This year hasn’t been a great one in the garden or allotment but we did have a few small harvests in July. Alongside some summer berries (more of which to come soon) we harvested some yellow mange tout from the back garden. Not as vivid in colour as the seed catalogue promised (the variety is called Golden Sweet), but that’s probably a factor of the variable weather, they were nonetheless pretty and tasty.
I already own Eggs and Sauces, the first two titles in Michel Roux’s series of reference books on classic techniques and recipes. So I was very happy to receive a review copy of Pastry: Savoury and Sweet.
There are chapters for shortcrust pastries, enriched sweet pastries, puff pastry, raised pie pastry, brioche dough, croissant dough, choux pastry, pizza dough and filo pastry and each chapter starts with the basic dough recipe and then provides a wide range of recipes making use of it.
One of the things I like about the book is its use of step by step pictures and instructions for pastry techniques such as lining a flan tin with pastry, making a pastry lattice top and decorative borders, shaping croissants and so on. In addition each type of pastry has several photographs of how the dough looks as you make it. And there are lots of recipe photographs too.
Knowing what you are aiming for gives much greater confidence during the process, for me anyway.
Pete is pastry king in our house so I got him to make the pastry, roll it out into the flan dish and bake it for me, ready for me to do the rest.
Together, we made this absolutely delicious pea, mushroom and mint flan – a recipe I shall definitely be making again once our home-grown peas start cropping.
The flan calls on two recipes in the book, the first for flan pastry and the second for the flan itself.
The two shortcrust pastry recipes provided are for pâte brisée and flan pastry. The former is described in the book as a more delicate, crumbly and light; the latter as less fragile, crisper and just as good in taste.
One downside of the pastry recipe is that it creates about 430 grams of pastry, whereas the flan recipe calls for 260 grams. We used the rest to make some simple purple sprouting broccoli quiches a couple of days later.
The recipe also calls for 500 grams of mushrooms. We used only 400 grams, which filled our our flan dish pretty well.
We also substituted frozen petit pois for fresh peas.
Where the recipe requires steeping the mint in the cream, blending it and then sieving it through a chinois, I went for the rustic approach and decided to leave mine in. My stick blender didn’t do a great job on the leaves, and I’ve amended the recipe for next time to simply chop the leaves much smaller and leave out the blending altogether.
You can also see that our mushroom and peas stuck out proud from the creamy custard flan, which I thought looked lovely, but didn’t resemble the clean flat top of the one in the book.
Pea, Mushroom & Mint Flan
260 grams of shortcrust (flan) pastry, cold from the fridge
500 grams very firm medium button mushrooms, trimmed and cleaned
60 grams butter
250 grams fresh or frozen peas
200 ml double cream
25 grams fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
2 egg yolks
Salt and pepper
Note: We made the pastry according to the recipe provided earlier in the book. It came together very quickly indeed and was easy to roll out and use. You could use ready made if you prefer.
Preheat the oven to 190 C.
Roll out the pastry to a thickness of 3mm and line a 20 cm diameter flan dish.
Lightly prick the base, line with paper, fill with baking beads, and bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the beads and paper and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Increase the oven temperature to 200 C.
Halve or quarter the mushrooms, then sauté in butter until they have released their liquid. Drain, season and leave to cool.
Cook the peas briefly. I used the microwave on its defrost setting for about 2 minutes, as I didn’t want to the frozen peas to lose their freshness.
Heat the cream and mint leaves in a saucepan, over low heat, allowing the flavours to infuse.
Whisk the minted cream with the egg, egg yolks, salt and pepper.
Put the mushrooms and peas into the pastry case.
Pour the minted cream and egg mixture over the fillings. Mine had clumps of mint leaves, which I could have removed from the surface, but decided to leave in.
Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180 C and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until ready. Test by inserting a knife tip into the flan; it should come out clean.
As our flan ring doesn’t allow the flan to easily be removed onto a plate or rack, we left it to cool down in the dish for 5 minutes before serving.
We both really enjoyed the flan – the combination of flavours was excellent with earthy mushrooms, fresh sweet peas and vibrant mint. Our flan bottom was a little soggy, perhaps we needed to bake it a little longer, or possibly brush with egg to create a protective layer against the wet custard.
As I mentioned, there are plenty of classic pastries in the book. Pete’s already made the brioche dough, which he used to make brioche bacon twists, also in the book. We didn’t take any notes or photograph these but they were delicious, if rather less beautifully shaped than those in the pictures!
This promises to be another great reference book to have in our collection.
Kavey Eats received a sample review copy of this book from Quadrille Publishing.
Pastry: Savoury and Sweet by Michel Roux is currently available in paperback on Amazon for £6.79 (RRP £9.99).