Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing


 
Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean
Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean
Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean
Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean
Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean
Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean
Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean
Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean

Hi hi from Montauk! We are up here for  few days with Richard's Mum and Sisters who are over visiting from home! So far we've eaten a couple of giant salads made with ingredients from the local farm stand, a few fish tacos, and have indulged in a lot of blobbing about. It's going to be so nice to have a wee break from the city!

I just wanted to pop by and share this recipe with you while we are still in stone fruit season here in the states, although it can be made with a jar of your fave preserves. I had some extra puff pastry left over from a project, and a bowl full of amazingly fresh apricots, so pop tarts really were a great mistake waiting to happen. This recipe is incredibly versatile and can really be made with any type of puff pastry - fresh or home made, or a store bought jam, or one you have made yourself. However you choose to make them, I promise they will be delicious. If you haven't made your own jam before I really do encourage you to give it a try - it's super easy and the most amazing way to preserve fruit when it is at its peak long after the season ends. And you can't go wrong with the butteriest, flakiest of puff pastries, and a vanilla bean icing. Enjoy!

A few wee tips:

  • The apricot jam does take some time to cool, so ensure that you leave time for this. If you need it to cool faster, you can place it into a shallow dish to increase the surface area. 
  • Make sure you sterilise your jars and lids - I like to put the jars in the oven at about 300˚f for 15 mins to kill off any germs. I then put the lids in boiling water and leave them in there until I am ready to use them.
  • This recipe is easily customisable - you can use store bought puff, and definitely can use a regular store bought jar of jam or preserves inside. 
  • It is also very easy to scale - the recipe makes about 3 jars of jam, so make as few or as many as you like. They do freeze very well too - freeze until solid then transfer to an airtight container, then bake when you are ready. 
  • I use a homemade puff pastry in this recipe because that is what I had leftover, but since making and shooting these I have also been playing around with a rough puff pastry recipe which is a bit easier to make and just as delicious, so you could absolutely use that too.
  • Apparently people put pop tarts in the toaster? I definitely wouldn't recommend that with these - if you would like to reheat, a few minutes in a preheated oven would help crisp them up a little - just bear in mind the icing might get a bit melty.
 

 

Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing

- Makes about 9 pop tarts -

Pastry Recipe via The Fearless Baker, Apricot jam filling slightly adapted from David Lebovitz

Pastry
1/2 recipe Homemade puff pastry, or 1/2 recipe of Rough Puff pastry, or about 700g good quality store bought puff pastry (the filling recipe makes more than enough jam, so this can be easily scaled depending on how many you want to make, and they freeze very well)

Apricot Jam Filling
1kg apricots, pit removed and roughly chopped
60g (1/4 cup) water
600g sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
pinch of kosher salt
Juice of half a lemon

Vanilla Bean Icing
150g Powdered sugar, Sifted
1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp milk 

- PROCESS -

APRICOT JAM FILLING

Place a small plate in the freezer to use later to check the gelling of the jam. 

In a Large heavy bottomed pot (I used a dutch oven), bring the apricots and water to a gentle boil, and then cook, stirring often, until the fruit is tender. 

Add the sugar and cook, stirring often, until it is starting to reduce slightly, or reaches 105˚c / 220˚f on a candy thermometer. Skim off any foam if it develops.This generally takes me about 15-20 minutes, and I prefer to use the thermometer method and double check with the plate method.

To double check if the jam is done, place about a tablespoon on the frozen plate, then return to the freezer for 2-3 minutes (remove the jam from the heat while you wait to ensure that it does not overcook). Give the jam on the plate a little nudge with your finger - if it wrinkles, it is done. 

Ladle the finished jam into the sterilised jars, and screw the lids on tightly. Allow to cool completely, then store in the fridge.

 

ASSEMBLY

Preheat the oven to 375˚f / 190˚c. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry into a large rectangle. If you are worried about it getting too warm and soft, you can cut it in half and do this in two parts. Using a ruler and a sharp knife or pastry cutter, cut the pastry into 3" x 4" rectangles (7cm x 10cm). You should get approximately 18 rectangles. Place the cut rectangles carefully onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and refrigerate for 10 mins to help firm up the pastry slightly. 

Remove the pastry rectangles from the fridge and match up into pairs. Lightly brush the edges of one piece of pastry with egg wash, then place about a tablespoon of apricot jam in the centre. Top with a second piece of pastry, pressing down lightly around the edges to seal, ensuring that there are no air bubbles. Use the tines of a fork to press down around the edges to help seal. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining rectangles of pastry until all the pop tarts are assembled. 

Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer, and freeze the pop tarts for 15 minutes. Remove from the freezer, and brush lightly with egg wash. 

Bake the pop tarts for 30-35 minutes, until puffy and golden brown. Remove from the oven, cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. 

ICING

Combine all of the icing ingredients in a small bowl until a spreadable consistency. Add more powdered sugar or cream if necessary. Spoon over the pop tarts and garnish with sprinkles if desired. 

Best eaten on the same day that they are made. 

Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean

Chili Pesto, Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper and Halloumi Tarts with Homemade Puff Pastry


 
Chili Pesto, Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper and Halloumi Tarts with Homemade Puff Pastry. The perfect appetizer or summer dinner - make these whatever size you want, they are bound to be a crowd pleaser! #mushroomtart #halloumi #chili #chilli #pesto #puffpastry #tart
Chili Pesto, Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper and Halloumi Tarts with Homemade Puff Pastry. The perfect appetizer or summer dinner - make these whatever size you want, they are bound to be a crowd pleaser! #mushroomtart #halloumi #chili #chilli #pesto #puffpastry #tart
Chili Pesto, Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper and Halloumi Tarts with Homemade Puff Pastry. The perfect appetizer or summer dinner - make these whatever size you want, they are bound to be a crowd pleaser! #mushroomtart #halloumi #chili #chilli #pesto #puffpastry #tart
Chili Pesto, Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper and Halloumi Tarts with Homemade Puff Pastry. The perfect appetizer or summer dinner - make these whatever size you want, they are bound to be a crowd pleaser! #mushroomtart #halloumi #chili #chilli #pesto #puffpastry #tart
Chili Pesto, Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper and Halloumi Tarts with Homemade Puff Pastry. The perfect appetizer or summer dinner - make these whatever size you want, they are bound to be a crowd pleaser! #mushroomtart #halloumi #chili #chilli #pesto #puffpastry #tart
Chili Pesto, Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper and Halloumi Tarts with Homemade Puff Pastry. The perfect appetizer or summer dinner - make these whatever size you want, they are bound to be a crowd pleaser! #mushroomtart #halloumi #chili #chilli #pesto #puffpastry #tart

I often get asked what happens to all the food I make. This ranges from people being curious, to aggressively accusing me of being 'incredibly wasteful' (isn't the internet fun sometimes?). It all gets eaten - we eat some at home, give some to our doormen, take it to friends, or Rich takes it to the Studio. It usually gets eaten at varying speeds, depending on what it is, or how many times I've tried to feed it to people before (fourth time round of a recipe test they tend to get pretty sick of it), but nothing goes to waste. Sure, I've creeped out the guy fixing our balcony a couple of times by offering him a cookie out the window, but everyone always appreciates it. These tarts? They were gone in about half an hour of me arriving at the studio with a box full. Which has got to be a good sign, right?

This is the second post of four in partnership with Filippo Berio! Last week we had a Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Ricotta Brioche knot, which went down super well, and now I'm back with another recipe inspired by their Pestonality Tour - Chili Pesto, Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper and Halloumi Tarts, with a homemade puff pastry. They look and sound a teeny bit complicated, but I promise you all the components are super easy to make, can be prepared ahead, and come together so amazingly into the perfect little handheld flavour party. 

Last Saturday Rich and I took the train up to Riverhead on Long Island to visit Filippo Berio at the Rose and Bubbly festival. It was an amazing wee day out (I always forget how much I love getting out of the city), and we had an amazing time tasting all of the pestos, right in the middle of a beautiful vineyard! Guests were able to try the pestos, along with taking the Filippo Berio Pestonality quiz, which will be available very soon on their website! I popped a few of my fave photos from the day at the bottom of this post. 

Back to these wee tarts! I wanted to come up with something to incorporate the Hot Chili version of the pesto, and these tarts do just that! I started with some homemade puff pastry, which, if you are up for it, is a super fun wee project, and actually not as hard as most people think. If you like, you can absolutely use store bought puff here too. I then rolled it out, cut it into rectangles, then spread with a thin layer of hot chili pesto, before topping it with a mushroom and garlic mixture, and some roasted red pepper strips. Once baked, it was topped with some fried halloumi cubes, and finished with a wee sprig of thyme. 

A few wee tips:

  • If you aren't keen on making your own puff pastry, you can definitely use store bought! I used 700g for this recipe. I have added a link to the recipe here 
  • Most of the components for this can be made ahead - the peppers can be roasted ahead, and the mushroom mixture can also be done ahead.
  • You can add the halloumi on before you bake if you like, but I prefer it fried so added it once it was already baked. Feta would work great too.
  • Feel free to customise these to your liking! They could be done with any type of filling that you like!
 

