Craquelins - a Belgian brioche treat from Thomas Keller

I've been salivating over Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery book that's been sitting on my pastry library bookshelf for several months now.  Thus far I've made a few of the shortbread recipes and have read through a good deal of the book, soaking in the advice and tips from Sebastien Rouxel, the head patissier.  His way of presenting things is right up my alley and is so in line with how I've come to view my own approach to pastry and the French way of doing things.

His energy, passion and attention to detail come through loud and clear, especially on the heels of my ever growing disillusionment with Philippe Conticini's La Pâtisserie des Rêves book, it's imprecision and sloppy editing.

The craquelins recipe was calling my name, and, as usual, I did some research on this enriched dough treat.  It is classically a Belgian specialty made by mixing citrus zest and sugar cubes into brioche dough.  Lemon is most commonly used, but some versions use orange and add some orange liqueur as well.

The method that is described in a number or recipes involves mixing sugar cubes into brioche dough and then covering and enclosing the shaped dough balls with a smaller disc of brioche dough.  This apparently acts as a seal to keep the sugar cubes from popping through during baking.

Bouchon's version calls for candied orange rind, orange zest and orange liqueur, and I figured I'd follow their lead on this one.

First I made my candied orange rind, which can be done ahead and kept in the fridge for several weeks.  It's a straightforward process with the fussiest part being the separating of the rind from as much of the white pith as possible.

I typically slice the rind off the orange, then remove any remaining pith before cutting the rind into narrow strips.

Make a simple syrup and set it aside.  Place the rind in cold water in a separate sauce pan, bring it to a boil, then strain it.  Do that two more times (this helps reduce the bitterness of the rind),

boiling the rind

then place the rind into the simple syrup and simmer until translucent (that might take 20-30 minutes).

the candied rind

Let the rind cool to room temp before refrigerating it in its syrup until you're ready to use it.

Time to make the brioche!  Every time I make this enriched dough I am amazed at the transformation that occurs.  What begins as a somewhat dry, firm dough develops into a satiny, shiny, buttery mass of goodness.  Whoa baby!

This recipe has a starter made with 60 gm whole milk, 8 gm instant yeast and 90 gm all purpose flour.  It's dry and not terribly attractive.

Mix it, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for an hour.


Meanwhile, get the orange rind mixture ready:  finely chop the candied orange rind, mix with orange zest and liqueur.  The recipe calls for 150 gm candied rind, 15 gm orange zest and 1.5 tsp orange liqueur.  I used 80 gm rind, 10 gm zest and 1.5 tsp hazelnut liqueur, since that's what I had on hand.

Proceed with the mise en place for the remaining dough.

all the ingredients

Place 390 gm all purpose flour, 52 gm granulated sugar and 12 gm kosher salt (see side note below) in the mixer bowl.  Give it a quick whisk, then mix in the starter dough and blend for 30 seconds or so.

Side note:  in the book 12 gm of kosher salt is equated to 4 teaspoons; however my 12 gm was closer to 2-2.5 tsp; remember - not all kosher salts are created equal!!  And that, folks, is just one example of why weighing trumps measuring!

Add 225 gm eggs in three additions,

starting to add the egg

. . .  then mix on low speed for 15 minutes to develop the gluten.

The dough at this point feels kind of tough and not at all satiny smooth.

Start adding the butter, several pieces at a time, incorporating each addition before adding more.

Once all the butter is added, mix for a couple more minutes . . .

and voila!  What a beautiful piece of dough!!

At this point it's time to turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape a rough rectangle, onto which you place the orange rind/zest mixture.

Knead the orange mixture into the dough and then pat into a rectangle again.

Do a fold-over of the dough, side to side . . .

then top to bottom . . .

then flip it over, form a ball and place in an oiled bowl.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough sit at room temp for an hour.

Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, pat it into a rectangle and repeat the side-to-side/top-to-bottom stretching and folding process.  Place the dough, seam side down, in the bowl, cover and refrigerate over night.

Here's the dough after its overnight chill . . .

ready for shaping

Turn the chilled dough onto a lightly floured work surface, shape it into a rough log . . .

getting ready to divide

and divide it into 12 approximately 100 gm portions.  Have 12 sugar cubes at the ready.

all weighed out

Now form each portion into a ball . . .

then push one sugar cube into the bottom of each.

Turn them back over and re-roll to push the sugar cube more centrally into the dough.

Now place them in lightly oiled paper baking molds on a sheet pan and brush with egg wash.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let proof for 1.5 to 2 hours.  I turn the proofing setting in my oven on at 85º for just a few minutes and then turn it off.  It makes for a nice proofing environment (I think about 75º is ideal).  Of course, if it's summer and your kitchen is nice and warm, just proof at room temp!

With brioche it can be difficult to appreciate a dramatic rise due to the quantity of butter which tends to weigh the dough down.  However I think you can see in the photo below that the dough has indeed filled out in the baking cups compared to the photo above.

After proofing brush again with egg wash and sprinkle each with pearl sugar.

ready for the oven

Bake at 325º convection for about 20-25 minutes - and don't forget to watch what's happening in that oven!

c'est fini!

 These rose beautifully and baked to a lovely golden color - and the aroma - oh la la!

like little moonlit nuggets

Once they had cooled I simply had to try one.  I didn't feel too guilty since I'd already had my morning oatmeal and berries - and it was lunch time, after all.

The crumb is moist and soft, the crunchy sugar a treat like none other and the orange rind and zest adds the perfect note.  I can't wait to try these with lemon.

And, of course, Steve liked them too.

Yes indeed!  Thanks Bouchon Bakery!!

Sablés au praliné

The next recipe in the Biscuits Secs section of Philippe Conticini's book La Pâtisserie des Rêves is a sablé, a classic buttery, crisp cookie.  As I reviewed the recipe I came to realize that, even though he doesn't identify it as such, this is actually a sablé Breton, which happens to be one of my favorites!

the recipe

This dough differs from a basic butter/sugar/flour sablé by the addition of egg yolks and baking powder, giving the end result a somewhat different texture and flavor.  And, depending on how thick you roll the dough, it will come out crisp (rolled thinner) or softer with a more prominent crumb (rolled thicker).

The dough is very easy to put together and should be chilled before using, so make that part of your plan.

les ingredients

Mix 250 gm flour, 125 gm room temperature butter, a couple of pinches of fleur de sel (I use my favorite "Beanilla" vanilla fleur de sel) and un paquet de levure chimique (see side note below) to a coarse, sandy consistency (you can do this by hand or on low speed in the mixer).


