing past at speed but I really needed to. Cue not going out, pyjama wearing all day long, not brushing my hair and trying to make up for all the water I don’t get chance to drink when I’m in work. There’s been some pottering about the house (occasionally) doing chores but mostly, I’ve curled up in a chair and read.
Full bodied immersion in my cookbooks, favourite magazines and much blog reading has been pretty much all I’ve had the energy for and it’s filled me full of inspiration and ideas, especially in the kitchen. I do love a daydream and the one of when I was dating Hungry Hubby, we’d often buy croissants or danishes in to eat on a Saturday morning snuggled up tight on the couch, probably watching cartoons like Pokemon or Harry and his Bucket Full of Dinosaurs before embarking on our weekend.
Well, we were teenagers back then (with the mental age of about 10)… not to mention a 15 year younger metabolism but let’s not dwell on the calories and instead rejoice in the delight of a sweet weekend wake up call!
Besides having an all butter croissant with some eggs and baked beans for our brunch, we’d occasionally buy almond croissant hot off the shelf of the bakery counter in a local supermarket. Hungry Hubby just loved them – probably as the frangipane filling is very reminiscent of his all-time favourite bakewell tarts. Now, real croissant pastry is actually a laminated yeasted dough, not just straightforward puff but you can get a very satisfactory effect with it for a fraction of the time.
It also has the benefit of not having any sugar so the final result isn’t as sickly sweet as the store-bought versions. Seeing as I recently shared my own puff pastry recipe with you, I wanted to try and tempt you to try it yourself with these beautiful little pastries.
You can rustle up these start to finish in just 30 minutes. That is if you have already made the pastry and stored it in your fridge or freezer. Of course, you can buy it if you really don’t have the time for homemade puff but please don’t put it off because you think it is difficult, as it’s very straightforward. The end result is flaky but soft in the centre with just enough sweetness.
If you were wanting to use the more authentic laminated dough, you get a much richer, softer bellied and sweeter pastry with a crisp outside rather than leaf after leaf of puff pastry flakiness. It just takes a lot longer and sometimes, you just need to roll out of bed, to the coffee pot then find yourself next to a basket of still warm breakfast pastries.
- 350 g chilled puff pastry
- 25 g ground almonds
- 25 g soft butter
- 1 small egg separated
- 40 g caster sugar
- 1-2 drops almond extract
- 1-2 tbsp flaked almonds
- 1-2 tbsp icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Make the frangipane by beating the ground almonds, butter, caster sugar, almond extract and the yolk only of the egg to make a thick paste. Reserve the egg white for now in a small bowl.
Roll out your pastry to a rectangle about 12×14 inches in size using as little extra flour as you can. You don’t need to be exact just don’t roll your pastry too thin – around 5 mm is ideal.
Trim the edges to get them square and reveal the layers of puff. Cut 5 long triangles out of the rectangle, gently bringing the trimmings together and rolling out to a rectangle, again just trimming off a tiny amount to neaten up. This one will be the cook’s perk – as long as you didn’t handle it too much, it should puff almost as well as the triangular ones.
Spread the cut out shapes with the frangipane leaving 2-3mm gap around all edges and on the triangles, stop short of the top 2inches or so to help get a seal and neat finish when you roll up.
Starting at the widest edge, roll up the croissant keeping a little tension on the pastry. Don’t stretch it or this will hamper the rise on baking. Classically, almond croissants are left straight whereas plain, all butter ones are curved into that “crab” like shape.
Beat the reserved egg white till frothy then brush the croissants trying not to drip down the cut edges, again as this would impair the rise. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden and well risen.If any frangipane has escaped on baking, loosen with a palette knife and trim away as it will catch in the hot oven and be bitter to taste.
Transfer to a rack and dust heavily with icing sugar before serving.