 

Chili Pesto, Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper and Halloumi Tarts with Homemade Puff Pastry

- Makes  12 tarts -

Puff Pastry Recipe 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
287g (1 cup plus 3 Tbsp) cool water

Tart Filling
4 large red bell peppers
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
300g button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 jar Filippo Berio Hot Chili Pesto
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 x 200g block halloumi, Sliced
Fresh Thyme Sprigs to garnish (optional)

Egg wash: 1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp water

 

- PROCESS -

PUFF PASTRY

To make the butter block, combine the butter and bread flour  and mix until well combined. On a 13" x 18" piece of parchment paper, spread the butter into a 6" x 9" rectangle that is approximately 1/2" thick, using an offset spatula to square off the edges. Fold the remaining parchment paper down, using a bench scraper to square off the edges again (very square butter is very helpful!). Place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes, until it is between 60˚f and 70˚f (15˚c to 20˚c). 

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 it has reached the ideal temperature, bring both the butter block and the dough out of the fridge. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a rectangle approximately 12" x 10". Place the butter block on the bottom half of the dough (you should have about half an inch space around the edges), and fold over the dough to 'lock' in the butter, pressing down the edges to seal it in. Tuck any excess underneath. Wrap in plastic wrap, place on the baking sheet, and rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. 

Remove the dough from the fridge. You are now going to begin the folding process. You will do a four fold, a three fold, a four fold, and another three fold.

Turn #1: 4-fold

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 13" x 18" rectangle, using a bench scraper to keep the edges tightly squared off. 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. 

Divide the pastry in half. Wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to use. You will only use one of the pieces for this recipe - store the other piece, tightly wrapped, in the freezer or fridge for another project.

FILLINGS

To make the roasted red peppers, preheat the oven to 400˚f / 200˚c. Line a quarter baking sheet with tin foil. Place the peppers, whole, on the baking sheet and lightly drizzle with oil. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the skin is starting to darken and lift away from the flesh. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet before peeling the peppers and removing the skin and stalk. Divide the flesh from each pepper into 3 or 4 pieces, and cut into strips. Place into an airtight container until ready to use. 

To make the mushrooms, heat a skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Add a good drizzle of olive oil, then add the onions and garlic, and cook for one minute, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms and thyme, and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently and adding more oil if needed, until the mushrooms are cooked and beginning to go golden brown. Season well. Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to use - store in an airtight container in the fridge if preparing ahead. 

ASSEMBLY

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your puff pastry to a rectangle 5mm (1/4") in thickness. If you are using pre rolled store bought pastry, lightly roll to remove any creases. Using a pastry cutter or very sharp knife, cut rectangles 8cm x 12cm (3" x 5"), and transfer to the baking sheet, leaving a little space between each. You should get approximately 12 rectangles. Transfer the baking sheet to the fridge for at least 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 400˚f / 180˚c. Using a sharp knife, score a rectangle 1cm in from the edge of the pastry, taking care not to cut right through. Repeat with the remaining rectangles of pastry. 

Spread about 1 tsp (or a little less if you do not want them too spicy) of Hot Chili pesto on each tart, keeping inside the scored border. Top with 1 Tbsp of the mushroom mixture, and a few of the strips of roasted red pepper. Brush the outer exposed edge of pastry with egg wash. 

Bake the tarts for 15-18 minutes, until the pastry is puffy and golden brown. While the tarts are baking, fry the halloumi in a skillet or frying pan over medium heat, until golden brown on both sides. Cut into cubes. 

Once the tarts are baked, remove from the oven, and top each with a few cubes of halloumi. Garnish with a sprig of thyme if desired. Serve warm. 

Store leftovers in an airtight container. Best eaten on the day that they are made.

Chili Pesto, Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper and Halloumi Tarts with Homemade Puff Pastry. The perfect appetizer or summer dinner - make these whatever size you want, they are bound to be a crowd pleaser! #mushroomtart #halloumi #chili #chilli #pesto #puffpastry #tart
Chili Pesto, Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper and Halloumi Tarts with Homemade Puff Pastry. The perfect appetizer or summer dinner - make these whatever size you want, they are bound to be a crowd pleaser! #mushroomtart #halloumi #chili #chilli #pesto #puffpastry #tart
Chili Pesto, Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper and Halloumi Tarts with Homemade Puff Pastry. The perfect appetizer or summer dinner - make these whatever size you want, they are bound to be a crowd pleaser! #mushroomtart #halloumi #chili #chilli #pesto #puffpastry #tart

Thank you so much to Filippo Berio 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.