Posts Tagged 'pastry'

Hertzog cookies

Please don’t get me wrong, I love Australia. But when I’m walking down the street and I hear a South African accent, I realise just how much I miss home. I’m not sure if I miss the lifestyle I had there; but I miss my friends and family, and that feeling of “familiar”. We moved around a bit as a kid, so in total I have grown up in three towns and lived in three countries, and yesterday I had a minor crisis that I might end up forgetting my roots.

But really, the South African in me is as strong as ever! I speak Afrikaans to Frank quite often (and he has the grace to nod and give me what he thinks is the correct answer, even though he doesn’t speak the language. Although I think he nods and gives what he thinks is the answer whether I’m speaking Afrikaans or English…) and I regularly lapse into South African expressions, which tends to cause a bit of confusion. For example:
– Loll to Frank: “wow, he’s not the brightest khoki in the box, is he?”
– Frank to Loll: “yep, he definitely isn’t the brightest cookie in the box.”
At which point I was on the floor laughing at the fact that Frank thought I was just saying “cookie” in an Afrikaans accent! (For those who aren’t South African, a khoki is a felt-tipped pen.)

So, to celebrate our rich South African culture (and to make Frank a little chubby), I decided to make something I haven’t eaten in years: Hertzog cookies. These jam and coconut tartlets are known as Hertzog koekies in South Africa, and are part of every South African housewife’s traditional recipe collection. They were named after General J.B.M. Hertzog, prime minister of the South African Union in 1924.
These cookies are fairly easy to make, and taste amazing. I’m going to make another batch as soon as I can!

Hertzog cookies – recipe from Margaret Ramsbottom’s “Cooking is fun”

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 cup castor sugar
125g margarine/butter, softened
3 large eggs, separated
4 tbsp water
½ cup apricot jam
1 1/4 cup white sugar
2 cups desiccated coconut

Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan-forced
Sift Flour, baking powder and salt together. Add castor sugar and rub in butter.
Beat egg yolks and water together and add to dry ingredients, mixing to a soft dough.

Roll dough out thinly and press out circles. Line a greased muffin tin with circles. (I used a mini-muffin tin, but it’s best to use a mince-pie/patty pan tin)

Spoon a teaspoonful of apricot jam into middle of each circle.

Beat egg whites until soft peak stage. Add the white sugar slowly, while still beating. Fold in coconut and spoon the egg mixture onto the preserves.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes
Turn carefully onto a wire rack to cool.


Tasty cinnamon schnecken

Frank and I consider ourselves lovers of the German language. Since before I can remember we’ve been saying ‘no’ in German instead of English (causing my niece to ask Frank: “what does nein mean?” quite frequently) and often call each other schweinehund. (Pig-dog. Apparently this is incredibly insulting when said to a German person, but we mean it in an affectionate way. The same way my old boss calls me Numbnuts) I can understand a small amount of written German, Frank loves German beer, and I work for a German company. Germany is also one of those beautiful European countries that most of the UK hasn’t considered visiting yet, but that I have visited more than any other country. So I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when I found a recipe for German pastries!

Until I went back and looked at the recipe this morning, I thought that these amazing little pastries were called schenken. And despite knowing that a pig in German is a schwein, I was convinced that a boar in German is a schenken. So I sat for ages wondering why these scrolls would be called boars even though Nigella said they were called snails. Turns out my German isn’t as good as I thought, and there is no such thing as schenken! But it certainly makes sense why these pastries are called snails…

Frank was out on Saturday, so I spent the day in the kitchen. When he got home the schnecken were bubbling away in the oven. Having smelled cinnamony goodness and looked at me with a query I told him I was baking schnecken. To which he responded: “ah, delicious” without even seeing what was in there. I had to ask, “do you know what schnecken are?”, and true to form Frank answered “no, but it sounds delicious!”. (When he was told they are snails he looked less than pleased, but loved them when they came out and landed in his belly!)

This recipe was fantastically simple and straight-forward. The dough takes awhile to rise, but other than that the recipe was quick and rather delicious! I used pistachios and raisins as I didn’t have walnuts, so I think you can substitute until your heart’s content!

Schnecken recipe – from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’

3 1/3 cups bread flour
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 packet dry yeast (7g)
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
2 large eggs

½ cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons demerrera sugar
4 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons golden syrup
1 cup walnuts or pecans

1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk

3 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup castor sugar
¼ cup demerrera sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Melt the butter in the milk; use a microwave and measuring cup for ease. Beat in the eggs and stir into the dry ingredients to make dough. Knead for 10 minutes, or 5 minutes with a dough hook. When it’s springy and satiny, form it into a ball, put into an oiled bowl, turn to coat and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Using an electric mixer, start on the syrup: beat the butter until soft and smooth, and add the sugar, still beating. Beat in the maple syrup and golden syrup. Divide the mixture among a 12-cup muffin pan. Top with walnuts or pecans, about a tablespoon for each cup.

