I had grand plans to make madeleines and macarons this month. Grand plans. But then I made this apricot tart because our tree was so full of fruit and it left me with extra pastry and extra almond cream and I simply couldn’t let it go to waste. So I poured over the Bouchon Bakery cookbook looking at every recipe that incorporated almond cream (the leftover pastry has been frozen) and saw this recipe for Pithiviers, something I’d never heard of before but was instantly intrigued by. Puff pastry from scratch. Frangipane that is creme patisserie and almond cream whisked together. I can use up the mixed dried fruit that was leftover from our Christmas pudding. I am in!
The puff pastry was obviously the most time consuming, mainly because of the refrigeration time in between folds. You take a simply pastry dough and fold it around a butter block, roll it and fold it again several times (refrigerating for a couple hours between each fold) in order to create this gloriously layered pastry.
For the pithiviers you cut out two 9 inch circles, pipe the filling one of them, then use an egg wash to seal the second one over the other. Egg wash the top and use a pairing knife to draw a design on top (I went with the flower that was described in the book).
This left me with about 600 grams of pastry so I put it in the fridge to use in another recipe.
For the filling I had to make a creme patisserie which is not really new to me, but the method was. Everything was whipped together in the mixer before it went on the heat, where normally you need to be super careful about scrambling the eggs when you incorporate it into the flour and milk and sugar. I was also surprised that they used custard powder, but love how rich and yellow the creme patisserie became with it in there. I reserved the amount called for in the recipe and saved the rest for another day (more on that soon).
Then I simply put it back in the mixer with the almond cream and after they were mixed thoroughly together, I added about a cup of brandied dried fruits and folded it in. I then tried to pipe a nice spiral on the bottom pastry but ended up smoothing it into a mound because the dried fruits made it quite splotchy.
It bakes for almost 2 hours and in the last few minutes you brush a sugar syrup on top to give it a lovely glossy sheen. It looked beautiful and tasted amazing – Aaron said if I used an apple filling instead of the frangipane/fruit mixture it would taste just like his favorite apple turnovers (there is a recipe for such a treat in this book that I may have to surprise him with at some stage).
I’m really glad I found this recipe and look forward to working out how to use up that creme patisserie and puff pastry in the next few days. Bon appetit!