Thursday, January 19, 2012


“Resistance is like swimming against the current, exhausting and pointless.” I'm thinking over these words for awhile, ever since I finished Joanne Harris' Five Quarters of the Orange. It happens to me quite often, when reading a book to think over certain sentences, phrases and circumstances. To transfer them over my life and live through them. To consider them as signs. A sign searcher - this is who I am - a daydreamer, thinking too much over the matters but then doing something impulsive, unexpected, off the cuff. Not just in life, I'm the same when baking too.

It was Christmas week and we were in Vetren. Everybody was expecting from me to make cookies – something made quickly for the afternoon coffee. But no, I decided to get to making puff pastry for palmiers. Believe me, the puff pastry could be a really challenging thing to make when the fireplace is burning wildly and it's almost 30ºC in the room. The butter was melting down and the pastry was really hard to work with but the palmiers happened to be the most beautiful ones I've ever made. I really regret for not taking photos.

A fortnight later, back at home, in our 18ºC kitchen I was making palmiers again in huge doses since Ivan wanted to take them to his work and his Romanian course as a treat for St. Ivan's day. The dough was wonderful to work with but the palmiers were not as beautiful as those I made in Vetren, although the taste was better since the butter wasn't melting down while rolling out the puff.

Those palmiers from the photos you see are the third batch I'm making this month, and I'm going to make them again next week since a friend of mine ordered them for a birthday party. So I proclaim this month to be the palmier's month.

Palmiers Recipe:

Makes around 50 palmiers

  • 300 gr all purpose flour;
  • 6 gr salt;
  • 175 gr water;
  • 170 gr butter;
  • brown sugar (I never weigh it beforehand since I always measure it by eye, but it's around 200 – 250 gr).

Make puff pastry. Combine flour and salt then add in the water. Mix with an electric mixer equipped with the dough hook till all the ingredients are combined and soft dough forms. Knead the dough for 10 more minutes to develop the gluten, form a ball out of the dough then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for half an hour.

Roll out the butter between two plastic sheets to form a small rectangle, then chill in the fridge.

Lightly dust the counter with flour. Roll the dough from the four sides forming a cushion mat in the middle. Lay the butter on that mat and fold the all four sides of the dough sealing the butter inside. Roll the dough out to around 25x20 rectangle then fold it like you would fold a business letter. Rotate the “letter” short side down, roll out and fold again. Wrap in the plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours to chill.

Repeat the rolling-folding procedure 4-5 more times with at least 2 hours interval after each procedure. You can keep the puff pastry for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line a baking sheet with paper. Normally I use silpat when baking cookies but for palmiers I prefer paper for better caramelisation.

Generously sprinkle the counter with brown sugar, place the puff pastry on top and sprinkle more brown sugar over it, then roll out to a rectangle about 3 mm thick. Add more sugar as you roll it out. When rolled out sprinkle a final layer of sugar. At the end there should be a nice layer of sugar that will melt and caramelize during baking.

Roll up one of the ends of the rectangle till you reach the middle, then roll up from the opposite end. Cut the roll into 0,5 cm slices and arrange them on the lined with paper baking sheet leaving some space between slices as they will expand. I like to pinch the bottom of the slices to resemble hearts.

Bake for around 8 – 10 minutes or until nicely caramelized. Take out of the oven and wait a couple of minutes till the caramel hardens then move palmiers on a wire rack upside down (caramelized side on top). When cooled transfer to an airtight container.



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