Side note:  typically one finds baking powder sold in packets in France.  I can't recall the weight of one of those packets, but when I've made other Breton doughs, I've decreased the amount of baking powder called for.  For this one I added one teaspoon.

 Whisk together 3 egg yolks with 100 gm sugar plus the seeds scraped from one vanilla bean . . .

the yolk/sugar emulsion

and add this to the flour/butter mixture . . .

mixing just until it comes together.

like really coarse cornmeal

squeeze some to see that it's holding together

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour (or overnight if your schedule demands it.)

ready for the fridge

That part was easy.  What became a conundrum was the duja preparation which is meant to serve as a garnish for the baked cookies.  I determined that the word duja is a shortened form for gianduja, that classic mixture of nut (typically hazelnut) paste and chocolate (what many of you know as "Nutella").

Here the recipe calls for grinding 140 gm hazelnuts with 60 gm powdered sugar, followed by the addition of 35 gm milk chocolate and 2 carrés de chocolat noir (both melted.)

The carrés de chocolat noir threw me a bit, not knowing how much a carré weighs.  On to the trusty (?) internet to find a reference stating a small carré weighs 5 gm and a large one weighs 10 gm.  So, throwing caution to the wind, I decided 20 gm of chocolat noir just might do the trick.

ground hazelnuts, powdered sugar and chocolate, waiting to be melted


There was no way this mixture would hold together to be piped as any sort of garnish!

So I added another 60 gm of melted chocolate so that it at least formed a cohesive (sort of) ball.

I still had my doubts.  So I turned back to the internet and found a source describing DIY gianduja made by processing equal weights toasted hazelnuts and chopped milk chocolate to create a paste.

I did a little figuring and ended up adding an additional 80 gm of melted chocolate to my ever developing gianduja . . . . and my paste was born.

my duja paste

Time to bake the cookies!  An interesting note about this recipe - the yield is reported as pour 6/7 personnes.  Now what the heck is that supposed to mean?  Typically a cookie recipe tells you how many cookies you might expect, rather than how many people it will serve.

So for the instructed 5 mm thick, 6 cm round cookie I determined that each cookie weighs about 16 gm. The total dough quantity is 525 gm which should yield about 32 cookies per batch.  So  pour 6/7 personnes means everyone gets 4-5 cookies each.  A goofy way to look at it à mon avis!

6 cm round, dough about 5 mm thick

Heat the oven to 325º.  Roll the dough out to the above mentioned thickness and cut 6 cm rounds.  Place on a parchment lined sheet pan and put into the freezer for 10 minutes or so before baking for 12-15 minutes selon votre four.  Ahhhh - those oh so important words - depending on your oven!

ready for the oven
My cookies baked for about 18 minutes . . .

and came out nicely set and golden brown.

Once the cookies are cooled it's time for the garnish.  The recipe instructs one to pipe a dome of duja on each cookie, sprinkle on some chopped hazelnuts and then pop them in the fridge.  Then it mentions that one has the option of "enrobing" the cookies in chocolate (no further instruction as to how to pursue that one!).

My duja was definitely not pipe-able, so I rolled it out between two layers of plastic wrap and cut circles of a smaller diameter than the cookie.

I placed the duja round on the cookie but realized it wasn't going to stay put - there wasn't any chocolate-to-cookie sticking power.  I tried a little schmear of chocolate glaze on the cookie to act as glue, but no way.  I then sprinkled some hazelnut nougatine on top but knew that I was not going to be able to dip the whole thing in "enrobing" chocolate unless prepared for total demolition.

So I simply used some ganache I had in the fridge, squiggled some on top of the cookies, sprinkled some hazelnut nougatine on top and called it a day.  The cookies accompanied Steve to work the next day.

So much for sablés au praliné!  And the batch of duja?  Into the freezer along with the crushed tuiles from my last post.  Maybe I'll mix the two together and create something new!

Oh, and by the way, the flavor of these was OK but nothing to write home about.  Another recipe I would not make again.

Tuiles au caramel et gingembre confit - trials and tribulations

Now that I've resumed working on the recipes in Philippe Conticini's book La Pâtisserie des Rêves (Biscuit Secs section, to be exact) I am reminded of the frustrations I encountered with some of the previous recipes.  Editing?  Recipe testing?  Who's doing it??

the recipe

I've made tuiles on rare occasions, and, since I'm always up for doing something that isn't in my usual repertoire, I approached this recipe with a light heart and an excitement for a unique version of this crisp cookie.

Tuile is the French word for tile and refers to a light, thin cookie which is usually formed over a rolling pin while warm, giving it a curved, terra-cotta-roof-tile appearance.  It's a great dessert vehicle, particularly as an accompaniment for mousses, ice creams, sorbets or what-have-you.

Most tuile recipes are very straight forward and come together in a flash!  Some use ground nuts and most use egg whites, not yolks or whole eggs.  You refrigerate the mixture until you're ready to bake.  What's not to like?  This one, although not really time consuming, takes a bit of thought before putting it all together.

In a nutshell, it requires making two different caramel sauces (la sauce au caramel and la ganache au caramel) in addition to the pâte à tuiles.  The sauces are then incorporated into the pâte.

A word about caramel sauce: it isn't difficult - it's a matter of cooking sugar (110 gm here) and a little water (3 tablespoons here) to an amber color, removing from the heat and adding cream (in this case 25 ml of milk and 35 ml of cream ) and a bit of butter (10 gm), creating a lovely, smooth concoction that is so good for sooooo many things!  And it keeps for weeks in the fridge.  I always have a batch of caramel sauce on hand (I've been using the recipe from Emily Luchetti's "Star's Desserts" for years and love it!).

les ingredients pour la sauce au caramel

Pay attention!  Wear gloves, particularly when adding the dairy, since there's a lot of bubbling going on - and this stuff is hot, hot, hot!!!

adding the dairy - notice the oven glove!

This caramel sauce recipe led me to contemplate some differences.  While Em's recipe uses a 3:2 ratio of sugar to cream, this one uses 2:1.  The end result was indeed a deeper, richer amber caramel due to the lower amount of cream (you'll see it in an upcoming picture.)

The second caramel recipe was a tad more involved.  It called for 80 gm sugar and 3 tablespoons water cooked to 125º C at which time a scant teaspoon of glucose is added.

