Green tea custard scrolls

What is it they say about April showers that seems to apply to Sydney at the moment? We are awash with neverending rain and gloomy skies that make me want to stay rugged up all day, nibbling pastries and sipping tea.

April is usually one of my favourite times of the year, what with the many hot cross buns I have already put away (straight onto my hips). At school, April was the time we exchanged Easter eggs, made plans to meet up during the holidays, and talked endlessly about the showbags we were going to get at the Royal Easter Show. This year is made even more exciting by the impending visit of my sister and her family from New Zealand. It’s been awhile since I last saw my little nieces. We are planning to take them (and B) to their first ever Show, and I expect I’ll be sharing pictures of our day spent there, in the near future.

In the meantime, this weather has put me in the mood for a little baking. These brioche scrolls were inspired by a delicious matcha and adzuki bean danish we had at Sadaharu Aoki’s patisserie when we were last in Tokyo. I spread a very generous layer of green tea custard on the brioche dough, scattered some chopped candied ginger and white chocolate on top, then rolled up the dough and portioned it into 12 pieces. These scrolls are incredibly good, straight from the oven, when the custard is still warm and slightly oozy. I had two just while standing there, supervising them as they cooled the rack.

Raquel of Growing Up Green recently passed on an award to me. As thanks, I am dedicating these green tea custard scrolls to her.

Green Tea Custard Scrolls :
(makes 12)

Brioche :
(based on a recipe in Gourmet Traveller Sept 2006)
80ml milk
5g dried yeast
300g plain flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
100g unsalted butter, softened

250 – 300g green tea custard (recipe below)
optional extras : sweetened adzuki beans, chopped candied ginger or white chocolate buttons etc

Warm the milk in a saucepan (to about blood temperature), add the yeast and whisk until yeast dissolves. Stir in 30g flour and stand for 10 minutes or until foamy.

Combine remaining flour, sugar and 1/2 teaspoons sea salt in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix for 2 minutes on lowest setting. Pour in yeast mixture and egg, mixing until it just comes together [Note: Add a splash more milk if the dough is looking too dry]. Increase speed to medium, add butter a little at a time, then increase speed to high and mix for 5 minutes or until smooth. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place for 1 hour.

Turn brioche dough onto a lightly floured surface, knock back, then knead lightly until smooth. Roll out a 20cm x 55cm rectangle, then, with the long side facing you, spread evenly with green tea custard, leaving a 2cm border on the far long side. Scatter any optional extras you want on top of the custard. Roll into a cylinder, then cut into 12 even pieces and place, cut-side down, closely on a baking paper-lined oven tray and stand for 10 minutes or until risen. Bake at 180’C for 30 minutes or until light golden.

While still warm, brush lightly with a little apricot glaze. When cooled, dust with more green tea powder or icing sugar.

Green tea custard :
(based on a recipe from Pastry : Savory and Sweet by Michel Roux)
[Note: This recipe yields more custard than you need for the scrolls. You can cut the recipe by half, or make the full recipe and use the custard in other ways – as a filling for crepes, for example]
6 yolks
125g sugar
20g plain flour
20g custard powder
500ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons green tea (maccha/matcha) powder (or more, if you like it stronger)

In an electric mixer, whisk yolks and a third of the sugar until very thick and pale. Whisk in flour, custard powder and green tea powder.

Heat the milk with the remaining sugar and vanilla. When it boils, pour it onto the egg yolk mixture. Mix well, then return to the stove. Bring to boil, stirring continuously with a whisk. Let it simmer for two minutes, stirring, then strain the custard into a bowl. Place some cling film over the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool completely before using.

(The best way to rapidly chill down the custard is by placing the bowl in an iced water bath. This custard can be made ahead, and kept in the fridge for several days before using.)

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Daring Bakers Challenge : French Yule Log

Could this be the richest and most luxurious Daring Bakers challenge yet? If not, can we agree that it certainly comes close? It’s the kind of chocolate dessert you might find listed with cliched words like “indulgence” or “oblivion” tacked to the end of it.

This month’s challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

If you’re wondering, hang on, a yule log .. didn’t we make one this time last year? Well, I thought the same too, but was put right when I read the definition of a French yule log.

As it turns out, this yule log, or Buche de Noel, is somewhat akin to an ice-cream cake, or a frozen version of the typical buttercream-laden yule log we are more familiar with. Mine consists of flavours that pretty much adhere to the original recipe. The layers are almond dacquoise, dark chocolate mousse, vanilla creme brulee, hazelnut praline, dark chocolate ganache and icing. A great choice of dessert for this time of the year, I think, because of the warm weather here in Sydney.

