Thursday, March 22, 2012
So, PAUL finally opened its doors in Singapore not so long ago. Needless to say, I was elated. I remember too clearly waking up on chilly mornings in France, to their lovely croissants, tartes and pains au chocolat (yes, all three together), and washing all of that down with a café creme. There's just something magical about the aroma of freshly baked anything melding with that of coffee. Anyone who can bottle that heavenly scent is a genius in my book. ;)
Of course, being the foodies that we were, we were literally kids in a candy store. Who wouldn't be? When you're staring at rows and rows of OMG-I-wanna-eat-all-that on display. We'd have to keep reminding ourselves to rein our enthusiasm in, so that we'd have room for lunch later on. And again, at teatime, when we'd tell ourselves not to overdo the cakes, for dinner would be another grand affair. Trust me, we really ate like there was no tomorrow!
Anyway, one of the pastries that intrigued us was the palmier. PAUL makes them huge, as huge as a man's entire hand, and always in the shape of a pretty heart.
8 Dec 2011: Breakfast at PAUL, at Gare de Lyon-Perrache in Lyon.
One morning, my friend stared at them a little longer than usual, so I egged him to get one. "Try it," I urged, and buy one he did.
I watched him take a bite, and waited for a response.
"This is good," was all he said, before continuing with the next bite, and the next, and the next.
At that point, I promptly hijacked his palmier for a taste, and golly, it was good! It was so crisp on the outside, it actually shattered when I bit into it. And the inside? Buttery, chewy, tearaway layers. Oh là là.
So. Just for fun, I decided to make some palmiers last weekend, using storebought puff pastry, of course. Did you think I was gonna kill myself making puff pastry from scratch?! Obviously, it was a far cry from the ones I had at PAUL (duh!), but they were really easy to make, and I had great fun watching them bloom into little hearts as they baked.
I guess your palmiers would taste only as good as the quality of your puff pastry dough, so don't set your expectations too high if you are using readymade versions. As for technical difficulty - there is virtually none.
Let me put it this way: if you can fold a simple paper aeroplane (and even a 5-year old can), you can make palmiers.
(by Ina Garten, via Foodnetwork.com)
- 2 cups granulated sugar (yes, A LOT of sugar)
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 sheets puff pastry, defrosted
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
Note: I found this too hot. I baked at 200°C.
2. Combine the sugar and kosher salt. Pour 1 cup of the sugar/salt mixture on a flat surface such as wooden board or marble. Unfold each sheet of puff pastry onto the sugar and pour 1/2 cup of the sugar mixture on top, spreading it evenly on the puff pastry. This is not about sprinkling, it's about an even covering of sugar. With a rolling pin, roll the dough until it's 13 by 13-inches square* and the sugar is pressed into the puff pastry on top and bottom.
* I actually didn't bother measuring ... square, rectangle, whatever - it doesn't matter!
Here, I used a piece of paper to illustrate the folding process because it was way too messy to take photos along the way:
3. Fold the sides of the square towards the center so they go halfway to the middle.
4. Fold* them again so the two folds meet exactly at the middle of the dough.
* Everytime you fold, make sure you press the layers firmly. You want them to stick.
5. Then fold one half over the other half as though closing a book.
6. See? Like that. You will have 6 layers.
7. Slice the dough into 3/8-inch slices and place the slices, cut side up, on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Place the second sheet of pastry on the sugared board, sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar mixture, and continue as above (there will be quite a bit of sugar left over on the board). Slice and arrange on baking sheets lined with parchment.
8. Bake for 6 mins until caramelised and brown on the bottom, then turn with a spatula and bake another 3 to 5 minutes, until caramelised on the other side. Transfer to a baking rack to cool.
Something to note: if you google 'palmiers', you will notice that they are also referred to as 'elephant ears'. You'll get this effect if you roll the 2 ends of the dough towards the centre, like a scroll. If you want hearts, you have to fold the dough just like I did. Roll or fold? The choice is yours. :)