custard

Rhubarb + Custard Doughnuts

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

One of the best things about our allotment is that it has rhubarb. Richard and I both love rhubarb in all sorts of things – muffins, cakes, crumbles, pies… etc. (Although, we also love just plain ol’ stewed rhubarb with some yogurt.) However, sometimes it feels like we almost have too much rhubarb (I know – it’s a thing!) and I’m always looking for new ways to use it.

One of the first things that came to my mind was rhubarb doughnuts! Someone at my work had actually tried to make rhubarb and custard doughnuts before, but the acidity in the rhubarb jam he made caused the cream to curdle. Ever since then I’ve always thought that if I were to do it, I would turn the rhubarb into a curd instead, as it would prevent any curd-ling. After all, you can mix lemon curd with cream and it’s fine – and lemon is even more acidic!

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

So I went back to my tried and true recipe for crème patissière, which is the same recipe I use for making lemon curd! I simply swap the milk amount for lemon juice, and add as much zest as the amount of lemons I juice. I figured I could do the same with rhubarb purée! However, once I had stewed the rhubarb, and blitzed it – it wouldn’t press through a seive like raspberry or some other kind of puree. Too much fibre. In the end I didn’t seive it, and simply reduced the amount of cornstarch in the recipe to account for how thick the puree is to start with. I figured that the rhubarb purée was about halfway between how thin milk is, and how thick I wanted the final curd – so I halved the amount of thickener (cornstarch) to just 10g.

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

The rhubarb taste is there, but subtler than I was expecting. I’m debating trying to make these without the custard next time. I would double the amount of rhubarb puree, and just flavour the whipping cream with vanilla and fold them together. I think the flavour would be amazing – but then I love rhubarb, and it might be too strong for some. But even without the strong rhubarb flavour – these still taste great!

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

For the doughnut itself, I used the same recipe from Justin Gellatly’s book Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding, that I used in the paska doughnuts. Except, as these weren’t paska doughnuts, I used his traditional recipe with water instead of citrus juice. If you want a few tips on how to fry them, check out the paska recipe! My key tip is always to prove the doughnuts on parchment paper, rather than trying to lift them off a floured surface. You can even pre-cut the squares before shaping, so that you don’t have to try and cut around the doughnuts once proven.

When I was trying to decide how to garnish these (all doughnuts need a garnish, IMHO), I was torn between poached rhubarb, and rhubarb curls! In the end, I think the poached stuff works better, as it looks more like rhubarb at first glance. It has better colour. However, the fact that you can make ribbons out of rhubarb is always fun. 🙂 I used this recipe to make them.

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

Which garnish do you think looks better?

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

Either way, if you happen to have a glut of rhubarb from your garden, or just love doughnuts, why not try these? You could even try reducing the amount of creme patissiere in the recipe to see if the stronger flavour is better? Taste is always a personal preference. Or, you can just eat the rhubarb curd straight – ha! Pipe it into tart shells, or make a rhubarb meringue pie! Enjoy!

Rhubarb + Custard Doughnuts

Ingredients

  • Doughnut Dough:
  • 500g white bread flour (strong white)
  • 60g caster sugar (berry sugar), plus extra for coating
  • 10g salt
  • 5g instant yeast (15g fresh, 7.5 active dry*)
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 150ml water
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2ltrs neutral vegetable oil, for frying
  • Rhubarb Puree:
  • 225g rhubarb, chopped
  • 0.5 orange, zest and juice
  • 50g + 2 tsp sugar
  • 25ml lemon juice
  • 10g cornstarch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Creme Patissiere:
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 50g sugar
  • 20g cornstarch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 0.25 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (or 0.25 tsp vanilla paste/extract)
  • 250ml double cream (whipping)
  • 40g caster sugar