Not that warm weather would deter me from baking. After a few forkfuls of this wonderful dessert, I think ‘Chocolate Ooh’ might even be a nice addition to that list of cliched words. Or maybe ‘Chocolate Blessing’, because I’m thankful for having managed to find a little time this month to make this challenge. I’m grateful because the alternative would mean never having had the opportunity to experience this pure Chocolate Sensation. This Chocolate Bliss. This Chocolate Epiphany of textures, from ultra smooth mousse to crunchy praline and toothsome ganache. This Chocolate Happiness.

If you have been sufficiently tempted enough to make it, you might want to search for the recipe on the hosts’ blogs (thanks, guys!), or from the blogs of other DB members.

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Sleep. Hiatus. A View.

“I wound up my clockwork sufficiently to tick out onto the waking streets and buzz a newspaper off the sleep-deprived vendor. Like the rest of the poor in sleep of the coming twenty-first century he was a money junkie, trading shut-eye for a tight fist. Nobody can afford to sleep anymore. Do you realise how much it costs?”
–Disappearance I, Jeanette Winterson

I love my sleep. Love the ritual of clean teeth, the gurgle of gargled water down the drain pipe. The shedding of clothing, as if removing them meant you were rid of the day’s troubles and worries. Slipping between sheets; the tangle of limbs. I don’t often get enough sleep, despite the fact I don’t think I ask for much. Give me at least six hours, I say. Usually I average 4 1/2 during my working week.

“And then I was offered the job of a particle in factory physics. I was offered the job of an electron in an office atom. I was offered the job of a frequency for a radio station. People told me I could easily make it as a ray in a ray gun. What’s the matter with you, don’t you want to do well? I wanted to be a beach bum and work on my wave function. I have always loved the sea.”
–Disappearance I, Jeanette Winterson

The other day, I woke up with a start. Maybe my alarm clock didn’t go off. Maybe I was so sleepy, I turned it off without realising. Or maybe I totally forgot to set it to begin with. Either way, I started the day with a run. Running down the street to the train station. Running to catch a bus. Running, past skyscrapers and concrete empires, threaded between blue skies I don’t have time to glance at. Running, to catch up with the rest of my day. At the end of it, I ran all the way home.

“I know we are walking home by a roundabout route, but after I bought my paper this morning I decided to go to the park and feed the rubber ducks. The real ducks died because so many people were feeding them in the new twenty-four hour working day that not a drake nor a duck had a moment to itself. Some sank under the weight of soggy bread, others exploded. The rubber variety are much more adaptable.”
–Disappearance I, Jeanette Winterson

You know when you’re so out of breath that you can’t whistle? Sometimes I feel so exhausted, that this endless cycle week after week, makes me feel like an exploded duck, weighed down by so much expectation. Expectation of bouyancy. Of being able to fly. At the end of the road, when there’s nothing left of me but a funereal bill, will anyone remember what the duck looked like?

“I flung myself down and watched the clouds bumping each other, the break and mend of a morning sky. My body was relaxed and the ordered chords of my thinking mind began to separate into component notes, to reply themselves without effort, without purpose, trailing into.. sleep.”
–Disappearance I, Jeanette Winterson

Sleep restores me. When he’s by my side, that calm and gently breathing B, shoulders rising and falling, his warmth envelops me like no blanket can. I like turning over, knowing he’s there. That sleepy smile, when he realises I’m staring. The profferred shoulder, then snuggled like a spoon against custard.

I realise life is all about what you make of it. Make your own bed, as they say, and lie in it. One day I hope to achieve that magical balance between life and work. When I finally disappear, I hope it will be on my own terms. In the meantime, I continue to push myself. Push out of bed, push to the train station, push through the day and at the end of it, push home to see the B.

Baked Mandarin Custard :
(serves 2)

80g strained mandarin juice (approximately the juice of 1 honey murcott mandarin)
zest of 1 mandarin
50g caster sugar
3 egg yolks
180g double cream
1/4 teaspoon spices of choice (optional)*

Preheat the oven to 150’C.

Whisk the sugar, zest and juice together to dissolve the sugar. Add the yolks, spices, then the cream, whisking only just to combine. Strain the mixture, pressing to extract any flavoursome oils from the zest and pour into two ramekins. Bake, covered with foil, in a water bath for 25-30 minutes or until the custard is only wobbling slightly.

Allow to cool in water bath, then chill for a couple of hours or overnight, before serving.

(* I spiced this custard with cinnamon and cardamom, in honour of Anita’s theme for this month’s SHF : Spices! The custard was served with mandarin and hazelnut sable soldiers.)

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