Sourdough Enriched Cruffins

sourdough enriched cruffins
Note: This post may contain affiliate links.

I don’t remember when I first laid eyes on a cruffin, but it was intrigue at first sight. Tall, sugared, flaky pastries often filled and garnished to the max, cruffins are a feast for the eyes and Instagram feeds. These laminated darlings are relatively young in the pastry world (they were invented by the famed by Kate Reid of Lune Croissanterie in 2013), but since then have been popularized by bakeries such as Mr. Holmes Bakehouse and Supermoon Bakehouse.

Not many bakeries in my area actually sell cruffins, so I challenged myself to learn how to make them. After a couple years of experimenting with cruffins, I am so excited to finally share this recipe with you, along with a lot of tips learned along the way!

sourdough enriched cruffins

What is a cruffin?

Cruffins are croissants shaped liked muffins (“Cr” = croissant + “uffin” = muffin). That is all. Many people have devised interesting methods for making cruffins using pasta machines, puff pastry, etc.; but for this recipe we’ll just be making good old-fashioned croissant dough and baking it in a muffin (or popover) tin.

I’m just focusing on the cruffin pastry base here, but you can go wild with customizing your cruffins! Start by tossing them in a spiced or flavored sugar. If you’re feeling ambitious, go crazy and fill your cruffins with jam/curd/pastry cream. Finish them with a glaze or garnish for extra flair. You could even run in the opposite direction with a savory cruffin — sprinkle a spice blend on the pastry strips before shaping or fill with a savory whipped cheese. Mmmm…

Cruffin tins and sizing

baked cruffins in tin

To achieve the tall, sleek bakery-style cruffin shape, you will need a jumbo muffin or popover tin. My favorite is the Nordicware Grand Popover tin — judging from the videos I could find online, this seems to be the choice tin of several cruffin-making professional bakeries as well. Each of the six wells measures 2.5″ on top, 2.5″ tall and 2.25″ along the bottom. This creates a beautiful, tall cruffin with a stable base.

For the Nordicware tin, I used ~75g dough per well to get the shape I wanted. If you want more of a dramatic “muffin top” you could try increasing the amount of dough per well by 20-25%. However, I liked this more demure size — each pastry feels substantial without being too much of a sugar bomb. Because I only have one Nordicware tin, I like to divide the dough in half and make 6 cruffins at a time. Croissant dough keeps well in the freezer for a couple of weeks, so I like to maximize my time and make a full batch of dough each time I plan to laminate.

If you don’t have or want to invest in a popover tin, you can bake this recipe using a standard muffin tin — no need to adjust the dough amounts. Your cruffins will just be a little shorter and have more of a muffin top. If baking in a muffin tin, you can bake 12 cruffins at once (the whole batch of dough), if desired.

Note: I also tested baking cruffins in this Chicago Metallic Mini Popover Tin. This worked too; but due to the smaller size and tapered shape of each well, I recommend only using ~60g dough per cruffin (i.e. make 8 cruffins per half-batch of dough instead of 6). If you overfill these tins, the tops of the cruffins may fuse into each other and the finished pastries may be too top-heavy to stand on their own (don’t ask me how I know). Other popular cruffin tins include the Wilton jumbo muffin tins and individual tart rings.

Note that the dimensions listed in the recipe work for the Nordicware tin or a plain muffin tin. For different-sized tins, you may need to adjust the roll-out dimensions and dough quantities.

Shaping the cruffins

Figuring out how to shape cruffins is where I had to do the most experimenting. Over the past couple of years I’ve searched across the interwebs for cruffin shaping tutorials. Unlike croissants, no “classical” shaping technique really exists. Many bakeries simply roll up the dough and cut into thick cinnamon roll-style shapes, sort of like extra-tall morning buns without the butter-sugar spread. However, I was intrigued by this rose shaped method from Supermoon Bakehouse and wanted to emulate that.

Warning: this shaping is a little tricky! I recommend looking at the photos and watching the video above a few times to familiarize yourself with the process. Try to roll the strips up tightly so the cruffin tops don’t pop too much in the oven, and make sure to tuck all three loose ends underneath. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a few tries — it took me a couple batches before I turned out a respectable cruffin!

The sourdough-enriched dough and suggested baking schedule

This cruffin recipe uses a straightforward croissant dough (formula adapted from Adam Pagor). I like adding some active, ripe 100% hydration sourdough starter to the dough for the additional flavor and complexity. There’s still a decent amount of instant yeast, though, so the pastries rise reliably and not too slowly. See baker’s notes if you want to omit the sourdough. You can also use this versatile dough to make croissants, pain au chocolat, or any other laminated pastry.

For best results, I recommend making the cruffins over three days (make sure your starter has been fed and is scheduled to peak around the time you plan to mix the dough):

  • Day 1, evening (right before bed): Mix the croissant dough and chill overnight
  • Day 2, morning: Make the butter block, freeze the dough briefly, then laminated the dough (3 single turns). Freeze dough right after final turn.
  • Day 2, evening (right before bed): Transfer dough back to refrigerator to thaw overnight.
  • Day 3, morning: Assemble, proof, and bake cruffins

If you’re in a rush, you could condense the process into two days. Refrigerate the pastry for 90 minutes after the final turn, then proceed with assembling, shaping, and baking. However, freezing the pastry and letting it slowly thaw overnight makes the final roll out easier (the dough is more relaxed), resulting in pastries with better definition and layering. (Note: Thanks to Brock aka Tuscan Baker and Adam Pagor aka Season Adam for their many pro lamination tips via Instagram!)

