Friday, February 14, 2020


Growing up, I was in awe of people's ability to bake. The ability to make something so delicious, comforting, and welcoming, with only a handful of ingredients has always fascinated me. It still brings me great joy to bake a whole platter of pastries, especially sweet ones, just like the ones we had after Sunday lunches.
Walnuts in desserts are a classic, and rightfully so. When mixed with a tangy jam, they almost disappear into it, and create a wonderful filling that melts on every bite. They are even more inviting if you make them flavoured with honey and apricot brandy.
Whether you dust them with icing sugar, or leave them plain, they will be perfect with a cup of coffee or tea, on a chilly day. And if you feel so inclined, you can roll them in additional ground walnuts, right after taking them out of the oven.

For the rolls
450 grams plain flour
35 grams cornflour
½ teaspoon salt
250 ml tepid water
20 grams fresh yeast
2 tablespoons dandelion honey
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the filling
120 grams strawberry jam
100 grams ground walnuts
1 tablespoon apricot brandy

Sift the flour and cornflour into a large bowl, add in the salt, mix well, and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the water, fresh yeast, vanilla, and honey, and let the yeast activate and become bubbly. Once the yeast is ready, make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour it in. Start stirring with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out on a floured work surface. Continue kneading it for about five minutes by hand, adding a bit of flour while you knead, if needed. Keep kneading until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm spot for about an hour and a half, or until doubled in size.
For the filling, whisk together the jam and brandy, sprinkle in the ground walnuts, and mix until combined. If it seems too thick, add another teaspoon of the jam, and mix again. When the dough has risen, put it on a floured surface and roll it to a square about 30x30 cm. Cut the square into 10 equal pieces, and place a bit of the filling in the centre. Roll the edges of the dough towards the filling, and then roll the pastries in the same fashion as you would roll up pain au chocolate. Since the filling is not runny, it will not leak out during the baking. Place the pastries on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, seam side down, and let them rise for another 30 minutes. Just before baking, spray the pastries generously with water, and bake them in a preheated oven, at 200°C, for about 15 minutes. Let them cool slightly and serve with a dusting of icing sugar. Yields 10 servings.