Roasted Strawberry Brioche Doughnuts with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream and Strawberry Sugar


 
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roasted strawberry brioche doughnuts with strawberries.jpg
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How is it already August?!? Don’t get me wrong - August is my fave (I’m an August baby so it’s birthday month!), but holy moly this year has just sped past. Next week I am going on a little road trip up to Hudson for a few days which I am super excited about, and then we have a wedding in Philadelpia, and then I get to go to ALASKA with Bake from Scratch for a few days, and then, before I know it, August will be over!

I’ve been sitting on this one for a while, and decided I couldn’t possibly wait any longer to share it with you - that I had to share it while strawberries are still in their prime here in the states! Roasting up fruit is one of my favourite ways to use up that box of berries / fruit you may have in your fridge that is nearly past it’s prime - the giant flat of berries you bought with good intentions for, and haven’t quite managed to use up, or that big box of peaches you are working your way through but it’s taking forever. Just me? Surely not.

The recipe for these came about as we were planning on leaving for our holiday to Canada, and I had a giant box of strawberries to use up, so I roasted them off, and paired them with a vanilla bean pastry cream (classic but great combo). I then stuffed both of these things into a fluffy brioche doughnut, which I made with my go-to brioche recipe (best ever), which I tossed in a sugar and freeze dried strawberry mixture, which gave them the prettiest pink hue, and helped to drive the flavour home. Roasted fruit and pastry cream in a doughnut is a sure fire winner - the great and easy thing about it is that it is super adaptable, this recipe would work with almost any roasted fruit, or you can leave it out entirely and just go for a plain custard / pastry cream filled doughnut. You really can’t lose.

A few wee tips:

  • I rolled these in a strawberry sugar which I made with freeze dried strawberry powder and sugar. If you don’t have freeze dried strawberry powder on hand, regular sugar is fine!

  • I made the brioche dough the night before, and did the first rise overnight in the fridge, which makes the process feel a little less involved. Alternatively you can make the dough the day of and do both rises in one day.

  • Either a thermometer or a deep fryer is needed for the frying process - I got a deep fryer recently and it is great, but if you are just frying in a pot, I like to use cast iron as it holds the heat nicely and helps keep the oil at a consistent temperature.

  • The strawberries are super, super delicious and are great for using up nearly past it fruit - the recipe can be easily doubled and the mixture kept in the fridge.

  • If strawberries aren’t in season, you can likely roast frozen strawberries! It will help to bring out the flavour a lot - I would thaw them first. Alternatively, a strawberry jam as a filling would work great too.

 

 

Roasted Strawberry Brioche Doughnuts with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

- Makes about 12 -

Pastry cream adapted from Bouchon bakery

Roasted Strawberry Filling
600g fresh strawberries, diced
50g sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
pinch of salt

Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream
132g egg yolks (about 8 yolks)
110g sugar
37g corn starch
1 tsp Heilala vanilla bean paste
550g whole milk
27g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Brioche Dough

1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
250g (1 cup) whole milk, lukewarm
4 Tbsp (50g) sugar
565g (3 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
90g (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Neutral Oil for Frying

Strawberry Sugar
250g sugar
1 Tbsp freeze dried strawberry powder (I used this one)

 

- PROCESS -

ROASTED STRAWBERRIES

Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Line a sheet pan with tin foil. In a medium bowl, toss together the strawberries, sugar, vanilla bean paste, and salt. Spread onto the sheet pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the fruit and juices are bubbling. Transfer to an airtight container and chill until ready to use.

VANILLA BEAN PASTRY CREAM

In a large bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl. 

In a medium pot, warm the milk and vanilla paste until there is movement just around the edges of the milk - do not bring it to the boil. 

Remove the milk from the heat, and, whisking constantly, add half of the milk mixture into the egg and cornflour mixture to temper the egg yolks. Whisk briskly for 30 seconds. Transfer the milk-yolk mixture back to the pot, and return to a medium heat. Whisk constantly until very thick. 

Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, mixing well until totally combined. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Transfer to an airtight container and allow to cool completely.

BRIOCHE DOUGH

In a small bowl, combine the yeast, milk and 2 Tbsp of the sugar. Mix well, and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, salt, and remaining 2 Tbsp sugar. Mix briefly to combine. Add the eggs, vanilla, and foamy yeast mixture to the bowl. Mix on low for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is starting to come together. It may look slightly dry but do not worry - it will mix together nicely in the next steps. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for another 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth.

Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next piece. This process should take 3-4 minutes. Once the butter is fully incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes, until the dough is very soft and smooth.

Transfer to an oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot until doubled in size, approximately 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Alternatively the first rise can be done overnight in the fridge.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. Weigh the dough, and divide into 12 equal weight portions. Roll each portion into a tight ball. Place the rolled doughnuts on a baking tray sheet with parchment paper, leaving adequate space between (you may need two baking sheets).

Leave the doughnuts to proof for a further 20 minutes. When you poke them lightly with your finger, it should leave a small indentation that springs back.

While the doughnuts are proofing, heat neutral oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot (cast iron works great). Heat the oil to 350°f / 180°c. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the sugar and freeze dried strawberry powder in a shallow bowl.

Once the oil has come to temperature, test it with a few scraps of dough. Gently lower the doughnuts, two at a time, into the hot oil. Cook , flipping every 30 seconds, for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oil using a slotted spoon and place on a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 30 seconds before tossing in the sugar. Repeat the process with the rest of the doughnuts. Once the doughnuts are totally cool, poke a hole in them using a chopstick, and widen the hole using your finger.

 

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

Transfer the roasted strawberry mixture into a piping bag either with the end cut off or fitted with a very large round piping tip (I found it works best to just snip the end off rather than try and use a piping tip as then if you get the bag clogged by a piece of fruit, you can just squish it through the bag). Transfer the pastry cream to a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip.

Pipe some strawberry filling into each doughnut, then fill up the remainder of the cavity with pastry cream, finishing with a little dot of pastry cream on the top of each doughnut. Garnish each with a piece of the leftover strawberry, if desired.

Best eaten on the day that they are made.

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Custard Brioche Buns with Bonne Maman Mixed Berry Preserves and Vanilla bean Streusel


 
Custard Brioche Buns with Bonne Maman Mixed Berry Preserves and Vanilla bean Streusel. Light and fluffy brioche rounds are filled with a vanilla bean custard, then finished with a swirl of Bonne Maman Mixed berry preserves, and a sprinkle of vanilla bean streusel. These are perfect for a super easy but incredibly delicious brunch, as everything can be prepared the night before, making assembling the next morning super easy. #brioche #custardbun #breakfastpastry
Custard Brioche Buns with Bonne Maman Mixed Berry Preserves and Vanilla bean Streusel. Light and fluffy brioche rounds are filled with a vanilla bean custard, then finished with a swirl of Bonne Maman Mixed berry preserves, and a sprinkle of vanilla bean streusel. These are perfect for a super easy but incredibly delicious brunch, as everything can be prepared the night before, making assembling the next morning super easy. #brioche #custardbun #breakfastpastry
Custard Brioche Buns with Bonne Maman Mixed Berry Preserves and Vanilla bean Streusel. Light and fluffy brioche rounds are filled with a vanilla bean custard, then finished with a swirl of Bonne Maman Mixed berry preserves, and a sprinkle of vanilla bean streusel. These are perfect for a super easy but incredibly delicious brunch, as everything can be prepared the night before, making assembling the next morning super easy. #brioche #custardbun #breakfastpastry
Custard Brioche Buns with Bonne Maman Mixed Berry Preserves and Vanilla bean Streusel. Light and fluffy brioche rounds are filled with a vanilla bean custard, then finished with a swirl of Bonne Maman Mixed berry preserves, and a sprinkle of vanilla bean streusel. These are perfect for a super easy but incredibly delicious brunch, as everything can be prepared the night before, making assembling the next morning super easy. #brioche #custardbun #breakfastpastry
Custard Brioche Buns with Bonne Maman Mixed Berry Preserves and Vanilla bean Streusel. Light and fluffy brioche rounds are filled with a vanilla bean custard, then finished with a swirl of Bonne Maman Mixed berry preserves, and a sprinkle of vanilla bean streusel. These are perfect for a super easy but incredibly delicious brunch, as everything can be prepared the night before, making assembling the next morning super easy. #brioche #custardbun #breakfastpastry
Custard Brioche Buns with Bonne Maman Mixed Berry Preserves and Vanilla bean Streusel. Light and fluffy brioche rounds are filled with a vanilla bean custard, then finished with a swirl of Bonne Maman Mixed berry preserves, and a sprinkle of vanilla bean streusel. These are perfect for a super easy but incredibly delicious brunch, as everything can be prepared the night before, making assembling the next morning super easy. #brioche #custardbun #breakfastpastry
Custard Brioche Buns with Bonne Maman Mixed Berry Preserves and Vanilla bean Streusel. Light and fluffy brioche rounds are filled with a vanilla bean custard, then finished with a swirl of Bonne Maman Mixed berry preserves, and a sprinkle of vanilla bean streusel. These are perfect for a super easy but incredibly delicious brunch, as everything can be prepared the night before, making assembling the next morning super easy. #brioche #custardbun #breakfastpastry