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the flour and yeast. In a large bowl**, combine the water, citrus zest, sugar, eggs, flour mixed with yeast, and salt (layered in that order). Using a wooden spoon, stir until the dough starts to come together, then turn out onto a clean work surface.
  2. Knead the dough at a medium pace, for about 8 minutes, being careful not to add any extra flour. This dough will be very sticky, so use a bench scraper to help you knead.
  3. Allow the dough to rest for one minute.
  4. Start kneading again, and add the butter in small amounts - kneading in each one before adding the next. Once you have added all the butter, knead at a fast pace for 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic. It'll still be very very sticky.
  5. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with cling film, and allow to prove for 1-1.5 hours. Punch the dough down, recover, and place in the fridge overnight.
  6. While the dough is resting in the fridge, make your rhubarb curd and pastry cream.
  7. Place the chopped rhubarb, orange zest, juice, and 2 tsp sugar in a bowl. Allow the rhubarb to macerate while you make the crème patissière, drawing out the water.
  8. For the pastry cream: In a medium bowl, mix together your egg yolk, cornstarch, and enough of the milk to thin it out a little.
  9. Heat the remaining milk, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan, over medium heat, until just simmering. Turn off the heat, cover, and allow to infuse for 20-30 minutes.
  10. Bring the milk back up to a low boil, and slowly pour it into the egg yolk mixture, whisking the whole time to prevent the egg cooking.
  11. Return the whole mixture to the pot, and cook over a medium heat, whisking constantly.
  12. Once the mixture begins to thicken, remove from the heat for 10 seconds, and whisk vigorously. Return to the heat and allow to come to a full boil, for 10-15 seconds - keep whisking.
  13. Strain mixture onto a large piece of cling film, and wrap to make a little pillow. Chill in the fridge until cold.
  14. For the rhubarb curd: in a small pot over low heat, cook the rhubarb mixture until soft and broken down. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and puree in a food processor.
  15. In a medium bowl, mix together your egg yolk, cornstarch, and enough of the lemon juice to thin it out a little.
  16. Heat the remaining lemon juice, rhubarb purée, and sugar in a saucepan, over medium heat to a low boil, and slowly pour it into the egg yolk mixture, whisking the whole time to prevent the egg cooking.
  17. Return the whole mixture to the pot, and cook over a medium heat, whisking constantly.
  18. Once the mixture begins to thicken, remove from the heat for 10 seconds, and whisk vigorously. Return to the heat and allow to come to a full boil, for 10-15 seconds - keep whisking.
  19. Strain mixture onto a large piece of cling film, and wrap to make a little pillow. Chill in the fridge until cold.
  20. The next day, remove the dough from the fridge, and divide into 50g pieces. You should get 20. Shape each of them on a table (you may want to lightly flour your hand) into a tight bun shape. Do this by cupping your hand over the piece, and moving your hand circles.
  21. Place the rounds on parchment lined trays, and lightly cover with cling film sprayed with cooking oil to prevent sticking. Allow to prove in a warm place for 1.5-3 hours, or until doubled in size.
  22. When the dough is almost ready, begin heating the oil in a large pot over medium heat, until the temperature reads 180°C (356°F). You will need to be very careful working with the oil (it's hot!), and try and check the temp. between each batch. Cut the parchment paper around each doughnut.
  23. Fry the doughnuts in groups of 2 or three, for about 1.5-2 minutes on each side. Place them in the oil gently, by the parchment paper, and remove it once you have flipped the doughnuts.
  24. Remove the doughnuts to a paper towel lined plate, to soak up any excess oil. While still warm, toss the doughnuts in a bowl of caster sugar.
  25. Once all the doughnuts are fried, allow them to cool while you finish the filling.
  26. Remove the pastry cream and curd from the fridge, and beat until smooth.
  27. Whip the double cream, and 40g caster sugar until stiff, then divide in two and fold each half into the rhubarb and pastry cream. Gently swirl the two together. Fill a piping bag, fitted with a small round nozzle, with the mixture, or a ziplock bag with a small hole cut in the corner.
  28. Using a paring knife, cut a small hold in the side of each of the doughnuts, to allow you to fill them.
  29. Stick your piping bag in the hole, and fill the doughnut, then pipe a small amount to cover the hole. Decorate with poached rhubarb, or whatever garnish you like!

Notes

*If using active dry yeast, you will need to warm the water to about 46°C (115°F) and allow to dissolve. If using either active dry or fresh, add to the water instead of flour. **Feel free to make in a stand mixer if you have one, using your dough hook. Simply mix on medium speed for the time shown. It's much easier to use a machine with such a sticky dough.

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Possets: The Easiest Custard You’ll Ever Make

Posset recipe | Hello Victoria

When I was studying pastry + bread making in Vancouver, our teachers introduced us to a dessert I had never heard of – the posset. Originally a thickened drink waaaay back in the day (think Shakespear), it has evolved into a set custard-like dessert which has the consistency of sour cream. Possets require only 3 ingredients, which is why they are the simplest “custards” you can make. (I use quotations on custard, as the term generally means something that has been set with eggs.) No need to worry about curdling eggs with this custard! Possets need no eggs, no gelatine, no flour… the only thing that they require to set into a velvet consistency, is acid.

