I owe you a recipe. It's been haunting me for a few weeks now, ever since the last post, when I promised I would tell you about craquelines. At that time I was convinced that I'd be back in a week, or even less, so I confidently said, "Stay tuned."
I sure hope you don't hold grudges, because 3 weeks is an awfully long time to "stay tuned". I'm sorry.
I didn't know about craquelines until very recently, when I met Joanne Chang's cookbook, Flour. Apparently it is a French breakfast pastry: chopped candied oranges enveloped in a pillowy brioche, topped with crackly almonds. (I'm not sure if crackly is a word. I made it up. But you get the idea. Also, with a bit of imagination, you can also then gather why this pastry is called "craqueline").
Homemade candied orange slices? In brioche? With a crackly almond top? SOLD! So off to the kitchen I went. I made this in parts (which I seem to be in the habit of doing): I find that it's a lot less stressful if I divvy up "complicated" recipes, spread the joy over a couple of days. In this case, I candied the oranges one day, prepared the brioche dough the next, and baked the day after that.
The French really do know a thing or two about pastries, eh? Of course these were amazing - otherwise I wouldn't be telling you about them. They are great for breakfast: think of them as a special sort of toast with juicy pockets of marmalade, a little indulgence. I wouldn't say no to these for a snack, either. Maybe with a hot chocolate?
Adapted from Flour
This recipe has 2 main components: the candied oranges and the brioche dough. The recipe for candied orange slices is in the previous post. For the brioche, I used my favourite no-fail recipe from Fine Cooking. If you use Fine Cooking's brioche, you will need half of it to make 8 craquelines (or about two thirds to make 10). Use the remaining dough to make a loaf, or 8 brioches à tête, or another brioche application of your choosing.
When your orange slices are ready and the brioche dough has risen overnight, assemble the craquelines.
Coarsely chop enough orange slices to get about 1½ cups. Before you dice the slices, try to scrape off as much syrup as you can, since the syrup will make the dough slippery and difficult to handle. Set the diced oranges aside. (The syrup can be used to sweeten tea or lemonade, or it can even be used on pancakes or waffles).
If making 8 craquelines, roll out half the brioche dough into a rectangle about 16 by 10 inches. If making 10 craquelines, roll out about two thirds of the brioche dough into a rectangle about 20 by 10 inches. In both cases the dough will be about a quarter of an inch thick.
With the long side of the dough rectangle facing you, spread the chopped oranges evenly on the top two thirds of the dough. (See the pictures above). Similar to folding a letter, fold the bottom third up to cover the oranges about halfway, then fold the top third down. If making 8 craquelines, you should end up with a rectangle about 16 inches long and just over 3 inches wide. If making 10 craquelines, your rectangle will be about 20 inches by 3 inches.
Cut the filled dough into pieces that are 2 inches wide.
Place the pastries on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for about 2 hours. After this resting period, the dough will be puffy, pillowy, and soft.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF, and place a rack in the centre.
Prepare the topping. In a small bowl, whisk together:
50 grams (¼ cup) sugar
50 grams (½ cup) sliced almonds
Evenly spoon the almond mixture over each pastry, covering the entire top evenly.
Bake the pastries for 35-45 minutes, until the almond top is completely golden brown. Allow them to cool on the pan set over a rack for 20-30 minutes. Serve warm.