Hi! I’m coming at you with a super simple but crazy delicious Easter brunch (or anytime really) idea - these custard brioche buns, with Mixed Berries Preserves and vanilla bean streusel. It’s no secret that I love anything to do with brioche, but these are next level. Soft, pillowy brioche is filled with a silky vanilla bean custard, then swirled with a touch of preserves, and finished off with a sprinkle of streusel.

The inspiration from this recipe comes from a Scandinavian bakery I visited recently in Brooklyn with a friend. We had a Skolbrod, which is essentially a brioche bun, topped with custard, then finished off with coconut. I instantly knew that I had to recreate it, but couldn’t help adding in a few more elements. I replaced the coconut with a vanilla bean streusel which is sprinkled on before baking so goes beautifully toasty, and finished the buns with a big swirl of Mixed Berries Preserves.

I have partnered with Bonne Maman to bring you this recipe! You have probably seen their gorgeous preserves, jellies and curds in your supermarket - they are super distinctive in their angular jars with the pretty gingham lids. We have been eating their products for years in our house, so I am super excited to be working with them on this post. Their products are everything I look for in a preserve - simple, no fussy ingredients, and a recipe that has stayed the same since they were very first made. They taste just like homemade. I’m a huge fan.

I used Bonne Maman’s Mixed Berries Preserves in this particular recipe. I love the variation of fruit (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and wild strawberries), which goes so well with the custard - it is the perfect finishing touch that brings everything together and takes the buns to the next level. Aside from the Preserves, my other favourite part about this recipe is how easy it is to make ahead. The brioche can be made the day before, doing its first rise in the fridge, which makes the dough super easy to handle. Both the custard and the streusel topping can also be made ahead, and using Bonne Maman Preserves means another component is already done for you too, meaning that the day of baking, all you have to do is shape the buns, give them a rise, egg wash, then sprinkle with streusel, fill with custard, and then finish with the Preserves. They then have a quick spin in the oven and turn into the most perfect buns, which are best eaten straight from the oven. Happy Brunching! x

A few wee tips:

  • This dough is probably a little wetter than you are used to - but I promise you that it will work out. If it really seems super wet and isn’t eventually pulling away from the bowl, you can add an extra tablespoon of flour. Make sure you knead it until it is really soft and stretchy. The sticky dough leads to beautifully soft buns!

  • The first proof can be done overnight in the fridge - I prefer this because it makes the buns much easier to shape.

  • Ideally the custard also needs overnight in the fridge - but you can cool it in a few hours if you need to - just spread it into a shallow container so you have a thinner layer, meaning it cools a bit quicker.

  • I used Bonne Maman’s Mixed Berries Preserves for this particular recipe, but any of their preserves would be beautiful - I also love the raspberry, the apricot, and the blackberry, and I have been eyeing up the peach. If you wanted you could even pick up a few different flavours of the preserves to give a nice variation in both colour and flavour!

 

 

Custard Brioche Buns with Bonne Maman Mixed Berry Preserves and Vanilla Bean Streusel

- Makes 16 buns -

Brioche Dough
250g whole milk, lukewarm
100g sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
560g all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
Zest of 2 lemons
2 eggs, at room temperature
1tsp vanilla bean paste
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Custard
80g sugar
50g cornstarch
130g egg yolks (about 7 yolks worth, but ensure you weigh to make sure)
550g whole milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp salt
40g unsalted butter

Streusel
80g all-purpose flour
60g sugar
40g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
Pinch of salt

For Assembly
One jar of Bonne Maman Mixed Berries Preserve
Egg wash - One egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water

 

- PROCESS -

Brioche DOUGH

Place the lukewarm milk, 15g of the sugar, and the yeast in a medium sized bowl, and stir to combine. Leave for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, place the remaining 85g sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest, and mix well to combine.