Posset recipe | Hello Victoria

I could get all science-y about it, but it’s similar to how yogurt is made. Except, instead of having bacteria eating the sugars (lactose) and producing lactic acid, you add the acid yourself! The acid lowers the ph of the cream, which changes the structure of the protein strands, allowing them to hold more water. Originally, I was taught that possets require citrus to set (lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit…), but there are other fruits with a similar ph to citrus.

Posset custard recipe | Hello Victoria

My original recipe idea, was to make an orange posset, flavoured with pomegranate (mostly because I just wanted the pink/peach colour). But as I was making the first batch I was having a hard time. Possets need the citric acid to set, so I couldn’t substitute pomegranate juice for orange juice. I could only add a tablespoon or so for flavour. Now, pomegranate isn’t as strong a taste as the orange, so it wasn’t coming through. Then, as I was tasting things, I wondered to myself if the bitter pomegranate juice might be acidic? Turns out, pomegranate has a lower ph than oranges, and is closer to that of lemons! That made me realize you could use pomegranate juice all on its own!

So I went back to the store for more cream, and set about making three different possets – one solely orange, one 50/50 orange and pomegranate, and one solely pomegranate. I was curious about the different colours and flavours, and couldn’t settle on just one. The result? Well, the pomegranate one didn’t really taste of pomegranate – it’s too delicate a flavour. I used pomegranate juice though, so maybe freshly squeezed would come through? With the 50/50 one you couldn’t really taste the pomegranate, as again, it’s too delicate. The orange one was the best, as the flavour really cuts through the cream. (more…)

Nanaimo Bars (A Canadian Traybake)

Nanaimo Bars recipe | Hello Victoria

I’m starting to realize that I can’t do everything by hand. And I don’t mean that in the sense of handmade… but that sometimes, you just need machine power when baking. Case in point – these Nanaimo Bars.

When I was studying pastry in Vancouver, our course had us doing almost everything by hand. Whether that was whipping cream, or making meringue, there were few things that we did with our Kitchenaid mixers. One of the few things we did with a machine was an italian meringue – and I resigned myself to not making them while living in this tiny flat. (I also resigned myself to not making marshmallows while here, as it’s pretty much the same process.)

As I couldn’t bring my Kitchenaid mixer from Canada, and had no room to put one here even if I did, I didn’t bother to buy a hand mixer. Maybe it’s because once you go Kitchenaid you never go back? Or perhaps my hand mixing at school had made me cocky? Bah ha ha, you puny machines – look at the strength of my arms!!! Mwah ah ah…

Nanaimo Bars recipe | Hello Victoria

But seriously – if I could whip cream by hand, and make meringues (just not italian), why did I need a hand mixer? Well folks, creaming butter, that’s why! It is easy to do when you’re just softening it for a cookie dough, but trying to incorporate air and make it fluffy?! My upper body strength has its limits. So the next time I need to make a fluffy layer, I may just review my aversion to hand mixers.

For anyone not already aware, Nanaimo bars are something from the West Coast of Canada (named after the city of Nanaimo). They are so ubiquitous that as a child I thought they were as common as chocolate chip cookies. It’s a crust of digestive/coconut/nut/chocolate, covered with a buttery custard layer, and topped with more chocolate. Normally the crust contains graham crackers, but over here I substituted with digestive biscuits.

Nanaimo Bars recipe | Hello Victoria

I personally was never the biggest eater of Nanaimo bars, as I found them too sweet/rich as a child, but homesickness has crept in. Either than or my new Canadian coworker, lamenting the lack of these delectable bars, persuaded me to break out the ol’ wooden spoon.

Maybe you will too? Or do you have one of those fancy hand mixers?

