Friday, August 10, 2012 at 08:40PM
Another AlphaBakes? So soon? Well, there's a perfectly good explanatioLOOK OVER THERE
So I've become a bit gun-shy of posting any recipe that involves baking because JUST IN CASE it matches the next month's AlphaBakes letter and GOD FORBID I have to shoot something else. In this case, this recording was sitting, fully edited, waiting for the letter J. Or B. Or hell, I'd have settled for P. But the letter came up T and a frantic renaming happened, which sparked off a tide of memories.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
A few months ago, Tanja & I stopped in at Corridor, a small bar at the north end of King St in Newtown. We'd not been before, but many friends praised it, and Charlotte (she of Creme Brutal fame)'s brother used to be cocktail manager there. I loved the decor, and the fact that I could chat fancy cocktail knowledge with the bartenders as they would experiment with ingredients (We had a 10 minute conversation about bitters. Seriously). So after a happy few cocktails, we wandered homewards, slightly loopy, and stumbled into Pentimento, the bookshop home of amusing cards, beautiful notebooks, art books, and yes, cookbooks. I bought myself a beautiful old lock and key, and somehow Tanja ended up with THE ART OF FRENCH BAKING. The next morning, she looked at it, and said "Oh. I don't think this is my style. Perhaps I'll take it back." I have never moved so fast in my life to steal it out of her hands.
Admittedly, much of the content was FAR beyond my skills (anything involving making my own pastry terrifies me), but I quickly spotted a recipe for Jalousies. I'd love to say they were a remnant of my French-Canadian childhood, but no. They simply looked easiest. Madame Mathiot's version involved making her own puff pastry, and my brain was all NOPE.
A tangent: when I was a kid, we moved around a lot. Usually once a year, occasionally more. And as we were Not Rich, moving inter provincially meant driving. A lot. It had gotten to the point that I knew the TransCanada Highway routes from Vancouver-to-Hull and Fredericton-To-Ottawa like the back of my hand. I knew the landmarks, and how looking for Hope and Riviere-De-Loup and St Louis De Ha-Ha and Wawa can make the trip go faster. However my favourite was always travelling through Quebec, because they had a) smoked meat sandwiches at every diner and b) the best Rest Stops. And why were they the best Rest Stops? Because they were frequent, the bathrooms were well-maintained and they had chuck wagons with sugar tarts and The Good Apple Turnovers/Strudels (as opposed to The Bad Apple Turnovers/Strudels, which were prevalent in English Canada, and had big chunks of crystallised sugar on top and no icing. Heathens). Of course, it wasn't until years later that I had Proper German Apple Strudel, and I was always disappointed it didn't have the same sugary artificial kick the Rest Stop ones did. This recipe is the closest I've come to making Turnovers for myself.
Anyhow, talk about the recipe, Lucas, geez.
This recipe is about as simple as it gets and so versatile. I've made berry jalousies, I've made fig jalousies, I've made a variation that involves butter and cinnamon sugar, rolled like a scroll to make baby mutant cinnamon buns, I've even made mini jalousies, folding the half-sheet over like a turnover, which gets you lots more servings out of one recipe.
And now the warning: the jam you choose is KEY. The original recipe uses redcurrant jelly. DO NOT USE JELLY. Or cheap supermarket jam that is too watery. I used beautiful Berry Vanilla jam I bought from the Eveleigh Markets (and later fig jam from the same stall) and having experimented, I won't use anything else. The reason is simple: if you use watery supermarket jam, the water will boil, and foam out over the vents, leaving your tray a sticky mess, and the jalousies devoid of any actual jam inside. Jelly is eve worse, as the water ends up evaporating, and you get empty pastry! So pick a well-made sticky name with a good consistency like the one in the video, and go for it.
Oh yes, and this is for AlphaBakes. You know, that thing that Ros and Caroline do? It's for August, and the letter is T.
Aluminium - "The Hardest Button To Button", from "Aluminium", 2005
You guys know I love Jack White. Well, these guys love him more than I do. Richard Russell and Joby Talbot have created an entire album of avant-garde symphonic White Stripes covers. They presented their work to Jack White and got his seal of approval. The covers themselves range from epic (Hardest Button To Button re-imagined as a Hall of the Mountain King style escalation), to whimsical (Why Can't You Be Nicer To Me uses xylophones & strings mimicking horns) to fucking scary (Aluminum could the soundtrack to a horror film or gothic opera starring vampires). Part of the album has actually been choreographed by the Royal Ballet. Cool, huh?
Jalousies, or Fancy Jam Turnovers
1 sheet of puff pastry (you could make your own, or buy it)
1 jar good-quality jam (I used Berry Vanilla in the video, but Fig, Blueberry or Raspberry work fine)
50g slivered almonds
- Preheat your oven to 180.
- Lay out a piece of baking paper on the counter, and put your puff pastry upon it.
- Bisect the puff pastry down the middle so you get two identical rectangles.
- On one rectangle, spread on the jam thickly but evenly, leaving about a centimetre around each edge.
- Lay the second rectangle of pastry on top, and seal the edges with your fingers.
- With a sharp knife, cut vents in the top, about 5mm-1cm apart. Make sure you don't cut too deep and make a hole in the bottom. That'd be bad.
- In a little bowl, crack the egg and beat it severely. Brush the top of the pastry with the egg wash, making sure to cover it completely.
- Get a cookie sheet or baking tray and spray a little bit of water onto it, before transplanting the baking paper & pastry to it.
- Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until it goes all golden in the centre.
- 5 minutes before the baking's done, dump 3 tbsp of jam and 2 tbsp of water into a little saucepan. Heat on medium, until it combines, then take off the heat.
- Get the pastry out of the oven, and while it's still hot, brush the top with the heated jam mixture.
- Quickly sprinkle slivered almonds on top, then brush with more jam so it sticks.
- Allow to cool to room temperature, then cut across into strips.
- Seize and consume!