The addition of glucose (I substituted honey) at the early stage of sugar boiling is intended to prevent crystallization, but I'm not sure why Philippe uses it here and not in the first caramel.  Artistic license?  Perhaps it's to insure a smooth, silky caramel ganache with the addition of the white chocolate at the end?

les ingredients pour la ganache au caramel

Continue the cooking to a nice amber color, then, off the heat, add 65 ml heavy cream and a noisette de beurre (use your judgement - I used a walnut sized piece).

After a bit of cooling add 45 gm chopped white chocolate and a pinch of fleur de sel and blend til smooth.

Both caramel sauces can be made ahead and refrigerated.  Since I was making the pâte à tuiles the same day, I proceeded once the caramels had cooled a bit.

les ingredients pour la pâte à tuiles
This preparation is trés simple:  melt 180 gm butter; whisk together 4 egg whites, 4 eggs and 35 gm brown sugar; add 90 gm flour and the melted butter; after brisk whisking add in 130 gm sauce de caramel (there was just enough!) and 30 gm ganache au caramel (plenty with leftovers) and blend.

In the above photo note the deep caramel sauce on the right and the lighter ganache au caramel below it.

the finished pâte à tuiles

Place the covered mixture in the fridge for a good hour (I left it over night).

Mince 20 gm crystallized ginger and have some fleur de sel on hand for garnish.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350º.  Philippe calls for parchment lined sheet pans and instructs you to form oval discs, the diameter of which you choose.  The recipe claims a yield of 20 tuiles, but there is no guideline as to how much batter to use per tuile or how thin it should be.

 To get a sense of apportionment I divided the total batter weight by 20 and came up with 40 gm (or about 3/4 of a 1/4 measuring cup).  I had to start somewhere, so I used the 1/4 cup as my ladling device . . .

ginger and fleur de sel garnish, tuile batter

and proceeded to scoop the batter onto the sheet pan.  I must admit I was harboring some skepticism, so I only did three on a 1/4 sheet pan as my initial trial.

I spread them out into ovals and sprinkled some ginger and fleur de sel on top.

ready for the oven
 I wasn't sure how long they would bake, since the recipe gave no hint of baking time.  Now I do understand that principle, since I was always taught that "you bake until it's done", but it is a bit helpful to have a general time frame, ne c'est pas?

This first batch baked for about 15 minutes.  The batter ran together and I had to trim around the edges to neaten up the shapes.  They stuck to the parchment paper and were obviously too thick and underdone.  I did proceed to shape them but knew this was NOT the result I was seeking!

the first try - too thick and soft!

For the next batch I used one of my handled ice cream type scoops to dole out a lesser quantity of batter in hopes of making a thinner, smaller tuile.  This batch baked about 15 minutes, and I even bumped up the oven temp a tad;  the batter again ran, requiring some trimming before they finished baking.  Not a pretty picture.

running batter and weird shapes!
However, I was getting there - even though these also stuck to the paper, they shaped up quite nicely and didn't look too bad in the final analysis . . .

the second batch
Finally the light bulb went on - Silpat!!  Why didn't I think of that sooner??

For my final batch I used even less batter and tried to smooth it out thinly on Silpat lined sheet pans.

ready for the oven

This time they baked about 15 minutes, became nicely browned and peeled off the silicone as easy as pie!

and no running!

Onto the rolling pin they went . . .

At last!  These shaped beautifully, came out nice and crisp and didn't look half bad!!

I used vanilla fleur de sel - see the grains?

And finally - what about the taste??  Steve and I agreed that, even though I used a light hand (or so I thought) with the fleur de sel, there was too much salt - and there should have been more ginger coming through.  They were also very greasy, leaving our fingers with a coating that had to be wiped off.

The texture was crisp and the caramel flavor quite pleasing, but overall a disappointment, particularly considering the steps involved for component prep, and the trials and tribulations of portioning and baking times.

Too bad - here's another one that's going into the "don't do again" file!

If I ever makes tuiles again, I'll go to the many basic recipes available in my baking books or on line and choose a straight forward approach.  Live and learn.

And what did I do with the finished product?  Crushed 'em up, put 'em in the freezer and hope to use the crumbs to create a croustillant (a crunchy layer for desserts generally made with ground toasted nuts (or nut paste), melted chocolate and crushed gavotte crepe cookies.)  Yeah!

Biscuits fondants amande et fruits épicés

After a bit of a hiatus (King Arthur bread class, holidays, travel and all that!) I'm turning back to more of the enticing recipes in Philippe Conticini's book La Pâtisserie des Rêves.  Even though I've discovered a variety of inconsistencies and some errors in the recipes I've made so far, I'm nonetheless eager to continue on.  You know me - always up for a challenge!  Plus I get to work on my French!!

My focus is not to regurgitate the exact recipe but to explain processes and techniques and talk about how the recipe works (or doesn't).  But that doesn't mean I won't throw in some quantities and instructions as I go!

This time I'm focusing on the Biscuits Secs (dry biscuits) section which particularly intrigues me as I develop my afternoon tea menu.  It's not only the recipes in this book and the end results that hold my fascination, but the delicious colors and photos.

A "word" about the word biscuit.  In America we all know this as a flaky, unsweetened, shortcake-y type of "quick bread" made with baking powder, whereas in the UK it is the general term for cookie.  In France it has a couple of meanings - cookie OR sponge cake.  In this case, when referring to cookies sec, we're talking crisp, light goodies, not the soft, chewy, cake-y stuff.  So I expected the Biscuits Secs recipes to be the buttery, crisp sablés types.  

But . . . the first recipe in the section is biscuit fondant, which brings to mind a soft, melting type of cake.  Artistic license, I guess.

I went back to my recipes from Pâtisserie de Base at Le Cordon Bleu and found the petits-fours secs/petits-fours biscuit recipe group, which includes things like tuiles, langues-de-chat (cat's tongues), cigarettes and duchesse (basically the French version of Pepperidge Farm type milano cookies).  Then comes the petits-fours moelleux/ meringue petits-fours group, with macaron, éponges, miroirs and bâtons de maréchaux.  All of these are soft, chewy, spongy types of goodies.  Nothing like a little review, eh?

Anyway . . .  now for the biscuits fondants amande et fruits épicés!

the recipe

One component of this recipe is tagine de fruits, an apple-citrus-raisin compote-like mixture which has to be made ahead - just another example of the importance of planning and doing one's mise en place, no matter how simple or complicated the recipe might be.  So off I went on the day-before preparation.