Nanaimo Bars (A Canadian Traybake)

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 8 x 8" Square Tin

Ingredients

  • Base Layer:
  • 0.5 cup unsalted butter
  • 0.25 cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1.25 cups graham cracker/digestive biscuit crumbs
  • 0.5 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup coconut
  • Second Layer:
  • 0.5 C unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tsp whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp custard powder
  • 2 C icing sugar
  • Third Layer:
  • 114g dark chocolate
  • 30g unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Melt first three ingredients over a bain marie*.
  2. Add the egg, and stir until it has cooked and thickened.
  3. Remove from the heat, and stir in the crumbs, and nuts.
  4. Press firmly and evenly into the pan. Chill in the fridge while making the second layer.
  5. For the custard layer, cream together the butter, custard powder, and icing sugar, until light and fluffy.
  6. Add whipping cream, and whip until light. Spread over first layer, and chill until firm.
  7. For the chocolate topping, melt the butter and chocolate together over a bain marie, being careful not to overheat.
  8. Remove bowl from the heat, and allow to cool. Once cool, but still pourable, spread over the custard layer, and chill to set.

Notes

*Bain marie is a fancy way of saying hot water bath. It is used to describe cooking items in the oven surrounded by water (to ensure even cooking), or cooking items in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. In our case, it means the latter.

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Rhubarb and Blood Orange Custard Danish

Rhubarb and custard danish | Hello Victoria

A while back, while hunting for danish inspiration photos on Pinterest, I stumbled across a beautiful recipe on Hint of Vanilla for a Rhubarb Danish (check out her blog, not only is it amazing, but she’s Canadian!). The shape of the danish was unique, and the piping of the cream with the St. Honoré tip was beautiful. Quite frankly, her danishes (what is the plural of danish?) look so good you might as well stop reading this now, and just head over to her blog – trust me, it’s better!

I’ve been wanting to try her recipe, or at least a variation of it, ever since. As I was buying rhubarb for my skillet cake (as well as to infuse some gin, like our sloe gin) I decided to buy a whole kilo and experiment. Since I was sending these with Richard to his work, I knew I couldn’t pipe cream on top, like the original recipe. So I decided to add creaminess with a pastry cream, piped under the rhubarb, flavored with blood orange and vanilla! After all, orange is a great complement to rhubarb, and I was buying them anyways for other recipes.

Rhubarb and custard danish | Hello Victoria

As I was making this recipe on my two days off, and was trying to cram like 8 recipes in those days, I tried to go the lazy route. I had seen puff pastry and pie dough in the grocery stores, and assumed that you could probably buy ready to roll croissant or danish dough. Wrong… wrong, wrong, wrong. I had hoped to spend my days off doing so many things, and didn’t want to make danish dough. It’s not hard, just time consuming.

So because I already had my other ingredients, I decided to just suck it up and make the dough. Except I misread my recipe twice, and had to make the dough three times (!!) before I got it right (that is what happens when I rush things). Then, of course I was trying to rush my turns, and was freezing the dough in between to chill it quickly… and forgot about it between the first and second turn. When I tried to roll it out, it was still too cold and I broke the butter sheet… gah! So please, don’t look too closely at the dough in the photos, and do what I say, not what I did.

Rhubarb and custard danish | Hello Victoria

The layers weren’t very nice in the end, but the flavor is still there. These two days weren’t my best because I was trying to do too much. I ended up not doing everything as well as I should have.

Rhubarb and custard danish | Hello Victoria

Rhubarb and custard danish | Hello Victoria

Rhubarb and custard danish | Hello Victoria

I made a half batch recipe, which makes about 7 proper danish, with scrap left over. The full recipe makes 15 danish, and the excess can be used to make the little mini bite sized ones.

Rhubarb and custard danish | Hello Victoria

Rhubarb and custard danish | Hello Victoria

If you find that you have extra pastry cream left over – don’t worry! It tastes amazing and you could pretty much just eat it with a spoon… or dip fruit in it… or pipe it into tart shells and top with fresh fruit! It’s pretty versatile.

Rhubarb and custard danish | Hello Victoria

Mmmmm… now I want to make these again, but take my time to do the dough properly! If you’re feeling up to it, danish dough isn’t really hard, just takes a good couple hours to make. However, if your shop has it for sale, you might want to take the easy route! This recipe looks long and daunting, but trust me, these aren’t as hard as they look!

