I have had a decade and a half long obsession with Almond Croissants. When I lived in New York, I ran from one French bakery to another surveying the croissants. La Bergamote in Chelsea have the best twice baked beauties! They have always been this mythical pastry that I could never quite make myself. I have attempted many versions of puff pastry to get myself closer to my most coveted pastry, but until recently, a good puff pastry has evaded me. I know you can just go to the shop and buy a perfect sheet of pastry, but I wanted the full experience, and I more or less wasted 4 pounds of butter trying to figure it out!
Through some variations, I finally stumbled on a puff pastry recipe that I can handle, so I wanted to share it with you! If you don’t want to dedicate an afternoon to rolling and chilling, go for the store-bought pastry, and start following along with the recipe when we get to the filling!
I read about Pithiviers recently, and wanted to give them a try. A pithivier is a round puff pastry tart named after the region in France it originated from. Generally these pastries are filled with the delicious almond paste that I am in love with, as well as a fruit like a prune or a cherry. I had a jar of prunes ready, and recently bought a delicious new bottle of Baltimore-made dark rum, that is how my version came about.
The Puff Pastry
16 tbsp cold butter, cut in half lengthwise
1 cup fine pastry flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 tsp white or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
- Place sliced butter on counter to warm up for about 10 minutes.
- Combine both flours in a large bowl and place in freezer.
- Combine the water, vinegar, and salt. Whisk or stir until the salt is dissolved.
- Remove flour from the freezer, make a hole in the center and gradually pour water in while mixing with your fingers.
- You may need to add a bit more water to bring it together into a rough ball, but do not knead the dough, it should look dry and chunky similar to biscuit dough.
- Press dough into a disk and slice an X across the surface, about 3/4 inch deep. Place in a bowl and leave uncovered in the fridge for a half an hour.
- On a sheet of parchment, place the sliced butter side by side in a rectangle. Cover with half of the parchment and smack with a rolling pin until you have a 6×6 inch square of butter. Refrigerate for a half an hour.
- Remove dough from fridge and place on a floured sheet of parchment or foil. Roll the dough out into a square that is about 9×9 to 10×10 inches.
- Remove the butter from the fridge and place on a diagonal over the dough. Fold up the sides and seal the edges so the butter is completely enclosed.
- Roll out to about 9 inch square.
- Fold like a letter going into an envelope.
- Smack the letter down with your roller. Roll back out to a 9 inch square.
- Fold like an envelope in the other direction and repeat step 12.
- Cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Repeat steps 11-14 two more times.
- Cover in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours, but overnight is even better.
- Roll out to about 12×15 inches, the standard size of a puff pastry sheet. Refrigerate for another half an hour before use.
Almond Pithiviers with Rum-Infused Prunes
1 12×15 inch puff pastry (homemade or store-bought)
almond creme filling:
3 tbsp butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
pinch of salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp almond flour
1 tsp all purpose flour
1 tsp cornstarch
1 egg white
16 ounce jar of prunes, drained
1 cup dark rum
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
pinch of salt
1 lemon, sliced in half and juice reserved for another purpose
1 egg yolk
pinch of freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp heavy cream or milk
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp water
*You will have extra prunes, but they will last in the fridge for a month for other purposes. The syrup can also be used to poach other fruits and then condensed into a sauce!
- For the prunes: In a large sauce pan, combine rum, sugar, salt, water, and lemon halves. Be careful with the rum, it could catch fire! Bring to a boil, and reduce to medium heat.
- Add drained prunes and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and drain out 10 prunes. Reserve the remainder for another purpose in the fridge!
- Once cooled, pit and chop up the prunes and mix into the egg. Sprinkle with pepper.
- For the almond cream: mix butter, sugar, almond extract, and salt. Add the two flours and cornstarch. Add egg white and mix. Set aside
- In a small bowl, mix egg and cream for the egg wash.
- Dissolve water and sugar in a small saucepan for the glaze.
- Take out puff pastry and allow it to sit on the counter for 10-15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Flour a large piece of parchment on a counter and roll out the dough to about 12×24 inches. It should be about an eight of an inch thick.
- I used a 4.5 inch round cutter to cut out 12 rounds. This makes 6 pastries, feel free to change the size to create as many pastries as you would like.
- After 7 rounds, you may need to take the scraps and re-roll them into the remaining rounds. Use these for the bottom of your pasties!
- Arrange 6 rounds on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
- Make a mound of almond and prune on top. Make sure you leave about an inch border. You might have a bit extra of the filling, adding more will cause your pastries to burst…don’t make the same mistakes as I did!
- Brush egg wash all over the border.
- Place a second round over the top and thoroughly seal the edges. Leave a bit unsealed at first.
- Push any air out of your pastry and seal the last little bit.
- Brush more egg wash on the tops. Score stripes or a sunrise shape (the traditional shape) onto the top, or any shape you want really!
- Chill for another 10-15 minutes before baking.
- Bake at 400 for 15 minutes. The pastries will begin to brown (most recipes call for 375, but I found that 400 worked better for my pastries, feel free to turn down the temperature if they start to brown to quickly).
- Take the pastries out of the oven, brush on the sugar glaze. Return to oven and turn the heat down to 375 for another 15 minutes until the pastries are thoroughly golden.
- These will last for a day or two, but warm up in the oven at 325 for 10 minutes or so before serving.
Cooking time: a total of about 12 hours of rest and work, but its definitely worth it!