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. When the dough is ready, knock it back, knead once or twice and then roll out to a large rectangle, approximately 30 by 60 cms, with the long side nearest you.
Beat the egg and the milk in a small bowl; glaze the dough, using a pastry brush to paint, or just your fingers.

Mix the filling ingredients in a little bowl and sprinkle onto the dough. Now, roll up the long side and away from you, carefully but firmly, keeping a firm sausage shape. Cut into 12 even slices, and lie each slice spiral-swirly cut side up, on top of the nuts and syrup in the muffin pan.

Leave to rise for 20 minutes. When they’re risen and puffy, put into the oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, by which time they should be golden and cooked: crisp in parts, voluptuously gooey in others. Place a parchment-paper-lined roasting pan or baking sheet on top and turn the whole thing the other way up. You will need oven mitts and a degree of caution to do this. Remove the muffin tray and dislodge any nuts that are still stuck in it, adding them, along with any residual syrup, to the upturned buns.

Frank doing the risky bits for me...

Pecan pie with brandy cream

Tis the time for Christmas in July. My lovely English friend Ferret doesn’t understand the concept, as where she comes from Christmas is in winter (“like it should be”, I can hear English people say) Always a nation to use any excuse for a party, the Australians do Christmas in July fantastically well! Having spent my fair share of Christmases in the cold, not only has having a warm Christmas become even more wonderful, but in winter I do love having a mini-Christmas to pig out on all the winter fare!

Our friends the Hoggetts decided to throw a Christmas-in-July at their house two weekends ago. Mr Hoggett, being English too, made the meanest roast to be seen on this side of the Equator. It brought back memories of London! Keen to join in, I made my apple pie with a Christmas twist – I made brandy cream to go with it. And now Folks, I am sad to reveal that I am addicted to brandy cream. So much so that when Frank made his request for what birthday baked good he wanted, it was definitely being served with brandy cream.

Frank and my birthdays are both in the middle(ish) of the year. I think this is the best time of year to have a birthday, as there is an equal amount of time to wait between Birthday presents and Christmas presents. Given the choice of what to have for his birthday treat, Frank chose pecan pie and carrot cupcakes – pecan pie for his actual birthday, and carrot cupcakes for the weekend celebration. (Although Frank claims he didn’t actually ASK for pecan pie, apparently I volunteered it…) As I took him to Steersons at King Street Wharf for the best steak on this earth, we were both too full on Thursday night to have the pecan pie. So, we kept it for the weekend to take the place of the carrot cupcakes and it lasted brilliantly. After pizza with the family, everyone came back to the Pig Palace to finish off the pie smothered in brandy cream. It was a perfect winter dessert to finish off a lovely evening!

Pecan pie with brandy cream – recipe adjusted from Women’s Weekly’s Old-fashioned desserts recipe book

This recipe can be made 1-3 day in advance. Uncooked rice or dried beans used to weigh down the pastry are not suitable for eating. Use them every time you blind bake; cool, then store in an airtight jar.

2 cups (280g) toasted pecans
6 egg yolks
½ cup (175g) golden syrup
½ cup (100g) firmly packed brown sugar
90g butter, melted
¼ cup (60ml) thickened cream for pie and 150ml for the brandy cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
tbsp brandy

1¼ (185g) plain flour
1/3 cup (55g) icing sugar mixture
125g cold butter, chopped
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Grease 24cm-round loose-based tin. Make pastry.

Place nuts in pastry case. Combine egg yolks, syrup, sugar, butter and cream in small bowl; whisk until smooth. Pour mixture over nuts; bake, uncovered, in moderate oven about 30 minutes or until set. Cool. Whip remaining cream until stiff, pour in icing sugar and brandy and whip until combined. Serve pie topped with cream.

Blend or process flour, icing sugar and cold butter until combined. Add yolk and juice; process until ingredients just come together. Knead dough on floured surface until smooth. Cover; refrigerate 30 minutes. Roll dough between sheets of baking paper until large enough to line prepared tin. Ease dough into tin, press into side; trim edge. Cover; refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C or 160°C fan-forced. Place tin on oven tray. Line pastry case with baking paper, fill with dried beans or rice. Bake, uncovered, in moderate oven 15 minutes. Remove paper and beans; bake, uncovered, in moderate oven about 5 minutes or until browned lightly.

Definitely-not-Grandma’s Apple pie

“Ladies and Gentlemen… if I could offer you only one tip for the future, not being over-confident in the kitchen would be it.”
Singing the lines of the Sunscreen song while typing this, I would like to offer you the reasoning behind my tip. Having fun in the kitchen is great, and having wonderful friends and family complimenting your food is even better. Until you start to think: “hey, my friends love my food, so I must be a dab hand in the kitchen” and you convince yourself that trying a pastry recipe for the first time would be mere child’s play to you. And that of course you can make an apple pie with your eyes closed.
That’s where the ever-present kitchen fairy likes to prove you wrong. (The kitchen fairy also decides whether your cupcakes will rise, or whether your lamb cooks in time for dinner.)