(Quick side note - I've always found it fascinating that the French include both nuts and dried fruit in the category fruits secs.)

The fussiest part of the recipe is prepping the fruit, and, in reality, it really didn't take long at all.  Once you've peeled, cored and diced apples (2 here) and sectioned citrus (2 oranges and 1 grapefruit here) a bunch of times, it's a breeze.  For this recipe when segmenting the citrus, save all the juice you can from that process.

All the ingredients for the tagine . . . .

I began by making le beurre mousseux et citronné.  Simply put - melt 30 gm butter in a saucepan, add 50 raw sugar and one scraped vanilla bean, then deglaze with 35 ml lemon juice, stirring to homogenize the mixture.

Now add 2 Golden Delicious apples (peeled, cored and diced) . . .

adding the apples

then 65 gm golden raisins and 25 gm whole almonds.

raisins added
Cook that mixture about 3 minutes then add 175 gm each of orange (about 2 oranges) and grapefruit (about 1 grapefruit) segments and cook another couple of minutes.  You really can fudge on these quantities - everything gets cooked together and reduced so it doesn't have to be terribly precise.

Now add half of the reserved citrus juices, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, 10 gm minced crystallized ginger, 40 gm raw sugar, a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of épices à pain d'épices.

Just a note about that last pinch - this spice is quatre-épices which is a mixture of 4 spices (or sometimes more).  I did a little research and found different formulas, most commonly including white or black pepper, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.  Some might contain cinnamon or allspice too.  At any rate, I didn't have quatre-épices on hand, so I used just a pinch each of ginger, black pepper, allspice and nutmeg.  Works for me!

starting the reduction

Now cook the mixture over 20 minutes or so, adding the remaining citrus juice as you go.  The idea is to reduce it until you have a nice compote like mixture.  At the very end add 10 leaves of fresh mint.

c'est fini!
Not all of the compote is needed for the final cake baking step, and it should keep well in the fridge for several days.  So, of course, Steve and I plan to serve it warm with some delicious grilled pork tenderloin - Mmmmm!

Another prep-ahead component in this recipe is some additional (60 gm) golden raisins marinated in 110 ml of rum.  This can sit in the fridge overnight.  Since I am not a rum fan, I substituted about 80 ml of hazelnut liqueur, feeling I didn't need as large a quantity as the recipe called for.

Now it's time for cake baking day!

The ingredients should be at room temp, so I did my mise en place and let things sit while I did a little house cleaning.  Pourquoi pas?!

les ingredients

Here goes nothin'!

Cream 170 gm soft butter; add 140 gm sugar and 60 gm almond flour and beat just to lighten; add 2 eggs and 2 yolks, mixing to incorporate, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go; add 25 ml of milk and 75 ml of heavy cream and then the marinated raisins with their liquid; finally add 110 gm of sifted flour in 2 additions, just blending until incorporated.

ready to pipe

I baked these in my favorite silicone flexi-mold (Silikomart SF098; is a good source), a straight sided cylinder mold that yields such a lovely, simple shape.  I use it for financiers all the time too!

Fill the molds about 1/2 full and then top each with a small spoonful of the tagine mixture.

ready for the oven

True to the recipe, it made 20 cakes, although the baking time at 400º was closer to 15-20 minutes in my convection oven, rather than the stated 8-10 minutes.  Another example of paying attention to what's happening in your oven!

just out of the oven

I left them in the molds for 10-15 minutes before popping them out to finish cooling.  They un-molded very easily, no sticking, no muss, no fuss!

looks pretty good

Of course I had to taste one while it was still warm - a very moist, tender, yet dense crumb with a subtlety of spice, and just the right proportion of fruit.  However I was left with a not so pleasant hint of greasy "after-coating" (did I just make that up?) on my lips.  Steve's reaction was "I like your financiers so much better!"  And I wholeheartedly agreed!!

Now I will admit that I've become less and less inclined to bake with raisins over the years, but I at least wanted to give the recipe it's due.  I used to love my mom's Boston brown bread and her sweetened rice with raisins and brown sugar, and I certainly wouldn't refuse them if they were put in front of me now.  But tastes change, and I'd much rather use dried tart cherries, cranberries or even apricots in my baking.

In the final analysis I'm glad I made the compote since we'll enjoy the leftovers with savory foods, but it seems a lot of work simply to add to a handful of small cakes.  Having said that, there is something about creating all the components for your baked goods with your own two hands.  There is that, after all.

I think I'll just stick with financiers and add my choice of fruit and/or confiture.

And there you have it!

Moulins à vent

This next recipe in La Pâtisserie des Rêves by Philippe Conticini brings home ever more clearly the importance of proper recipe testing and editing.

Remember, I'm using this book as a springboard for discussions regarding recipe interpretation, techniques and dos and don'ts.  It is NOT my intention to follow the recipe to a T!  Au contraire!  I use what I've learned over the years to adjust the recipe and its steps in a manner that makes sense to me.

Here's the page from the book: 

Here is the plan I developed based on my experience with similar doughs:

Rather than using a poolisch I made the dough as I would a détrempe for croissants, basically combining the ingredients for la poolisch and la pâte and reducing the total amount of yeast to 8 gm of instant.  I also had to add more water than the recipe indicated in order to moisten the obviously dry dough mixture.

I gave it a good overnight rest in the refrigerator (where it develops some of its structure and flavor.)

The butter block is ready:

The dough is rolled out into a diamond and the butter placed in the center.  I found this dough to be a bit stiff and dry, even with the additional water I added during mixing.  Ultimately it did hold together OK, but see how the edges are somewhat cracked?.

The butter is enveloped by the dough:

Then rolled out into a rectangle:

And the first three-fold and turn is done:

I found this dough to be similar to that in les croissants recipe - stiff, not easy to roll and the butter tending to break through. 

This dough gets two more turns and a final rest in the fridge before rolling it out for cutting and shaping.

Now, here's a major flaw with this recipe.  It states the yield is 15 moulins and instructs that each piece be cut into a 15x15cm square.  In order to roll this quantity of dough out to create that many pieces of that size, you would have to roll it far larger and thinner than the 1/2 cm the recipe instructs.  Plus 15x15 cm is HUGE for an individual pastry!