Baker’s notes:

  • If you are new to laminated doughs, please refer to my previous laminated dough posts for lots of tips on lamination (morning buns, grape ricotta danishes). Although the dough recipe and butter lock-in method differs slightly here, the same general principles apply.
  • If you want to make cruffins with just yeast and no sourdough starter, omit the starter and increase the bread flour to 423g, water to 135g, and instant yeast to 10g. Method remains the same; the pastries will probably take closer to 2 hours to proof rather than 3.
  • Don’t be afraid to flip the dough as you are rolling it out each time — this helps keep it from sticking and ensures the whole sheet of pastry is an even thickness. Just make sure to orient the pastry correctly (with the opening on the right) before making your folds.
cruffin crumb shot

Sourdough Enriched Cruffins

Makes ~1kg dough (enough for 12 medium-sized cruffins) | Croissant dough formula adapted from Adam Pagor

Ingredients:

For the laminated dough:

  • 381g bread flour
  • 93g water, cold
  • 135g whole milk, cold
  • 40g granulated sugar
  • 6g (2 tsp) instant yeast
  • 10g kosher or fine sea salt
  • 85g fully active, ripe sourdough starter
  • 250g European-style (at least 82% fat) unsalted butter, cold (for the butter block)

To finish:

  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon (optional)

Method:

  1. Mix and chill the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine all dough ingredients except the butter. Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes, or until all ingredients are well combined but the dough is only moderately developed. (We’re not looking for a completely smooth dough or windowpane — if you develop the dough too much at this point, it will be more difficult to roll out later.) Flatten dough into a roughly 1-inch thick square, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (or up to 12).
  2. Make the butter block: About 30 minutes before you want to begin the lamination process, take the butter for the butter block out of the fridge. Slice into even pieces (or, if your butter comes in 250g blocks you can just leave it whole) and pound into an even 7-inch square using a rolling pin. An easy way to do this is to draw a 7-inch square on a piece of parchment, flip it over (so you don’t get marker or pencil into your butter), put the butter inside the square, and place another piece of parchment over it. Pound and roll the butter until it is an even square of butter, using the marks as a guide. Use a bench scraper to clean up and sharpen the edges and corners as you go. Place the dough back into the fridge to firm up for about 10 to 15 minutes before beginning lamination.
  3. Freeze the dough: While the butter is chilling, remove the dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 7″ x 14″ rectangle. Brush any excess flour from the dough and transfer to a baking sheet. Cover with plastic and freeze for 10-15 minutes, or until the butter is the right temperature and consistency for laminating.
  4. Laminate the dough: Check that the butter block is ready for laminating. It should be cool to the touch but pliable, able to bend without breaking (about 55-60F). Remove the dough from the freezer. Place the butter on the bottom half of the dough. Fold the top half of the dough over the bottom half, sandwiching the butter in between. Pinch the edges of the dough around the butter to seal it in.
  5. Turn the dough so the opening is on the right. Roll the dough into an 8 x 24–inch rectangle, flouring the dough and rolling pin as necessary. You shouldn’t need too much flour, but use as much as you need so nothing sticks. (Just brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush before folding.) Do a single book fold by folding the top third of the dough down and the bottom third up over the middle, using a bit of water to “glue” down the layers. Before folding the top edge down, trim the edge to expose the butter (you can save the scraps and bake them off in a mini loaf pan at the end!). Give the dough a 90-degree clockwise turn so the opening is on the right, cover with plastic, and rest the dough in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Do two more book folds following the step above, chilling the dough 20 to 30 minutes after the second fold. After completing the third and final fold, you can cut the dough in half crosswise, if you plan on just making 6 cruffins; or keep it whole if you plan on making a full batch. Either way, wrap dough well in plastic wrap and and freeze until solid, at least 4 hours. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using. (Dough will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.)
  7. Roll out and cut the pastry: When you are ready to assemble and bake the cruffins, lightly grease each well of a 6-cup cruffin/large popover tin or a regular muffin tin. Transfer the dough from the fridge to a lightly floured surface, orienting it so the opening is on the right. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes so the butter is pliable. Roll the dough into a rectangle just over 9″ x 12″ (half-batch) or 9″ x 24″ (full-batch), about 3/16″ thick. Trim the edges so you are left with a neat 9″ x 12″ or 9″ x 24″ (full-batch) rectangle. Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut the dough lengthwise into nine 1-inch strips. Cut each strip in half (for a half-batch) or quarters (full-batch) crosswise. You should end up with 18 (half-batch) or 36 (full-batch) strips, each 1 x 6 inches and approximately 25g each. Transfer the strips to a sheet tray (it’s fine to stack them), cover, and refrigerate for 10 minutes before shaping.
  8. Shape the cruffins: To shape a cruffin, place a strip of pastry on your work surface with the short end facing you. Stack two more strips of pastry on top, offsetting each by about one inch from the strip below it. Starting from the short end furthest from you, tightly roll the strips up towards you like a jelly roll. Turn the roll spiral side up. Use the pinky edges of your hands to “spin” the spiral to tighten the shape, then tuck the three loose tails of pastry underneath so the cruffin will not unravel. Place spiral side up into the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining strips of pastry. (Note: refer to video and photos above for more insight into shaping process.)
  9. Proof the cruffins: Cover the shaped cruffins with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Proof until the pastries have roughly doubled in size and the layers are clearly visible, about 2 to 3 hours at warm room temperature, 78 to 80F. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 400F with a rack in the middle.
  10. Bake the cruffins: Bake cruffins for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375F and continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the tops are evenly golden and the centers register at least 200F. (If they are browning too quickly, tent with a piece of foil halfway through baking.) While the cruffins are baking, whisk together the granulated sugar and cinnamon (if using) in a small, wide bowl.
  11. Cool cruffins in the pan for about 2 minutes, then carefully remove from the tin and roll each in cinnamon sugar. If you wish to fill the cruffins with something like jam/curd/pastry cream, wait until they’ve cooled completely. Use a paring knife to make a hole on top of each cruffin, then transfer filling to a piping bag and fill as desired. Cruffins are best consumed the day they’re baked, but any extras can be stored in an airtight container and reheated for about 5 minutes at 325F the next day or two.