Rhubarb and Custard Danish

Prep Time: 4 hours

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 15 Square Danish + 15 Mini Danish

Ingredients

  • 500g rhubarb, leaves removed
  • 40g sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, divided
  • 1 blood orange, zest and juice, divided
  • 285 ml milk
  • 375g butter (for butter block)
  • 250 ml milk
  • 50g sugar
  • 20g corn starch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 500g bread flour
  • 50g sugar
  • 7g salt
  • 14g fresh yeast (7g active dry or 4.5g instant)
  • 1 egg
  • 50g butter (for dough)

Instructions

  1. For the rhubarb, slice each stalk in half, down the middle, and place in a dish. Zest and squeeze the juice of half the orange, and cut open half the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds. Place the zest, juice, vanilla seeds, and pod in the dish with the 40g sugar and rhubarb. Toss to evenly cover the rhubarb and allow to sit for at least an hour.
  2. For the pastry cream, combine the milk, sugar, zest, from the second half of the orange, and remaining vanilla seeds and pod. Bring the milk to a gentle simmer, and remove from the heat. Cover and allow to seep for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Once the cream has infused long enough, whisk the egg yolk with the cornstarch, and pour in some of the milk mixture to thin it out a little. Bring the milk to a low boil and slowly pour into the cornstarch mixture, while whisking vigorously.
  4. Return the whole mix to the pot and bring to a boil over a medium heat, while whisking the whole time. When you feel the mixture start to thicken, briefly remove from the heat and whisk, to prevent the egg from over cooking. Then return to the heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, continue to cook for 10 seconds to ensure that the corn starch is cooked out.
  5. Remove from the heat, and stir in 2-3 tbsp of the blood orange juice. Pour through a sieve onto a large piece of cling film. Wrap the pastry cream in the cling film to make a little parcel and allow to cool in the fridge. If you have extra juice, pour it over the rhubarb.
  6. To make the danish dough, the method depends on which kind of yeast you are using. If fresh, add it to the cold milk; if active dry, warm the milk to 115°F (45°C) and dissolve the yeast in it first; if instant, mix in with the flour. Depending on your yeast, place the ingredients in the bowl in the following order: milk, egg, sugar, flour, salt, and butter (in small pieces).
  7. Mix the ingredients together until they resemble a shaggy mass, and then turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough slowly for 2 minutes, just to get the ingredients combined and the butter worked in, then up the speed to fast for 8 minutes. Wrap the dough in cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  8. While the dough is resting, make the butter block. Wrap the butter in cling film, and pound with a rolling pin. Continue pounding the butter, and folding the edges over, until you can fold the butter and it doesn't crack. Shape the butter into a 20cm square and set aside at room temperature until the dough is ready.
  9. To encase the butter, roll the dough out to a 20cm rectangle, on a well floured surface. Cut a cross into the dough and pull out the corners. Roll them out while keeping the middle slightly raised. Brush off any extra flour, and place the butter block in the middle.
  10. Cover the butter with the dough flaps, one at a time, brushing off the extra flour, and pinch to completely seal.
  11. To make the first turn, gently press the dough with a rolling pin to merge the layers together, and then roll out in one direction to 45 cm long. Fold the top third of the dough down, brush off the extra flour, and fold the bottom up to cover. You should have a rectangle of dough with three layers. Cover in cling film and allow to rest for 30 minutes. You can speed up the rest time with a brief turn in the fridge, but need to make sure that the butter stays soft.
  12. For the second turn, roll the dough in the opposite direction as before (rolling the open ends out) and complete the turn as the first. Allow to rest for 30 minutes again.
  13. Complete the third turn, same as the second, and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
  14. Once the dough is ready, roll it out on a well floured surface to just larger than a 21 cm x 70 cm rectangle and then cut the edges of the dough to 21 cm x 70 cm. Cut the dough into 30 squares, 7 cm x 7 cm. Using a round cookie cutter, cut 15 circles from half the squares.
  15. Remove the rhubarb from the dish and line up the stalks on a cutting board. Using the same circle cutter, cut circles of the rhubarb, using a small sharp knife if necessary. Cut 15 circles of rhubarb and the chop up any remaining rhubarb to top the scrap pieces.
  16. Brush a little water around the edges of the full squares and top with the ones with the circles cut out. Pipe a bit of the cream in the middle and top with the circles of rhubarb.
  17. For the scrap circles, pipe on a small mound of cream, and top with some of the chopped rhubarb.
  18. Place all the danish on parchment lines trays and sprinkle with some turbinado sugar (demererra sugar) if you like. Cover the trays with upside down plastic bins, or loosely with cling film, and allow to proof for 1.5-2 hours, or until well puffed and you can start to see the layers.
  19. While the danish are proving, preheat the oven to 340°F (170°C).
  20. Bake the danish for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. rotating after 10 minutes if necessary.
  21. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on racks. If desired, make a simple glaze with water (or milk) and icing sugar, and drizzle over the top.
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