I opted for 10x10cm squares (just like when making Kouign-amann), a much more reasonable size for this quantity of dough, as well as for the finished pastries.  Here are a couple of paper templates to show you the difference in sizes.

The dough is rolled out, cut into 10x10cm squares, slits cut to the corners, leaving the center intact.

Every other corner is folded into the center to create the lovely moulin pattern.  It takes me back to my quilting days!

I used egg wash on the dough tips to stick them down.  As you'll see, it wasn't that successful!

Now for a 2-2.5 hour rise at room temp.  Notice how the tips have pulled away from the center, especially in the second picture - quite a mess!

Before I garnished these with a mixture of crème d'amande and apricot jam I had to gently push the tips back into the center - not an easy task with already risen dough.

Add a sprinkle of almonds et voila!

Next time I would roll my dough a bit thinner before cutting the squares since I ended up with 10 pieces  instead of 15.   I should have let it rest and relax a bit more before rolling it to my originally planned 30x50 cm rectangle.  Patience, patience Susan!

The baking time of 20-25 minutes was pretty consistent with the recipe.  Always watch how the browning is progressing and adjust your oven temp up if too pale and down if browning too fast.

And here they are!

I had hoped my windmill shape would have remained more distinct, but instead the tips kind of melded together during baking.  Perhaps rolling the dough thinner would help that.

The flavor was good, although Steve and I thought they needed a little something, so we added a schmear of apricot jam to liven things up.

All in all this was another good learning experience.  I am less and less enthralled with the book La Pâtisserie des Rêves due to the inconsistencies and poor editing I have encountered (leading me to believe that these recipes were authored by different people.)

For example, these moulins are made with laminated dough, the techniques for which should be consistent from recipe to recipe.  Yet, the instruction for the beurrage (the enveloping of the butter in the dough) for this recipe is completely different than in les croissants, which uses the same technique.  The author even forgets to tell you to fold the dough over the butter before you start rolling it out!

I'll put Philippe Conticini's book aside for awhile, although it continues to hold some allure with more enticing sections like goûters d'enfance, les classiques, et les tartes de saison, just to name a few!

In the meantime this coming week I'll be in Norwich, Vermont taking a 4 day artisan bread class at King Arthur Flour.  What a great getaway and perfect blogging opportunity!

Providence croissant tasting

As a part of les croissants project, I decided to do a tasting of croissants from some local Providence purveyors.  I trekked around the city on a beautiful autumn morning recently and picked up croissants from Olga's, Starbucks, Au Bon Pain and Seven Stars to face off with those I made from La Pâtisserie des Rêves, as well as my own from The French Tarte.

I know I've included only a fraction of the croissants one can find in this city, but those which I highlight here are within walking distance of my home.  And I love walking!!

Above: the players

What does one look for in a croissant, you might ask?

For me it's the nicely browned appearance, that just right heft when you pick it up, the exterior crispiness and fragility which causes golden shards to shower down as you bite into it and the buttery, airy yet bodied layered interior.

Let's take them one by one.

First up, Olga's:

Just looking at this one makes me feel heavy; cutting yielded minimal crumb without any flaky shards; the interior is heavy and bready without any airiness; the texture is doughy, like an average roll, with a dull, non-buttery flavor and unappealing mouth feel.  

Next, Au Bon Pain, Westminster St. (financial district).

When I asked the staff where their croissants were made, they reported "we bake them here".  They receive them frozen and ready for the oven.

The look is appealing; cutting yielded some crisp flaking of the exterior; the interior has nice airy laminations and it feels light in the hand; the taste isn't bad but is lacking in rich, buttery goodness or that freshly made mouth feel. 

OK, so next up was Seven Stars on Broadway:

The look is very appealing; cutting demonstrated some nice exterior fragility and airy interior, but the feel is too light; the texture is rather nondescript and the taste is bland without that buttery goodness or impressive mouth feel. 

The French Tarte:

The look is so-so in the pristine croissant sense, but it'll do; cutting yielded a beautifully fragile exterior and a nicely laminated interior; it has a light heft in the hand; the texture is crisp on the outside and soft on the inside; the taste is delicious with a rich, buttery goodness without being too heavy in the mouth. 

My version of La Pâtisserie des Rêves: 

This one looks like a sad excuse for a croissant - lumpy and rough; cutting demonstrated some exterior fragility, but the interior is dense, bready and without any laminated airiness;  it feels heavy in the hand; the texture is doughy and unpleasant, and the taste is heavy and greasy.  Too bad!

Finally, Starbucks (La Boulange) at the Providence Biltmore.  When I inquired as to where the croissants were made, the staff didn't know the answer but shared that they receive them baked and flash frozen, and they thaw them on site.

The look is so-so, a bit flat; cutting yielded minimal exterior fragility, but a nice looking airy, laminated interior; the heft in the hand is on the heavy side; the texture is not crisp, a bit bready, and the taste is bland without any buttery goodness or flavor.

Costs for all the local croissants range from $2.00 to $2.75.

There is a lot that goes into making a great croissant.  Certainly large scale production is an entirely different animal than small-batch hand crafted croissants. And as is demonstrated with Philippe's recipe (see my preceding les croissants post), even that doesn't necessarily yield a delicious product!

It takes just the right ingredient proportions, a feel for handling the dough and, as always, practice, practice, practice!

Les croissants

OK.  I think I make a pretty darn good croissant.  So this next recipe in Philippe Conticini's book, La Pâtisserie des Rêves, got me a bit excited to try another take on this quintessential French pastry staple.  Little did I know. . . .

Over the years I've compared many croissant recipes and tested out a number of them.  I  considered ingredient proportions, mixing and kneading times, numbers of folds/turns, resting and rising times and came up with the recipe and process that has worked well for me.   So, you ask, why mess with (near) perfection?!  Because life is all about learning!

As I read through Conticini's recipe for this laminated dough, I quickly developed a few concerns about some of his ingredient proportions and the kneading time he recommends.  There is a higher ratio of butter to flour in this recipe than that which I typically use, and I prefer my croissants not too heavy in the butter department. Strike 1.

Pascal Pinaud taught me that the dough should be mixed ONLY until it comes together and NO MORE, so when I see a 5-minute kneading time, I start to worry.  Strike 2.

The idea is to work the dough very little at the beginning, thus avoiding development of gluten at this stage.  That will come later as you put the dough through its folds and turns, essentially kneading it with your rolling pin.