Grape Ricotta Danishes with Walnut Thyme Streusel

This post is sponsored by Bake from Scratch as part of their Better Baking Academy with Bob’s Red Mill. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

grape ricotta danishes

Grape ricotta danishes with walnut thyme streusel are the buttery-creamy-fruity-nutty pastry of your dreams! These homemade danishes are perfect for a weekend brunch or holiday spread and are so fun to make.

Better Baking Academy

I’m sharing these pastries with you as part of the year-long Better Baking Academy put on by Bake from Scratch and Bob’s Red Mill! Every month this year, this free educational series has been diving deep into different baking techniques — think macarons, pate a choux, and pie dough. Through detailed tutorials and clear recipes, Better Baking Academy aims to equip the home baker with a well-rounded set of skills that will set you up for a lifetime of baking success. Enroll in the Better Baking Academy now to access all the modules and recipes!

This month’s Better Baking Academy module is on fall danishes and lamination technique. While lamination may sound a little intimidating, let me assure you that it is very doable at home (there’s even a whole chapter on laminated pastries in my upcoming cookbook!). Learning how to laminate will open up a huge world of delicious baked goods — croissants, danishes, puff pastry, kouign amann, and so on. Like any other technique, lamination just takes some patience and practice. Here are a few pointers to help you on your way.

danish dough ingredients

Five Tips for lamination success

  • Use good quality ingredients. Now is the time to splurge on fancy European-style butter (at least 82% fat)! Not only will good butter make your pastries taste better, but the actual lamination process will be much easier — European-style butter is less prone to cracking due to its low water/high fat content. Using a strong, good-quality flour is key as well — Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached All-Purpose Flour is a great choice. It has a higher protein content than a lot of other all-purpose flours, which creates a strong dough that can withstand rolling and shaping and pastries that will rise high in the oven.
  • Plan your bake. There’s actually not a ton of hands-on work required for laminated pastries, but you will need to plan for chilling and proofing times throughout the process. Figure out when you want to bake the pastries and work backwards from there to budget your time. I suggest reading the recipe through completely a couple times in advance, and trying to visualize each step before starting. The more familiar you are with the steps before you begin, the more enjoyable the entire process will be.
  • Measure carefully. Pull out your kitchen scale and ruler — pastries like precision! For best results, weigh your ingredients and measure carefully when rolling out and cutting. Roll your dough to the specified dimensions, and keep your edges and corners neat and sharp — this will help you achieve uniform, professional-looking pastries!
  • Manage temperature. Properly managing the temperature of your ingredients is critical for successful lamination. Your butter and dough need to be at similar temperatures before you try to combine them via lamination. They should cool but pliable — if too cold, the butter will shatter when you try to roll it out; and if too warm, the butter will melt into the dough. Test your butter block before starting lamination — it should be pliable enough to bend without breaking, but cool enough to easily release from the parchment paper. If you can feel the butter starting to crack as you roll, stop and let it soften for 5-10 minutes before proceeding. If the dough starts to feel sticky/melty/warm, stop and refrigerate for 5-10 minutes and try again.
  • Proof fully. Once you’ve shaped your pastries, proof them in a warm and humid environment. The oven with the light on and a dish of warm water on the shelf below is a great spot. (Just make sure the temperature doesn’t get above 80F degrees or the butter will melt!) When fully proofed, the pastries should look very puffy and jiggly with very visible layers. When properly proofed pastry hits the hot oven, steam from the butter will cause the layers to separate and create that beautiful flaky texture. Underproofed pastries tend to leak butter during baking and won’t have a light final texture.

Now, about these grape ricotta danishes with walnut thyme streusel! I decided to go with a classic coil shape that is simple but gorgeous. Also very important — it allows for plenty of filling! These danishes start with a ricotta filling spiked with honey and black pepper (one of my favorite punchy flavor combos!), which is then topped with fresh grapes. I used a seedless concord variety which were just perfect — after roasting in the oven they’re intensely jammy, but still retain some texture. I think blueberries, cranberries or even thinly sliced pears would work nicely here too — but do try the grapes if you can!

These danishes are generously sprinkled with a nutty streusel before hitting the oven. You’ll never find me saying no to streusel — not only does it taste delicious, but it adds a crisp layer of texture that complements the creamy ricotta and juicy fruit.