Add the milk mixture and the egg to the dry ingredients, and mix on low for 2-3 minutes. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium, and mix for a further 10 minutes. Add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is incorporated until adding the next piece. Mix for a further 10-15 minutes, until the dough is smooth and soft. If you are finding the dough will not pull away from the bowl, add an extra tablespoon of flour.

Flour your hands, remove the dough from the mixing bowl, and quickly shape into a ball. Lightly grease the bowl with butter or baking spray, then place the ball of dough back into the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.

CUSTARD

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and corn starch (this helps the corn starch to stay lump free). Add the egg yolks and whisk well to combine.

In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, warm the milk, vanilla bean paste, and salt, until just shy of a simmer. Whisking constantly, pour about half of the warm milk mixture onto the egg yolk mixture, then mix briskly to combine. Add back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and place over a low heat.

Cook the custard, whisking constantly, until thick. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, mixing until incorporated and lump free. Strain through a mesh sieve into a container, and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard. Place in the fridge to cool completely, ideally overnight.

STREUSEL

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt. Add Vanilla bean paste if using, then add the butter, and rub in with your fingertips until it resembles wet sand. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

ASSEMBLY

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Weigh the dough, and divide into 16 pieces. Cover the pieces you are not working with with a piece of plastic wrap lightly coated in baking spray.

Shape each piece of dough into a ball, then, using a cupped hand, roll on the work surface until it forms a nice taut ball. Place back under the plastic to rest for 5 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, working with one piece of dough at a time, flatten into a disc, then roll out into a circle approximately 3 inches (7.5cm) in diameter. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls - you should be able to fit 8 on each baking sheet.

Cover each baking sheet with a clean tea towel, and leave to rise for about 45 minutes, until puffy. Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Arrange two oven racks evenly in the oven.

Remove the custard from the fridge and whisk briefly to ensure that it has a cohesive texture, then transfer to a piping bag and snip off the end.

Using a measuring cup lightly dusted with flour (I used a 1/3 cup and it was the perfect size), press down in the centre of each circle of dough to create an indentation. Brush each round of dough with egg wash, then pipe a mound of custard into each hole in the buns. I find it easiest to work with one tray at a time, completing the assembly process before moving onto the next to prevent the egg wash drying out.

Smooth down the custard slightly using an offset spatula, then top with about 1 tsp of Bonne Maman Mixed Berries Preserves. Sprinkle the edge of each bun with the streusel, making sure to not get it on the filling. Repeat with the second tray of buns.

Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes, swapping the top and bottom trays over and rotating half way through the baking process, until the buns are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before eating. Best served warm.

Store remaining buns in an airtight container. Warm slightly in the microwave before serving to freshen up the bread and warm up the preserves.

Custard Brioche Buns with Bonne Maman Mixed Berry Preserves and Vanilla bean Streusel. Light and fluffy brioche rounds are filled with a vanilla bean custard, then finished with a swirl of Bonne Maman Mixed berry preserves, and a sprinkle of vanilla bean streusel. These are perfect for a super easy but incredibly delicious brunch, as everything can be prepared the night before, making assembling the next morning super easy. #brioche #custardbun #breakfastpastry

Thank you so much to Bonne Maman for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own.

Custard Square with Homemade Puff Pastry


 
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.

Happy New Year! I hope you and yours celebrated somehow, and that the start of the year has been good to you so far. We kept things pretty quiet around here - celebrated with some friends at a bar. We took a tiny bit of time off from the studio, but still somehow found ourselves working right after new year's day. I did take a little baking hiatus however - the pre-christmas rush really knocked me around a little, so it was nice to just hide from the internet a little. I made a couple of batches of cookies - Sarah Kieffer's famous pan banging numbers (forever dubbed FOMO cookies), and then Alison Roman's Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread which were also AMAZING in a totally different way. I also made a buttload of new dinner recipes - my new fave thing is to follow a recipe at the end of the day. Someone else making the decisions about what I am making and how I am making it is super relaxing. 