Conticini's recipe starts with making a poolisch which is a rough slurry of flour and liquid (water or milk) with yeast added.  I am certainly no expert on the use of a poolisch (also known as pre-ferment or starter), but my understanding is that it is usually a ratio of 1 flour to 1 liquid by weight to which a tiny amount of yeast  is added (0.1-0.2% of the weight of the flour).  Since 90 gm flour is called for here, by using this rule, the amount of yeast added would only be a miniscule 0.1 gm - a teensy, weensy amount!  This recipe calls for the equivalent of 6 gm instant yeast, or 60 times what would typically be used. Strike 3.    

It’s better if the pre-ferment sits for 6-24 hours (at room temp or into fridge if holding for up to 24 hours) before adding it into the final dough.  This contributes to the flavor as well as the texture, crumb and structure of the end product.  In this recipe it sits for 1.5 hours. Strike 4.

(Note:  I normally make a détrempe (the croissant dough) with minimal mixing time, let it rest for 45 minutes at room temp and then into the fridge over night, tightly wrapped.  My steps are otherwise similar to Philippe's recipe -  beurrage, 3 single folds, final rolling, shaping, proofing and baking.)

poolisch ingredients pictured above

So here goes!

For the poolisch simply mix the flour, milk and yeast, cover with plastic film and let sit at room temperature for 1.5 hours.  In the future I would use a rubber spatula rather than a whisk - a MUCH easier tool from which to scrape the sticky dough.

poolisch pictured above

You can then mise en place the remaining pâte à croissant ingredients (the recipe calls for milk and water - I used all milk) and shape and refrigerate your butter block. 

Above: flour, salt, sugar in the bowl; butter ready to be softened or melted; milk; yeast

Above: butter block 15 cm square

Give the flour, sugar, salt and instant yeast a quick whisk in the mixing bowl, add in the milk and butter and top it off with the poolisch.  Mix with the dough hook on slow speed, then, once everything is incorporated, increase the speed to medium and knead for 5 minutes.

Pretty rough.

Above: still pretty rough after a 5 minute knead, but a bit more together

Now cover with plastic film, let sit at room temp for 1.5 hours, then wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.  You want the dough cool for the next steps.

Above: after the 2 hours in the fridge

Now for the beurrage or the enveloping of the butter block.  Take your butter block out of the fridge a good 30 minutes before this step.  Tapping it with your rolling pin helps soften it a bit - you want it to be cool, yet malleable so it will spread evenly between your dough layers as you roll.

On a lightly floured surface roll your dough out into an elongated diamond, large enough so you can place your butter block in the center and fold the corners of the dough over it, so as to fully encase it (sorry I forgot to take a picture of this!).  You should have a neat package of dough and butter.

You should feel the butter out to the edges of your dough package.  Notice how rough the dough looks.

I'll note here that this dough feels pretty stiff and isn't easy to roll. Strike 5.

Now for the turns:  roll this package out to a length about 3 times its width and do a three fold (also called a single or business letter fold).

Above: rolled out, ready for the first fold

Above: first three (or single) fold; dough turned to prepare for next fold

The photo shows the "spine of the book" on your left.  That's how you want your dough positioned for the next roll/fold/turn.  Wrap and chill for 30-60 minutes then do the same thing 2 more times, resting and chilling the dough between each turn for a total of 3 turns.

Plan for a final one hour rest in the fridge before rolling the dough out for cutting and shaping.

So here is where I really knew that this would be a fiasco.  As I continued to roll the dough for the turns, it remained stiff and difficult to roll. The dough started breaking down and butter showing through - NOT a good sign. Strike 6.

I did struggle through to the final shaping, although my doubts were rising exponentially.

Can you appreciate the butter showing through the dough in the photo above?

Fortunately I had made some of my own croissant dough a couple of days before this, so I'll show you the final steps with that dough, as well as some comparison shots.

When rolling the dough out for final cutting and shaping, give it a rest every now and then.  You want it to be nice and relaxed so it won't shrink up when you cut it.

Above: almost there - resting before achieving the 9" depth

When cutting 12 croissants, I roll my dough out to about 24" across and about 9" deep.  I cut approximately 4" sections of dough, each of which is cut into 2 triangles.

Above: marking my (almost) 4 inch sections

Above: triangles cut, ready to be shaped

I cut a slit in each base, pick up a triangle, give it a gentle stretch, then place it down and roll it up snugly, tugging gently at the tip as I roll.  The tip goes DOWN on the baking sheet.

Here's a comparison:

Philippe's recipe above - a shiny, shaggy, buttery sort of mess

My dough above: smooth and looking good

if you’re not baking your croissants right away, cover them with plastic wrap and hold in the fridge until morning or pop them in the freezer uncovered and once frozen, wrap them tightly for up to a month until ready to thaw, proof and bake.

If ready to proceed with baking, brush on some egg wash and give them a decent 1.5-2 hour proof, ideally at a temperature from 70-78ºF. If you proof too warm, the butter will start melting out - not a pretty picture.

The next two photos show after the proof.

Philippe's above - layers more prominent, but it looks heavy and greasy

Mine above - layers more prominent and it looks light and shiny

Heat your oven to 425ºF, give them a second egg wash and bake about 12-15 minutes.

REMEMBER: watch what’s going on in your oven.  Every oven is different (I'll say it again and again)!!  I rotate and change positions of my sheet pans about half way through, and I gradually lower my oven temp throughout the baking time, depending on how my croissants are browning.  I want the surface to be nicely browned and the laminated edges to be tan not pale, or I risk a croissant that's doughy inside.

Above: heavy, bready center, some exterior fragility and flakiness, but feels heavy in the hand

The French Tarte above: not bad - note the little browned shards as I cut.  (Check out my next post for a tasting of some Providence croissant offerings.)

Above: nice airy lamination, exterior fragility, and has a certain lightness in the hand

It's hard to explain the feel of a good croissant, but once you've experienced it, you just know.

So if you want to make croissants, choose a recipe other than this one in Philippe Conticini's book and practice, practice, practice!

Brioche mousseline

The fourth recipe in Philippe Conticini's La Pâtisserie des Rêves is Brioche mousseline.

I typically associate mousseline with brioche that is baked in a tall cylinder mold with a parchment collar so that it rises above the mold.  It’s then sliced and used for canapés, and the leftovers can be used to make Bostock, that delicious syrup-imbibed, almond cream covered, twice baked delight.

