Hi Everyone, hope all my lovely readers in the North East fared well through that huge storm the other day. I watched it on the Weather Network radar and it looked absolutely brutal.
I have one more thing to ask of you lovely readers (in fact, my friend Smidge from Just a Smidgen also requested it). Kindly link your Gravatar to your blog, otherwise we have no way of knowing where you came from and we cannot comment on your blog. It’s in Gravatar.com, you’ll have to sign in and Edit your Public Profile, update your link to your blog in My Links. Thank goodness Smidge asked me to do this because believe it or not mine WASN’T linked! Thanks Smidge!
A friend dated a guy with whom we became close. They broke up, so we asked her if she would mind if we kept him; she said not at all. So we did. He came for dinner a few weeks ago and I made a Hungarian themed dinner party; Hungarian Cheese Sticks (Sajtos Rud), Celeriac Velouté with Caramelized Onion Focaccia Croutons (recipe to come), Chicken Paprikas with Nokedli (I updated the nokedli part as Barb mentioned to me that her’s didn’t turn out), a nice Hungarian Cucumber salad (recipe to come) and Krémes. I was looking for a new dessert that would finish off the evening in style so I ‘traveled’ all the way to British Columbia to my good Hungarian friend Zsuzsa’s blog and found these wonderfully delicious Custard Squares. She spoke very highly of the recipe so I knew they would not disappoint. They are labour intensive but well worth the effort. They totally remind me of Mille Feuille that was my favourite when I was a child. The pastry is fantastically flaky.
I divided the recipe into a third of the original as I didn’t need quite as many. JT said I should have made the entire batch (that’s a testament to how good they are!). Thank you Zsuzsa for a tremendous dessert. I turned the most of the measurements into weight because it was easier to divide into 3 that way! You should get yourself a digital kitchen scale (I have this one), it is essential for baking.
Hungarian Custard Squares (Krémes)
Makes 8 squares in a 5″ x 9″ loaf pan (if you want more, please see Zsuzsa’s original recipe, she has excellent photos on the process of making the pastry too).
- 2/3 cup skim milk
- 1/3 vanilla pod
- 3 eggs separated
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 6 tbsp flour
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 pk gelatin
- 1 tbsp butter
- 4 tbsp sugar
- dash of lemon juice
- 72 g all purpose flour
- 76 g butter
- 1 tbsp and 1 tsp cold water
- 1 tsp vinegar
- pinch of salt
- Heat the milk in a saucepan or microwave, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, and add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat and allow the vanilla to infuse for one hour. Set aside.
- Next make the flaky pastry. In a food processor with metal blades, combine the flour and chilled butter until it resembles a fine crumble. Add the salt and pulse to distribute. Combine the vinegar and the water and stream into the processor until a dough ball forms.
- Generously flour a board and roll out the pastry into a rectangle and divide into 4 equal parts. Stack the four rectangles on top of one another and chill for twenty minutes.
- Once chilled, separate each part and roll the dough into 4 very thin rectangles, roughly bigger than your loaf pan. Place in the bottom of your loaf pan, allowing the dough to form creases to fit into the pan. Repeat for the second rectangle, this will be the top. Bake in a preheated 400° F oven for 14-18 minutes keeping watch as the pastry burns easily.
- When the pastry is golden brown, remove pan from the oven and immediately cut pastry into 8 squares (4 by 2). Wait a few minutes and carefully remove the squares and set them aside in the same order as they were in the pan, set aside.
- Repeat with the other two rectangles and bake, this is the bottom layer (do not cut this layer). Allow to cool, and remove from the pan, and put a good layer of plastic wrap into the pan with a generous amount coming up the side (this will help you lift it out). Return the bottom layer into the bottom of the pan, smoothing out the side of the plastic wrap.
- Next make the custard layer.
- In a medium sized bowl beat the egg yolks and 2 tbsp sugar for 8 minutes (they will become thick and pale). Add the vanilla
- In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and gelatine. Gradually add the flour mixture to the beaten egg yolks and continue to beat until smooth.
- Remove the vanilla pods from the vanilla infused milk and gradually add the vanilla infused milk to the bowl with the eggs and the flour.
- Over a simmering bain-marie cook the custard stirring it constantly until it reaches 80°C or 176° F with a candy thermometer (be careful as it can burn easily). As soon as it reaches 80° C remove immediately from the heat stir in the butter and set aside to cool.
- While the custard is cooling whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, add the lemon juice and continue beating until almost stiff. Add 2 tbsp sugar and beat until shiny and stiff. You are trying to beat the sugar into the egg whites so they are no longer grainy (this takes several minutes).
- Once the custard has cooled, press it through a fine sieve (my custard got a bit lumpy because I didn’t stir well enough as it was cooking)
- Take about 1/3 of the egg whites and fold it into the custard to loosen it up. Then fold the remaining egg whites into the custard very slowly
- Pour this custard onto the bottom layer of the pastry and even out using a spatula, pushing it into the corners and sides. Add the top layer of pastry in the same order that you removed it from the pan, leaving a little space between each one to allow your knife to slide through to make the squares. Refrigerate until the custard has set.
- Once set, using the plastic wrap, lift the pastry dessert out of the pan onto a cutting board. Generously sprinkle with icing sugar. Using a wet knife, slice the custard into 8 equal squares, using your top pastry as your guide.
- Serve cold, perhaps with a dollop of whipping cream.