It’s the second last episode of Summer Baking Secrets and we’ve saved some wonderful tips for you to bake stunning treats without sweating it out in the kitchen!
On this episode, I’ll be baking up a Paris Brest; an iconic choux pastry based dessert created in 1910 to commemorate the Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race which started in 1891. Its circular shape is said to resemble the wheel of a bicycle! Traditionally, the filling is a praline flavoured cream which can be a little tricky to make at home. So I’ve chosen to fill mine with a rosewater and berry cream base instead which is much easier to make, tastes fabulous and looks oh-so pretty. I am sometimes nicknamed the choux pastry queen as making choux pastry is one of my specialties, so I’ll be teaching you my tricks and tips in this week’s episode to get you baking crisp golden choux pastry puffs in no time. For my final touches on this dessert, I’m giving it a handful of (edible) “glitter” in the form of delicate, gossamer thin spun sugar and beautiful edible flowers. When making spun sugar at home, always make sure you have a bowl of cool water to dip your toffee making saucepan into to stop the cooking process quickly and avoid burnt toffee! But be prepared for gush of steam!
As a little girl, pears were one of my favourite fruits that I would request time and again from my dear Mum. The best way to find whether a pear is ripe enough for eating, gently push the top of the pear with the tip of your finger to see whether it is ready to eat. Since I’m such a big fan of Australian produce, I’m sure it’s of no surprise to you that I only use Australian home grown pears in my cooking. To play homage to the humble pear in this episode, I’m not only including juicy sweet diced pears in my gingerbread loaf, but topping it off with some pear crisps. I make these by thinly slicing pear, coating with a sugar syrup and drying them out in a low temperature oven. If you happen to have a dehydrator at home you could also achieve excellent results by using this! If you happen to have extras left over from your homemade pear crisps, they are fabulous for just simple snacking or they go particularly well on a cheeseboard, especially when paired with a good, ripe blue cheese.
My prawns in cartoccio is a recipe I’ve been really looking forward to. Al cartoccio is Italian for “in parchment”, meaning dishes cooked in paper, the French translation for this which you may have heard also is “en papillote”. This is a really easy culinary technique that everyone should know, as it’s not only very healthy as it requires very little additional fat, but it’s also almost zero clean up at the end. First off, you need to start with a really good quality baking paper so it doesn’t tear, I suggest Glad paper as it’s a good thickness for this application. Tear off two even sized pieces and place one on top of the other. This will help insulate your food so it doesn’t overcook, but also prevents juices from going everywhere when you remove it from the oven! Lay your protein, vegetables and a few things to add flavour (herbs, garlic, seasoning), drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and wrap carefully (see above). Place in the oven and bake until your protein is cooked. Place on a plate and unveil – enjoy the aroma that wafts from your “cartoccio”!
One of the great things about summer is ripe, red tomatoes, full of juice and flavour – sun ripened of course! This tart celebrates a wide range of them, so try to buy a good bunch of mixed tomatoes to give some flavour and colour variance to your tart. However, if you can’t, one variety is still perfectly acceptable and delicious. I roast my tomatoes a little in the oven before placing them on the tart. This helps evaporate some of the water in the tomatoes so you don’t end up with a soggy base, and also helps concentrate the tomato flavour by reducing the water content in the tomato itself, resulting in a super flavoursome tart. This one is just perfect for afternoon tea, picnics or even for an elegant entrée to serve at your next dinner party! I’ve even made them into minis!
I hope you enjoy this episode of Summer Baking Secrets.