For a final bit of bakery style shine, brush your danishes with a little warm honey as soon as they’re out of the oven. Wait just long enough so that you don’t burn your tongue, then enjoy! These danishes are *chef’s kiss* perfect still warm from the oven and honestly so satisfying to make.

grape ricotta danishes 2

Grape Ricotta Danishes with Walnut Thyme Streusel

Makes 12 danishes | Danish base recipe adapted from Bake From Scratch

Ingredients:

For the Danish dough:
  • 4  cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
  • ⅓ cup (67 grams) plus 1 teaspoon (4 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon (9 grams) kosher salt
  • 2¼ teaspoons (7 grams) instant yeast
  • 1 cup (240 grams) whole milk
  • 1 cup (227 grams) plus 3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, softened and divided
  • 2 large eggs (100 grams), room temperature and divided
For the ricotta filling:
  • 1/2 c (120 g) full fat ricotta cheese
  • 1½ Tbsp (30 g) honey
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1½ Tbsp (12 g) all-purpose flour
For the walnut thyme streusel:
  • 1/3 c plus 1 Tbsp (50 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c (50 g) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves 
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp (42 g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 2 Tbsp (25 g) chopped walnuts
To finish:
  • 1 cup (240 g) seedless concord grapes (or similar variety), halved if large
  • 2 Tbsp (40 g) warm honey, for glazing, plus more for drizzling
  • Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish

Method:

  1. Make the danish dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 1 cup (125 grams) flour, ⅓ cup (67 grams) sugar, salt, and yeast.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat milk and 3 tablespoons (42 grams) butter over medium heat until an instant-read thermometer registers 120°F (49°C) to 130°F (54°C). Add warm milk mixture to flour mixture, and beat at medium-low speed until combined. Add 1 egg (50 grams), beating until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add 2½ cups (313 grams) flour, beating just until combined and stopping to scrape sides of bowl.
  3. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed until a soft, somewhat sticky dough forms, 5 to 7 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl and dough hook; add up to remaining ½ cup (62 grams) flour, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) at a time, if dough is too sticky. Cover and let rise  until slightly puffed, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lightly dust with flour.
  5. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into a 9-inch square, and place on prepared pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  6. Prepare the butter block: Using a permanent marker, draw an 8-inch square on a sheet of parchment paper; turn parchment over. Place remaining 1 cup (227 grams) butter on prepared parchment. Cover with a second sheet of parchment, and shape butter to fit inside drawn square, keeping edges straight and even. Keep wrapped in parchment paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  7. Freeze dough for 15 minutes; let butter block stand at room temperature until pliable, about 15 minutes.
  8. Laminate the dough: On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-inch square. Unwrap butter block, and place on dough so corners of butter block touch center of sides of dough. Fold dough over butter block, meeting in middle, and press lightly to seal dough around butter block. Straighten dough and immediately roll into an 18×12-inch rectangle. Fold each short end to meet in center; fold in half. Turn dough 90 degrees, and roll out again. Repeat folding. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1½ hours; freeze for 30 minutes. (See Notes.)
  9. While dough is resting, make the ricotta filling and walnut thyme streusel. To make the ricotta filling, whisk together all ingredients until combined (for smoothest filling, pulse in a food processor). Transfer to a piping bag and refrigerate until ready to use.
  10. To make the walnut thyme streusel, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, thyme, and salt in a small bowl. Scatter the cold, cubed butter over the top. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the dry ingredients until moist clumps form. Mix in the walnut pieces. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  11. Shape, proof, and bake the danishes: Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 17×13-inch rectangle. Trim ½ inch off each side so rectangle is 16×12 inches. Cut dough in half lengthwise, and return one half to pan. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Cut remaining dough lengthwise into six 12″ x 1⅓” strips.
  12. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 teaspoon (5 grams) water and remaining 1 egg (50 grams).
  13. Brush a strip with egg wash. Twist strip; shape into a coil, making sure to keep it flat. Tuck end under, and place on prepared pan. Repeat with remaining strips. Brush shaped pastries with egg wash. Repeat with second half of dough.
  14. Let pastries rise in a warm, draft-free place (75-80°F/24-26°C) until danishes are puffy and jiggly and the layers are very noticeable. This may take as little as 20-30 minutes or as much as 1-2 hours, depending on how long it takes you to shape your pastries and the warmth of your kitchen.
  15. While pastries are rising, position oven rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
  16. Right before baking, brush pastries with a second coat of egg wash. Pipe a generous tablespoon of ricotta filling in the center of each danish. Press several grapes into the filling and sprinkle with a generous tablespoon of walnut thyme streusel. (Don’t skimp — the pastries will expand in the oven and you want to have plenty of filling and streusel in each one.)
  17. Bake, one batch at a time, until just starting to brown, 8-10 minutes. Rotate pan, and reduce oven temperature to 375°F (190°C). Bake until deep golden brown, 10-15 minutes more. (See Notes.) (Increase oven temperature to 425°F [220°C] before baking second batch.) Brush the grapes and exposed pastry with warmed honey. Serve warm or at room temperature, drizzling with additional honey and sprinkling with fresh thyme leaves just before eating, if desired. Best served same day but can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. (See Notes.)

Notes:

  • If you want to serve these for breakfast or an early brunch, instead of refrigerating for 1½ hours and then freezing for 30 minutes, just refrigerate overnight (no need to freeze).
  • Some ovens bake the bottoms darker than others, place a second pan under prepared pan when baking to prevent overbrowning. Not sure how your oven will bake? Can test with one on a sheet pan or just go ahead and double pan just to be safe.
  • Reheat stored Danish in a 350°F (180°C) oven before eating.

Homemade Toaster Strudels

toaster strudels

In the world of packaged breakfast pastries, I have always maintained that toaster strudels > pop tarts. Give me flaky pastry and cream cheese icing over non-flaky pastry and royal icing any day, please and thank you!

My homemade version of toaster strudels feature all-butter rough puff pastry, a pleasantly tart fruity filling, and a colorful squiggle of cream cheese icing. If you want to serve these for breakfast I recommend making the pastry and jam the night before for best results — the pastry needs time to chillax (chill and relax), and you want your filling completely cold before assembling. Of course, if you wanted to serve these as dessert you could do this all in one day!

