Sunday 6 October 2013

Croissant Crown (via Chelsea!)

When you make croissants, it's almost inevitable that you'll have some leftover dough. You can't really use it again to make croissants as you've rolled it out so many times and it's lost all form, so I like to freeze it to be used in another way at some further point.

On this occasion, I decided to use up some ingredients kicking around in the blackbird cake cupboard. Amongst other things, I found a small amount of raisins and half a bag of chocolate chips. So I defrosted some croissant dough, convinced the kids to help and thought about a different take on Chelsea Buns.

I've never made Chelsea Buns, always wanted to, so I grabbed Dan Stevens wonderful 'Bread' book and followed his recipe, with a few variations thrown in.

I also decided that I would prove and bake the dough in a crown shape, using a 20cm round tin, which I use for our focaccia crowns and adds a nice twist to the end product.

Croissant Crown recipe

400g croissant dough, defrosted
(If you haven't got any croissant dough, combine 400g strong white bread flour, 45g caster sugar, 5g easy bake dried yeast, 7 g salt, 135ml warm milk, 200g butter and 1 egg in a bowl. Mix to a dough  knead for 5 mins, put back in the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove for 1 hour).

For the filling
20g butter, melted
75g caster sugar
50g chocoalte chips
50g raisins

For the glaze
5g butter, melted
10g caster sugar

Line, or brush with melted butter, a 20 cm round tin.

Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a floured surface to a rectangle shape approx 50x40cm.
Brush the butter on the dough, leaving a small gap across the top of the dough. Scatter the choc chips, raisins and sugar on the dough, again leaving the top margin clear but filling the dough right to the edges with ingredients. Press the choc chips and raisins into the dough.

Starting with the edge closest to you, roll up the dough to make a long sausage and seal the top of the dough with a sprinkle of water. Gently roll it forming a seam under the dough.

Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into 12 (quite small) pieces. Place each piece into the round tin and gently press down upon them. It's a bit of a squeeze!

Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for 45 mins. Switch the oven onto 200C.

After 45 mins, glaze with the melted butter and scatter the sugar over the top of the dough. Then place into the oven for 10 mins at 200C.

After 10 mins, lower the oven to 170C and revolve the tin by 180 degrees. Bake for a further 7-10 mins, although keep an eye on it as you don't want it to burn!

Leave to cool for 10 mins then carefully, using a palette knife, remove from the tin, or, if you're like me, take one piece to taste, then remove the rest!

The taste is heavenly. The croissant dough has puffed up, the chocolate chips are oozing, the raisins are plump and the sugar has caramelised! Yum! My lot had it for pudding and this is how it looks now!

Wednesday 2 October 2013

British Egg Week

Our friends at Garden Trading mentioned that this week is British Egg Week. Now we love an egg in the Blackbird nest. Whether it’s making its way into an enriched dough, being whisked into a lemon drizzle, glazing a croissant or turning up in an omelette for a quick tea – eggs are a staple of our business and personal life.
We got to thinking of egg meets bread combinations to celebrate the week. It seemed to us the best contender is French toast. 

A true meeting of two ingredients - not all about the bread or all about the egg. I have to confess, I’ve never really understood the distinction between French toast, eggy bread and pain perdu – perhaps there isn’t one and it comes down to personal taste what you call it or what bread you use.
Waking up to an autumn morning with a little chill in the air, this seemed an ideal breakfast to fill the tummies of the little Blackbird chicks. So here’s our version.

French toast
Good knob of butter
Four slices of bread (whatever you have to hand, ours was a bloomer sliced quite thickly)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of milk (or thereabouts – it’s early in the morning, leave the precise baking for later!)
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon
Icing sugar to sprinkle over

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the butter.

Crack the eggs into a bowl wide enough for you to dunk the bread in. Whisk the eggs then add the milk and cinnamon and whisk again.

Dip each piece of bread in the egg mix on both sides so it has a good coating and the egg mixture soaks into the bread a little.

When the butter in the pan is melted and a little frothy, add the egg-soaked bread. Let it brown a little before turning over.

When the bread is browned all over, transfer to a plate and give it a dusting of icing sugar.

We had ours will a little syrup, but I was thinking a compote of autumn fruits, like blackberries would be lovely with it, alongside some cr̬me fraiche Рto continue the Gallic theme!