My kitchen fairy was rubbing her hands in glee when I strolled in to the Pig Palace kitchen with my pretend Masterchef apron and my newly purchased rolling-pin. (As Frank says, it’s better than using an empty wine bottle) Not-so-silently confident that I was going to whip the apple pie recipe into shape, I proceeded in getting all the ingredients on the bench. Which is when my 6 bruise-free apples went tumbling onto the floor. “Never mind” I thought, “just a small hiccup”. After Frank’s masterful peeling of the apples I chopped them up and got ready to make the pastry. (See Frank, I did mention you. ;)) And this is where it got a bit scary: pastry is HARD to work with. I am incredibly thankful that Beets and I spent hours in front of the Good Food channel, because if I hadn’t known to roll the pastry back on the rolling-pin to get it in the pan I would have lost the pastry, and my rag, all at once.

Now I strongly suspect I didn’t have enough pastry, as it was veeeery thin when I put it in the pan. Once I piled in the apples, I popped another sheet of needle-thin pastry on top, rips and all. Attempting to recover my pride, I cut out a little apple and a leaf from the left-over pastry and decorated the top with it. After glazing with egg white and sprinkling with sugar, I shoved the apple pie in the oven and ran out the kitchen as fast as I could.

40 minutes later, I crept back into the kitchen to discover a really funny-looking pie! To quote Frank “it looks like a moonscape”. And as he assessed correctly*, I should have left more pastry hanging over the edge. Oh well, Masterchef I am not, but at least it doesn’t look too bad.

As I have made this apple pie (or large pile of apples with a teeny bit of pastry) to take up to Mama and Papa C tomorrow, I cannot cut into it or tell you what it tastes like just yet, but thankfully it smells delicious! I’ve been told to let it cool properly and it will last for a week in the fridge if needs be. I’ll publish additional photos after we crack the pie open.

*For those of you who don’t know, Frank is not only the chief dish-washer and highly skilled sous chef, but he has nominated himself as my honest critic and is always willing to suggest how to do it better next time. 🙂

Apple pie – adjusted from the BBC Good Food website

1kg Granny Smith apples
140g golden caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp flour

225g butter , room temperature
50g golden caster sugar , plus extra
2 eggs
350g plain flour , preferably organic
softly whipped cream , to serve

Put a layer of paper towels on a large baking sheet. Quarter, core, peel and slice the apples about 5mm thick and lay evenly on the baking sheet. Put paper towels on top and set aside while you make and chill the pastry.

For the pastry, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until just mixed. Break in a whole egg and a yolk (keep the white for glazing later). Beat together for just under 1 min – it will look a bit like scrambled egg. Now work in the flour with a wooden spoon, a third at a time, until it’s beginning to clump up, then finish gathering it together with your hands. Gently work the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film, and chill for 45 mins. Now mix the 140g/5oz sugar, the cinnamon and flour for the filling in a bowl that is large enough to take the apples later.

After the pastry has chilled, heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Lightly beat the egg white with a fork. Cut off a third of the pastry and keep it wrapped while you roll out the rest, and use this to line a pie tin – 20-22cm round and 4cm deep – leaving a slight overhang. Roll the remaining third to a circle about 28cm in diameter. Pat the apples dry with kitchen paper, and tip them into the bowl with the cinnamon-sugar mix. Give a quick mix with your hands and immediately pile high into the pastry-lined tin.

Brush a little water around the pastry rim and lay the pastry lid over the apples pressing the edges together to seal. Trim the edge with a sharp knife and make 5 little slashes on top of the lid for the steam to escape. (Can be frozen at this stage.) Brush it all with the egg white and sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake for 40-45 mins, until golden, then remove and let it sit for 5-10 mins. Sprinkle with more sugar and serve while still warm from the oven with softly whipped cream

28/06/10 UPDATE:

Despite the apple pie looking really silly, it tasted pretty good! The filling cooked perfectly dispite my misgivings, and even though the pastry was really thin it tasted like shortbread. (And I’ve figured out why the pastry was so thin, my pan was the right diameter on the bottom, but opened out really wide!) Next time I’ll use 1.5 times the quantitiy and have a slightly thicker crust.

In response to my lovely comments:
Lorraine – thanks for the tip! I am very keen to do a course at Planet Cake one day, I need to steady my hands first as they’re really shakey! Unfortunately being short wasn’t my problem (I’m 5’8″), I think put too much pressure on the pastry. 🙂
Renae – your filling sounds delicious. Do you add nutmeg and lemon in addition to the cinnamon, or in place of it? I’d never made pastry before, so I wouldn’t mind trying your recipe for it!
Queen Bee – Ooh, cardamom. Interesting twist! I’ll give that one a try with Renee’s adjustments next time. That darned kitchen fairy often knocks bowls and food onto my floor and then Frank has to clean it up. I swear it was her. 😉

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