I filled my strudels with a thick rhubarb and berry jam, since that’s the fruit I had on hand. It was pleasantly tart, which contrasted excellently with the rich pastry and sweet icing. I also added a splash of elderflower liqueur for a fresh floral note — totally optional, but highly recommended if you have it on hand!

If you don’t have rhubarb and berries, you could sub in your favorite jamm-able fruits or even use some storebought preserves. If you’re using fresh fruit, cook down the filling enough so that it holds its shape, which will make assembly much easier. I’d love to try these with sour cherries and stone fruits later this summer! If you’re really looking to save time, you could also use store-bought puff pastry (for a standard box with 2 pieces, I’d cut each sheet into 6 rectangles). However, unless you spring for all-butter store bought puff pastry (which tends to be pricey), I highly recommend taking the time to make the rough puff — the taste is so much better!

Now, I will admit that pop tarts edge out toaster strudels in presentation — who can compete with colorful icing and sprinkles? So I stole a note from the pop tart playbook and added both for a little extra cheer to my pastries. My kids’ eyes practically popped out of their heads when they saw the pastries, and they were so excited to decorate their own. In other words: TOTALLY WORTH IT.

Homemade Toaster Strudels

Makes 6 strudels

Ingredients:

For the strudels:
  • 120g chopped rhubarb
  • 160g mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
  • 40g granulated sugar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp elderflower liqueur (optional)
  • 1/2 recipe rough puff pastry
  • 1 egg, whisked with 1 tsp milk or water and a pinch of salt, for egg wash
  • Extra granulated sugar, for sprinkling
For the icing:
  • 60g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 60g icing sugar, sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Gel food coloring (optional)
  • Sprinkles (optional)

Method:

  1. Make the filling: In a medium saucepan, combine the rhubarb, berries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring and mashing the fruit frequently, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking, still stirring frequently, until the mixture is very thick and the fruit has completely broken down, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and add the elderflower liqueur, if using. Transfer to a heat-proof container. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until completely cold, at least 1 hour.
  2. Assemble, bake, and ice the strudels: On a well floured surface, roll the pastry into a long rectangle slightly larger than 9″ x 19.5″. The pastry should be between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick. Trim the edges to neaten, then use a pastry wheel or sharp knife to cut the pastry lengthwise into 2 long rectangles (each about 4.5″ x 19.5″). Cut each rectangle into 6 equal pieces. You should end up with twelve 4.5″ x 3.25″ rectangles. Transfer the rectangles to a parchment-lined sheet pan and chill for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F with a rack in the middle.
  3. Once the pastry has chilled, brush the edges of 6 rectangles with egg wash. Divide the filling among the 6 rectangles, about a heaping tablespoon each. Use the back of a spoon to spread into an even layer, keeping the egg washed edges exposed. Top each rectangle with one of the remaining rectangles, pressing the edges firmly to seal. Trim the edges with a sharp knife to neaten, if needed. Use the tines of a fork to crimp the edges all around. Freeze the strudels until the pastry is firm, about 20-30 minutes.
  4. When ready to bake, brush the strudels evenly with egg wash. Use a sharp paring knife to cut a small venting hole on the top of each one. Sprinkle the tops generously with granulated sugar. Stack the baking sheet on top of a second baking sheet to keep the bottoms from scorching during baking.
  5. Bake the strudels for about 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is deeply golden. Rotate the sheet halfway through baking for even browning. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack to cool for 10-15 minutes before icing.
  6. When ready to ice, beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar, salt, and vanilla until smooth. Beat in a drop of food coloring, if desired. Transfer icing to a small piping bag and snip a small hole off the end. Pipe the icing onto the strudels and garnish with sprinkles, if desired. Let icing set for about 5 minutes before serving. Strudels are best served the day they’re baked.

Raspberry Palmiers

This post is sponsored by Président® brand. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

If you’re looking for a way to spread the love this upcoming Valentine’s Day, might I suggest you do it through crisp, buttery cookies? Homemade palmiers, to be precise. Traditionally, these French cookies (also known as elephant ears or French hearts) are made by dusting and rolling puff pastry in sugar, then baking until beautifully crisp and caramelized — a simple but addictive treat that goes down perfectly with an espresso or cup of tea. Today we’re jazzing palmiers up by adding some freeze-dried raspberries, which add not only a bright flavor but also the prettiest natural pink color!

unbaked raspberry palmiers

Palmiers don’t require many ingredients, so it’s important to use the good stuff: namely, high quality butter. I used Président® unsalted butter, a rich European-style butter made from cultured cream. It’s a dream to work with as far as pastry-making is concerned: it rolls out easily and doesn’t crack or melt as easily as lower-fat butters tend to do. And of course, the taste is just next-level delicious — ultra-creamy with a slight tang from the cultured cream!

My version of palmiers start with rough puff pastry. If the thought of laminated pastry makes you want to run for the hills, fear not! Rough puff is classic puff pastry’s laid-back cousin. While there’s still rolling and folding and chilling involved, the process is quicker and a lot more laid-back compared to classic puff — and the result is still wonderfully flaky. Once you’ve got the technique down, you’ll be wanting to whip up batches of rough puff for hand pies, turnovers, galettes, and other delicious delights.