And then I started to get a little twitchy - I hadn't picked up my camera for a solid two weeks (and of course all the cards were full, and the battery was flat), and I had been DYING to try making puff pastry for the longest time, and I figured it was something that would need documenting. So I kick-started back with a recipe which was a combination of following a recipe (Erin Mcdowell's amazing puff pastry), and putting my own spin on an old fave, and landed here with this custard square recipe. 

From the response on IG stories, most people either love love love custard square, or have never heard of it. I fall squarely in the love love love camp - it was one of my favourite things growing up, They tended to be made with a greasy pastry and a bouncy yellow custard (unless you got a Denheath one, which I would pay serious money to have, RIGHT NOW), and even then were so amazing. The best bakery treat, and super satisfying to make at home yourself.

Custard square is a love story of three elements which are amazing alone, but come together to create actual magic. We start with flaky puff pastry - you can use store bought, but I chose to give making my own a try, and realised it was surprisingly easy. The pastry is baked between two baking trays to avoid extreme puffiness. Once it is cooled and trimmed, one piece is placed in a lined baking tin, and covered with a creamy vanilla bean custard. A second piece of pastry gets placed on top, and the whole thing goes for a nap in the fridge to set up. Once cooled, it is covered in a vanilla bean glaze (aka a fancy version of that shitty icing we all grew up on), and carefully sawed into squares. The combination of crispy pastry, creamy smooth custard and sweet icing is one of the greatest things ever. 

A few wee tips:

  • You can absolutely use store bought puff pastry in this recipe. - you will need about two sheets. Just make sure it is rolled out to a square about 12"x12" so that you have enough to fill the tin - it shrinks a lot when baked. I do encourage you to try making your own - I promise it is much less scary than it looks!

  • Bear in mind that if you use a different puff recipe or bought pastry, it may require a different baking time.

  • If you use a different pastry recipe, you will need approximately 700g dough.

  • I made Erin Mcdowell's pastry from her new book (which is amazing and you need). There is a chocolate version here. Erin does an amazing job of explaining here, so if you need visual pointers it's a great place to look!

  • Make sure that you allow time - it takes 2-3 hours (lots of this is waiting) to make the pastry, then the custard square ideally should cool overnight.

  • I found that when making my own pastry, obsessively squaring off the edges helped, along with measuring the temperature of the butter and the dough before I started the folds to ensure that they were a similar temperature.

  • You only use half of the puff in the recipe here - the rest freezes perfectly for use in another project.

  • You can get custard powder in supermarkets, or online!

 

 

Custard Square 

- Makes about 16 -

Pastry Recipe, with permission, from The Fearless Baker

Puff Pastry
Butter Block
453g (1 lb) unsalted butter, at room temperature
71g (2/3 cup) Bread Flour

Dough
397 (3 3/13 cups) bread flour
198g (1 2/3 cups) All-purpose flour
6g (1 1/2 tsp) fine sea salt
113g (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
287g (1 cup plus 3 Tbsp) cool water

Vanilla Bean Custard
720ml (3 cups) whole milk
480ml (2 cups) heavy cream
1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste
pinch of Salt
65g (1/2 cup) custard powder
200g (1 cup) sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
70g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Icing
375g (3 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
45g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
whole milk to mix (a few tablespoons)

 

- PROCESS -

PUFF PASTRY

Cut a piece of parchment paper so it measures approximately 13 x 18 inches. (I use pre-cut sheets which are this size). Position with the short side facing you. 

In a medium bowl, place the butter and flour. Mix vigorously using a silicone spatula. Spread onto the bottom third of the parchment paper, and use an offset spatula to spread into a rectangle 6"x9", and 1/2" thick. Carefully square off the edges. Wrap in the parchment paper, and place in the fridge to firm up. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the bread flour, all-purpose flour, and salt. Add the butter and vanilla, and mix on low until the butter is fully incorporated into the mixture. Add the water, and mix until a dough forms, 5-6 minutes. Increase the speed, and mix on high for 2-3 minutes until smooth.

Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and pat into a rectangle with your hands. Wrap in the plastic and rest in the refrigerator for 40-50 minutes. 

Once the butter and the dough are a similar temperature (16˚c / 60˚f to 21˚c / 70˚f), remove both from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a rectangle 12" x 10", taking time to carefully measure, and squaring off the edges using a bench scraper if necessary. (This will make doing the folding much, much easier). Orient the rectangle so that the short side is facing you. 

