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Baking the blues away

Friday, February 19, 2010

Like snails escaping the returning hordes. Crawl on little fellas, crawl on!
It was very difficult to get ready for work this morning. A lot of people are away and most schools have been closed for a week because of the Chinese New Year festivities which started on Feb 14, so it has been a pleasant time for me even though I haven't been the one on holiday. Today is the last day of the working week to enjoy traffic-free roads and fewer people at the office, and I am not looking forward to Monday.

I had made a batch of cream cheese pastry last night – it needs to rest overnight in the fridge before using – and I was going to make cookies after work today, but I decided to do it this morning. It wouldn't take long to make and I had plenty of time anyway. And because the roads are so empty now, it would take me only 12 minutes, 10 if all the lights were green, to get to the office.

This confection is based on the rugelach, those crescent-shaped cookies which can be filled with anything from jam and cinnamon sugar to chocolate and nuts. If you need some advice on making these cookies, here are Dorie Greenspan's tips, although I didn't use her recipe.

For my crescents, I used leftover poppy seed filling that I had used for the poppy seed bread rolls of a few posts back, and a pastry recipe contributed by the CIA – the Culinary Institute of America (the other CIA could probably get poppy seeds directly from the cultivators in Afghanistan) – to a special-issue cooking magazine that came out at Christmas a couple of years ago. It's a great pastry to have in your repertoire and can be used for tarts and other types of cookies as well.

I've posted quite a few recipes using poppy seeds lately, and I think this one is my favourite so far. Making these cookies lifted my spirits. I was still late getting to the office...

Makes 32

½ quantity Cream Cheese Pastry (recipe below)
¾ cup Poppy Seed Filling
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons brown sugar + 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or to taste)
  • Preheat the oven at 190°C. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  • Divide the dough in half. Keep one portion in the refrigerator while you work with the other half. Roll out the dough into a 27cm circle. Spread with half of the poppy seed filling up to 2cm from the edge. Cut the dough into quarters and each quarter into four triangles (a pizza wheel is ideal for this).
  • Starting from the wide edge, roll each triangle up like a croissant. Place on the baking trays, making sure the pointed tips are tucked under. Brush with egg and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes until top is golden and sugar is caramelised. Cool before eating. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. 

Cream Cheese Pastry
This makes a large amount of pastry – enough for 64 of these cookies (each one is bite-size) or to line two 27cm tart pans. I wouldn't scale down the recipe – just make the whole quantity, use what you need and freeze the rest.

250g all-purpose flour 
¼ teaspoon salt
250g cream cheese, softened but still cool
250g unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • Sift flour and salt together. Place cream cheese and butter in a food processor or large mixing bowl. Process/beat together briefly to combine. Add flour mixture and process/beat until combined. (You can easily do the whole thing by hand.) Do not over-process or knead or the cookies will be tough. Bring dough together into a ball and wrap tightly in cling film; chill for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from refrigerator and divide dough into two. Roll out each portion into a rough rectangle about 2cm thick and fold the top third down to the centre and then the bottom third up like an envelope. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 6 hours or overnight before using. Or put into a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.

Poppy Seed Snails / Cinnabons on Foodista

1 comment:

  1. I am not looking forward to starting work on Monday. I wish the hols can begin all over again! :)


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