A few notes:

  • For best results, keep your pastry cool but pliable. It should be fairly easy to roll out, but not sticky or soft. Chilling times are approximate but can vary greatly from kitchen to kitchen. If you live in a warm climate or have hot hands, you may want to chill your flour before starting and/or chill longer between folds. And if your kitchen or fridge is exceptionally cool, you may need less chilling time.
  • Once you’ve added the raspberry sugar to the pastry, you’ll want to bake your palmiers as soon as the dough is chilled — don’t keep the pastry in the fridge too long, as the sugar will draw moisture from the dough and create a sticky mess. If you want to bake your palmiers later, you can store the uncut log in the freezer well-wrapped, and slice and bake directly from frozen. Frozen palmiers will likely need a few extra minutes to bake.
  • Keep a close eye on your palmiers as they bake, as they can quickly go from golden brown to scorched! You do want to get them as caramelized as possible for the best flavor and lasting crispness (underbaked palmiers tend to go soggy faster).
  • Update, February 2021: I used to recommend sprinkling raspberry sugar on both sides of the pastry (as seen in photos), but after making this a several times in multiple ovens have noticed that sometimes the freeze dried fruit on the outside can burn a little too easily. So now I prefer to sprinkle the raspberry sugar on just one side, and to coat the outside with plain granulated sugar. Be generous with the final dusting of raspberry sugar after baking, as that will really add an extra kick of fruity flavor!
dusting raspberry palmiers in sugar
baked raspberry palmiers

Raspberry Palmiers

Makes 20-24 cookies

Ingredients

For the rough puff pastry (makes enough for two batches of palmiers):

  • 250g AP flour
  • 250g bread flour
  • 10g kosher salt
  • 30g granulated sugar
  • 400g Président® unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 250g cold water (optional: replace 10g water with freshly squeezed lemon juice)

For the raspberry sugar:

  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 15g freeze-dried raspberries
To Finish:
  • 50g granulated sugar

Method:

  1. Make the rough puff pastry dough: To make the rough puff pastry, combine the flours, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Add the chilled butter to the flour mixture and use your fingers to flatten the cubes of butter. Toss with the flour so that all the butter pieces are coated.
  3. Add the liquid and gently stir with a spatula just to combine. At this point the dough should be quite shaggy, but if you squeeze a bit in your hand it should hold together.
  4. Cover and chill for 15-20 minutes, or until cool but not too stiff.
  5. Laminate the pastry: Lightly flour a work surface and rolling pin and turn the chilled dough out. Roll the dough into a long rectangle about 8″ x 20″, roughly 1/4″ inch thick. The pastry will seem rather patchy and not quite cohesive — this is normal; it will come together with the folds. Try to keep your edges and corners as straight and square as possible, but don’t stress too much about it.
  6. Using a bench scraper, fold the top third of the dough down and the bottom third of the dough up like a letter, brushing off excess flour as you fold. Rotate your dough 90 degrees so the opening is on the right. This is your first fold.
  7. Repeat steps 5-6 for a total of 4 folds. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, your pastry may stay cool enough for you to do two folds back to back. But if at any point your dough starts to feel warm or sticky/soft, transfer it to a sheet pan and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes or so to chill.
  8. After the final fold, wrap the pastry well and chill for at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 days. (For longer storage, freeze well-wrapped dough for up to a month. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.)
  9. Make the raspberry sugar: While the dough is chilling, make the raspberry sugar. In the bowl of a food processor, grind the freeze-dried raspberries into a fine powder. Mix with the 50g granulated sugar.
  10. Preheat the oven: While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 400F with a rack in the middle and line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  11. Shape the palmiers: When you’re ready to shape your palmiers, remove the chilled pastry and cut in half crosswise. Wrap and return one half to the fridge, or freeze for longer storage. (You’ll only need half the pastry for this recipe.)
  12. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry into a rectangle about 10″ x 13″, between 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick. Rotate and flip the pastry and flour your surface as needed to avoid sticking. When you’ve reached the correct size/thickness, use a pastry wheel or a sharp knife to trim the edges to neaten.
  13. Sprinkle an even layer of about half the raspberry-sugar mixture on one side of the dough. Use your rolling pin to gently press the sugar into the dough.
  14. Fold the long edges of your pastry in so they meet exactly in the middle, then fold one half over the other half as if closing a book (you’ll have a total of 4 layers). Transfer the log to a sheet pan and chill for about 10-15 minutes to make cutting the palmiers easier.
  15. Cut the chilled pastry into 1/2″ thick slices. Dip each side in plain granulated sugar before laying 2″ apart on the prepared sheet pans. (The palmiers will puff significantly in the oven, so be sure to leave plenty of space between each.) If the dough is soft at all, return to the fridge or freezer to firm up before baking (see notes above).
  16. Bake the palmiers: Bake the palmiers one sheet at a time for 20-30 minutes. (Keep the remaining unbaked palmiers chilled.) Check the bottoms of the palmiers after 10 minutes; if they are brown and caramelized, flip them over for the remaining baking time. If not, keep checking every 1-2 minutes until they are. Bake until both sides are a rich golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining cookies.
  17. Dust the palmiers: Once the palmiers are cool enough to handle, dip each side into the remaining raspberry sugar. Palmiers are best served the day they’re baked, but will keep for about 3 days at room temperature in an airtight container.
kids reaching for raspberry palmiers

Sourdough Enriched Morning Buns

sourdough enriched morning bun

Happy New Year! I’m kicking off 2019 and year 4(!) of this blog with my current favorite breakfast pastry: sourdough enriched morning buns!

Morning buns are sort of a mash-up between a cinnamon roll and a kouign amman/croissant. They’re rolled and shaped like cinnamon rolls, but made with laminated dough and dusted with sugar so you get a gorgeously flaky exterior and a softer, caramelized center. I love the variety of textures in this pastry! Morning buns are also a great place to start if you’re new (like me) to laminated doughs! The final dough doesn’t have to be rolled quite as thinly as if you were making croissants, and you don’t have to individually shape each pastry — just slice, proof, and bake!