Brioche Nanterre is another version in which dough balls are lined up in a loaf pan, proofed and baked so the balls essentially fuse together, creating a "pull-apart" look.

Since Philippe's recipe instructs the Nanterre type of line up, I was intrigued by his use of the word mousseline. My research revealed that the word has several meanings, depending on its context. In the culinary world it’s a sauce, such as a hollandaise, to which butter is added, whereas in the pastry world it’s crème pâtissière to which butter is added.

In this brioche recipe it has to do with the flour to butter ratio.  A classic "medium" brioche has a 2:1 flour to butter ratio, whereas a brioche mousseline has closer to a 5:4 flour to butter ratio.  So that's what makes Philippe's recipe a mousseline.  In a word - butter!!  Some call this "Rich man's brioche" due to the high butter content.

Now on to the process!

When making brioche dough, use a heavy duty stand mixer.  I generally plan on anywhere from 20-30 minutes of mixing time, so it's helpful to have a number of minor tasks you can perform while waiting for the process to finish.  Just be sure you keep on eye on your mixer, because it can start "walking" around your counter during the butter addition.

This recipe is straight forward.  Have 190 g cool, unsalted butter diced and ready to go. Mix 250 g all purpose flour, 40 g sugar, 6 g salt and 4 g instant yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Starting out with the paddle (NOT the dough hook), add 4 large cold eggs and mix on low speed until the dough comes together.  Then continue mixing on medium speed for up to 10-15 minutes until the dough becomes very elastic and starts to clean the sides of the bowl.

Above: diced butter ready to be added

Now switch to the dough hook and start adding the butter, 1/3 at a time until each addition is incorporated.  

Above: the dough can really creep up the hook!

Above: after the butter addition, ready for a rest

The dough should be shiny, elastic and smooth.  This is one of the things I love about brioche dough at the end of the mixing - so silky and wonderful!

Cover it with plastic film and let it rest 1.5 hours at room temp.

Above: dough after room temp rest

Then place the dough on a lightly floured surface, form a rough ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. I typically make brioche dough in the evening, let it rest in the fridge overnight then shape, proof and bake the next morning. Works for me!

Above: rough ball ready to be wrapped and chilled

After the chill time (in which the dough becomes quite firm), remove the dough from the fridge and get ready to shape!

It’s important to work with the dough cool so, if you have a big batch of dough, it’s helpful to work with half of it at a time and keep the other portion wrapped in the fridge until you’re ready. This recipe makes approximately 680 g (1.5 pounds) of dough which is good for one loaf pan.

I divided the dough evenly into four 170 g pieces.

Then shaped each piece into a boule.

Have a well buttered loaf pan ready and place the boules snugly into the pan.

Cover the pan with a lightly buttered piece of plastic wrap and let rise 2 hours at room temp.

Above: after the rise

Have your oven heated to 350ºF and bake about 35 minutes.  Remember!  I'll harp on this again and again - pay attention to what's happening in your oven!!

Nice and golden brown, just waiting to be tasted.

This is one delicious brioche!  I must admit that over the years as I've tried various brioche recipes, I've been put off by the ones that have a higher ratio of butter.  But this one has changed my mind.  It has a tight, yet light, delicate crumb, and a rich buttery flavor.  Who could ask for more?!

Chausson Napolitain

The third recipe in Philippe Conticini’s La Pâtisserie des Reves is an interesting mix of several classic pastry bases.

While I had been aware of this particular pastry, I had never researched it and had certainly never made it. In a nutshell it’s a pâte feuilletée (puff pastry) turnover filled with a combo of crème pâtissière and pâte à choux. Interesting, eh?

The recipe also calls for rum soaked raisins (a favorite of the French), but I opted for an hazelnut/cherry version instead. I developed my plan and struck out on a new adventure.

Most of the components can be prepared the day before, each one requiring minimal time, leaving you with the pâte à choux prep, final assembly and baking for the day of. It's all about timing and planning. Three cheers for mise en place!

I should point out that there are a couple of serious errors in this recipe, requiring you to pay close attention and adjust accordingly. The 200 gm of puff pastry called for is woefully inadequate, and should be about 600 gm. It was clear that 200 gm was not enough to create a 30x60 cm piece with a 1.5-2 mm thickness.

And when slicing the rouleau, the slices should be 1.0 -1.5 cm thick NOT 1/2 cm as the printed recipe states.  Philippe, where are your recipe testers and copy editors??

As I alluded to above, I admit that I’m not a big fan of rum or raisins. During the pastry program at Le Cordon Bleu, as well as my during my stage at Pâtisserie Pascal Pinaud on rue Monge in the 5th, I was amazed at how often rum (and a lot of it) was used by the Parisians.

When a recipe calls for alcohol, I tend to replace rum with either an almond or hazelnut liqueur, or I leave it out altogether and stick with good old vanilla extract.  It's so much easier on the budget, and I don't find the liqueur to be that much of a flavor enhancer.

For this particular project I replaced any rum in the recipe with Fratello, a delicious hazelnut liqueur that Steve discovered recently, used tart dried cherries instead of raisins and replaced macadamias with hazelnuts.

So let's get going!

I soaked 50 gm of cherries in Fratello/brown sugar and my softened butter/brown sugar mixture is ready to go. I weighed out 50 gm of blanched hazelnuts and coarsely chopped them before final assembly.

I have a batch of crème pâtissière chilled in the fridge.

I roll my puff out to about a 2 mm thickness and a length of 60 cm. (Note: I typically have puff pastry in my freezer so I let it thaw overnight in the fridge before rolling it out.)

I spread on the softened butter/brown sugar mixture and rolled it up snugly (the rouleau). Note: images below

The rouleau can be wrapped and refrigerated until you are ready to assemble the chausson.  Alternatively you can form the rouleau the same day, freeze it for 40 minutes or so, and it will be ready to slice.

Wrap and chill the rouleau and on the day you plan to assemble and bake your chausson make your pâte à choux. 

Once the choux is ready, blend in the crème pâtissière, add the zests of one lemon and one orange, a splash of vanilla extract, the marinated cherries and the chopped hazelnuts.  Your filling is ready to go! 

Remove your puff roll from the fridge (or freezer) and cut cleanly into 1.0-1.5 cm thick slices.

Cool layers, don't ya think?

Now comes a bit of fussiness.