Using the paper as a guide, peel back half of the parchment on the butter, and place on the bottom half of the dough, leaving a 1/2" margin around the edges. Fold the top half of the dough down over the butter block, pressing firmly around the edges to seal, and tuck any excess dough underneath the block. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and rest in the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes. 

Turn #1: 4-fold

Remove the dough from the fridge, and unwrap. On a lightly floured surface, roll out to a 1/2 inch thick rectangle that is 13" wide and 19" long. If it is too warm and is becoming sticky, return to the fridge for a little more rest time. If it is too hard, allow to sit at room temp to soften a little. 30 minutes worked well for each rest time for me. Square off the edges. Turn the dough so a long edge is facing you. Take the left edge of the dough, and fold 3/4 of the way across the dough, lining up the edges. Fold the right edge to meet the left, about 1/4 of the way across. Fold the dough in half, left side over right. Transfer to the baking sheet, brush off extra flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Rest for another 30 minutes.

Turn #2: 3-fold

Remove the dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, repeat the rolling process - roll to 13" x 19", and square the edges. Turn so a long edge is facing you. Fold the left side of the dough 1/3 of the way across, then fold the right side of the dough over the left (so you have 3 layers of dough). Place on the baking sheet, brush off flour, cover and refrigerate. Rest for 30 minutes.

Turn #3: 4-fold

Repeat the process for a 4-fold as explained above, taking care to square the edges. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.

Turn #4: 3-fold

This is your final fold. Roll out, square off, and repeat the instructions for a 3-fold above. Cover, and rest for 30 minutes. 

At this stage the dough is ready to be used - cut in half, and store the dough either wrapped tightly in the fridge (you will use one half for the custard square and you can keep the rest for another project), or in the freezer. 

To make the pastry sheets, preheat the oven to 180c / 350˚f. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take 700g of the prepared pastry (one half of the recipe above), and divide the piece into two. Wrap half in plastic and place in the fridge until needed - you will do this in two batches. 

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the first piece of pastry into a square that measures 11" square - this allows for shrinkage. Place onto the prepared baking sheet, and top with a second piece of parchment paper, then place a second baking sheet on top, to help prevent rising.

Place the baking sheets in the oven, and place something heavy such as a cast iron skillet on top of the second baking sheet. Bake the pastry for approximately 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the top baking sheet, and parchment paper, and bake uncovered for a further 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly on the baking sheet, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Repeat the process with the second piece of pastry. Using a sharp knife and the tin you are planning on using as a guide, trim the pastry squares so that they are the same size as your tin (I used a 9" square tin). Set aside until ready to assemble. 

 

VANILLA BEAN CUSTARD

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, place the milk, cream, vanilla paste and salt. Heat over medium heat, until it is very hot to the touch and just shy of a simmer. 

Meanwhile, while the milk is heating, place the custard powder and sugar in a medium bowl, and whisk to combine. Add the eggs, and whisk until well combined and slightly pale in colour. 

Once the milk mixture has heated, remove it from the heat, and, whisking constantly, pour half of it into the egg mixture. Whisk well to combine, before adding the rest of the milk and whisking very well. Wash and dry the saucepan, and return to the stove. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan, and place over low to medium heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes, whisking constantly, until the custard is very thick. Remove from the heat and add the butter a small piece at a time, whisking to incorporate before adding the next piece. 

Use immediately for assembly. 

 

ASSEMBLY

Line a 9" square tin with two sheets of baking paper, extending over the sides of the tin to act as a 'sling'. Place the first piece of puff pastry in the bottom of the tin, trimming slightly to make it fit if needed. 

Pour the hot custard over the top of the puff pastry, and smooth with an offset spatula. Place the second piece of pastry on top, pressing down lightly to ensure there are no air bubbles. Cover the tin with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge to set for at least 3-4 hours, or up to overnight. 

Once the custard has set, carefully use the parchment paper to remove the custard square from the tin, and place on a chopping board or large plate. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or using an electric mixer, combine the sifted powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla bean paste until fluffy. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until a spreadable consistency has been reached. 

Spread the icing over the surface of the custard square, then place briefly in the fridge to allow the icing to set. 

Once the icing has set, cut into 16 squares using a bread knife which has been run under cold water and then wiped. Use a careful sawing motion. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve. Best served slightly cold, on the day or the day after they are made. 

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. 

The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.