This morning bun recipe uses a yeasted laminated dough, which involves making a regular yeasted enriched dough (spiked with sourdough starter for flavor and strength) and folding it around a block of butter. You then give the dough-butter package several rolls and turns to create hundreds of thin alternating layers of dough and butter. When the proofed morning buns hit the hot oven, the yeast combined with the steam from the butter help give these pastries their beautifully golden flaky layers.

Originally I tried making these pastries with “quick” danish doughs (Nigella Lawson has a famous one); and while they tasted good, I really wanted to see how much different they’d be with the real deal. In the end, I vastly preferred the fully laminated dough and think it’s worth the extra time and effort.

I won’t beat around the bush: laminated dough is a bit fussy to work with and requires attention and precision. If you’re anything like me, it’ll take you several tries to get a product you’re reasonably happy with. But if that doesn’t scare you off, I’d say go for gold and give fully laminated a shot! Even if your pastries aren’t perfect, they’ll still probably taste better than most things you can buy in the store…and they are incredibly satisfying to make! Just choose a couple days when you can relax and focus and have some fun in the kitchen. Plus, once you’ve gotten the hang of laminated dough, it will open up a whole new world of homemade danishes, croissants, and other delicious pastries you can produce in your very own kitchen.

morning buns top down

A few notes:

  • Dough and butter temperature is really important for successful lamination. You basically want the dough and butter to be similar consistencies so they will roll out easily. The butter should feel cool and pliable — not melty or brittle. If the butter is too cold, it will crack into pieces and if it’s too warm, it will melt into the dough. I’ve had best success with a butter temperature around 55-60F at the start of lamination. I recommend reading through this post for lots of great lamination tips and information.
  • Along the same lines, you will want to rest the dough in the fridge between turns just long enough so the dough can relax and the butter can firm up enough to roll out without melting. In my cool Canadian kitchen in the winter, this takes about 30-40 minutes. If you’re in a warmer climate, you may need longer. At any rate, if it’s feeling at all soft and squishy, refrigerate it an extra 5-10 minutes. And if you feel the butter breaking up at all, let it sit for a few minutes at room temperature before rolling out.
  • The dough will get increasingly more difficult to roll out as you do more turns (all that rolling is essentially developing the strength of the dough). Use firm, even strokes and don’t be afraid to flip the dough back and forth to make sure you’re rolling evenly. You may need to rest the dough in the fridge halfway through the final roll.
  • Before you start lamination, make sure you have a large and clear work surface. You’ll also want to have a long rolling pin, measuring tape / ruler, and pastry brush handy along with a bowl of extra flour for dusting your surface and pin.
  • Do your best to maintain sharp corners and edges throughout the lamination process as this will give you the best results. Don’t be afraid to use your hands to tug the dough a bit to get it into the right shape.
  • Use good quality European style butter, at least 82% butterfat. Not only will this make your pastries taste better, but the lamination process will be easier. In my experience, European style butter is noticeably more pliable and less prone to breaking.
  • My family really enjoys raisins in these morning buns, but they do have a tendency to fall out when you’re dusting the finished pastries with sugar. No big deal, just push them back in. Or leave them out entirely if you’re not into raisins. Feel free to play around with the filling spices as well — some lemon or orange zest would be lovely, or add some ginger and nutmeg for warmth.
  • These pastries proof best in a warmish (~80F), humid environment. The oven with the light turned on and a bowl of hot water next to the sheet of pastries is my go-to spot. You don’t want it too hot, however, or the butter will leak out.
  • I usually make these pastries over two days. On day 1, I build the levain in the morning. I mix the dough in the afternoon and do the turns before going to bed. Then in the morning, I do the final roll out, shaping, proofing, and baking. You can also do the final roll and refrigerate the dough on a large sheet pan overnight, but don’t fill and shape the morning buns until you’re ready to proof and bake as the sugar will liquefy.

morning bun with coffee

Sourdough Enriched Morning Buns

Makes 12-14 buns | Dough recipe via The Fresh Loaf; morning bun portion inspired by various sources (see here, here, and here)

Ingredients:

For the levain:

  • 44g ripe sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 75g water
  • 134g bread flour
  • Mix and ferment at room temperature until ripe (6-12 hours). The levain should roughly triple in size, and the domed top should be slightly flattened.

For the final dough:

  • 361g bread flour
  • 135g milk
  • 77g egg (about 1 1/2 large eggs, or 1 egg + 2 egg yolks)
  • 60g sugar
  • 10g salt
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 41g unsalted butter, softened*
  • All of the levain
  • 310g unsalted butter, cold (roll-in)*

For the filling and coating:

  • 75g granulated sugar
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 100g raisins, optional
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Additional granulated sugar for dusting the tins and rolling the finished pastries

*For best results, use a European style butter with at least 82% butterfat

Method:

  1. Mix together the final dough ingredients (except the roll-in butter) until combined, about 5 minutes on low speed using a stand mixer or 8-10 minutes by hand. The dough shouldn’t be at full gluten development (it will gain strength through fermentation and rolling), but it shouldn’t be sticky. Flatten into a rough rectangle, place on a baking sheet (I really like quarter sheet pans for this), wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to overnight).
  2. About 30 minutes before you want to begin lamination, take the roll-in butter out of the fridge. Slice into pieces and pound into an even 7.5″ square using a rolling pin. An easy way to do this for me is to draw a 7.5″ square on a piece of parchment, flip it over (so you don’t get marker or pencil into your butter), put the butter inside the square, and place another piece of parchment over it. Pound and roll the butter until it is an even square of butter, using a bench knife to clean up and sharpen the edges/corners as you go. Place back into the fridge to firm up for about 10-15 minutes before beginning lamination (see notes above).
  3. Remove the dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 11″ square. Remove the butter from the fridge and place it in the middle of the dough like a diamond. Fold the four flaps of dough over the butter to seal it in, pinching the edges to seal.
  4. Roll the dough into an 8″ x 24″ rectangle, flouring the dough and pin as necessary. You shouldn’t need too much flour, but use as much as you need so nothing sticks. (Just brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush before folding.) Do a single book fold by folding the top third of the dough down and the bottom third up over the middle, using a bit of water to “glue” down the layers. Before folding the top edge down, trim the edge to expose the butter (you can save the scraps and bake them off in a mini loaf pan at the end!). Give the dough a 90-degree turn so the opening is on the right, cover with plastic, and rest in the fridge for about 30-40 minutes to relax and chill.
  5. Do two more book folds following the step above, chilling the dough 30 minutes after the second fold and at least 90 minutes (or overnight) after the third and final fold.
  6. When you are ready to proof and bake, prepare a muffin tin by brushing each cavity with some of the melted butter and dusting with granulated sugar. Mix together the sugars, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  7. Remove the dough from the fridge onto a lightly floured surface. Allow to sit for a few minutes. Roll the dough into a large rectangle about 13″ x 18″ (it should be about 1/4″ thick). Rotate the dough so a long edge is facing you. Brush the entire surface with the rest of the melted butter, then sprinkle it evenly with a generous layer of the sugar mixture (you probably won’t use all of it, but don’t be stingy) and raisins, if using. Use the rolling pin to gently press the sugar and raisins into the dough. Starting from the long end closest to you, roll up tightly like a jelly roll. (If the dough is starting to feel soft at this point, chill for about 10 minutes to make cutting easier.) Slice into 1 1/2″ pieces and place buns cut side up into the prepared tin.
  8. Cover the morning buns with lightly oiled plastic wrap and proof until very puffy and jiggly, about 2 hours at warm room temperature (see above). About 1/2 an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 425F.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375F and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes or until the buns are deeply golden and the centers register at least 200F. (If they are browning too quickly, tent with a piece of foil halfway through baking.) Cool the buns in the pan for a couple of minutes, then carefully remove and roll each bun in the remaining sugar mixture (I add an additional ~75g granulated sugar). Morning buns are best consumed fresh out of the oven, but any extras can be stored in an airtight container and reheated for about 5 minutes at 350F the next day or two.

Cranberry Cream Cheese Turnovers

cranberry cream cheese turnovers

If it were up to me, every weekend would start with homemade pastries. Taking a little extra time in the morning to make something beautiful, buttery, and delicious is a special form of indulgence. Now that the weather is a bit cooler, I’ve been trying to get in a little lamination practice. It’s actually quite difficult for me to find all-butter puff pastry around here, so I’ve been making this rough puff recipe (with two extra folds) as practice for making the real thing later on this winter.

If you can make pie dough, you can make rough puff. It’s a great thing to have on hand for weekend pastry cravings or quick appetizers. But if you’ve got easy access to all-butter puff pastry, certainly go that route if you prefer.

I’ll be honest: when making morning pastries I often don’t measure my filling ingredients. Usually I use a bit of whatever I have lying around: in this case, it was some leftover liquid cheesecake from Christina Tosi’s All About Cake, and the dregs of a bag of fresh cranberries. I think leftover cranberry sauce would be great here (as long as it’s not too runny), or even another thick jam. I do think a tart fruit works really well in these turnovers — it’s a perfect foil to the rich pastry and tangy cream cheese. At any rate, two tablespoons of filling for each pastry is about right. And since I assume most of you don’t have liquid cheesecake lying around, I’ve provided some classic cream cheese filling measurements.

One final thing — I’ve finally put together an Amazon page with some of my favorite baking supplies! I hope you’ll take a look if you’re looking for some gifts for the bakers in your life (or for yourself ;)). These are the tools and books I use most often in my own kitchen and am happy to recommend. Please check it out!

Cranberry Cream Cheese Turnovers

Makes 8 large turnovers

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry, thawed if frozen (homemade or storebought)

For the cream cheese filling:

  • 113g cream cheese, softened (about half a block)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

For the cranberry filling:

  • 1 c cranberries
  • 30g granulated sugar
  • 30g dark brown sugar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Pinch of salt

To finish:

  • 1 egg, whisked with a splash of milk or water
  • Turbinado or sanding sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F with racks in the upper and lower third, and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. Roll each sheet of pastry into a large square about 1/8 – 1/4″ thick (10-12 inches). Trim the edges to neaten and cut each square in quarters for a total of eight squares. Refrigerate pastry while you prepare the fillings.
  3. For the cream cheese filling, combine the cream cheese, sugar, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low until smooth. Scrape down the sides and add lemon juice a tsp at a time to taste.
  4. For the cranberry filling, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine.
  5. Place about 1 Tbsp cream cheese filling and 1 Tbsp cranberries on each square. Brush the edges lightly with the egg wash. Fold each square diagonally to form a triangle. Use a fork to crimp the edges to seal. Refrigerate turnovers for 15 minutes, or until pastry is firm.
  6. Brush the tops lightly with egg wash and sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake for 20-30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, or until pastry is well browned. Cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.