We weaned ourselves off the sickly, sweet sugar loaded treats and use a modicum of sugar if for some reason we can't substitute raw honey. And we restricted our quantities by having the item at morning tea only. Restraint is followed by weight control. On a day out in the real world we would try something if it looked fresh, interesting, unpreserved and not too sweet.
Then one day we came across Icky Sticky in Lorn outside of Maitland. This is a patisserie in what we would call the French tradition. You know, all those fresh fruits covering the pastry. It was inspiring and the coffee was excellent.
Then came the desire to do it yourself. How hard can it be? Not hard when you're passionate. Richard Bertinet's books Crust, Pastry and Dough are three books we explored. He made it easy, especially as there were DVDs and YouTube sessions. Sweet dough was a piece of cake and despite ineptitude by the cook the Puff pastry a roaring success.
|Different toppings, mango, Rockmelon, Frozen Cranberries, Frozen Raspberries and Blackberries. All on a wholemeal Puff (unpuffed) base|
|Fresh home grown Apple topping, straight forward minis with Crème de Patisserie or creme d amande|
Some things we learnt:
- Your own fresh fruit picked ripe is just so good and the shop bought stuff is rubbish i.e. picked too early and lacking flavour. Shop bought Mango is good. We tried our Rockmelon and that worked. What that means is that your toppings will be seasonal. By the way a light cooking of fruit adds some health benefits. It releases some locked up goodness.
|Wholemeal Puff pastry ready for its 12 hours resting in the fridge|
- Frozen berries are fine but obviously not as good as your own. Defrost them first so that you don't get excess liquid. But keep the liquid to make a reduction glaze.
- We substituted our honey for any sugar. one gram of sugar equals one gram of honey. We also used the oldest honey some of which had crystallised. Probably good timing as we robbed the hive again last week for the third time yielding another 35 KG. Too much honey and nowhere for it to go.
- The fillings are really easy and healthy. Creme d amande and Crème de Patisserie are two we have tried. we have also invested our life savings into a KG of Pistachios for yet another filling next time
|Crème de Patisserie. The little black flecks are the vanilla pod scrapings.|
|Crème d Armande|
- Use Vanilla pods. A bit more expensive but makes a flavour difference.
- Don't use wholemeal to make Puff Pastry. It will not puff although it didn't taste all that bad so we used it as a pie crust with leftover fillings and it turned out a real gem.
|Recycled wholemeal puff crust with a mix of fruits and filling|
- Use organic butter. It requires heaps and don't worry about the misinformation that butter is bad for you. And butter does make it taste good. We keep a stockpile in the freezer.
- The pastries freeze well. And because we got a bit excited and made too many we also shared a few with friends. This sharing also helps because we asked for honest feedback. Never too late to learn. The friends were also the suppliers of some of their freshly harvested fruit. Everyone wins.