Two Years Ago: In Praise of Asparagus
I've always admired the beautiful pastries in French pastry shops, but never thought I could actually make one. To my surprise, it's really easy to make a jalousie (zhah-loo-ZEE), which is a light and flaky puff pastry enclosing a luscious fruit filling, using frozen puff pastry and frozen mixed berries. It reminds me of a fruit turnover in terms of taste, but it's much more impressive. Since Easter and Mother's Day are coming up, I thought I would publish this recipe because it would make a perfect addition to your brunch table. Serve it whole on a cutting board with a sharp knife and let your guests cut small pieces to their desire. Jalousie also makes a great dessert served with whipped cream, creme fraiche, or ice cream.
The length of the recipe may give you pause, but most of it is just an explanation of how to roll, cut and assemble the puff pastry. There aren't many ingredients and you can assemble the whole thing the night before so it's easy to bake in the morning. It's worth looking for sparkling (coarse) sugar because it makes the pastry look professional - you can find it in some upscale groceries, gourmet shops, or at King Arthur Flour.
If your berries vary widely in size like mine did, it's a good idea to cut the larger berries to a more uniform size with the other fruit. I cut the strawberries with a kitchen shears after they were cooked, mainly because I wasn't smart enough to cut them before I started.
To assemble the jalousie, you roll the pastry out and cut it lengthwise, then put one piece on a baking sheet and brush the edges with egg wash. Add the berry filling, then fold and slash the top piece and put it on top of the pastry. Unfold, seal the edges, and refrigerate for 20 minutes or overnight. Before baking you simply brush it with egg wash and sprinkle with sparkling sugar.
People will be impressed. I know I was.
Mixed Berry Jalousie
Makes 1 6”x 14” pastry; serves 6 as breakfast or dessert, or 12 as part of a brunch or dessert buffet
Note: the filling may be prepared and the jalousie assembled in advance, up to the night before baking.
For the filling:
12 ounces frozen mixed berries
¼ cup granulated sugar (or more to taste)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)
¼ tsp finely grated lemon zest
Generous pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
For the pastry:
1 sheet frozen packaged puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
Flour for rolling out the dough
1 large egg
1 tsp sparkling sugar (can substitute granulated sugar)
Sweetened whipped cream, crème fraiche, or ice cream, optional
For the filling:
In a 3 quart saucepan, stir together the frozen berries, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon and salt. Heat over medium high until the berries start to release their juices and the juices begin to bubble, 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring gently from time to time, until the berries release more juices and soften but still hold their shape somewhat, 7-9 minutes. Remove from the heat.
With a slotted spoon, scoop out the berries, letting as much juice as possible drain back into the pan, and put the berries into a small heat-proof bowl.
Dissolve the cornstarch in 3 tablespoons cold water. Whisk into the juices in the pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until very thick, up to 2 minutes. Scrape the sauce into the bowl with the berries and gently fold together. Taste and adjust sugar and lemon juice to your preference. Let cool completely before proceeding.
May be refrigerated for up to 2 days in a covered container before using.
For the pastry:
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
In a small bowl, make an egg wash by beating the egg with 1 tablespoon cold water until well combined.
Unfold the puff pastry dough on a floured surface, and gently pinch together any seams that have split. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12x14-inch rectangle, using a sharp knife to even the edges. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise to form two 6x14-inch rectangles. Gently fold one of the rectangles in half and transfer to the baking sheet, then unfold.
Use a pastry brush to brush a 1-inch border of egg wash around all edges of the dough. Save the remaining egg wash. Spread the fruit filling evenly down the length of the dough, leaving the egg-washed border clear.
Lightly dust the remaining piece of puff pastry with flour and gently fold it in half lengthwise; don’t crease the fold. Using a sharp knife, cut 1 ½ -inch long slashes at 1-inch intervals along the folded side of the dough, leaving at least a 1-inch border on the remaining three sides. Do not unfold the dough. Gently lift the folded strip (another pair of hands helps here) and position it over the fruit-filled dough rectangle, match up the straight edges (the fold should be down the middle of the pastry).
Gently unfold the top piece and stretch it over the filling, matching the straight edges all the way around. Press the edges gently with your fingertips to seal, then gently crimp all the edges with a fork.
Chill the assembled jalousie for 15 to 20 minutes.
At this point the jalousie may be refrigerated, covered with foil or plastic, overnight.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400d.
Right before baking, brush the top of the jalousie with a very light coating of the remaining egg wash (you won’t need it all) and sprinkle with sparkling or granulated sugar.
Bake the jalousie for 15 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet. Continue baking until the pastry is puffed and deep golden brown, 12 – 15 minutes. Immediately transfer the jalousie from the baking sheet to a wire rack by lifting the parchment paper onto the rack, then sliding it out from under the jalousie.
Let cool for at least 45 minutes. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, with optional cream or ice cream.
Best the day it’s baked, but will keep wrapped well in aluminum foil, for 3 days. Reheat at 325d for 5 minutes before serving.