Posted on Thursday, 31st March 2011 by Grace Massa Langlois
Breakfast pastries never last very long in our home especially fruit-filled pastries with a creamy cheese layer. Out of pure necessity I decided on Strawberry-Cream Cheese Pastries. Why? I’ve never been able to walk by a stand of beautifully displayed strawberries without purchasing a basket or two. And I made the mistake of visiting the market not once but twice this week! Can anyone say strawberry overload?
We may love pastries, but I have a love/hate relationship with Puff Pastry. And with this latest baking adventure I have tipped the balance toward the one side of the scale. I am officially going on record by stating, “I hate store-bought Puff Pastry!” Why you ask? Well, when baked the layers of Puff Pastry should “puff” up, but it doesn’t seem to work for me! Where’s my puff?
Don’t get me wrong; store-bought puff pastry definitely has its benefits. For one, I love the convenience of store-bought puff pastry, especially when you can make Strawberry Cream Cheese Pastries like these in no time at all. Two, the buttery taste is there and three, the pastry is crisp. But I’m a tough customer. Those three are just not enough. I want the “puff”!
Am I asking for too much? I don’t think so. When I search for Puff Pastry recipes, I see page after page of beautiful pastries and most of the recipes use the store-bought variety. I found a great little recipe for making my own Puff Pastry and surprisingly enough, the list of ingredients was fairly small. But after making my own (a labour of love) I can certainly understand why most people choose the store-bought variety.
I have tried all the wonderful tips (for store-bought and homemade):
- Keep the dough cold – puff pastry works because of the layers of butter and dough. You need to keep the dough cold to keep those layers separate. Get out your sweaters and turn on the AC!
- When rolling out the pastry avoid rolling out the edges, this can press down on the sides and create a seal.
- When using a knife (make sure it is sharp) do not drag it through the dough to cut.
- Position your oven rack to the upper third of the oven and always preheat your oven to get it nice and hot. When the heat infiltrates the layers of dough it causes steam to form between the layers. If it’s not hot enough, the butter will simply melt and won’t create that flaky, puffy crust we all want (I want!).
- And most importantly, avoid dripping egg wash down the sides of the pastry. This will create a seal and you can say good-bye to that sought after “puff”.
- Spritz the pastry with cold water (helps to create steam) immediately before placing in the hot oven to bake.
What’s a girl to do? When nothing seems to work? Relax, pour myself a cup of coffee, and enjoy my flat yet tasty blend of creamy cheese filling, sweet strawberries and buttery crispy pastry. Who cares if it’s flat, it’s the taste that counts. Right? Wrong! – oops that’s the perfectionist in me coming out.
I’m sure my rocky relationship with store-bought Puff Pastry will continue. But for now here’s to hot ovens, cold kitchens and Strawberry-Cream Cheese Pastries.
Strawberry-Cream Cheese Pastries
(Inspired by Todd & Diane, White on Rice Couple - Hoping my pastries look just as good some day!)
Makes 6 to 8 pastries
- Store-bought Puff Pastry or Pâte Croissant
- Cream Cheese Filling
- Fresh Strawberries
Cream Cheese Filling
- 185 g (6½-ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 113 g (½-cup) caster (superfine granules) sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 65 g (3 ounces) mascarpone cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth, about 1 minute.
- Gradually add the sugar and beat until well combined.
- Add the egg yolk, mascarpone cheese and vanilla; beat to well combine, set aside.
Assembling Strawberry-Cream Cheese Pastries
- 450 g (about 1 pound) Store-bought Puff Pastry or Pâte Croissant, thawed
- 450 g (about 1 pound) fresh strawberries, cut into 1¼-cm (½-inch) pieces
- Egg wash
- Preheat oven to 190° C (375° F). Stack two baking sheets, one on top of the other. Repeat. Line the two top baking sheets with non-stick baking paper or silicone baking mats, set aside.
- On a clean, floured work surface, roll out puff pastry to 1/8-inch thick.
- Cut pastry into 10¼-cm (4-inch) long by 20¼-cm (8-inch) wide rectangles.
- Working with one pastry rectangle at-a-time, working from the narrow end, cut .64-cm (¼-inch) (or 1¼-cm or ½-inch) strips, repeat on the opposite side (making sure you have the same amount of cut strips on each side). Transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pastry rectangles.
- Spoon cream cheese filling onto centre of each pastry rectangle. Using the back of the spoon, spread out the filling.
- Arrange berries on top of the filling for each pastry rectangle.
- Working with one pastry rectangle at-a-time, “braid” the sides of the dough; with your right hand, bring the right strip up and over the filling, with your left hand, bring the left strip up and over the right strip. Continue this method of overlapping with the remaining strips. Continue with remaining pastry rectangles.
- Brush each pastry with egg wash.
- Spritz with cold water and bake until golden, about 35 minutes.
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Tags: after school treat, afternoon tea, breakfast, brunch, cream cheese, danish, desserts, food, food photography, food photos, fruit, strawberries
Posted in Baking & Pastry, Baking Mise en Place, Custards, Creams & Mousses, Fillings, Frostings & Dessert Sauces, Pastry Doughs & Batter, Recipes, Yeast Breads & Yeast Dough