January has been quite a moody unpredictable month so far, with torrential rain and strong winds one day and languidly humid summer days the next. There’s even been a hint of gentle frost in the morning, a reminder that the autumn season is near.
This is the best time to get cosy on the couch, with a warm cup of tea and tasty sweet treat. It’s also the most inspiring time to bake. As soon as the weather feels slightly chilled or temperamental, I want to prepare some decadent and delicious baked good that has a mesmerizing and comforting aroma that will scent the whole house.
I tend to get hung up on things… I fall in love with something, or someone, and then get slightly obsessed. But these obsessions do come and go as fast as they arrived, just like the ebb and flow of tide. My latest momentary obsession though? Citrus and spice.
I have a special passion for using both citrus and spices. It’s a complimentary flavour combination that is used most in my cooking, in particular, my baking. The smell is pure comfort, which is exactly what I need right now. So what a better idea than to bake Spiced Orange Palmiers?
Palmiers are a classic French patisserie staple and a treat I love. I remember the first time that I ate a palmier. The very idea of them seemed quite luxurious (I think it had to do with the exotic French name)… I had no idea as to what I was eating; just that it was a deliciously caramelised and sweetly sublime thing.
These Spiced Orange Palmiers are really, really delightful. They have a brilliantly caramelised and crisp puff pastry exterior, and a sweet but tangy sticky filling that is fragranced by the citric zest and juice of orange and rich flavour of mixed spice.
These palmiers are easy and simple. So easy and simple you can’t believe that they will taste amazing. The only thing that requires a bit of work is the home-made puff pastry, but if you have the time, patience and ability to follow the recipe and step by step instructions exactly… I guarantee no issue.
For those time poor or patience poor, the palmiers can easily be made with store bought puff pastry and taste as equally delicious – but they will not retain the same fantastic buttery crunch that home-made pastry gives. The assembly of these palmiers is quite simple and quick too, and the final product looks like it came out of a pastry case of a little French patisserie. Just so fancy, just so beautiful.
- 350 g / 12 oz. plain flour
- 150 g / 5 oz. water
- 110 g / 3.5 oz. butter, melted
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 310 g / 11 oz. butter
- 150 g / 5 oz. plain flour
- 100 g / 3.5 oz. raw sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- Finely grated ring from 1 orange
- 1 tsp. cardamom
- 1 tsp .ginger
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. cinnamon.
- 20 g / ¾ oz. butter, melted
- 1 tbsp. fresh orange juice
- Start by making the detrempe. Place the flour in a large bowl. In a jug combine the water, melted butter and salt. Using a wooden spoon, pour the water mixture over the flour, mixing as you go or until just incorporated. The dough should feel soft but not sticky. Place the dough in cling film and form a rectangle 30 x 20 cm (12 x 8 in) and 6 mm (1/3 in) thick. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 2 hours.
- Now make the beurre maine. Cream the butter then add the flour, mixing briefly until just combined. Transfer to cling film and form a 15 x 10 (6 x 8 in) rectangle. Wrap and chill for at least an hour.
- After both dough’s have rested, lightly flour a work surface. Place the beurre maine over the right half of the detrempe. Fold the left half of the detrempe to enclose the beurre maine, like a book. Using your fingers make a few small indents into the dough – this will make the rolling process easier and more even. Starting from the centre-upwards, roll until the dough is less than 1 cm (1/2 in) thick. It should form a rectangle 40 x 20 cm (15 ½ x 8 in). Trim the sides so that you have a neat rectangle.
- This next step is called the tour double. Visualise the middle axis of the rectangle, grab the lower third of the dough and fold it over to meet in the middle. Repeat this process with the upper third of the dough – like an open book. Now close the ‘book’ and wrap it in cling film. Chill for three hours or even better, overnight.
- This next step is the second tour double. Place the book look-alike dough in front of you, spine on the left and repeat the rolling and folding process as above. Once again, chill for at least two hours.
- To give the dough its final tour, place the ‘book’ in front of you, spine on the left and roll it into a rectangle slightly larger than a sheet of A4 paper. Fold into three, like a business letter. Use a sharp knife to cut into 2 equal portions and wrap in cling-film. You can freeze the dough for up to a month for later use, or keep refrigerated for three days.
- In a small bowl, combine the sugar, rind and spices.
- On a work surface dusted with raw sugar, roll out a sheet of pastry into a 30 cm / 12 inch square. Brush lightly with melted butter and juice scatter with the sugar and spice mixture. Roll the 2 sides of the pastry inwards to meet in the center. Transfer to a lined baking tray and refrigerate until firm, roughly 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 220 C / 420 F. Slice the pastry into 1 cm / ½ inch thick pieces and place on lined baking trays, leaving 5 cm / 2 inches in between. Bake the palmiers, swapping and turning trays partway to cook evenly until light golden – roughly 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully flip palmiers over (the molten sugar will be very hot), then return to oven until bases are glazed and caramelised – 6 – 8 minutes. Cool on trays until hardened and serve on the day of baking.