The slices are rolled out into a flat, ~2 mm thick oval, and it is very helpful if you keep the slices cool. Work with 3 or 4 at a time while keeping the others handy in the fridge.  Work quickly on a nicely floured surface to minimize the potential sticking of the butter layer. I keep a bench scraper close by to lift up the dough and re-flour the surface as I go.

Scoop a grosse noix of filling just low of center on your oval and fold it over.  Don't worry about sealing the edges - just gently place them together, since you want the chausson to be open.


Now give them a coat of egg wash and chill. Philippe recommends a one hour refrigeration before baking.  I put mine in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  My practice with all things puff pastry is to freeze before baking, whether it's chausson aux pomme, palmier or simply blind baking a puff crust for a quiche or flan.  The freezing firms up the dough and re-stabilizes the butter layers before it goes into the hot oven.

Bake at ~350ºF convection for about 30-40 minutes.

Remember: every oven is different, and it is sooooo key to pay attention to what's going on in there!  Even convection ovens don't always bake uniformly, so rotate and change shelf positions of your sheet pans half way through. It works!

Et voila - c'est fini! These babies were tasty indeed. Who would’a thunk it to put puff pastry, pastry cream, choux paste all together in one pastry. Oh boy, oh boy!


As I was pursuing my pastry studies in Florence and Paris in 2006, I never imagined all of the adventures I would have, from being a stagiaire in a Parisian pâtisserie, to baking in a Maine café, to creating desserts in a Providence fine dining restaurant and, finally, to starting up and running my own petite pastry studio at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket, RI.

Inspired by the many pâtisseries in Paris and the innumerable pastry books on the market, I’m always eager to learn more, try new recipes or even tweak some tried and true favorites. One never knows what great little tip or new technique you might come across as you explore the world of baking and pastry.

This is my way of sharing some of the things I’ve learned (and continue to learn!) along the way.  Happy baking!


Inspired by Philippe Conticini’s pastry shop and book La Pâtisserie des Rêves, I hope to bake my way through his wonderful collection of recipes. I use the French edition, but it’s also available in English through Amazon.

First up is Kouign-amann léger. Ever since Chef Xavier Cotte at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris demonstrated his version of Kouign-amann to our pastry class, I’ve wanted to recreate this delectable caramelized, buttery treat. Over the past couple of years I’ve compared and tested recipes for this traditional Breton specialty from the likes of Alain Ducasse, Philippe Conticini and Pierre Hermé (just to name a few).

Below is my recipe copy with my notes and musings - seems to be a lot going on.

As Kouign-amann (hereafter referred to as K-a) becomes increasingly well-known and available in the United States, many recipes can be found on line and in print. You can find all sorts of variables in proportions of ingredients, kneading times, resting and rising times and even oven temps and baking times. My intent is not to present the recipe per se, but to highlight a few tips for success in making this laminated dough.  It’s all about planning and timing!

If you’re not familiar with the techniques for laminated dough, there are many publications and online sources that will take you through the steps.

OK, so the first step is to make the dough: the key here is to mix the ingredients (flour, salt, yeast, water, a bit of soft butter and usually a bit of sugar) just until they come together, followed by 30-60 seconds of low speed kneading. Avoid prolonged kneading at this stage, since you don’t want to develop a lot of gluten and have your dough become tough.

Let the dough rest for 30-60 minutes, covered with plastic film at room temp, followed by 1-2 hours wrapped in plastic in the fridge. That gives it enough time to relax and cool before incorporating the butter.

Next comes the butter. Some chefs recommend using European style butter, which is higher in butter fat and lower in water content than our American butter (which is why the French refer to it as “dry butter”). I’ve been using Cabot’s standard unsalted butter for years with excellent results. Working with butter at about 65-68ºF is ideal for me. It still has a cool feel to it, and it’s malleable and able to be shaped easily. As long as your work environment is cool and you work efficiently, once your butter block is shaped you can even go right to the beurrage step (encasing the butter in the dough) without having to re-chill the butter. Just remember that if the butter becomes soft, warm and squishy, it’s time to chill it before you continue!

Once you’ve completed the beurrage, give your dough-butter package a 20-30 minute chill before starting the turns. Even after that short chill the butter can tend to crack a bit as you begin to roll, so I tap the dough with my rolling pin to make everything is malleable again before starting the turns.

On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out to a rectangle about 3 times longer than it is wide. Do one three fold (also known as a business letter fold), turn the dough 90º and repeat. Wrap the dough in plastic and rest for 30 minutes in the fridge. Do 2 more three folds, turning the dough 90º after each, this time rolling in sugar rather than flour. As you roll, continue to sprinkle sugar on your dough and keep rolling it in – and don’t skimp on the sugar!

Important tip: Chef Franck Geuffroy at Alain Ducasse’s école de cuisine in Paris was kind enough to share his K-a recipe with me, and this tip has made a huge difference:  after the two turns with sugar let the dough rest at cool room temp for 30 minutes, NOT in the fridge (I wrap it lightly in parchment).

If the dough sits in the fridge at this stage, even for 30 minutes, the sugar starts to melt; the first time I made K-a I was faced with a soupy, sugary mess when rolling the dough out for the final shaping. You still have to work efficiently after a room temp rest, but there is much less of a syrupy mess to deal with.

Now, once the dough has rested, you’ll want to roll it into a rectangle for cutting. As you roll be sure to give it a break every now and then, so it’s relaxed before you actually cut it. Your squares will hold their shape better.  Dredge both sides of your square with more sugar, fold up the corners and place them in your buttered rings or pans.

Rising times vary from recipe to recipe, anywhere from 30-90 minutes. I've found that a good 60 minute rise at warmish room temp (75ºF or so) is adequate. As is true of laminated doughs in general, if you let them rise at too warm a temp (over about 82-85º) the butter will start to melt out, pool on the baking sheet, and you'll lose some of the buttery layering you've worked so hard to achieve.

I’ve baked K-a in both open tart rings and traditional muffin tins, and I prefer the end result with the muffin tins. While the open tart ring version is still delicious, the sugar on the bottom of the K-a can over caramelize and burn if you’re not paying attention.

Which brings me to baking times and temps.  Learn your oven and understand that recipes are guidelines. It is SO important to use all of your senses to help you determine when something is done:  ahhh the aroma; ooohhh what a lovely golden crust; wow, that feels done!  And, of course, taste is the piéce de resistance!

So choose a recipe and GO! Bon chance tout le monde!!