Baking Day 9: Puff Pastry

Soooo my “Baking Diary” is taking a bit longer than anticipated due to travel but also because I’m being discouraged from baking by my family (as always, we’re trying to lose weight T_T).

I was asked to make puff pastry from scratch because my mother had made some fresh apricot jam and she wanted something that we could bake with her jam. I’ve made croissants before (they took 3 days but it was worth it) but I have never made puff pastry so I was up for the challenge. And yes, it was a HUGE CHALLENGE! The end result was great, but would I make it from scratch again? Probably not. I think the croissants were worth more effort than the puff pastry. The puff pastry recipe I used is Bouchon Bakery’s recipe, but there are tons of recipes you can find online that probably don’t require 3 days of your time.

Day 1:

DSCF2034

The first day of the puff pastry making included mixing the dough (basically just water, a bit of a butter, flour, salt and vinegar) and making your “butter block”.

If you’ve never made a butter block before, fear not, it is easy as long as you have your workspace, a proper rolling pin and some parchment paper. You’ll also need a ruler (or measuring tape) to make sure you roll out the block into the proper proportions. The butter block required some elbow grease (there’s a lot of pounding) but it’s a nice stress reliever. It does make a ton of noise while pounding so if you have thin walls that you share with grumpy neighbors- beware.

DSCF2040

Once the dough’s been mixed, you form it into a ball and cut an “X” into it (to let it relax?) and then you have to let it rest overnight in the fridge.

DSCF2039

Dough

Day 2:

Day 2 is the most time consuming day of the 3 days it takes to make this puff pastry so I literally needed the ENTIRE day to dedicate to the puff.

I started by encasing the butter block into the dough. The dough needs to be rolled out into a 12-13″ circle. Once it’s rolled out, the butter block is put in the center, closed up, and then rolled out for the first turn.

DSCF2043DSCF2044DSCF2045

Each “turn” goes like this: Roll out the butter encased dough to a rectangle that’s approximately 24 x 9:. Fold the bottom third of the dough up as if you’re folding a letter, then fold the top third down to cover the bottom third. Turn the block 90 degrees so the dough looks like a book, making sure the opening is on the right. After each turn, I refrigerated the dough for 2 hours and I did 5 turns total.

DSCF2047DSCF2046

These “turns” are where it all became a bit tricky. I was working on a super hot day (so dumb of me) and the butter started seeping out. After looking for answers online, I read that you can add a tiny bit of flour to the “buttery” parts and just keep rolling over it. It didn’t seem to affect my end result so I guess it worked? Key takeaway point here- keep everything SUPER COLD!

Once I completed my 5 turns, I put the puff pastry in the fridge to rest overnight.

Day 3:

The final day of the puff pastry experience. I rolled out my dough slightly and divided the dough up into 3. I kept the other 2 portions in the freezer to use for a later time (the dough can keep in the freezer for up to 1 month). I rolled the remaining dough out into a rectangle and then cut little squares off of the main dough. Any squares I wasn’t going to be working with within the next 10-15 minutes, I kept in the fridge. This dough is really a PITA to work with in a hot environment since everything starts sticking.

DSCF2048

With the puff pastry dough I made: Micro Palmiers, Jam Pastries, Cheese filled pastry and a pesto, mozzarella filled pastry.

DSCF2053DSCF2056DSCF2066DSCF2068DSCF2064DSCF2074

I think my favorite were the savory pastries and the micro palmiers. I will definitely make the palmiers again with the remaining puff pastry dough.

Overall it was a fun experience making the puff pastry since I really do enjoy labor intensive cooking and baking, but I think for anybody who doesn’t have ample time on their hands, you’re better off just buying the frozen kind! Obviously the homemade one is deeeeelish and buttery and flaky, but I just don’t think it’s worth spending 3 days on! My next baking venture was going to be croissant dough but I think I’ll need to wait until the weather cools off a bit to make it! For now, I’ll be sticking to more bread baking practice.

Advertisements

Curry Pan (Japanese Curry Donut)

A not so well-known fact about Tokyo (and Japan in general) is that there are some insanely delicious bakeries scattered around the entire city. My favorite bakery is located in the neighborhood where I grew up, Azabu Juban, called Mont-Thabor. They are most famous for their milk bread which is like a buttery, milky, sweet rolled up loaf. They have a copy-cat version of it at 85 degrees bakery but it pales in comparison to the real deal.  They also have some famous French & New York bakeries/pastry shops in Tokyo such as Maison Kayser, Dominique Ansel’s, Magnolia Bakery, etc. but I prefer the bakeries that sell old school Japanese baked goods.

One of my favorite Japanese bakery items is the Curry Pan. I’ve been eating these deep fried savory delicacies for as long as I can remember and it combines two of some of my favorite food items: fried bread and curry. It’s basically a savory donut and if you’ve never had it run to your nearest Japanese (or Korean) bakery and grab one. It’s SO GOOD.

I’ve been wanting to try making curry pan for some time now and since I had made my mother’s dry curry recipe, I figured the dry curry would be the perfect filler for my very own curry pan. I first did my research by looking up the best curry pan recipes on CookPad (a Japanese recipe app/site) and watching various YouTube videos. The end result went over very well with my “test subjects” aka my family and friends. If making this recipe, I recommend using my curry recipe as the filler, or some sort of drier curry as your average Japanese curry may be too runny. The dry curry should be kept in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to make sure it’s hardened and easier to handle as a filling.

Once you have your filling prepared, you can start on your bread dough…

Ingredients
makes about 8 servings

Bread dough

  • 250g Bread Flour
  • 10g Granulated Sugar
  • 3g Salt
  • 150g Water
  • 2g Dry Yeast
  • 5g Butter

Filling

Dredging/Frying

  • 1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Vegetable Oil enough to fill your frying vessel about 4 inches

DSCF1958

Mix everything except the butter in a bowl until it is no longer “flour-y”. Flip dough onto your work surface and knead in butter and knead until smooth. It may be a little lumpy but that’s ok.

DSCF1962

Put the kneaded dough ball in a bowl and cover and let proof in a warm area for about 1 hour. After the first proof, divide the dough into 8 equal balls. Let it rest for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, divide your dry curry into 8 equal portions for your filling.

DSCF1968

Take one ball and softly pound out the gas bubbles that may have formed and roll it into an oval. Put in 1 portion of the filling in the center.

DSCF1971

Take both sides of the dough and bring them together in the middle and pinch at the top. Then pinch your way down both sides so that no filling is showing.

DSCF1974

Once you’ve pinched it all the way, roll it on your surface and shape it in a pointy oval (I’m sure there’s a name for this…). Lay it to rest seam-side down. Repeat these steps for the rest of the 7 balls.

DSCF1976

Once you’ve filled all 8 of the dough balls, set up your work station to dredge the filled dough.

DSCF1978

Dip each piece into the egg and then the panko and set it down (make sure you put it seam-side down again!).

DSCF1982

Keep the dredged pieces in a warm area and let it proof a second time for 30 minutes until they are slightly larger.

Heat up the vegetable oil to 160-170 C (320 – 338 F) and fry about 3 pieces at a time.

DSCF1985

Fry each side of the pieces until golden brown (about 6 minutes total). Sprinkle with flaky salt (optional). Serve hot!

DSCF1993

DSCF1996

Instructions

  1. Mix everything except the butter in a bowl until it is no longer “flour-y”. Flip dough onto your work surface and knead in butter and knead until smooth. It may be a little lumpy but that’s ok.
  2. Put the kneaded dough ball in a bowl and cover and let proof in a warm area for about 1 hour. After the first proof, divide the dough into 8 equal balls. Let it rest for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, divide your dry curry into 8 equal portions for your filling.
  3. Take one ball and softly pound out the gas bubbles that may have formed and roll it into an oval. Put in 1 portion of the filling in the center. Take both sides of the dough and bring them together in the middle and pinch at the top. Then pinch your way down both sides so that no filling is showing.
  4. Once you’ve pinched it all the way, roll it on your surface and shape it in a pointy oval (I’m sure there’s a name for this…). Lay it to rest seam-side down. Repeat these steps for the rest of the 7 balls.
  5. Once you’ve filled all 8 of the dough balls, set up your work station to dredge the filled dough. Dip each piece into the egg and then the panko and set it down (make sure you put it seam-side down again!).
  6. Keep the dredged pieces in a warm area and let it proof a second time for 30 minutes until they are slightly larger.
  7. Heat up the vegetable oil to 160-170 C (320 – 338 F) and fry about 3 pieces at a time.
  8. Fry each side of the pieces until golden brown (about 6 minutes total). Sprinkle with flaky salt (optional). Serve hot!

 

Japanese Dry Curry

My mother is a phenomenal cook. I know everyone says this, but I’m dead serious, she is a GREAT cook. There are certain people who just know exactly what needs to be added to a recipe to take it up a few notches and my mother is one of those people. We could make the same exact recipe and hers will always turn out better. Every time I cook, I strive to be as good as she is but I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to compete!

Growing up, my mother, aka the best cook eva, had a few dozen recipes that were in rotation as her “go-to” recipes if we couldn’t decide what to eat for dinner. One of these recipes was her Japanese dry curry. If you’ve never had Japanese dry curry before, it is most similar to a Keema curry although it tastes slightly different. The curry is spicy, slightly sweet and best served with some hot white rice. The dry curry is super easy to make and is also a great filling for Curry Pan (curry bread- recipe to come soon!). You can always customize your recipe by adding more vegetables (corn is really good in this recipe) and making it spicier or sweeter depending on what you like.

Ingredients

  • 1 Large Onion chopped coarsely
  • 1.5 Carrots chopped coarsely
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp of Curry Powder
  • 3 Tbsp of Ketchup
  • 2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • 1.5 cups of Whole Milk*
  • 1 Bouillon Cube crushed to a fine powder
  • 2 tsp Red Pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

1) In a food processor, pulse the 3 garlic cloves a couple of times and then add the coarsely chopped onion and pulse until minced. Do not overly pulverize the onions or you will extract too much liquid.

2) In a medium sized Dutch oven on medium heat, add about 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil and add the minced onion and garlic. Caramelize the garlic and onions until they become golden brown. This step may take a while. Adding a tbsp or 2 of water to the pan when the onions start to stick prevents the onions from burning.

DSCF1933

The finished caramelized onions should look like this

 

3) While caramelizing the onions and garlic, add the coarsely chopped carrots to the food processor and pulse a few times until minced. Again, do not over-pulverize the carrots.

4) Cook the vegetable mixture until the carrots have softened, and add the ground beef. Cook until the beef is no longer pink.

5) Add the curry powder and the bouillon powder into the pot and sauté with the meat and vegetable mixture for about 1 minute.

6) Add the milk (*the milk should cover the beef and vegetable mixture, if 1.5 cups is not enough add more), ketchup and worcestershire sauce (if using) and mix. Keep the curry on medium low heat and cook until the milk has evaporated. Stir every once in a while to prevent the curry from burning.

7) Once the milk has evaporated, add the red pepper flakes (if using) and salt and pepper to taste.

8) Serve hot with steamed white rice. I served ours with steamed broccoli because I like the texture of the broccoli combined with the curry 🙂

 

DSCF1955DSCF1952